Toughie 1287

Toughie No 1287 by Micawber

… and Fanny’s Your Aunt

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

This is another very enjoyable puzzle by Micawber. I didn’t find it that difficult and my biggest problem was that the Puzzles website adamantly refused to accept my answer to 12a; that’s now been sorted out by a change to the clue – see below.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.

Across Clues

1a To bend spine, around 50, brings repercussions (8)
BLOWBACK – a verb to bend one’s body and another word for spine contain the Roman numeral for 50.

5a After which PM begins reforms (6)
AMENDS – split the answer (2,4) for the wordplay. PM here is not Prime Minister.

9a Posh lass in movie, one about alien, recalled as having screen presence (9)
TELEGENIC – put an informal word for a posh lass between an adjective meaning movie and the usual movie about an alien. Then reverse it all (recalled).

11a Red, but not in the red (5)
FLUSH – double definition, the second an informal adjective meaning well supplied with money.

12a Newspaper boss stops working but maintains circulation? (6)
EDDIES – a charade of the usual abbreviated newspaper boss and a verb meaning stops working or conks out. NB In the paper version of the clue (and the on-line version earlier on) the verbs are in the past rather than present tense, so the answer (if you have that version) also needs to be in the past tense.

13a Greek character captivated by little monster (8)
MINOTAUR – the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet is contained in an adjective meaning little or slight.

15a Subservient to western leadership? Not very impressive (13)
UNDERWHELMING – string together a preposition meaning subservient to, W(estern) and the sort of leadership or steering given by the coxswain of a lifeboat, for example.

18a Rouble’s bouncy, fluctuating — job done! (4,4,5)
BOB’S YOUR UNCLE – an anagram (fluctuating) of ROUBLE’S BOUNCY. As often happens I got diverted during the solving process into investigoogling the derivation of this phrase – there’s no definitive answer but the most appealing suggestion is that it originated in 1887 when the Prime Minister, Robert Cecil, appointed his under-qualified nephew to a prestigious ministerial post in an act of nepotism.

22a Rupert in broadcast obsessed with sex (8)
PRURIENT – an anagram (broadcast) of RUPERT IN.

23a Shooter making comeback, striking left side of target — it’s gold! (6)
NUGGET – reverse something that shoots and add the word target after deleting (striking) its left-hand half.

26a News agency covered up pest (5)
APHID – the abbreviation for a well-known news agency is followed by a verb meaning covered up or concealed.

27a Religious, consumed by joy, shedding that which is superficial? (9)
EPILATION – an adjective meaning religious in a holier-than-thou way goes inside (consumed by) a word meaning joy or glee.

28a Seasoned advisers accompanying betters? (6)
ELDERS – this word for seasoned advisers or senior figures in a tribe is often coupled with Betters in a phrase identifying those to whom children should show respect and deference.

29a Truant, badly beaten, keeps bearings (8)
ABSENTEE – an anagram (badly) of BEATEN contains two compass directions.

Down Clues

1d Flatter end turning white (6,2)
BUTTER UP – an end or stub is followed by the reversal (turning) of an adjective meaning white or virtuous.

2d Went in front after result of deflection perhaps was more than glancing (5)
OGLED – a verb meaning went in front comes after the abbreviation for what may result from an unfortunate deflection on the football field.

3d To stand under tap’s what one can’t stand (7)
BUGBEAR – a verb to stand or endure follows a verb to tap or eavesdrop.

4d What’s used for pine reproduction furniture, ultimately supporting scam (4)
CONE – the ultimate letter of furniture comes after (supporting) a scam or hoax.

6d Gangsters subverting aims of independence (7)
MAFIOSI – an anagram (subverting) of AIMS OF is followed by I(ndependence).

7d Going over university clearing turned out painful (9)
NEURALGIC – an anagram (turned out) of CLEARING contains (going over) U(niversity).

8d Thespian’s heart in this place, the Globe (6)
SPHERE – the middle letters of thespian followed by an adverb meaning in this place.

10d Young person tailed by thug needs to relax (5,3)
CHILL OUT – a young person gets tailed or docked and that’s followed by a thug or hooligan.

14d Revolting South American’s desire to touch north-east American native (8)
CHEYENNE – charade of the usual revolting South American (LOL), a desire or inclination and the abbreviation for north-east.

16d Dissolute society girl longed to possess symbol of upper-class acceptance (9)
DEBAUCHED – a society girl of the sort that used to ‘come out’ is followed by a verb meaning longed or yearned with the letter that symbolises upper-class acceptance contained inside it.

17d What precedes period of time inside? (8)
SENTENCE – this is very clever and could be either a cryptic definition (i.e. what a judge hands down) or a double definition, where the first is what precedes a period or full-stop and the second (time inside) is what a prisoner serves.

19d Amazing performance finding viewers not so keen (7)
BLINDER – for viewers read eyes.

20d Act like Wailers knocked back as support for rising female vocalist (7)
ULULATE – this is a verb meaning to wail or keen in grief. A verb meaning knocked back or consumed follows (as support for) the reversal of a Scottish female vocalist.

21d Grasp increased profit (6)
UPTAKE – a charade of an adverb meaning increased (a price, say) and profit or income.

24d Donation Republican accepted is a con (5)
GRIFT – a donation with the abbreviation for Republican inserted.

25d Frenchman getting involved in party branch (4)
LIMB – the French equivalent of Mr goes inside the abbreviation for an old political party.

I liked 2d and 4d but my favourite clue today was 17d. Let us know which one(s) you liked.

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25 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Super 4* fun, thank you Micawber and Gazza

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I had the past tense version of 12A (but I did print out the puzzle in the middle of the night). I liked this a lot. No real difficulties, though it took me a while to see 18A, and remember what the first two letters of 2D stand for. Liked 27A14D and 20D. Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Gentle yet most enjoyable, favourites were 3d 15a and 21d thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the comments.

  4. Tony
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Super 4* fun for me as well, with some helpful anagrams (e.g. 18a) and clever word play (e.g. 15a). For me, just right level of difficulty. Thanks to all.

  5. happy days
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    That’s more like it! An entertaining romp. Favourite 17

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted November 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      17 sounds more like a general knowledge question to me.

  6. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Great solve today. I seem to be on a high. I love concentrating on the toughie and I am starting to build a backlog of back page crosswords. I do have an uncle called Robert but no aunt Fanny unfortunately. Liked 27a , having just spent some time with my hairdresser, he promptly removed some odd long hair from my eyebrows. Don’t want to look like Denis Healey do I? I also had to look at the explanation for 5a. So thanks to gazza for the review and micawber for the grid.

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    It seems that we were not the only ones to take longer than expected to sort out the anagram for 18a, despite having the middle word from the checkers. As we downloaded the puzzle at 1 minute past midnight your time we had the past tense for 12a. A thoroughly enjoyable and very clever puzzle.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  8. pommers
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed that but I’ve just realized that I didn’t finish it http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif Not that it was too hard but I had about three or four to go (all in SW corner) when it came time to go out to keep an appointment. Forgot to look at it when I came home but on reading the hints I thought “don’t remember that answer”, D’oh http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    Fun puzzle so thanks to Micawber and also to Gazza for the answers to the ones I never finished.

  9. gazza
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Beam tomorrow.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted November 5, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Uh oh…

  10. Owdoo
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Well, well, two visits to the Toughie on consecutive days and two unaided solves. Things are looking up!
    It was a bit trickier for me than yesterday but it all fell into place in a steady fashion, although I must admit I failed to spot the full depth of 17d. I rather liked 5a.
    No doubt I’ll come down to earth with a bang soon, assuming that I continue to have extra time available to enjoy more than the back pager over the next couple of days.

    Thanks to Micawber for the fun challenge and to Gazza for the review and fuller explanation of 17d.

  11. F1lbertfox
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I saved this Toughie to attempt after the children’s earlier bonfire night party and all had gone home. A most enjoyable solve it turned out to be and with no hints required. That has to be a first for me. Thanks to Micawber.

  12. Killer Watts
    Posted November 6, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I’ve attempted this several times before, and got virtually nowhere, but this one I completed.(well, I looked up the Greek Alphabet for 13A). Was this simpler than normal ? My usual standard is “close to finishing the regular cryptic on the back page”.

    • gazza
      Posted November 6, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Killer.
      This may not have been the most difficult Toughie but well done on completing it.

  13. Reggie
    Posted November 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. I think it must be relatively easy for a toughie as there were only a couple I needed hints on. When I first scanned through clues I thought it was going to be impossible but I was slowly able to build up the grid. Guessed a few before I worked out the exact parseing. When giving star ratings to these how do the stars compare to the back page crossword? Compared with a 4* toughie 2* for this just about makes sense but I would rate it 3-4* if this was back page. However solving this is a lot more satisfying.

    • gazza
      Posted November 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes – I’d normally give one or two more difficulty stars if a Toughie were on the back page. Of course it becomes a bit irrelevant with very tricky Toughies because they’d never appear on the back page.

      • reggie
        Posted November 7, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Thanks for comment

  14. Kath
    Posted November 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable Toughie, most of it done on the train to London yesterday afternoon.
    The 18a anagram took ages even having got the middle word from the checking letters.
    I got stuck with the last few in the bottom left corner, partly because I was just plain stuck and partly because the train arrived at Marylebone so finished it this morning.
    I admit to needing the hints to understand a few so thanks, gazza.
    With thanks to Micawber and, again, to gazza.

    • Kath
      Posted November 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      PS Joint favourites were 18a and 17d.

  15. Killer Watts
    Posted November 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Nice to feel welcome, thanks !

  16. Tstrummer
    Posted November 7, 2014 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    Other commitments meant I had to have two goes at this, yesterday and today. Finished unaided but thanks to Gazza and Macawber for an enjoyable solve. Why did we all take so long to get 18a? 3*/3*

  17. Sh-Shoney
    Posted November 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Just finished Wednesday’s puzzle which makes two in a row unaided. Goodo! Very enjoyable – 8d being my favourite. Struggled with 1a and the use of blowback for repercussions and can’t see where the G&E come from in nugGEt, in 23a. So, many thanks to Micawber and also to Gazza. Now to try the dreaded Friday horror! Sh-shoney.

    • gazza
      Posted November 7, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      The last 3 letters in 23a are (tar)GET. ‘striking left side of target’ means that you have to strike, i.e. strike out or delete, the first half of the word.

      • Sh-Shoney
        Posted November 8, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        See it now, thanks. Sh-shoney.