Toughie 1375 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1375

Toughie No 1375 by Micawber

It’s homophone day

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

An enjoyable puzzle which was more difficult than I thought it was going to be after I made a bright start. After I’d filled in the grid I then had to think about the wordplay for half-a-dozen or so ‘bung-in’ entries

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.


1a    Elders perhaps encourage branch manager? (4,7)
TREE SURGEON: Plants such as elders + ‘encourage’ (4,2) = a person that cuts off branches

7a    Language in Africa both sides spin (5)
TWIRL: A dialect spoken in Ghana + single-letter abbreviations for both sides

8a    Bear market — hard to gather intelligence (3,2,4)
PUT UP WITH: ‘To bear’ = ‘to market’ (3,2) and H (hard) round intelligence

10a    Finance officer gets motor trip that’s not for everyone (7)
AUDITOR: A German car manufacturer + a trip with the letter U (for everyone) omitted

11a    Mrs Piggy’s picked up underwear (1-6)
Y-FRONTS: A homophone (picked up) of a Mrs (4) and the smallest pigs in litters (5)

12a    From recitation, expression gets worn out (5)
FRAYS: A homophone (from recitation) of an expression (6)

13a    East German xenophobia gets cold shoulder (9)
OSTRACISM: The German word for east (with the umlaut removed) + xenophobia

16a    Clubbed together, perhaps, after something having been chewed over (9)
CUDGELLED: Something that cows chew + ‘came together’

18a    Sweet Malaga’s the ultimate (5)
ELFIN: Spanish for ‘the ending’

19a    Pushes setter’s attitudes (7)
IMPOSES: ‘The setter is’ + attitudes

22a    Chinese money cornering tortoiseshell perhaps in area of Mexico (7)
YUCATAN: The monetary unit of China round an animal that might be a tortoiseshell

23a    Alcohol has Young Conservatives reeling merrily (9)
GLYCERINE: An alcohol (not for drinking) is an anagram (merrily) of Y C REELING

24a    Commercial will take a very long time — say it again and again! (5)
ADAGE: A commercial + a very long time

25a    Integrative reforms that will be put on the table in France (11)
VINAIGRETTE: An anagram (reforms) of INTEGRATIVE


1d    News can be so old, writing after an interval (5-4)
THIRD HAND: ‘Writing’ follows a musical interval

2d    Pedal attachment picked up outside shed light on early tools (7)
EOLITHS: A pedal attachment (i.e. something that goes on the foot) is reversed and then is put round ‘shed light on’ to give Stone Age implements

3d    Great bird that hunts big game (5,4)
SUPER BOWL: Great (6) + a bird that hunts (3) = American football’s biggest game

4d    Irritable Republican lawyer getting short (5)
RATTY: R (Republican) + a 4-letter abbreviation for a lawyer

5d    English politician getting no publicity set up large-scale marketing operations (7)
EMPORIA: E (English) + a politician + ‘no’ + a reversal of ‘publicity’ = large shops that sell a wide variety of goods

6d    Broadcast controlled by Nationalists in Scottish town (5)
NAIRN: ‘To broadcast’ in NN (N = Nationalist)

7d    Transport czar’s illegal activity (11)
TRAFFICKING: Transport + a czar

9d    Greeting observed by church in which minister’s introduced the Cardinal (3,8)
HIS EMINENCE: A greeting + ‘observed’ + church round an abbreviation for ‘ministry’

14d    It’s displayed in bed, dear toy losing stuffing? (5,4)
TEDDY BEAR: An anagram of BED DEAR TY (Toy without the middle letter or stuffing)

15d    Make a fool of, reportedly, through your consumption of butter (9)
INFATUATE: A homophone (reportedly) of ‘through your consumption of butter’ (2,3,3,3)

17d    Orient‘s sweeper’s centre back (7)
EASTERN: The middle letter of sweEper + ‘back’

18d    Uncovered workstation worker’s to have a spell on (7)
ENCHANT: A worktable with the first letter removed + a worker (of the insect variety)

20d    Source of e.g. drama you get in instalments? (3-2)
PAY-TV: I’m not sure about this one. Is it just a cryptic definition or is there something more subtle?

21d    Genre producing audible sounds of dejection and disgust (3-2)
SCI-FI: A genre of book or film is a homophone of a sound of dejection (4) and an interjection denoting ‘disgust’ (3)

Four homophone clues (but I don’t care)

21 comments on “Toughie 1375

  1. Couldn’t believe it – 1a straight in and all the corresponding down clues with the exception of 3d. So, off to a great start…… and then the reality check. Some clues were easily solved but others I couldn’t immediately see the parsing (couldn’t get ‘yen’ out of my head to make 22a work). All in all I think it was quite high up in the Toughie scale, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle from one of my favourite setters.

    Thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and Bufo for shedding some light on the parsing.

  2. A better effort from me today, with just two I needed the hint for…15D and 18A. Kicking myself over 15D but since I do not speak Spanish, 18A was a no-go. Several correct answers I could only partially parse or couldn’t parse at all (11A). Liked 21D and 2D (because I was able to sort it out). Thanks, micawber and Bufo.

  3. Great puzzle as usual from Micawber. I started very hesitantly – failing to get 1a despite spotting “elders”! But 11a was a gimme to compensate so the RHS fell into place, then the SW and finally the rest, with 12a the last in.
    Favourite is the cutesie 14d.

    Thanks to Micawber and Bufo for the blog

  4. I didn’t find this at all difficult but would definitely award 5*+ for entertainment – I smiled all morning right up to the time I had to go to the world’s most boring meeting.

    Lots and lots of clues I really liked, particularly 21d. I am also fond of clues which require the SUPERB OWL to make an appearance (he’s been around a lot in crosswordland recently but he still makes me smile).

    Thank you to Micawber for brightening up my morning and to Bufo for the review.

  5. Got defeated by 2d. Eplates being the only thing I could come up with.
    Micawber made me travel quite a bit from Scotland to Ghana via Mexico and Spain not to forget Ost Germany, Russia, China and the U.S.
    And the U.S. win with 3d being my favourite.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for the very helpful review.

  6. Very enjoyable puzzle, though I missed the parsing of 11a (Mrs piggy’s) – thank you bufo for explaining that one!

    Many nice clues, particularly liked 1a (branch manager!), 13a (east german xenophobia), 25a (integrative reforms put on the table..) 4d (irritable republican lawyer) and 7d (transport car, though I think I’ve met him before)

    I just assumed the african language had to be right, didn’t look it up (7a)

    18a (sweet malaga’s the ultimate) did my head in, took me a while and cute as it is, I’m still not convinced this meant sweet – synonym of synonym again.

    brilliant puzzle, many thanks macabre and bufo

    That’s spell check! though perhaps not a bad pseudonym. Sorry, many thanks *Micawber*

  7. I found this dramatically easier than yesterday’s Giovanni, with lots of nice clues as one would expect of a Micawber. 14d is a lovely all-in-one. 11a, 3d and the branch manager in 1a also stood out for me.

    Like Bufo, I can’t see more than a cryptic definition in 20d, with a pun on ‘instalments’.

    Re. 13a, my German is rusty but I don’t think there’s an umlaut on Ost.

    Thanks to Micawber (whose wonderful limericks I discovered today too), and to Bufo for the excellent review.

    1. Oh good – I think he’s also in rotation for this Sunday’s prize crossword in the Times. That should keep me busy.

  8. Not really qualified to report on this one as I didn’t manage to finish it and what I did complete I only did with massive use of the admirable hints. So I can’t say I enjoyed it much……but perhaps as I get better the enjoyment will also increase? Quite disheartening when everyone else seems to have found it fairly straightforward! Of course things weren’t helped by the fact that I misread 1a as 7,4 instead of 4,7 so that’s my excuse.
    I think the nice thing about these puzzles is that no matter how rubbish one is on a particular day, one can always start afresh the next day…….a bit like falling down on the diet by pigging out on Ferrero Rochers or falling off the wagon…… Tomorrow one starts anew!

  9. A real Goldilocks puzzle for us. Just the right level of difficulty to keep us working hard, and the answers all yielding after a bit of effort. Sorting out the finer points of the wordplay on the last few eg 9d and 15d meant the pleasure went on and on. Hugely enjoyed it.
    Thanks Micawber and Bufo.

  10. I think our friendly New Zealanders are spot on. Goldilocks. The back-pager and Toughie together took precisely the time available (great puzzles of course go into injury time then extra time then …..) I found the NW corner a touch tricky and the rest fairly straightforward. However I still don’t get the second part of the homophone for 21d – ie I see the first part of the 4,3 but not the second. Sounds like a Greek letter in these parts but I see (hear) no connection to “disgust”

    So Elkamere again in the Friday slot. Sounds like injury time plus, thank goodness

  11. OK apart from the NW corner, where two words were completely new to me. On balance, 3* for difficulty and 4* for satisfaction derived from completion. The very first clue l solved -1a – is still my favourite. Thanks to Micawber for the exercise, and to Gazza for the review.

    1. I’m normally lucky enough to get the Micawber Toughies to blog on Wednesdays, but this week something seems to have gone wrong with the scheduling at Telegraph Towers (possibly due to the Bank Holiday?) and this one was excellently blogged by Bufo, not me.

  12. Loved it, when the penny dropped re the underwear and piggies…….., Thanks to Micawber and Bufo

  13. So near and yet so far.

    The borders fell like dominoes.

    But 2d was not to be. I am sure that I’ve come across it before, however it elluded my memory today. Nor have I heard of 22a but it was written fairly. This bit of unknown geography allowed me to go ‘old school’ in checking. I got all my best atlases out. Such fun, such work avoidance.

    I made mistakes but who doesn’t. Putting in ‘imposed’ for 19a was one of the better ones.

    I enjoyed this.

    Many thanks to Micawber for your skills and to Bufo for a fine blog.

  14. I found this easier than the previous two Toughies this week, which were suitably challenging, and therefore notably more satisfying. I was very unhappy with 18a. ‘Elfin’ is not a synonym of ‘Sweet’ in any dictionary or Thesaurus, and I’d concluded that the answer was probably ‘Enfin’ although the word ‘Sweet’ in the clue made no sense, so this wasn’t satisfactory either. My favourite clues today were 7d and 9d.

  15. Just finished this excellent puzzle although I needed help with 16a and the homophone at 12a also beat me. There were so many first class clues, especially the SUPERBOWL and YFRONTS. We also had plenty of new words to play with at 2d, 7a and 18d to name but a few! Very enjoyable and right on the top edge of my skills. This was a *****/***** for me. Thanks to Micawber and to Bufo for his explanations. Sh-Shoney.

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