Toughie 1374 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1374

Toughie No 1374 by Giovanni

More Tea, Vicar?

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

It may have been that I was distracted by the unaccustomed sunshine outside but I found this one quite tricky for a Wednesday though I did thoroughly enjoy the struggle.
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

5a US broadcast against imperial measure by implication? (7)
PROGRAM – if you’re 3,4 then the implication is that you’re against pounds and ounces.

7a Time to leave second home for one wanting to explore? (5)
SCOTT – start with S(econd) and a small home and take away a period of time to leave the name of an ill-fated British explorer. I spent some time trying to justify scout here.

9a Skin problem? We’d like to hear from you (6)
CALLUS – split the answer 4,2 and it’s an invitation to get in touch.

10a The woman surrounded by group of soldiers is humiliated (8)
SQUASHED – a feminine pronoun is contained inside a small group of soldiers.

11a Restore the empty vicar with tea possibly? (10)
REACTIVATE – an anagram (possibly) of T(h)E VICAR and TEA.

13a Asian meat dish odd number (not even) consumed (4)
SATÉ – start with an odd single-digit number and drop the ‘even’, then add a verb meaning consumed.

14a A screaming loony grabs a politician in attempt to bring discredit (5,8)
SMEAR CAMPAIGN – an anagram (loony) of A SCREAMING containing A and the usual elected politician. Most politicians seem perfectly capable of bringing discredit on their own heads without needing outside assistance!

16a What may be interpreted as royalist tool? (4)
FORK – split the answer 3,1 and it could mean being in favour of a king.

17a Gets endless grub, ye’d fancy (6,4)
GREEDY GUTS – this is an all-in-one though you have to assume ‘One who …’ at the start. It’s an anagram (fancy) of GETS GRU(b) YE’D.

19a Give a lecture that’s riddle without sounding loud (8)
PERORATE – a verb to riddle or pierce without the musical abbreviation meaning play loudly.

20a Old car that’s kept by city producing different make (6)
OXFORD – O(ld) and a make of car contain (kept) the symbol used in multiplication to mean ‘by’. The answer is the city where Morris Motors manufactured some years ago the model of car which was named after that city. I learnt to drive in my father’s Austin Cambridge which was pretty much the same car with a different badge.

22a Result of match accident? One will get left out (5)
SINGE – remove the L(eft) from an adjective meaning one or individual.

23a Casual acknowledgement to Magi for gold received? (7)
TAKINGS – split the answer 2,5 and it could be a casual expression of gratitude to the Magi for their gifts in the Biblical nativity story. The ‘gold’ in the definition just means money.

Down Clues

1d Register  one proverbially sick? (4)
POLL – double definition. For the second one we’re in the world of post-match interviews – if the winning manager is ‘over the moon’ then the loser may be ‘as sick as a …’. The answer is a common name for the sick creature.

2d Louder support not coming to an end (8)
BRASSIER – a supporting garment without its final letter (not coming to an end).

3d Like one learning in small group maybe, mostly perceptive (6)
ASTUTE – like (2) followed by a person being taught (possibly in a small group at university) without the final letter (mostly).

4d Being made up — the tricks one will need to get smart! (10)
CONSISTING – a charade of tricks or scams, one in Roman numerals and an intransitive verb to smart or prickle. ‘The’ seems superfluous.

5d Head belting learner to make an impression (5)
PLATE – an old word for a person’s head contains (belting, in the sense of tying in) the letter used for a learner driver.

6d Bungling fellow taking time, leading others in haze (13)
MISMANAGEMENT – put together a fellow, a period of time and some more chaps and insert it all in a haze or light fog.

8d River beside NJ city (7)
TRENTON – charade of the river that flows through Nottingham and a preposition meaning beside or close to.

12d Report of European corporation gathering in place at international border? (10)
CHECKPOINT – what sounds like a native of Prague, say, is followed by a corporation or paunch containing (gathering) IN.

14d There’s nothing for one in wicked things, slobs! (7)
SLOVENS – start with wicked things or immoral acts and replace the Roman numeral for one with the word used in tennis to mean a score of nothing.

15d Home overlooking harbour area is where Arabs may gather (8)
PADDOCKS – these Arabs have four legs. An informal word for a home is followed by (overlooking) the area round a harbour or commercial port.

17d Good music-maker offering bits of rock (6)
GRAVEL – G(ood) and the name of a French composer.

18d Moulding a group of stars in the auditorium (5)
TORUS – this (new to me) is an architectural term for a large moulding, normally at the base of a column. It sounds like (in the auditorium) a constellation (and one of the signs of the Zodiac).

21d Scandinavian  hero of American fiction (4)
FINN – double definition, the second being one of Mark Twain’s fictional heroes.

My top clues today were 9a, 14a and 1d. Which ones took the honours for you?

26 comments on “Toughie 1374

  1. Tricky doesn’t begin to describe my Toughie experience today. I had two read-throughs of the clues before I wrote anything in at all. I even emailed a friend to find out whether it was just me and I should take up macramé as an alternative pastime – apparently it wasn’t so I perservated and eventually achieved a completed grid. 5*/3* with my favourite being 1d.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza

  2. A three sittings puzzle for me and well worth the effort, favourites were 9a 19a and 21d thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the dissection.

  3. Yes, hard work, this took me quite a while. At one point I wasn’t sure I was going to finish so I am happy I persisted. It all came together in the end…

    Last one was 14d (there’s nothing for one in wicked things), where I was trying to replace I with O, though I had the answer: only when I finally decided to write the answer into the grid anyway did I see the “love” – duh. Great clue.

    Like gazza, I spent ages trying to justify “scout” in 7a. (one wanting to explore). I think I was thrown by the “wanting to”, still not sure how that can be strictly applied to the right answer.

    I quite liked 14a (screaming loony), surface is very nice (first one in)

    I like the construction of 5a (against imperial measure) and 16a (royalist), it took me a while to twig, so these were aha moments (actually solving 5a made me look again at 16a. I was first trying to convince myself that JACK was a royalist tool.)

    I thought the grid might be nina-friendly, but didn’t spot anything.

    Many thanks Giovanni and thanks Gazza

  4. Phew – glad I wasn’t the only one who had difficulty in getting started. On my second read through I managed to decipher the anagram at 14a and then did the building from there. The SW corner clues were my last to click, but nonetheless it was all very enjoyable. I liked 14 & 17a and 15d. I had also put in ‘scout’ for 7a, but wasn’t really happy with it until the penny dropped.

    Thanks to Giovanni for the grey matter workout and to Gazza for his usual excellent review and confirming my parsing for 1d.

  5. I enjoyed getting 10 answers in total.I think I will leave Giovanni alone for a year or two.Thanks for the solutions and explanations , Gazza.

  6. Wow. That was hard work.
    I only had a few answers and stagnated for a long time until everything started to unravel.
    Almost as difficult as the gauniard prize crossword from Maskarade.
    I’m not going to defect to the other side but my masochistic temperament drives me to try harder and harder crosswords.
    The Don was definitely on a roll today and offered us a great challenge.
    It goes to prove that setters do take notice of our comments.
    17a was a bit of a strange construction but eventually made some sense.
    Liked the homophone in 12d.
    4d had a lovely surface.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza ( what a busy week) for the review.

  7. I also thought this was a proper Toughie. It took me ages to get my first in (17d), and then it was slow going until I had enough checking letters to speed progress. 7a was my last in, and I actually wrote “scout” in desperation before the penny dropped.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  8. I’ve looked at Gazza’s rating, clocked that the rest of you seem to concur, got (maybe) three answers in and am now going off to do something completely different by way of preserving sanity. Maybe a bit of light dusting.
    Before I go, just have to say – don’t you dare even think of defecting, Jean-luc, I keep rather hoping you might join the blogging team. How about it?

  9. Thank goodness you others found it tough going. I only managed 12clues and then brain drain took over. Think the answers just made me feel even more dense.
    Must try harder!

  10. We found this really tough and really good fun. Perseverance meant that we eventually had everything sorted out except 1d. We have never heard of the word used for a sick animal and a search of BRB did not help either. Perhaps we are still missing something. We also played around trying to parse ‘scout’ for 7a too.
    Much to enjoy.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

    1. The cliche is “sick as a parrot”, and the traditional name for a parrot is (or was) Poll or Polly. It’s a rather indirect clue, hence the question mark, I suppose.

    2. “Sick as a parrot” is an idiomatic phrase (used mainly by footballers or football managers after a defeat) – it means ‘gutted’.

    3. Thank you Physicist and Gazza. We had never heard of ‘sick as a parrot’, only ever ‘sick as a dog’. All that sleep foregone for naught. Just hope we can remember it now for next time.

  11. Is this a new Don? I certainly hope so. A completely different style and feel from his usual stuff. Yes, it was hard to get into but then it all started to gel and with a fair bit of cogitation, fell into place. Like others I was completely defeated by 7a, settling for scout without being able to say why. My favourites were 20a, 14d [like Dutch I spent a good while on this one] and the simply elegant 17d.
    One quibble [21d] – is Finland really part of Scandinavia? Don’t most Finns deny that they are Scandinavians?

    Many thanks to the new, improved Giovanni and to Gazza for the blog.

  12. Oh dear! I got 6d straight away and then………..just managed 23a (nice one) and 3d….and then…………..nothing…… Not a sausage!……diddly squat! Had to resort to the hints for the remaining seven that I got and then……….decided to activate the ejector seat and retire to sulk for the rest of the evening. The only thing that makes this sort of Ok is that most others seemed find it hard too. If everyone had come back with….Oooo it was easy peasy lemon squeezey I would have taken the Toughie and cut it into teeny weeny pieces!
    Now then, Liz,…. Grow up and stop making a spectacle of yourself……. Tomorrow things will be different! My birthday today and got Shepherds Pie for supper, so all’s well!

    1. Many belated Happy Returns of the Day Liz

      Don’t despair, if CS had to ‘phone a friend’ for today’s puzzle you can be sure it was pretty damn difficult

      1. Thanks SL. By this time next year I might be able to complete one unaided…… Who knows?…….

    2. Hi Liz,
      A very happy birthday to you – hope your Shepherds Pie was served by a suitably appealing shepherd?!!

      I’m just about to throw in the towel on this one – 11 definites plus a couple of shots in the dark. Imagine how we’d have felt if we’d been doing the review!

      1. Fat chance. Anyway got a lovely box of Bendicks mints and some champers to make up for the Toughie fiasco!

  13. 14a my favourite, 1d took an age for the penny to drop. Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza. 5* 4*

  14. Wow – that was an experience! All credit to the Don.
    From the ones that I got, my favs. would be 5a,17a & 15d. Several of the others I would never have answered in the proverbial million years. Well done indeed to those of you who made the finishing line.

    Many thanks to Gazza for shedding the light – you must be due some time off by now!

  15. Back to work after a five day break – so a late contribution.

    This was unbelievably hard work. A very slow start, then reasonably steady progress then very slow for the last half dozen. The easier end of Elgar has cost me less blood, sweat and tears. And I found the Jay back-pager slightly harder than usual

    I did not find it quite as entertaining as the consensus above. I think 5a is a great clue but 5d, 7a & 23a all seemed a bit dodgy to me. I thought of the (correct) answer to 7a quite early on in my battle but thought it was wrong because of the tense of the clue. He was an explorer not someone wanting to be one. As usual I struggled with the vocabulary / GK – I had not heard of the sick animal without a “y” on the end, nor the city in NJ, nor the alternative spelling of an Asian meat dish I cook quite often. My last entry was 14d – I had heard of the adverbial version but not the noun and did not know its proper meaning

  16. After two read-throughs and three answers, I jettisoned this. I’m not usually a quitter, but there are days when I have neither the time or the inclination to persevere with a puzzle that does not engage me on any level This was one of those puzzles and one of those days .

  17. I took this one to the pub and ended up three short before admitting defeat. Of my candidate answers to 7a, I successfully dismissed ‘scout’, but also, less successfully, the right answer! Likewise 21d, where I tried to justify ‘Dane’ but confidently ruled out the correct (discuss) answer. Generally very enjoyable, even for one like me who doesn’t necessarily ‘like it tough’. Favourites 17a and 20a, though I thought 1d was indirect to the point of being a tad unfair. Oddly, 14d was my first in. *****/**** from me. Thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza for letting there be light.

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