Toughie 1346 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1346

Toughie No 1346 by Micawber

Shake It All About

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment *****

The name of today’s setter hadn’t appeared on the Telegraph website last night so it was a very pleasant surprise this morning to find the name Micawber, who, as I may have mentioned once or twice, is my favourite Toughie setter. I pretty much solved this one from the bottom up, with chuckles all the way and a great guffaw at 15d.

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

8a Edge of asphalt on shed tears — finish off cursory coat of paint (7)
ACRYLIC – the first letter (edge) of asphalt is followed by a verb to shed tears. Then we need a word for a quick and minimal application (coat) of something (e.g. paint) without its last letter (finish off).

10a One of these had homophone cut off (7)
OCCLUDE – the answer sounds like “a ****’d” where **** is one of the 29 found in the puzzle.

11a Does this sausage go with Italian beer? (9)
PEPPERONI – another word for go or oomph followed by a brand of Italian lager.

12a Boom’s gone into reverse — you must offload prime item of jewellery (5)
BIJOU – reverse another word for a boom (on a yacht or a crane, say) and add ‘you’ after removing (unloading) its first letter.

13a North American preference — not frozen kind of chip (5)
NACHO – the abbreviations for North and American are followed by a preference or selection without the frozen part.

14a Occupy hotel, coming in later (7)
INHABIT – the letter for which hotel is used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet is inserted in a phrase meaning later (2,1,3).

17a Vital to mock ‘cool’ jerks — but it can be wounding if it hits home (7,8)
MOLOTOV COCKTAIL – an anagram (jerks) of VITAL TO MOCK COOL.

19a Rough end of untreated wood (3,4)
RAW DEAL – I’m not sure how to classify this clue. The answer means a rough or unfair outcome and it’s a charade of ‘untreated’ and a type of soft wood. However, another way of describing the answer is ‘the rough end of the stick’ which is pretty much what the whole clue says.

21a Stories to tell in turn, entertaining sailors (5)
YARNS – a verb to tell or state is reversed and contains the abbreviation for our senior service.

24a Extra payout for principal of bank, having responsibility (5)
BONUS – the principal letter of bank followed by responsibility or duty.

26a Problem-free? That can’t be said of falling currency! (2,7)
NO TROUBLE – split the answer 3,6 and you identify a currency that can’t be said to be problem-free at the moment.

27a Socially awkward to leave half of dinner on plate (7)
NERDISH – drop half of the word dinner and add a serving plate.

28a Prepare herb tea to get inspiration (7)
BREATHE – an anagram (prepare) of HERB TEA.

Down Clues

1d Writer’s block coming on? Apply liquid! (6)
DAMPEN – a writing implement is preceded (coming on) by a verb to block or obstruct.

2d River’s current flowing round Middle-earth (8)
TROPICAL – the abbreviation for river has an adjective meaning current or ‘in the news’ going round it.

3d Policeman reported as being wasted on drink (10)
BLUEBOTTLE – a dated British slang term for a police officer is a charade of what sounds like a verb meaning wasted or squandered and a metaphor for alcoholic drink.

4d Legal officer with cops cut off at both ends amid angry riots (9)
SOLICITOR – a more formal word for cops loses its outer letters and what remains goes inside an anagram (angry) of RIOTS.

5d He’s not out to get bank transfer system overhauled (4)
SCAB – reverse (overhauled) the acronym for the UK banks’ clearing system.

6d Joke to needle Asian region (6)
PUNJAB – charade of a type of joke and a verb to needle or stab.

7d Rejection of bottom-pinching old royal (8)
REBUTTAL – an old adjective meaning royal (still used in a form of tennis) grasps (pinches) a North American bottom.

9d He’s not in gear, the fool (4)
CLOT – remove the “he’s” from a word for gear or attire.

15d Prison head sent down with no means to get out of cell — that’s what it’s all about! (5-5)
HOKEY-COKEY – start with a slang term for prison and send the top (head) letter to the bottom. Now add the letter that resembles zero and what you need to unlock a cell. My BRB has this as 5,5 with no hyphen.

ARVE Error: need id and provider


16d An extra bed covering retains a bit of heat in heavy snowfall (9)
AVALANCHE – A and some extra drapery intended to stop anyone seeing what’s under the bed contain the first letter (bit) of heat.

17d Lifeless bank suppressing ridicule (8)
MORIBUND – a bank or hillock contains a verb to ridicule or tease.

18d Circus folk wound cetacean surfacing (8)
ACROBATS – a verb to wound (with a dagger, say) is followed by a type of whale, then it all gets reversed (surfacing).

20d Succeed with effort in cold (6)
WINTRY – string together a verb to succeed and an effort or attempt.

22d Head of state Queen Elizabeth going around gardens with barbecue implement? (6)
SKEWER – the first letter (head) of state and the cipher of Queen Elizabeth contain the name of some botanical gardens in London.

23d Mounting objections end (4)
STUB – reverse (mounting) objections or reservations.

25d Body part seen during washing (4)
SHIN – hidden in the clue.

Candidates for top clue included the very smooth 11a, the very clever 19a and the ‘Who can he be referring to?’ 7d, but there can be only be one winner – the brilliant 15d.

48 comments on “Toughie 1346

  1. */***** for me which is why I recommended it in the ‘other place’. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza too.

  2. Nearly gave this one a miss after reading the surface of 8a (Any ideas as to the meaning?).

    But, I’m glad I continued with all the better clues. Very enjoyable and just about the right level of Toughie difficulty for me

    Thanks to gazza for explaining the wordplay in 15d & 9d.

    1. I don’t see any problem with the surface of 8a. The edge of the asphalt on the top of your garden shed is ripping apart – finish the painting which was done in a half-hearted way.

        1. Too right it would Franco. The hyphen completely spoils a super clue – wrecks the surface and detracts from the clever use of “shed tears” – although I see Gazza’s alternative reading of the surface.

  3. Very enjoyable toughie today.
    Can’t stop doing the hokey pokey. What a fun clue indeed.
    Liked the lick of paint too.
    And the reversal of 18d.
    But favourite is 14a for me.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  4. Gentle yet entertaining fare on offer today, favourites were 5d 11a and 15d thanks to the maestro and to Gazza for the comments.

  5. Lovely stuff from the wittiest of setters,only niggle is 10ac which to my way of speaking is not a true homophone.Still – great fun. Many thanks.

  6. For me that would have made a perfect back pager on a non-Ray T Thursday. Full of wit and invention and with lots of really good clues. The only one that didn’t work for me was the homophone in 10a which I have always pronounced o-klood, not a-klood, as in Chambers.
    As a Toughie 1*/4* – probably 3/4 if it had appeared on the back page.

  7. Needed the review to verify my answers for 10A and 11A were correct, and I’m probably being dim but I don’t fully understand the hint for 10A. I was way off beam on 2D. I had the correct answer but arrived at it by inserting the middle letter of earth into topical and wondering where in the world there was a river called Tropical! All good fun, though. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

    1. 10a One of these is ‘a clue’ so we want a homophone of A CLUE and the contracted form of had, i.e. ‘D. So a homophone of ACLUE’D.

  8. As ever, thoroughly enjoyed this gentle offering from Micawber. My only reservation is the reading of 7d – it seems to imply that the ‘bottom’ is pinching the ‘Royal’ , or am I just being thick? Anyway, 15d more than made up for it.

    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for his entertaining review (especially the photo for 7d).

      1. Thanks Gazza, I see where you’re coming from but I think it’s very much like using ‘without’ as a containment indicator (something I don’t like, along with those dreadful ‘Spoonerisms’). All the same, still an enjoyable puzzle.

  9. This has to be the simplest Toughie ever but it was a load of fun. My thinking for 2d was in line with yours Expat Chris. Big thanks to Micawber and Gazza. */*****. Now can’t get 15d off my brain!

  10. 10a Thought there were only 28 here but then realised 17 was both a. and d. Still don’t like the clue very much.
    With 2d wouldn’t “middle earth” be “equatorial”?
    Only being picky because, for once, apart from 9d, I finished it without hints.

  11. Splendid stuff apart from 8a. It should have at least a ? on the end as ‘acrylic’ isn’t just a type of paint and it’s a def by example. The word is also used as a shortened name for acrylic fibre and, most commonly, acrylic themoplastic of which the best known example is Perspex.

    Otherwise a great puzzle and I have to agree that 15d was the stand-out favourite. Think I also agree that Micawber is favourite Toughie setter – I’m also a fan of hos “Twitmericks” (Monday’s was brill).

    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza..

  12. Excellent. I realise that as Toughies go this is at the gentler end but I loved it.
    I particularly liked 13a and of course 15d. As somebody once said, what if the Hokey Cokey is what it’s all about
    Thx to all

  13. I put Hokey Pokey for 15d, and had to google to find out that itis Hokey Cokey in the UK.Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  14. 15d has to be my stand-out favourite too. I got it very quickly when I just had the H and read “That’s what it’s all about”. Working out the why took a little longer. Didn’t know the Italian beer for 11a but got the answer with the thought ” I don’t really need to parse every last letter on this one anyway”. Not too tricky and loads of fun.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

    1. I’d never heard of the Italian beer either but I just happened to spot some on the beer shelf at the local supermarket whilst looking for anothe brand.

  15. My second toughie completed, yes I did have some electronic help, yes everyone else said it was easy-peasy but I am still a happy little old lady. There is a great sense of achievement for me, thanks to setter and most of all BD who has given me the confidence to try a toughie.

    1. Sorry Gazza, I should remember my manners – a big thank you for explaining why – I was so excited that I forgot to say thank you.

  16. Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review and hints. I did ok on the bottom half, apart from 16d, which I thought was oversheet. Had never heard of valance. The top half was a complete mystery, needed 9 hints to finish. There were a lot of reversals in the wordplay. Still can’t understand 15d, despite reading the hint. Do you add okey twice? What is the slang for prison?

      1. Thanks for reminding me of the existence of the Guardian. Had a successful go at it. I print the crossword and go and solve it in my corner. Had a look at the blog the other day. Quite different. I think it’s online as soon as it’s published and individuals seem to help each other. This “élan de solidarité” is somewhat attractive but I think I prefer the suspense and wait for the review even if I sometimes seem to lose patience.

    1. The slang word for prison is CHOKEY. Drop the first letter (head sent down) to get HOKEYC. Add O KEY (no means to get out of cell).

    2. A valance here is a short curtain that goes across the top of a window. The thing that goes over the mattress is a skirt. I don’t understand the hint for 15D either. I had hokey pokey, which is the term used in the US, and pokey is slang for prison.

    3. Hi Heno,
      I think a lot of people got mixed up with that one. As I said earlier I couldn’t get that hokey pokey out of my head and the p for prison head was confusing. But an old prison is a chokey. Then you move the c at the end and add the o for no and key for the means to get out of cell. But I am sure gazza is answering as I write.

  17. Hurray – I’ve finished one on the same day that it came out! Easier than many other puzzles but I found it highly enjoyable nevertheless. My favourite clue was 18d. Many thanks to Micawber and to Gaza. Lets hope I can continue my run of form tomorrow and make it three in a row. Sh-Shoney.

  18. If l hadn’t been disturbed so frequently, l’d probably have completed in 2* time, so on balance 2*/4*. The NW corner held me up a bit, and contains my favourite – 11a. Many thanks to Micawber for an entertaining puzzle, and to Gazza for the review.

  19. My assessment is exactly that of Rick – a perfect Thursday back-pager puzzle if RayT is not on offer.

    The top left corner put up a bit of resistance but the other corners were “nice but soft”.

    When I start making comments about softness a Toughie soon appears to put me in my place! Long may that continue – a good mix is ideal for me

    PS Yesterday I made quite a tour of this web site looking to see if there was any advice on how to personalize the icon (or whatever it is called – vocabulary is not my strength!) that appears with my comments. I found a lot of interesting stuff, including intros to bloggers and a recipe for a curry, but no guidance to how I might do this (the icon that is , not the curry) . Any advice will be greatly appreciated

  20. A rare foray into not too tough Toughie territory for me today, which I really enjoyed. I had to “bung in” 3d & 15d and seek gazza’s clarification for these two answers. I must have led a sheltered existence, having never heard of the slang terms for policeman and prison.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to gazza.

  21. This seemed pretty tough to me, but with a little help from Gazza i finally completed the last few in the top half. I found it slightly more awkward than others so 4* / 4* for me. Many thanks to Gazza and Micawber.

  22. Quiet enough to leave it to the staff and sit at the bar with beer and the toughie. Just a little tougher than a difficult back pager but lots and lots of enjoyment. It has taken me until now to realise that Pep is Go in 11ac. We sell overpriced Peroni so that bit was easy with the checkers. If toughies appeared on the iPad I would start my day with them.. Thanks to Micawber for a splendid puzzle and thanks Gazza for the review. Especially the explanation of 18 down. Obvious from the definition and the checkers but a mystery until I read the hints

  23. A joy of a puzzle.

    I agree with others about the pronunciation of 10a. ‘O’klood for me.

    I’d never heard of the term for a policeman in 3d and although I’d heard of the ‘beer’ in 11a, it escaped my memory.

    Favourite by far is the brilliant 15d.

    Many thanks to Micawber for a beautifully constructed crossword and to Gazza for another first rate blog.

  24. Hiya
    First comment, been a lurker for a while. Great crossword kinda toughish but not too bad for me. Nearly gave up on 16 down till valance came in a flash

  25. Many thanks to Micawber for a Toughie that was certainly worth making the effort to stay awake for after a rather hectic day.

    Thanks to Gazza for the comprehensive review and particularly for the parsing of :-

    10a – I’m with Rick on the pronunciation
    7a – hadn’t come across this particular ‘royal’ before.
    15a – the hyphen caused a problem. Never occurred to me that the first letter would go down quite that far although, as 1K also said,
    I’d got the answer straight away from the ‘h’ and ‘that’s what it’s all about’.

    Best smiles came from 13&14a – I would have added 19a if the setter had used Gazza’s clue!

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