Toughie 1342 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1342

Toughie No 1342 by Firefly

Cave Canem

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

I found this a mixture of some very easy clues (most of the twelve 4-letter ones) and others where I had to do some research to understand the answer fully. There’s a theme based on 15d (which I solved by the back-door having got 3d first). Kennel Club members may object that the examples are not really a 15d but I think the term is being used in the informal rather than the specific sense. I enjoyed selecting the pictures.

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 Group of lags report a deficient meal (11)
CONSTELLATE – string together an informal word for lags or convicts, a verb to report or relate, A and a meal deficient in the final letter. The answer is a literary verb meaning to group or cluster together.

8a Reps rang re a change in schedules (11)
PREARRANGES – anagram (change) of REPS RANG RE A.

11a Affirmations, or just one? (4)
AYES – split 1,3 for just one affirmation.

12a List the setter’s name and alma mater (4)
MENU – what the setter may call himself followed by N(ame) and the abbreviation of a typical alma mater.

13a 150 thrown out of arcade after opening run riot (7)
ROISTER – remove the Roman numeral for 150 from an arcade or covered passage and place what remains after the opening letter of R(un).

15a A spasm fading precedes rheumatical distorting of a bone (7)
HUMERAL – remove (fading) a spasm (1,3) from rheumatical before making an anagram (distorting) of what you have left.

16a Tone upset by soprano, melodramatically (5)
LEMON – this tone or shade is reversed in (upset by) the clue. Upset works better as a reversal indicator in a down clue.

17a Wood  trade (4)
DEAL – double definition.

18a St Thomas seen off and on in Zeno’s place? (4)
STOA – just the odd letters of St Thomas. The answer is a covered colonnade and the most famous one was the **** Poikile in ancient Athens from which the philosopher Zeno lectured on stoicism. Since we’re selecting the odd letters shouldn’t it be ‘on and off’ rather than ‘off and on’?

19a Son’s not a paragon! (5)
SAINT – S(on) is followed by an informal way of saying ‘S NOT.

21a Cover sweetheart front to back with ‘erbage (7)
OVERLAY – a sweetheart with its first letter moved to the back is followed by dried grass without its aspirated letter.

22a Short signal about flipping engineers finding fault (7)
DEMERIT – an alternative word for the short signal used in Morse code contains the reversal (flipping) of the army’s electrical and mechanical engineers.

23a Behold — in the flesh! (4)
LOIN – an exclamation meaning behold followed by IN.

26a Young Conservative has a long face initially (4)
CALF – C(onservative) followed by the initial letters of three words in the clue.

27a Capital familiarly represented as Gothic, fitly (4,2,5)
CITY OF LIGHT – an anagram (re-presented as) of GOTHIC FITLY. The phrase usually refers to Paris, possibly because it was the first European city to have street lighting in the 1860s. JB has suggested a rival city (Lisbon) as the city of light – this may well go to a penalty shoot-out!

28a Insect takes sweet drink, going to heart of flower — hazel maybe? (6-5)
MEADOW-BROWN – charade of a sweet drink made with honey, the middle letters of flower and what hazel is a shade of.

Down Clues

2d Sweeps maybe get a bit of hoarseness (4)
OARS – hidden (a bit of) in the clue. Sweeps are long varieties of these.

3d Lies spread about Peter’s 15 Down (7)
SPANIEL – an anagram (spread) of LIES containing Barrie’s Peter.

4d Rear light’s not right, hence peer? (4)
EARL – remove right (the whole word, not an abbreviation) from rear light.

5d Extended period in Marathon? (4,3)
LONG RUN – double definition.

6d Bear to join up (4)
TEEM – reverse (up) a verb to join or come together. The BRB confirms that one of the meanings of the answer is to bear or be fruitful.

7d Comedy scientist fails to finish drawing 15 Down (11)
LABRADOODLE – there was apparently a BBC sitcom about scientists called *** **** (it can’t have been very successful because it only lasted one series). Anyway, we have to drop the last letter from one of these scientists (fails to finish) and follow up with a drawing made absent-mindedly.

8d Wandering fairy’s wretched without husband (11)
PERIPATETIC – charade of a fairy from Persian mythology and an adjective meaning wretched or woeful without the H(usband).

9d Admin area in Tate’s racier after refurbishment (11)
SECRETARIAT – an anagram (after refurbishment) of TATE’S RACIER.

10d Clean Mum’s pet — a 15 Down? (4,7)
BULL MASTIFF – a slang verb meaning to clean and polish one’s military kit to within an inch of its life is followed by an affectionate term for mum plus the ‘S and a pet or fit of the sulks. I was not aware, prior to consulting the BRB, that the first word could be a verb as well as a noun and I don’t understand why Mum is capitalised.

14d Broadcast nearly ruined when intro’s lost (5)
RELAY – an anagram (ruined) of (n)EARLY.

15d Harry gets house north of stadium with 50 per cent off (5)
HOUND – the abbreviation for house is followed by (north of) the second half of a sports stadium.

19d Supposing Miliband embraces twinkling 15 Down? (7)
SAMOYED – put together a word meaning supposing or ‘as a hypothesis’ and Mr Miliband’s forename, then insert a twinkling or short period of time.

20d Note second layer’s more crusty (7)
TESTIER – a note from tonic sol-fa is followed by S(econd) and a layer or row.

24d Flower of love, opening in Egypt (4)
NILE – love (in tennis scoring) followed by the opening letter of Egypt.

25d Sundry acres — that’s a relief, we hear! (1,3)
A FEW – the abbreviation for acres followed by what sounds like an expression of relief. The abbreviation for acres (as a plural rather than singular) is not in my edition of the BRB but it is in Chambers XWD Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations.

26d Carbon method employed in 15 Down (4)
CHOW – the chemical symbol for carbon is followed by a noun meaning the method employed.

The clue I liked best was 8d. Let us know which one(s) delighted you.

If you’re not yet completely puzzled-out and you haven’t found her yet, Arachne is in sparkling form in the Guardian.




36 comments on “Toughie 1342

  1. I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this very much, the sitcom in 7d went over my head, struggling to find a favourite. Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review.

  2. Not particularly tough and not a lot of fun to be had either, although I did smile at the 7d as the boss has one.

    I second Gazza’s recommendation of the Arachne in the Graun and fans of Elgar will find a ‘cheeky’ IO in the FT.

  3. Don’t know much about dogs I’m afraid to say.
    10d was a bung in thanks to the theme and the checking letters.
    Didn’t get 7d though nor 19d as I had Yellow-brown for 28a.
    These three clues were quite hard to parse I found.
    15a is my favourite and one of the first I got. So was 13a.
    Thanks to firefly and to Gazza for helping me to complete the grid.

  4. Never heard of the sitcom in 7d I’m afraid, nor of the strange chimera in the answer, so thanks for the enlightenment Gazza. Thanks also for the parsing of 22a, I was trying in vain to make do with just one set of engineers. I thought “precedes” was odd in 15a but Gazza has explained that nicely too.

    I quite like 11a (affirmations or just one), though I may have seen something similar before. I also liked the Paris clue (27a).

    Many thanks Firefly, nice theme which took me a while to unravel, and thanks Gazza

    Will definitely go have a look at Arachne in the Guardian, thanks Gazza & CS

  5. I’d never heard of 18a, or that particular meaning of 6d, so needed a couple of hints to complete. Nevertheless, happy with 2* (and 3* for satisfaction). Favourite has to be 3d, if only because of the two springers lying loyally around my chair! Thanks to Firefly, and to Gazza.

  6. Not sure about this puzzle today. It certainly lacked any ‘fun’ element for me and seemed to be a bit contrived (sorry Firefly). I initially put down ‘whangdoodle’ for 7d which threw me off the scent a bit as I’ve never heard of the comedy show. Thanks to setter and Gazza for his review which helped with the parsing of some clues.

      1. JB, I do apologise. For some reason I was looking at the wrong crossword hence my question marks (I’m not having a very good day

    1. Thanks, JB – you’re probably right though the source of my information (Wikipedia) says:
      Paris is often referred to as “The City of Light” (“La Ville Lumière”),[7] both because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment, and more literally because Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt gas street lighting. In the 1860s, the boulevards and streets of Paris were illuminated by 56,000 gas lamps.

  7. I enjoyed this one – sounds as if I enjoyed it more than others did.
    It took me ages to get 15d which meant that all the other clues relating to it took ages too.
    I was a bit doubtful about 6d and the first word of 10d.
    I’ve never heard of the sitcom in 7d and just assumed that a ‘labrat’ was a comical/slangy term for a scientist – not sure that elder Lamb would appreciate being called that!
    I always forget which way round the Roman numerals for 50 and 500 are i.e. which is ‘L’ and which is ‘D’ so spent too long on 13a trying to do something with ‘arcade’ without the ‘C’ and the ‘D’. Oh dear!!
    Needless to say 16a took ages.
    My favourite was either 7 or 8d.
    Thanks to Firefly and to gazza.

    PS As a Mum I think I’m allowed to be capitalised!

    1. I’m sure elder Lamb would have heard of lab rats. It is a term applied to scientists so absorbed in their work they hardly ever leave the lab to enjoy a normal outside life. Some might even consider it a compliment!

      1. She does (leave the lab and enjoy a normal outside life) and she wouldn’t (consider it a compliment)!
        I have no idea whether or not she’s heard of lab rats – I’ll ask her.

  8. I am deeply disappointed with those who could not get 7d given the publicity our Polly has received on here over the past couple of weeks!
    Getting that and 15d made this pretty straightforward for a Toughie and I agree with Gazza that most of the four-letter words were back page easy. I ended up with three to do, all containing a double unch and was primed to get grumpy but they all yielded with some extra thought.
    I also agree with CS that there is better crossword fun to be had away from the DT today.

    1. 7d: For me, this was the combination of an obscure sitcom with an obscure answer and that is the making of a bad clue. One obscurity is fine.

      I did like Arachne in the Guardian today.

  9. Seems I’m in the minority because I mostly enjoyed this. Never heard of the sitcom for 7D. I just took lab rat to be an amusing name for a scientist. I liked 1A and 7D best. I did think 16A was a bit weak, though. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  10. I’ve obviously not got my crossword head on today.
    I needed most of the checkers in to get 15d and even then I made hard work of it. Fortunately the long anagrams helped open the grid up a bit. 22a was a complete guess as was 19d

    Rick you’ll be pleased to know I did get 7d fairly easily!

    Many thanks to Firefly for the challenge and to Gazza for blogging. I was hoping we would get another pic of your beautiful lab for 15d!! :-)

    1. Hi Hanni – don’t think either Gazza’s black beauty or the Kennel Club would approve of you putting a member of the Gundog group in with the Hounds! Perhaps he could have sneaked in a couple of extra pics at 7d?

      1. You’re right of course. My mistake. :-(

        I’m definitely in the Gundog fan club, I grew up with labs! And my siblings and parents. ;-)

  11. I thought I would tackle the Toughie today as i had a bit of time on my hands. I actually almost completed it to my surprise – perhaps being a dog lover helped!

    I was puzzled by 7d, though I knew what the answer was – a bit obscure IMHO.
    Then 15a was my last in – I knew the bone and so the adjective but I could not figure out the wordplay until I saw the hint above – very clever!

    Then 10d puzzled me as I knew the dog again, but could not understand the first word. The hint above told me why I couldn’t figure that out!

    Ah -well, close to success!

  12. This took me longer than it should have done as it took ages to work out the all important 15d. I had been trying to make ‘hotel’ work there. Once I had that one in it became much simpler to complete with all the related clues becoming write-ins. In the end I did not parse the first part of 7d, never having heard if the programme, and needed BRB to confirm 28a.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  13. Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review and hints. Just like yesterday, did about half and got stuck, only needed 11 hints today instead of 13. Perhaps I’m improving

  14. I don’t normally do the Toughie, but with more time on my hands today I thought I’d give it a go,

    Gazza’s “Cave Canem” clue was the only hint I used to get me started, so I had a fair idea that “dogged” perseverance might be required !

    I had not heard of the verb in 10d and was unaware of Zeno in 18a, but solved the clues regardless from the wordplay.

    7a was last in – I agree that it’s rather unfair to expect solvers to be aware of a fairly obscure programme and perhaps “experimental subject” might have been better than “comedy scientist” ?

    Thanks to both Firefly and Gazza.

  15. I am back in the cupboard under the stairs, I got absolutely nowhere. Only managed about ten answers despite having all four of the long ones making the central square.

    1. Don’t despair! Most of us have walked in your shoes. Indeed, there are still some setters whose brains work in such mysterious ways that I feel I’ve achieved something to get just a handful of answers!

    2. Please don’t despair Hilary.

      There are days that some crosswords may as well and be in Swahili for me. Usually when the Don’s involved.

      10 answers on the Toughie is fantastic!

  16. Yesterday work interrupted the usual crossword period so I tried to tackle the first two toughies of the week in one elongated session this lunch time. I found them harder than the bloggers – probably because of a number of unfamiliar words and dogs. Both 3* difficulty to me.

    So it is Elkamere tomorrow – a setter I am really warming to in recent months. I am sure it will not be easy. Looking forward to it though

  17. 16a is such an appalling clue I can’t believe Phil is still on watch. Anyway , the theme obviously had me hooked. Some friends have rescued a 4 mnth old 26d. They don’t think the mutt is going to get much bigger. Oh what joys they have in store. Cheers Gazza and Firefly

  18. Pretty hard work and not a great deal of fun at this end. An embarrassing number of bung ins, some of which I never did quite parse properly before reading the review. Rather liked 5d for its simplicity and 21a (despite the surface read) – favourite slot for 8d.

    Thanks to Firefly for the rather different theme and to Gazza for making sense of it all.

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