NTSPP – 259 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 259

NTSPP – 259

What’ll it be? by Soup

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Soup who appears to be preparing us for the cruciverbalists convention next weekend where several alcoholic beverages will be consumed though only at the one public house!


9 Have a whip-round for romp – allegedly on beer wagons (9)
FUNDRAISE – A word meaning a romp followed by (on) a homophone (allegedly) of drays (beer wagons).  A few points to note on this clue.  I hope that the “for” is part of the definition otherwise the construction “definition for wordplay” does not work.  More importantly, putting the homophone indicator before the “on” breaks the link between the indicator and the word to which it applies.  A purely personal preference is for the homophone to lead to a word it its own right not a series of letter that sounds like the word.

10 Blackbird has insect’s body then its head (5)
OUSEL – … an archaic word for the blackbird.  A type of wingless parasitic insect has the body (all the letters but the first) followed by its initial letter (L) at the end.

11 Asked for American whisky – with a drop of coke in, it’s lethal (5)
RICIN – A homophone (asked for) of RYE (American whisky) followed by the first letter (a drop of) coke and the “in” from the clue.

12 Vermouth popular with queen and worker on the road (9)
ITINERANT – A two letter word for Vermouth (as in gin and **) followed by a two letter word meaning popular and a two letter abbreviation for the Queen finished off with a three letter word for an insect worker.

13 Takes back jumper acquired by mistake – that’s awkward (7)
BOORISH – Reverse (takes back) a three letter diminutive word for a kangaroo (jumper) and put it inside (acquired by) a four letter word meaning a mistake.

14 Writer regularly seen at ballets with olives and nuts, perhaps (7)
NIBBLES – A three letter word for the end of a pen (writer) followed by the odd letters (regularly seen at) of BaLlEtS.  A man walks into a bar and sits down.  Even though he is the only person in the place, he keeps hearing a voice – “your looking good today”, “l like that shirt”, “Nice pecs”.  When the barman comes over, the man asks him whether he is hearing thing.  “Oh no”, says the barman, “Its the peanuts – there complimentary.”

17 Bucks about, now in the middle of orgasm (5)
WONGA – Reverse (about) the NOW from the clue and follow it with the middle letters of orGAsm. The use of the “in” in the clue is unfair as it tells the solver to put the reversal in the middle letters when the answer requires the middle letters to follow the reversal.

18 Starts to pump up beer from the cellar here (3)
PUB – The initial letters (starts to) Pump Up Beer.  For this clue to work, the beer needs to do double duty as part of the wordplay and as part of the definition.

20 Novice student in the Alps (5)
TYROL – A four letter word for a novice followed by the abbreviation for a student.

22 Bleakly pessimistic, back-pedals, taking far-right group to a 18 (3,4)
RED LION – … the name of a pub.  Reverse (back-pedals) a word meaning bleakly pessimistic (used as a film genre) includes (taking) the abbreviation for English Defence League (far-right group).  This abbreviation has not yet made it into Chambers.

25 Passed on a message to take back beer – without grain and duff head (7)
RELAYED – Put a three letter word for a type of grain around (without) a reversal (take back) a three letter word for beer and follow this with the first letter (head) of duff.

26 Turn over earth with a 18 (5,4)
WHITE HART – An anagram (turn over) of EARTH WITH A.

28 “Stocking any London gin?” “A bit!” (5)
NYLON – The answer is hidden (a bit) in ANY LONDON.  The gin is superfluous to the the wordplay and is added only for the surface reading.

30 Right to pursue exercise, having good game (5)
POKER – The abbreviation for right goes after (to pursue) a two letter word for exercise inside which (having) you add a two letter word meaning good.  I would have thought that the word for good more usually meaning fine or just acceptable.

31 Quickly spots something found on a Guinness label (4,5)
LOOK SHARP – A word meaning spots (I am not entirely convinced that the two are synonyms) followed by the musical instrument that forms part of the brand logo for Guinness.


1 Clipped wings on wildlife trip a long way away (4)
AFAR – Remove the outer letters (clipped wings) from a word for a wildlife trip.

2 See6

3 Some oaf rang; I panicked, smelling of jasmine (10)
FRANGIPANI – The answer is hidden inside (some) OAF RANG I PANICKED.

4 Push in, if forced to have what’s left (6,2)
FINISH UP – An anagram (forced) of PUSH IN IF.

5 18 on the outskirts of Northampton poured wine (3,3)
NEW INN – … a pub name.   An anagram (poured) of WINE goes on the outer letters (outskirts) of Northampton.

6/2 Wretched sorrow canned in a 18 (4,3,5)
ROSE AND CROWN – … a pub name.  An anagram (three in a row!) (wretched) of SORROW CANNED.


7 Set about topless revelry (6)
ASSAIL – Remove the W from the beginning (topless) of a word meaning revelry.

8 18 finally allowed to decay (4)
BLET … a type of decay seen in fruit.  The final letter of the answer to 18a followed by a word meaning allowed.

13 Smell we first encountered in rude lady’s private area (5)
BOWER – The abbreviation for body odour (smell) followed by the WE from the clue and the first letter (first encountered in) of rude.

15 Dolphin‘s 23 in here with smell of wine (10)
BOTTLENOSE – The container in which the answer to 23a may be contained followed by a word meaning the smell of wine.

16 A bit on the side in a 18? (5)
SALAD – The garnish that may accompany food in a pub.

19 Locks out prat found in a 18 (3,5)
BAR STOOL – … an item of furniture found in a pub.  A four letter word meaning locks out followed by a derogatory word for a prat.

21 There are two blokes, right, outside a 18… (5,3)
ROYAL OAK … a pub name.  Two boys names (the second a diminutive) followed by a word meaning right (also meaning good in 30a) around the A from the clue.

23 Clinician tattoos swallows (6)
DRINKS – The abbreviation for doctor (clinician) followed by a word for tattoos.  This particular meaning is a modern usage that does not yet appear in Chambers.

24 Daintily have the last of melomel and whisky – without ice, at first (6)
NEATLY – The final letters (last of) of melomel (a fruit flavoured mead) and whisky after a word describing any form of drink that is not diluted with water.

26 Rub coin we hid (4)
WIPE – The way you would write one pence (coin) goes inside the WE from the clue.

27 Pay every sailor (4)
EARN – The abbreviation for each (or every) followed by an abbreviation for Royal Navy.  As others have pointed out, the answer is a stretch as a synonym for pay.  Also, although RN is the abbreviation for Royal Navy it is not usually used to describe a sailor in the way that AB or OS would be.

29 Drops catches (4)
NIPS – A double definition to finish.  Drops as in a small amount of spirits and catches as **** in the bud.

49 comments on “NTSPP – 259

  1. Nice one Soup – the theme was right up my street http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    8d was a new one on me but guessable from wordplay and checkers. Not too keen on 16d as my local, when I’m in the UK, doesn’t do food so the clue don’t work. I certainly wouldn’t want the green stuff on the side of my pint!

    Not sure about 27d either. Is PAY the same as EARN? Surely your pay is your earnings.

    Favourite was 26a as it’s my brother-in-law’s local in Cheadle so I’m in there quite a lot. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    Anyway, thanks to Soup for the fun.

    1. My favourite’s 18 – it’s what started the puzzle off for me.

      Does crime pay? ie does crime earn its keep? I think it’s arguable (the clue, not the crime) but I will accept that it’s not the best clue in the puzzle!

      Glad you enjoyed it. H/S

    2. Hi pommers – 26a was a good 18 last time I was there, but it must be about twenty years ago!

            1. Only remember going there a couple of times but – digging even further back into the mists of timehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif – used to go to the Tatton cinema in Gatley (doubtless long gone). Scene of many a happy back-row cuddle!!!

              1. Me too on the back row at the Tatton – wasn’t you by any chance was it? Can’t remember a Jane but there was a Sue, Chris, Alison and Tricia at about that time but who knows? Actually there was also a Bev but she later morphed into pommette so that’s a bit spooky. Sadly the cinema is closed but the building is still there with a rather forlorn look to it.

                I’d say :lol: for the past and :sad: for now.

                1. I was a one-man girl by that time and he morphed into a husband! Wonder how many marriages started off life in the back row of the Tatton?

  2. I could just say I agree completely with pommers and leave it at that but, not being known for brevity,I’ll carry on!
    I enjoyed this a lot but did find it quite tricky.
    I’ve never heard of 8d but it wasn’t too difficult to work out and look up.
    I agree about earn=pay in 27d.
    Got into a terrible muddle with 6/2d until I realised that the enumeration was a bit dodgy – could see it was an anagram.
    The bottom left corner took me ages – actually the whole crossword has taken ages – and I don’t understand my answers to 22 and 26a – maybe they’re wrong! Also don’t quite get the last couple of letters to 13d.
    I liked 11, 14 and 28a and 21d – sounds like the beginning of a joke!
    Thanks to Soup for the fun on a Saturday afternoon – back to marmalade making now.

    1. Hi Kath – try splitting your 13d answer into 2-2-1 and see if you can make sense of it then.

      1. Thanks – however did I miss that – saw the smell, thought the W was the first bit of we etc etc. Oh dear and damn and blast! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif

    2. Hey Kath,
      Glad you enjoyed it; I think people do find my puzzles on the trickier side of normal, so I’ll try to tone them down in future!
      8d: you obviously don’t have a Medlar tree!
      22: Bleakly pessimistic film genre is what I’d’ve put if it parsed, but the dictionary said it was ok. Or I suppose I could’ve put ‘Black french’ but that’s a bit of a giveaway.
      26a: It’s an anagram!
      Enjoy your marmalade; if you’re like my father you’ll have gone to the greengrocer’s this week and asked for several oranges.

      1. Thanks for your reply,
        I really enjoyed it and I don’t think you should tone them down. The NTSPP’s are, I think, supposed to be somewhere between the average back page cryptic and a Toughie – not sure where I got that from . . .
        No – we don’t have a Medlar tree!
        How I missed the anagram in 26a completely escapes me – my favourite expression again – oh dear!!
        Marmalade is work in progress . . . .
        Thanks again and ahttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif to you.

  3. Started off being a bit tricky but once I realised the ’18’ context it got a whole lot easier! Agree with pommers re: 8,16&27d and, like Kath, I’m not too sure about my answer for 22a. 13a is also worrying me a bit.

    Particularly liked 14&31a, but favourite goes to 10a – we’ve got an influx in the Nant Ffrancon valley at the moment!

    Cheers, Soup!

    1. You’re welcome, Jane!
      13a: you should probably have the jumper, so look at the four letters left – I think it’s probably more 60s or 70s public school slang than general parlance, but it’s in a few dictionaries…
      Pip pip

        1. Just got the parsing for 22a – too many far-right groups to remember, these days!
          ps Aren’t commas wonderful things!

    1. 8D: Go and research medlars!
      10A: A favourite of setters because it fits in where all others won’t. You should be able to get what it might be from the wordplay and then go and look it up…?

      1. All sorted. I had the wrong ending for 14A (can’t count today) which was throwing everything off.

  4. Slow today because I did have trouble parsing some of the clues and I’m not completely there yet. I did know the 10A bird, but with messing up 14A and then 7D , I couldn’t make it fit. Sorted eventually. 8D is a new word. I’ve not heard of a Medlar, but from Google it looks rather like a persimmon. Fortunately the 18A names were common ones. Where I live, we run more to the Golden Nugget or Double Eagle. 16D made me smile. It used to be chips with everything in the UK. Now it’s 16D with everything, including chips! Very strange.

    Thanks, Soup. I did enjoy this and look forward to seeing more of your puzzles before too long.

    1. :-)
      The 18as are the top five names in the UK, which is why I picked those ones.
      Leave your familiarity with medlars to the dictionary. My dad has a tree; we had about 20lbs off it a few years ago. After having left them to 8, we sieved them, added sugar and cinnamon, and used them as a tart filling. It was vile.
      Glad you enjoyed it; I have one in 1 Across this month and hopefully more there soon. There’s also a (hard!) one of mine on Alberich’s site – and, of course, if you want to commission one, http://www.customcrypticcrosswords.com (blatant plug – hope that’s ok).

      1. The Top Five … I wonder how many hours I have spent in them … and how many £pounds … Hic!

  5. Thanks to Soup for an entertaining puzzle. Congratulations on your promotion from Rookie Corner to the NTSPP.

  6. This puzzle has made me quite nostalgic. A good old British pub is at the top of the list of things I miss most about living in the USA (along with real fish and chips from a Chippy). We are fortunate, though, that our local watering hole, while it has no ambience whatsoever, does have a great bunch of weekend lunchtime (the only time we go t’pub) regulars. There is great banter, lots of friendly sports team rivalry, we have whip-rounds for anyone we know who’s ill or in need, and generally look out for each other. Someone hasn’t been around for a couple of weeks, somebody is off to his house to make sure he’s OK. I’ll take that.

  7. Couldn’t sleep until I finished that one.
    Don’t know if I was captivated or just plain stubborn.
    Anyway, it’s a nice preamble to next weekend reunion.
    8d made sense to me but I never knew it was used in UK. Quite common in France to describe over ripe fruits.
    I just can’t parse 17a. Can’t see the link at all.
    Funny how 4d almost reads backwards specially if you consider the “left” as an indicator.
    Thanks to Hamish/Soup.

    1. Re 17A, my interpretation is that the definition is bucks, as in money, but a down-under slang rather than American. Take the three letters of ‘now’ and mix ’em up (about), followed by the middle two letters of orgasm.

      1. You’ve got it, Chris. Prolixic says he thinks the ‘in’ is unfair, but I’d argue that “in the middle of orgasm” is “ga” just as validly as “the middle of orgasm” is, and it’s just a different way of referring to it.

      2. Afraid I didn’t look as deeply as that – just went for the name of the company that charges extortionate levels of interest to loan money!

        1. I have fond memories of Simon Mann’s request for a ‘large splodge of wonga’ to get him out of jail…

  8. Just a few comments on Prolixic’s review, which I think is mostly fair…
    1a: Looking at this again, yes, I think this could be better constructed.
    17a: As I said above: ‘in the middle of orgasm’ and ‘the middle of orgasm’ I think can be construed as the same thing. I wouldn’t do it all the time, but it makes for a sensible surface reading.
    18a: I think that’s ok, but then I’m on the liberal side of things.
    31: Now you mention it, I’m not sure either.
    Hopefully it was enjoyable for all; I will be less free with my thesaurus in future!

  9. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – pleased to see that I’d got all the parsing correct for once! By the way – the word ousel still survives in the name of the Ring Ousel, which is indeed a black bird with a white ring round its neck.

  10. Just did this in the 18a. Mine is called the old ship inn, where I like to get ship-wrecked. Many thanks Soup. I thought the review was very good and very instructive, thank you prolixic.

  11. Thanks Soup, an enjoyable romp!

    Thanks Prolixic – I’ll be joining you this week for a pint or two.

    I was waiting for 22 to pop up since the beginning. I learned the word in 8, doesn’t seem to be used in these parts….. it’s not in my ODE either, although it is in the BRB.

  12. I found this a very entertaining crossword. I really enjoyed the pub names and the way the clues were linked into the theme. It was very well done, I thought.

    I did manage to complete all of the puzzle. My only error was inexcusable. I missed the homophone in 11a and spelled the answer with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘i’. I found some clues quite tricky and the lower half took me much longer that the rest. Like Kath, I took ages to see that 26a was an anagram! I arrived at 8d from the parsing, but did have to check it in the dictionary.

    Many thanks, Soup, for the fun puzzle. Many thanks, too, to Prolixic for an entertaining and constructive review. Much appreciation to you both.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  13. A whole day late at getting to this one, but at least we are back in the world of crosswords once again. Quite a bit of catching up to and we thought that this one would be a good place to start. A well made decision it turned out to be. A lot of fun. Several of the pub names had us scratching our heads a bit, but in the end, had at least heard of them all at some time.
    Thanks Soup and Prolixic.

    1. The names are the top five in the UK – I thought that going for the odder ones wouldn’t be fair. (‘The Old Goat and Terrapin’ – clue that!). Glad you enjoyed it!

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