Toughie 1358

Toughie No 1358 by Micawber

Simples, my dear Watson

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

The only problem I had with this excellent puzzle from Micawber was that the enjoyment was all over too quickly. Luckily for me I was able to enjoy it a second time during the blogging process.
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 One who’s left school educated to destroy (10)
OBLITERATE – the abbreviation for a former pupil followed by an adjective meaning educated or well read.

6a Northern Irish party’s rejected Murphy (4)
SPUD – reverse the abbreviated name of what’s currently the largest political party in Northern Ireland plus the ‘S.

9a An idiot supplying port (7)
ANTWERP – AN and an idiot or chump.

10a Members of the aristocracy gaining billions in swindles (7)
NOBBLES – insert the abbreviation for billion into members of the aristocracy. Although M can stand for either million or millions, by some strange quirk the BRB only recognises this abbreviation as standing for a single billion, not the plural.

12a Revival of monkey leaving hospital to get special mention (13)
RESUSCITATION – a small brown monkey which is native to southern Asia loses its H(ospital) and that’s followed by a special mention, especially one commending the actions of a member of the armed forces in wartime.

14a Pupil of British philosopher gives courses (6)
LAYERS – start with the letter identifying someone under instruction and add the possessive form of a twentieth century British philosopher.

15a Provide wording for TV that’s refined to describe sex (8)
SUBTITLE – an adjective meaning refined or sophisticated contains an informal word for sex.
subtitle gaffe

17a Perceiving failure to finish the cake? (8)
NOTICING – nice to see a familiar friend. Split 3,5 and you’re neglecting to add the finishing touches.

19a Eliminated, Fulham come in for a bit of stick? (6)
OFFCUT – we’re into the 11-a-side game here. An adverb meaning eliminated contains the abbreviation for the Fulham club.

22a This person involved in riotous Russian demo — they might be punished (13)
MISDEMEANOURS – insert the objective pronoun identifying the writer into an anagram (riotous) of RUSSIAN DEMO.

24a Continuing to lead after having lost bearings? (3-4)
NON-STOP – a verb to lead (a league table, for example) follows a lack of two bearings (2,2).

25a Water source flowed between hotel yard and end of street (7)
HYDRANT – insert a verb meaning flowed into the letter for which Hotel is used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet, an abbreviation for yard and the end letter of street.

26a Character playing self, perhaps free from anxiety (4)
EASE – split the answer 1,2,1 and you could have a character playing itself.

27a Three successive letters: AB … why, it sounds like ABC! (10)
ELEMENTARY – spell out three consecutive letters from the alphabet then add an informal word for what AB is an abbreviation of and the letter that sounds like why.

Down Clues

1d Entrance to Circle Line by both ends of Victoria Tube station (4)
OVAL – this tube station is adjacent to, and named after, a Test Match cricket ground. The outer letters (both ends) of Victoria go between the letter that looks like a circle and L(ine).

2d Service computers, etc, in grip of virus, perhaps (7)
LITURGY – insert the abbreviation for computers, etc. into an unspecified (but often ‘dreaded’) illness which could be a virus.

3d Half-heartedly comfort child during exam — it could be worth a lot! (8-5)
TREASURE-CHEST – a verb to comfort or dispel fears loses one of the pair of letters at its heart. Add the abbreviation for child and put it all inside an exam.

4d Something to eat cooked at supper, cut up (6)
REPAST – remove (cut) UP from AT S(up)PER and cook up an anagram of what remains.

5d Second half of cancan coming up — usher, remove that woman causing problem for audience (8)
TINNITUS – two cans with the second reversed are followed by usher without the female pronoun (that woman).

7d Forecaster relying on manual skills? (7)
PALMIST – cryptic definition of a handy expert.

8d Takes money away from police officers wearing undergarments (10)
DISINVESTS – the abbreviation for senior detectives and ‘wearing undergarments’ (2,5).

11d Outlandish fauns bred to be help to humans (5,2,6)
BEAST OF BURDEN – anagram (outlandish) of FAUNS BRED TO BE.

13d Dessert wine is followed by skin complaint (10)
BLANCMANGE – a type of vin (not rouge but …) followed by a skin disease of animals caused by mites.

16d Insert cutting digested for detectives (8)
INTERPOL – start with a verb to insert or interject and remove (cutting) the verb meaning digested or swallowed.

18d More than one hot drink taken during breakfast is an espresso (7)
TISANES – hidden in the clue.

20d Fool gets stuck into wine and starchy food (7)
CASSAVA – insert a fool or nincompoop into a type of sparkling wine.

21d Song produced by colonialist on border (6)
ANTHEM – one living in a colony followed by a border.

23d Don’t go and wander off course — it’s not right (4)
STAY – a verb to wander off course without the R(ight).

I had the usual problem restricting my choice of clues. 6a and 5d made the podium but on the top step is 27a. Let us know which one(s) did it for you.

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24 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Agree with Gazza’s ratings today. The only one I was held up by was 26a. 27a was my favourite too.

    Thanks to Micawber and lucky Gazza.

    • andy
      Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Ditto!

  2. happy days
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Nice crossword with good surface readings. Just the right degree of difficulty for me

  3. Shropshirelad
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Great start to the day. Like Gazza I always enjoy a puzzle from Micawber, irrespective of how easy/hard it is. Liked 9 & 12a, 3 & 20d but my favourite for today is 5d – what a good clue! Thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and Gazza for his usual splendid review.

  4. halcyon
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    The usual top quality stuff with not a dud clue to be found.
    Favourites – 27a [clever construction and use of AB] 4d [cut up] and 5d [lovely logic and lovely surface].

    Many thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Like CS, my last one in was 26a. Took a bit of parsing. Was even looking for apprehension without the letters of perhaps but that didn’t make sense either. It’s only when I bunged it in that it became clear.
    I’ve always liked that word in 13d. Remember a pop band called that in the eighties.
    Like Shropshirelad my favourite is again 5d, same as for the back page.
    Although the clue was quite long, it’s the cancan = tintin that made me laugh.
    Thanks to Gazza for the review and hope that Franco’s 11d won at Cheltenham.
    Thanks to Micawber for the fun.

    • andy
      Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      re 13d funnily enough just this morning on spotify heard “living on the ceiling” for the first time in years.

  6. dutch
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Lots of nice wordplay and some great surface (except possibly 11d)

    I liked 5d though a bit long (the woman causing trouble in the audience), 27a (three successive letters – I was first looking for just the single letters), 25a (though not sure how a water “source” flows). I liked the wordplay in 16d more than the surface (insert cutting digested).

    Thanks Gazza for showing me the light for 19a (fulham), I hadn’t parsed it correctly.

    Last one in was 26a, like others – I was about to fill in easy without understanding why, and the act of writing made me see the e as ..

    Many thanks Micawber and gazza

  7. Toro
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant – I loved it, and thoroughly agree with Gazza’s assessment and choice of top clues. I think I might make the outrageously brilliant 5d my top pick though (“Usher, remove that woman…”!). But with a puzzle of this quality, almost every clue is a highlight.

    Many thanks to Micawber for such pleasure and to Gazza for the excellent review – as if laughs were not abundant enough, the still at 15d is priceless.

  8. Jane
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    A few stubborn ones put this well into 3* time for me – 4d I couldn’t fully parse (thanks, Gazza!), didn’t get the abbreviation at 27a and was very slow to find the hidden word at 18d.

    27a & 5d almost got top spot but my laugh out loud moment came from 8d,so it has to be my winner.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza – great TV moment!

  9. overtaxed
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable, and must have been straightforward, as its the first toughie I have managed to complete. Last in 26a – what a surprise.
    All the better, as I only tried it after looking at the back page blog where it was hinted this was not tough.

  10. KiwiColin
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Just what I like to see on a Wednesday, not too tricky and loads of laughs. Stand out favourite and last in was 5d although 27a was not too far behind.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  11. Outnumbered
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. **/****

  12. alan claxton
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Very disappointed, only 2 *’s but didn’t finish.
    14 Across is general knowledge, not cryptic and 2 down is just rubbish, where does the “service” come inhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

    • Toro
      Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      Service (as noun) is the definition, and in the surface it’s a verb, as in to service a computer infected with a virus. Nice clue, don’t you think?

      As a general rule it’s better to ask how a clue works before dismissing it as “just rubbish”.

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Lone voice, then. Granted, I had little time to devote to this today and as it turns out even less interest in pursuing it tonight because I found it tortuous and not at all enjoyable. Very few answers in. Sorry about that, Micawber. Thanks to Gazza for the review.

  14. Only fools
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Simply splendid from start to finish ,as was the review ,many thanks to both .

  15. Jane
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gazza – question for next time you look in. I mentioned not finding the abbreviation used as part of 27a – have just been trawling through Googleland and found 105 alternatives for AB. Not one of them is ‘tar’ or anything apparently similar. What am I missing?

    • Posted March 12, 2015 at 12:52 am | Permalink

      AB = sailor = tar

      They’re a couple of Usual Suspects!

      • Jane
        Posted March 12, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear – I really did know that one, BD. For some reason (poss. all those capital letters?) I was well off into chemical symbols and asphalt. Ah well – at least I now know what I was missing – the odd few grey cells!

        Many thanks.

  16. Owdoo
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    An occasional visit to Toughie corner for me was handsomely rewarded today. I found it a bit tricky but eventual completion without resorting to any hints was very satisfying, and with lots of chuckles along the way. 26a was also my last one in as it took me a while to fully understand the parsing. 27a I thought was a particularly clever clue and probably my favourite also.
    Thanks very much to Micawber and also Gazza.
    3.5*/5* for me.

  17. Tstrummer
    Posted March 12, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Had some post-radio spare time this morning so thought I’d take a crack at this – and I’m very glad I did. Marvellous from start to finish. Too many favourites to mention, with lightbulb moments aplenty, all bringing broad smiles. So thanks to Micawber for the brilliance and to Gazza for telling me why I was right when I had only half-parsed some clues, especially 26a and 4d. 5* fun from me

  18. Chris
    Posted March 12, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Probably too late to comment now, but I really liked this. The difficulty was just right – I put it down several times, kept picking it up again, suddenly saw another one or two I could do, ran out of ideas . . . repeat ad infinitum. I’m sad it’s over – 5* enjoyment! Hard to pick a favourite but I go for 5d.
    Last one in was 26a which was a bit too hard to see without the hints. Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

    • gazza
      Posted March 12, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      It’s never too late to comment!