NTSPP – 255 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 255

NTSPP – 255

Pizza Festivale by Quattro Stagioni

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a jumbo festive puzzle set by four NTSPP regulars.

A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows –

the identities of the setters are revealed at the end of the review.


The Quattro Stagioni isn’t just a pizza with toppings representing the seasons of the year – it is the alias used by four of our regular NTSPP setters whose combined cryptic talents have produced this themed offering, just right for the post Christmas NTSPP slot.


1a           Those who grapple with breaks touring El Negro regularly (9)
WRESTLERS The abbreviation for W followed by some breaks into which are inserted the regular letters of eL nEgRo.

6a           Some of California’s Lutherans return to South-Western US city (5)
TULSA  A city well known to Gene Pitney (!) is hidden and reversed in some of CaliforniAS LUTherans.

9a           Bouncers get rid of any number of displays of holly? (6)
SPRIGS   Remove the N (any number) from some bouncers.

13a         Home Service alternative (7)
INSTEAD   How you might say you were at home followed by a verb meaning to stand as useful to someone.

14a         Son of Welsh rector refilled essentials for a month (5)
APRIL   A word that the Welsh use to mean ‘son of’, the abbreviation for Rector, and the ‘essentials’ of refiLled.

15a         American sailor keeps backing employer in consequence (2,1,6)
AS A RESULT   The abbreviation for American, followed by one of the ways Crosswordland might refer to a sailor into which is inserted a reversal (backing) of an employer.

16a         A cat’s tail consumed in strange restaurant (6)
EATERY An alternative way of spelling a word meaning strange into which is inserted the ‘tail’ of caT.

18a         A satirist took creep apart (5,4)
PETER COOK   An anagram (apart) of TOOK CREEP.

19a         Protest about getting into plane after bomb destroys odd bits (6)
OBJECT The even letters of bOmB (the odd ‘bits’ having been destroyed) are followed by a type of plane into which is inserted the single letter abbreviation for the Latin word meaning about.

22a         Dioceses call Frenchman to move west for academic course (8)
SEMESTER   Take a word used to refer to dioceses and another meaning call or name.   Move the M (Monsieur le Frenchman to move) further up the word (move west) to get an academic course, especially in America.

25a         Second present hoped to be seen at Christmas (4)
SNOW The abbreviation for second and an adverb meaning at the present time.

27a         Detective restrains fisherman with suspenders (8)
DANGLERS   The abbreviation for Detective Sergeant into which is inserted a fisherman.

29a         Each wife of Jacob endlessly a cause of pain (7)
EARACHE The abbreviation for each followed by nearly all of the name of the wife of Jacob in the Old Testament.

30a         Silver in mineral aggregate is infused with new colour (6)
ORANGE Insert into a mineral aggregate (3) the chemical symbol for silver into which is inserted (infused) the abbreviation for New.

32a         Clerical office hands pie out (8)
DEANSHIP   A position held by a member of the clergy is an anagram (out) of HANDS PIE.

35a         Reportedly broadcasts Sons and Daughters? (5)
HEIRS A homophone of a word meaning broadcasts.

37a         Spooner’s ban on going out is being generous (8)
DONATING   How the dreaded Reverend Spooner might ban his teenage daughter from going out on romantic appointments.

38a         Can get silver back in heavyweight sledge (8)
TOBOGGAN Start with a heavy weight, insert a slang word for the lavatory (can being another) and a reversal of the chemical symbol for silver.

40a         Pretty young women’s friend dressed in Christmas bloomers? (8)
ROSEBUDS     Insert an informal term for a friend into part of the name of some hellebores which bloom at this time of year.   Although the definition isn’t in the 12th edition of the BRB, it can be found in the ‘Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary’ given to my parents as a wedding present in 1949.

42a         Short place for unloading traveller on railway lines (8)
QUATRAIN A poem with four lines   – almost all of a wharf (short place for unloading) followed by a ‘traveller on railway’!

43a         Crisp lattice covering custard pie’s sound (5)
SPLAT   Hidden in criSP LATtice.

44a         Relative possibly visiting California during snow flurries (3-2-3)
SON-IN-LAW   An anagram (flurries) of SNOW into which is inserted a way you might say you were visiting a particular city in California.

45a         Breakfast with Nigel Farage? Not for everyone! (6)
KIPPER   Remove the U for universal (so ‘not for everyone’ )from a way of describing Nigel Farage or one of his political followers.

46a         Rather a short journey before Santa’s Little Helper returns (1,6)
A TRIFLE   A (from the clue), then only  the first three letters (short) of a word meaning a journey followed by a reversal (returns) of one of Santa’s Little Helpers.

48a         Before morning good doctor returns in sorrow as hangman? (4,4)
WORD GAME   Into a word meaning sorrow (3) put a reversal (returns)  of the  abbreviations for morning (2), Good and Doctor to get a word guessing game I haven’t played for years.

50a         Romancer unlocks blondes’ hearts in an instant (4)
ANON The ‘hearts’ of romANcer and blONdes give us an archaic or literary term meaning soon, or in an instant.

52a         Bold lads are reformed characters (8)
ODDBALLS   An anagram (are reformed) of BOLD LADS.

56a         Cover? Yes, fat needs to be disguised (6)
SAFETY   An anagram (needs to be disguised) of YES FAT.

57a         Smart operation to conceal stolen computer program (9)
PHOTOSHOP   An adjective meaning smart or elegant has a slang word meaning stolen inserted, the result being finished with the abbreviation for operation.

59a         Showy bloom concealed by Tolkien villain? (6)
ORCHID   How you might say that a Tolkien villain had concealed something.

64a         Outgoing divorcee party-goer boring non-drinker (9)
EXTRAVERT   The two letters used to describe a divorcee, followed by the abbreviation for a non-drinker into which is inserted an enthusiastic party-goer.

66a         Capital held improperly by institute (5)
DELHI   An anagram (improperly) of HELD followed by the abbreviation for Institute.

67a         Country person heard to have successes and minor setbacks (7)
HICCUPS   A homophone (heard) of a country person followed by what you might win if you had more than one success.

68a         Notices skirts, ultimately for men and women (6)
ADULTS   ‘Skirts’ indicates the requirement to put some abbreviated notices round the abbreviation for ultimately.

69a         Chuck  part of decoration that’s found in Christmas pud (5)
BERRY   An old rock star or part of plant used as a Christmas decoration.

70a         Western actor‘s errors go corrected around end of play (3,6)
ROY ROGERS   An anagram (corrected) of ERROS GO and Y (the ‘end’ of play).

1d           Time spent in trick involving Henry (5)
WHILE   Insert the abbreviation for Henry into an artful trick.

2d           Badly mistreat old former Portuguese colony (4,5)
EAST TIMOR   An anagram (badly) of MISTREAT and O (old).

3d           35a endlessly supports tons of them (5)
THEIR   The abbreviation for Tons followed by the solution to 35a with its last letter removed (endlessly).

4d           Whirlwind regularly seen during heady days (4)
EDDY   The regular letters of hEaDy DaYs.

5d           Placed and spread under the ocean (6)
SEATED A verb meaning to spread (new mown grass for drying for hay) is put under another word for ocean.

6d           Country’s failures (7)
TURKEYS The name of a country is also used to mean films or plays that fail.

7d           Purple bacilli lactose contains (5)
LILAC   A shade of purple is contained or hidden in bacilLI LACtose.

8/9d       Crazy Arab half-heartedly murders elderly person’s cleaner (1,3,2,4)
A BAR OF SOAP   An anagram (crazy) of ARAB, a US slang way of saying murders from which one of the Fs in the middle is removed (half-heartedly), and finally the abbreviation for an elderly person.

10d         Occupant of 32 leaves school to become a woodlander (3)
ROE Remove the occupant of the solution to 32a from a public school for girls near Brighton and you get an animal you might find in a wood.

11d         Part of Switzerland unknown before Soviet military intelligence got on top of it all (7)
GRUYERE   A region of Switzerland known for its cheese – the abbreviation for the main Soviet military intelligence directorate, a mathematical unknown and an archaic way of saying before.

12d         Old singer is cause of 29? (6)
OTITIS   The abbreviation for Old, a small singing bird and IS (from the clue).

17d         Asian mountain-dweller allegedly misses Ireland still (3)
YET I isn’t recognised as an abbreviation for Ireland [I believe our setter in a hurry to revise this clue should have put Italy  – I being the IVR code for that country). However, all you need to know really is that I should be removed from a creature allegedly found in the mountains of Nepal.

20d         Got underway, putting odd bits of goat into Japanese dish (5,2)
BEGAN TO   The odd ‘bits’ of GoAt inserted into a Japanese single portion meal usually packed into special boxes to take to work to eat at lunchtime.

21d         Made overnight stop on trek, there being no pressure to have finished trip (4,4)
CAME DOWN   Remove the P (no pressure) from a word meaning made overnight stop (in a tent perhaps) and follow with a verb meaning to have.

22d         Fashionable crowd on board with pastors (9)
SHEPHERDS   Insert into the abbreviation for ship (on board) a word meaning fashionable and a word for a crowd.

23d         Maiden leaves gowns and footwear (5)
SOCKS Remove M (maiden leaves) from some gowns.

24d         Animal swallowed by Peewee (3)
EWE   Look carefully and you will find that PeEWEe has swallowed a sheep.

26d         Lungs maybe best device for letting air in (5,4)
ORGAN STOP   Parts of the body (lungs may be an example) followed by the most successful position.

28d         Plump canon (5)
ROUND   Either a way of describing something plump or a piece of music in which an extended melody is imitated successively in one or more parts (canon).

31d         Somewhat lighter-than-air, uh? Travelling northwards to Glastonbury perhaps (9)
ARTHURIAN   Hidden and reversed (travelling northwards) in lighter-thaN AIR HU TRAvelling.  Franco may wish to note that legend says that a certain king was buried at Glastonbury.

33d         Male setter a philosophical sort (5)
HEGEL   A philosopher is obtained by following the male personal pronoun with something that sets.

34d         Goes around strangely inert Christmas adornments dropping needles (4,5)
PINE TREES   An informal term for urinates (goes) is put round an anagram (strangely) of INERT.

36d         One born south-east Norway (5)
IBSEN   I (one)followed by the abbreviations for Born South-East and the IVR code for Norway.

37d         Dutch dramas about unknown old soldiers (4,4)
DADS ARMY   The abbreviation for Dutch, an anagram (about) of DRAMAS and a mathematical ‘unknown’.

39d         Excellent cook puts away washing-up liquid (5)
FAIRY   Insert the two letters used to define something as excellent into a way you might cook an egg.

41d         Happy New Year backing for Queen during dark times (2,5)
BY NIGHT Take a word meaning happy or cheerful and replace the R (Regina, Queen) with a reversal (backing) of the abbreviation for New Year.

43d         Small bear crosses river to remove dirt (5)
SCRUB   The abbreviation for small, followed by a young bear into which is inserted the abbreviation for river.

46d         Heads of African nations develop in conjunction (3)
AND   The ‘heads’ of African Nations Develop.

47d         My return to work follows generous deal that’s hard to beat? (4,5)
FULL HOUSE   An adjective meaning generous, a reversal of an interjection meaning ’my’ and a verb meaning to work.

48d         Ablutions performed around Ash Wednesday (6)
WASHED   The abbreviation for Wednesday put around ASH (from the clue).

49d         Proven wrong, denied time to replace last of presents (7)
REFUTED   Remove the S (last of presents) from a verb meaning denied and replace with T (Time).

51d         Space agency gets core of celeb league to ultimately pay through the nose (7)
NASALLY   The acronym for the American space agency, the middle letter (core) of ceLeb, the abbreviation for League and the ultimate letter of paY,

53d         Fred and Ginger or 2 Kiwis possibly party around middle of 49 (3)
DUO A party put round the middle letter of the solution to 49d. Always nice to be mentioned in a clue!

54d         Self-cleaning vessel, though element’s initial high temperature rising (3,3)
THE TUB   A reversal (rising) of a word meaning though (3) the initial letter of element, and the abbreviation for High Temperature.

55d         Simpler to cheat on one in love? Not quite (6)
DOZIER   An informal word meaning to cheat, I (one) and almost all of a word meaning nothing (love).

58d         Henry died in beating up (5)
TUDOR   Reverse a word meaning beating (up in a down clue) and insert the abbreviation for died.

60d         10 circulated around court to find right page (5)
RECTO An anagram (circulated) of the solution to 10d into which is inserted the abbreviation for court.

61d         Cleans up raising crabs for example around the States (5)
DUSTS   The abbreviation for the United States inserted into a reversal of the abbreviation for a Sexually Transmitted Disease (crabs being an example of this).  Not one of the more festive clues in this puzzle!

62d         Spies sometimes like vegetables (4)
PEAS The even letters (sometimes) of sPiEs followed by a conjunction meaning like.

63d         Origin of hell, 17 contrarily maintains, is other people (4)
THEY The first letter (origin) of Hell inserted into a reversal (contrarily) of the solution to 17d.

65d         Unite nearly every one (3)
ALL   A verb meaning unite without its last letter (nearly).

The seasonal verse is found in Down Rows 1, 5, 9, 15, 17, and 19 – don’t forget the instructions to ignore the solutions to 55d, 10d and 60d.

while shepherds

Thank you to all four setters. If you want to know who set what, NTSPP 255 to reveal.   Prolixic’s clues are in magenta, Alchemi’s in cyan, Radler’s in green and Vigo’s in yellow.

19 comments on “NTSPP – 255

  1. Once we had read the clue for 53d there was no way that we could put this puzzle aside for later. Eventually we were beaten by 55d and revealed a letter to enable us to get on with our lives. Now that we can see how it works we think it is a very clever clue. The whole puzzle became a lot easier when we had enough answers to work out and fill in the verse. Really good fun with lots of chuckles along the way.
    Thanks to all those involved.

  2. I really enjoyed it at the beginning and in the middle ,thereafter I revealed many letters to get to the end of it.Clues I liked included 1a, 19a,64a,70a,43a and 6d, 46d, 12d, and 51d.Thanks to all.

  3. With three pages printed for that crossword, my table was laden with paper and I found it quite hard to go from one clue to the other.
    Clearly I didn’t know that verse and its different versions and it’s only with the help of modern technology that it all came clear.
    I have my idea of who wrote some of the clues like 34d and 61d, and I noticed quite a few medical references also.
    I really enjoyed the whole experience and wanted to thank the setters for their concerted effort and for reminding us of 18a’s great talent.

  4. Excellent stuff from four (?) of the NTSSP regular setters. (Wonder who they are?)

    I finally got there after much shuffling of my three bits of paper!

    Thanks to all the NTSSP compilers!

    As gazza is normally the first to comment on the NTSSP – no comment today – I presume he is one of the collaborators?

  5. I think I just might cry. After an epic fight I’ve got within two answers of completion but am now having to face up to the fact that I must have gone wrong somewhere along the way, as the two words share a common letter and there seem to be no two words that will fit together. Not only that, but Franco’s comment makes me think that my usual ‘friend in need’, Gazza, is one of the setters! Anyone else out there willing to shed a little light on either 42a or 31d before I sink into the depths of despair?

        1. I’m going for turkey pilaf – not sure anyone’s waistlines will take any more pastry right now and the freezer’s still full of goodness-knows-what, so no room to store anything else.

          Hope you and Mr. CS had a good Christmas? Makes me appreciate just how good a solver you are when I read about how much else you also manage to fit into your life! I’ve come along in leaps and bounds since joining the ‘community’ and get so much pleasure from it – so many thanks for your part in that. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    1. 42a – The definition is “lines” – as in poetry – Short Qua(y) + “train”

      31d – It’s a hidden (backwards) clue – I have no idea about the Glastonbury reference?

      1. GOT THERE – just before your comment came through (honestly!) but many thanks, nonetheless, for taking the time to assist a ‘lady in distress’. My apologies if BD gives us both a black mark in the meantime!

        All I need do now is wait for our ‘super-solver’ – CS – to justify the 15 bung-ins I’ve managed to come up with. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        Request to BD – how do four setters go about collaborating to produce a single puzzle? Aside from being stone-cold sober, of course. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        1. One setter has an idea, and contacts three other setters to see if they would like to collaborate. When they agree, they each get a bit more than a quarter of the clues to do. Then they look at the “duplicated” clues and vote on which ones to use so as to balance out clue types. Then there’s a bit of fiddling about when the test solvers point out the odd clue which isn’t quite as lovely as it might be.

          At least, that’s how this one was done, and I’d like to thank Prolixic, Radler and Vigo for their labours. As well as CS for the review, and anyone who solved it and enjoyed it.

  6. I was wrong also to think that Gazza was one of the setters. But I hope he will take it as a compliment.
    My last ones in were also 42a and 39d.
    Thanks to crypticsue for the explanations for 41d and 37a which were just bunged in.
    Just realised also that 55d was wrong. I put dopier. Do as in cheat and pier for Piers (not quite) being maybe a character from Love Actually. Must say that I was pretty tired when I posted my victory last night. 11.30pm is half past midnight for me.
    Just got home after cleaning the whole restaurant for our two weeks holiday and I’m going to relax with ST 2776 which I just printed.
    Thanks again to all involved and my absolute favourite is 57a.

    1. I do indeed take it as a compliment. I thought the puzzle was excellent and perfectly pitched in terms of difficulty.

  7. Good grief – I got it all correctly filled in http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif and now, thanks to CS, I even know why!!!

    Many thanks indeed to Alchemi, Prolixic, Radler & Virgo for all the hard work – a thoroughly enjoyable Quattro Stagioni.

  8. I didn’t start this until today, Saturday being our Boxing Day feast since in the USA the 26th is not a holiday and if I want anyone to come it has to be delayed until the weekend. I was left with half a dozen when I just ran out of steam. Thanks to all concerned, and especially to CS for the terrific review. Happy New Year to all!

  9. A very happy New Year to you all.

    I loved this puzzle and had many chuckles along the way. I had to do it in bits and pieces as and when I could, and thoroughly enjoyed it all, especially discovering the ‘seasonal verse’!

    Many thanks for the super review, Crypticsue. I needed four answers — two of Radler’s ( 69a and 58d) and two of Vigo’s (57a and 55d). Also, despite having the answers, I wasn’t certain how to parse 42a and part of 8/9d.

    Very big thanks to Quattro Stagioni http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif and to Crypticsue http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif.

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