Toughie 1386 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1386

Toughie No 1386 by Osmosis

It’s all coming back to me

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I’d have recognised this as an Osmosis production even if I hadn’t known the setter. It’s chock-full of his usual complicated wordplay including lots of reversals. I’m not complaining – I enjoy deciphering such clues but it’s quite tricky trying to write unambiguous hints without the use of nested brackets.
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 Constant redirecting of insects, say, frustrated photographer (5,6)
CECIL BEATON – this is an old British portrait photographer. Start with the constant used for the speed of light, add the reversal (redirecting) of some parasitic insects and finish with what sounds like (say) frustrated or thwarted.

10a Inferno dies down, female overcome by heat initially (5)
HADES – a verb meaning dies down or declines with the F(emale) replaced by the initial letter of heat.

11a Country festivity captivated university mate when drunk (9)
GUATEMALA – a festivity or pageant contains U(niversity) and an anagram (when drunk) of MATE.

12a To deviate from hospital routine, knocked back fish (4,5)
TURN ASIDE – join together an informal term for a hospital for convalescents and an unproductive and boring routine, then reverse (knocked back) it all. Finally append a freshwater fish very popular in Crosswordland.

13a New Forest resident perhaps with fewer locks, heading out (5)
ALDER – an adjective meaning having fewer locks or with less on top loses its first letter.

14a More important greetings discussed (6)
HIGHER – this sounds like (discussed) an informal 4-letter word said on meeting an acquaintance, more casual than “Greetings!”.

16a Roofer’s material dry inside this part of boot? (8)
STILETTO – insert a roofing material and an abbreviation meaning dry or teetotal into an adverb meaning this (as in ‘the fish I caught was this long’).

18a Are characters out to lunch OK consuming Southern Comfort? (8)
REASSURE – an anagram (characters out to lunch) of ARE is followed by an informal response meaning OK or yes. Finally insert (consuming) S(outhern).

20a Beverley experiences this bird grabbing bit of crust with bill (3-3)
TIC-TAC – there are 59 racecourses in the UK and one of them is in Beverley in East Yorkshire. This is the traditional secret sign language used by bookmakers (it’s pretty well died out now that all bookmakers have embraced modern technology). A small songbird contains the first letter of crust with the abbreviation for a bill or invoice bringing up the rear.

23a Boozer about to enter abbreviated text (5)
LOCAL – insert the two-letter abbreviation for about or approximately into an abbreviation used in texting (the one that Dave Cameron thought meant ‘lots of love’ when he sent it to Rebekah Brooks).

24a Traffic system documents little man having passed junction depressed (5,4)
TIDAL FLOW – the abbreviation for identity documents and a shortened man’s name follow (having passed) a type of road junction. Finally we need an adjective meaning depressed or dejected.

26a Romeo cavorting with nun around wing of Uffizi? Berlusconi once (6,3)
NUMERO UNO – the Italian buffoon and former top banana is obviously the flavour of the week in Toughieland. This is an anagram (cavorting) of ROMEO and NUN containing the leading letter (wing) of Uffizi. It is reported that Berlusconi employed strippers dressed as nuns for his bunga bunga parties so the surface here is excellent.

27a State marriage vow full of heart to Graham (5)
IDAHO – a marriage vow (1,2) contains the central letters of Graham.

28a Challenge mother to meet a girl around African city (3,2,6)
DAR ES SALAAM – start with a verb to challenge or provoke. Now string together an affectionate term for mother, A and another word for girl and reverse it all (around).

Down Clues

2d Editor’s hesitation about 1 Down comes from this (5)
EIDER – bring together the abbreviation for editor and an expression of hesitation and insert the Roman numeral for one. The clue would mislead a bit more if there was a “1 down” clue in the puzzle.

3d Scruff restrains mum applying number one trim (2,5)
IN SHAPE – scruff here means the back of the neck so we need another word for that containing the instruction to keep mum. Then we have to precede all that (applying?) with number one in Roman numerals. The first definition of the verb to apply in the BRB is ‘to lay or put in contact’ so it may just about work but I don’t think it’s very good.

4d VIP‘s swinging concert attracting women (6)
BIGWIG – an informal adjective meaning swinging (both ways) and a concert containing W(omen).

5d Paltrow regularly eats jam up and French liqueur (8)
AMARETTO – the even letters of Paltrow contain the reversal (up) of a verb to jam or stuff and the French for ‘and’.

6d Garment used for sweeping? (7)
OVERALL – double definition, the second an adjective meaning sweeping or comprehensive.

7d Wife adjusted leather hat in sports ground (5,4,4)
WHITE HART LANE – BD will love this one. W(ife) is followed by an anagram (adjusted) of LEATHER HAT IN.

8d Spot artist over in club very busy (4,2,2)
HARD AT IT – join together a spot or tiny amount and the usual artist then reverse it all (over) inside a verb to club or thump.

9d Film commotion with farm animal cub (5,2,6)
CARRY ON COWBOY – join together a commotion or fuss (5-2), a farm animal and a youngster.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

15d Old copper, back in flashy area, gets complaint (8)
GLAUCOMA – reverse (back) O(ld) and the chemical symbol for copper inside an informal adjective meaning flashy or alluring and A(rea).

17d Point out specialist joining firm that Germany’s invested in (8)
PROTRUDE – an informal word for a specialist or expert is followed by an adjective meaning firm or stalwart containing the IVR code for Germany.

19d Places to get bronze cast also raised publicity (7)
SOLARIA – an anagram (cast) of ALSO is followed by the reversal (raised) of a word for publicity or exposure.

21d Dislike West interfering in eastern state repeatedly (3-4)
ILL-WILL – a standard abbreviation for this US state is repeated with W(est) getting inserted. I usually get taken to task by Expat Chris when I write about codes for US states (and I know this isn’t the zip code) so I’m keeping my fingers crossed this time.

22d Faceless nerd going to extremes with computer stuff (3-3)
ADD-ONS – a word for a nerd or socially inadequate person (usually male!) loses its first letter (faceless) and is followed by the abbreviations for the furthest you can go latitudinally without leaving the planet.

25d Climber reversing tack on Annapurna’s peak (5)
LIANA – reverse a tack or pin and add the top letter of Annapurna.

I liked 18a and 7d today but my favourite is 26a. Which ones stood out for you?

20 comments on “Toughie 1386

  1. About a 2.5 on the Toughie difficulty scale but I would agree with Gazza’s enjoyment rating. I particularly liked 20a but my top pick would be 2d for the penny dropping moment when I realised what ‘Down’ was all about.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza too.

  2. I really enjoyed this. Amazing what odd bits of information are lurking at the back of my brain! I didn’t need the hints, but I did need the explanation for 20A, the ‘ah’ part of 27A, and the ‘so’ part of 16A. Loved 1A, 2D 4D and 6D. Many thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

  3. I went quite far with this one but was caught out by not knowing some UK terms – such as 24a, 20a and I still don’t know what the word for nerd would be in 22d.
    I should have known 1a, but my memory is not so good these days and I did not clue into the significance of ‘redirecting’!
    Then I always object to the term being used for specialist in 17d as there are some hopeless folks who get paid for being in a trade!
    But all in all, I was pleased with my attempt as I seem to be getting better at toughies!

  4. Enjoyable puzzle as is the norm with this setter, favourites were 2d 4d and 20a thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the review.

  5. Lovely stuff from the Master of Wordplay! Sailed through most of it, helped by the enumeration and definitions for 7d and 28a, then spent twice as long again on the SE corner [24a and 22d were last in]. Favourites were 18a, 26a, 2d [lovely] 17d and 22d.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for an excellent [and unambiguous] blog.

  6. Even my bum got a headache trying to solve this but I enjoyed what I could manage.

  7. Today was not my day.

    Complete failure with 28a, 26a I did get, but couldn’t work out why it was correct, 25d was a guess as was 5d.

    I must try harder. Having read Gazza’s review I do appreciate the wonderful wordplay Osmosis demonstrates.

    So many thanks to you Osmosis and to Gazza for your much needed help.

    Fiercely cold on the coast again, hot chocolate and brandy after a good ride later I think.

    1. Ready for the Tour de Yorkshire? We’re up in York this weekend & hadn’t realised when we booked the accommodation in the city centre that ½ the streets will be closed to access because of the pelotons riding through.

      1. We’ve got our spots marked out already. My other half, being retired, has done extensive research on where and when to park, do we need to overnight? The best pubs etc. This despite the fact he is born and bred here and we walk the moors most weeks. I particularly admire his dedication in searching out new and old pubs. He’s worked hard on that, sampling ales etc. That level of commitment is a joy to behold.

        Is this the ‘stag’ weekend you mentioned?

        1. When a man is prepared to sacrifice his precious & rare leisure time in the pursuit of the elusive combination of a good pint together with the best advantage point to watch the cyclists then one can only stand back & admire such a stout fellow.

          It is indeed the aforementioned ‘stag’ weekend which will involve visiting some of York’s less visited pubs with my dad (85), brother (55) . my two sons (31 & 29) & my nephew (22) rounded off with a curry at the Viceroy of India. My wife is hosting a similar event for the ladies in the family but they will be more genteel & will dine at Rustique.

  8. Four stars for difficulty and less for enjoyment as I guessed a few clues without parsing them.
    1a was someone I knew as he decorated the Royal Retiring Room at the Duke of York’s Theatre. And we were very proud of that fact.
    Is 7d the only sports ground there is? We seem to see it quite often.
    Like the film in 9d. In fact I love all the carry on films.
    Nice to see Berlusconi again.
    The tictac of 20a was a total bung in from the second part of the clue but didn’t see the connection with Beverley.
    Same for 22d, 12a and 24a.
    So I managed to finish but felt rather confused.
    Thanks to Gazza for the explanations and to Osmosis for the puzzle.

  9. There were a few allusions that escaped me although I had correctly worked out what the answers should be. These were Beverly in 20a, the answer in 24a and a bit of Google research to confirm 1a. However it all went together in pretty reasonable time for a solo flight with lots of smiles and chuckles along the way.
    Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

    1. Welcome to the blog, David.
      But what did you think of it? .. or don’t you have an opinion of your own?

  10. This (ex) 13a who fits the description , is taking the pooches for a walk in a mo. Torn between 18a and 26a as a fave but penny drop award of the day goes to 2d. Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza

  11. I agree with Gazza; I’d have recognised this as Osmosis’s work even if I hadn’t known. There were several cheeky and mischievous solutions which made me laugh as usual, such as 4d, 12a, 20a and 9d. “Pants’ is the very last adjective I’d use to describe this crossword. ***** for enjoyment as far as I’m concerned.

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