Toughie 1312

Toughie No 1312 by Firefly

‘Tis the season to be grumpy

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Comments on the last weeksworth of Toughies have been: “a bit flat” (Gazza, yesterday), “run-of-the-mill” (Toro, Tuesday), “neither difficult nor enjoyable” (BD, Friday), and “bog standard” (me, a week ago). Because of this I was determined that I’d buck the trend and wouldn’t be grumpy today. However my resolve was sorely tested when I completed the left-hand-side without effort and the anagrams kept unfolding. The right-hand-side took slightly more effort but the whole thing was still not really a toughie. The number of anagrams (10 in 28 clues) and the thematic answers helped in keeping the difficulty level low.

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.


1a & 11a    Advance notice: ‘No bumping on the 13’? (4,7)
FAIR WARNING: This term is used especially by auctioneers before bringing the hammer down in order to give the punters one last chance to increase the bidding (and that reminds me that I must get this blog finished before the business end of Bargain Hunt). It can also be interpreted as the sign “No bumping” which can be seen on the 13 across at the 1 across

3a    Band in straw hat PC found to be questionable (10)
WATCHSTRAP: A band that goes round the wrist is an anagram (questionable) of STRAW HAT PC

9a    Race to follow daughter (4)
SEED: ‘To follow (understand)’ + D (daughter)

10a    France welcomes remarkably tall oboe player (10)
FOOTBALLER: An abbreviation for ‘France’ goes round an anagram (remarkably) of TALL OBOE to give a sportsman

11a    See 1 Across

13a    Work on diamond treasures for a 1 Across feature (7)
DODGEMS: ‘to work’ + D (diamonds) + treasures (precious stones)

14a    Speedily kept unharmed by cold in marsh (around zero at first), poor Flora embraces quiet (5-6)
FLASH-FROZEN: This is an adjective meaning ‘having been cooled below zero very quickly’. A marsh goes round Z (first letter of zero). The result then goes round an anagram (poor) of Flora which has already gone round ‘Quiet!’ I think this is a horrible clue

18a    Box office in good shape as to prospects for critical appraisals (4,7)
BOOK REVIEWS: An abbreviation for box office + ‘in good shape’ + ‘as to’ + ‘prospects’ = critical appraisals of the printed word

21a    See 20 Down

22a    See 7 Down

23a    Not occupied, aunt needn’t fret (10)
UNTENANTED: An anagram (fret) of AUNT NEEDN’T

24a    Perhaps Milligan‘s to endure (4)
GOON: Spike Milligan was one such. When split (2,2) it means ‘to endure’

25a    With backs to the wall, only just restraining rough seas (10)
HARASSEDLY: ‘Only just’ goes round an anagram (rough) of SEAS

26a    County borders (4)
BEDS: The abbreviated name of an English county = borders (in a garden)


1d    Loudmouth‘s crazy wish to invade Scottish Kingdom (8)
FISHWIFE: A coarse, loudmouth woman = an anagram (crazy) of WISH inside a historic county of Scotland which was once one of the major Pictish kingdoms

2d    The setter’s taking on tricky recce to find dessert (3,5)
ICE CREAM: ‘The setter is’ round an anagram (tricky) of RECCE

4d    Participants in trial on genetics get together (5)
ALONG: Hidden in triAL ON Genetics

5d    Resort to a crude ‘Z’ when carving (4,1’4)
CÔTE D’AZUR: The Mediterranean coastline of SE France is an anagram (carving) of TO A CRUDE Z

6d    Investigate commotion that has advanced over peninsula (11)
SCANDINAVIA: ‘To investigate (examine closely)’ + a commotion + A (advanced) + ‘over’ = a large peninsula in Northern Europe

7d & 22a    Wave mat in a 1ac feature (6,7)
ROLLER COASTER: A wave on the sea + a mat under a coffee cup

8d    Capital husband serving community (6)
PARISH: A European capital + H (husband). I can’t decide whether ‘serving’ is part of the definition

12d    Residents in hospital somewhat nervous? No end! (11)
INHABITANTS: IN + H (hospital) + somewhat (1,3) + a slang word meaning ‘nervous’ with the last letter removed. It’s not a slang term that I’ve met before

15d    Capriciously ordering a flower … (3,6)
RIO GRANDE: An anagram (capriciously) of ORDERING A = a flower (a river that flows)

16d    … flower given to detective novelist, used to a certain extent as sweetener (8)
DEXTROSE: A flower follows the first four letters of the surname of the creator of Inspector Morse

17d    Cover-upsthey’re fundamentally on the fiddle (1-7)
G-STRINGS: 2 meanings: coverings for the genitals/violin parts

19d    In a particular capacity, one stubborn chap’s elevated above Head of House (2,4)
AS SUCH: A reversal (elevated) of A and a stubborn chap + the first letter of House

20d & 21a    Let her loose — free kestrel — as attraction at the 1ac (6-7)
HELTER SKELTER: An anagram (loose) of LET HER + an anagram (free) of KESTREL

22d    Basket case’s starting dance (5)
CREEL: A basket for fish = the first letter of Case + a dance

OK I admit it. I’m grumpy



  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I quite enjoyed solving this puzzle as it took me a while to get started. I am also partial to anagrams and cross reference clues . 14a was quite a challenge. Loved the reference to the goon show and it’s band of loonies. The only one I didn’t like was 25a. What an awful adverb. Thanks to firefly and to Bufo for the review.

  2. Beaver
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    There were certainly an over abundance of anagrams today, and it could not be considered difficult, especially when 1A became apparent and many answers were then obvious. Howeaver, quite enjoyed it and can’t quibble with a **/*** .Have to agree that generally the ‘toughies ‘ have been in the ‘doldrums ‘lately.

  3. dutch
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed the theme and cross references, I had all the rides before I clicked as to the second word in 1a&11a. I liked the tall oboe player (10a), and the “basket case” 22d. Managed to finish in reasonable time but it wasn’t a write.

    15d, can’t believe I got caught by the flower/flower thing twice today, I was convinced this was a plant kind of flower with “red” something, and couldn’t get the anagram to work

    Thank you for the parsing of 19d and 16d – I had rose for the author which left me searching for a strange river (you se, again!)

    Thank you firefly for an enjoyable puzzle and Bufo for the review

  4. Rick
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I normally get cross at the ‘not a proper Toughie’ type of comment but as I finished this in 2* back page time I concede Bufo may have a point today…
    As a happy anagrammer I was like a pig in the proverbial but it was odd to find so many in a Toughie and it certainly reduced the difficulty level. I also agree that 14a is a real dog’s breakfast of a clue.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Jean-Luc about 25A, but otherwise I enjoyed this. I liked 24A, and 12D in particular. Granted it was on the easier side , but those who are new to the toughies will appreciate that. Many thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  6. JB
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Although I got there in the end, I really do not feel 6d is a true peninsular… however, the Peninsular War took place in Spain and Portugal so I suppose it qualifies.

    Took me ages to post this as you kept going “Off-line”. Any ideas why? Too much snow?

  7. Gordon
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    The theme made it relatively easy but, for me, enjoyable nonetheless. I can’t see that seed = race in 9, how can they be used interchangeably?
    I agree 14, speedily kept unharmed, is somewhat clumsy and would be interested to hear alternative, better clues

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted December 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Seed does have race as one of the meanings in BRB. We vaguely remember it having Old Testament biblical references with various races or tribes being described as the seed of their founding fathers. That was our take on it anyway.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 18, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        Mine, too.

        • Gordon
          Posted December 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

          Thank you. I had thought there was maybe a vague connection with the saying “run to seed”

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    We found this puzzle good fun. True, lots of anagrams, but most of them nicely disguised and took us a bit of working out. We did not get the theme indicator immediately, but it did make several answers much easier once we did. 3a was our last to yield, even though it was an anagram.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  9. upthecreek
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Sulking today as no RayT but this was OK. Bit of a curate’s egg as far as I was concerned. Some good [ 1d 3 10 16 17] some awful [ 9 14 19 25]. The trouble with thematics is that you are looking for the answers before you see the questions. Also, there were far too many anagrams. Still, it filled a miserable afternoon.

  10. Wolfson Bear
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I normally find all toughies fairly tough but the last 4 have seemed to be rather on the gentle side. Does that portend the return of the Impaler tomorrow?

    • gazza
      Posted December 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      It’s Elkamere tomorrow.

  11. Una
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I did indeed enjoy the abundance of anagrams and the theme.6d 16d and 25a escaped me.Thanks Firefly and Bufo.I loved 1d and 24a and 14a took a fair amount of unravelling.

  12. Derek
    Posted December 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Solved this last evening but couldn’t blog it!
    It is Friday here in NL!

    Faves : 1d & 14a.

    • Una
      Posted December 18, 2014 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      Hi Derek,nice to hear from you. I hope you are going to see lots of your family over the next few weeks.Seasons greetings !

  13. Miffypops
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Three out of three this week. Wow! I don’t normally have time for the toughies. Antsy is a word I know at 12d. Good fun overall but too many anagrams, too easy a theme and a couple of long winded awkward clues served to lessen the enjoyment

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Out last night, so didn’t pick this up until late this morning. Flogged through it (xmt 9a which l suspected was ” seed” but l certainly don’t equate to “race”) with no great enjoyment. Still, it helped keep the grey matter working. 2*/2* for me, and no real favourite clue. I hated 25a, though. Anyway, thanks to Firefly, and to Bufo.

  15. Heno
    Posted December 24, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for the review and hints. I managed to solve this unaided. Therefore it cannot be a “real” Toughie. I enjoyed it immensely, favourite was 14a. Last in was 9a. Was 1*/4* for me.