Toughie 1395 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1395

Toughie No 1395 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

An interesting puzzle. There were certain things that I wasn’t 100% happy with but I enjoyed the puzzle

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    Artlessness of dog going round and round (7)
CANDOUR: A dog of low breed goes round AND and O (round)

5a    After sun, tanned to some extent, turned loose (7)
UNSTRAP: An anagram (tanned) of SUN + a reversal of ‘to some extent’ = ‘to loose’

9a    Supple snake shedding skin (5)
LITHE: Remove the first and last letters from a word meaning ‘to snake’ or ‘to move like a snake’

10a    Threatening to go out grooving? (9)
GUTTERING: This word meaning ‘(of a flame) threatening to go out’ could conceivably also mean ‘grooving’ or ‘making a groove’

11a    Employ both midwives taking blood (10)
PHLEBOTOMY: An anagram (midwives) of EMPLOY BOTH. I can’t say that I’m keen on the use of ‘midwives’ as an anagram indicator

12a    In Miami do, ladies look for blue-eyed boy (4)
IDOL: Hidden in MiamI DO Ladies

14a    Fashion folk wearing children’s bloomers (6-2-4)
FORGET-ME-NOTS: ‘To fashion’ + folk inside ‘children’s’ = bloomers or flowers

18a    Hype co-ordinates general effect (4,8)
TOUT ENSEMBLE: ‘To hype’ + co-ordinates (an outfit consisting of several matching garments)

21a    Delighted to hear how present’s turned out (4)
RAPT: A homophone of a 7-letter word describing a present before it has been opened

22a    Pop charts’ role to produce such music? (10)
ORCHESTRAL: An anagram (pop) of CHARTS ROLE

25a    Work in special building run by bishops (9)
ESPICOPAL : The usual two letters that denote ‘work’ inside an anagram (building) of SPECIAL

26a    Prophesy sounds as if it could be boring (5)
AUGUR: ‘To prophesy’ is a homophone of a tool used for boring. I think that probably gives the answer that’s wanted but you could also justify the alternative answer of a tool used for boring that is a homophone of ‘to prophesy’

27a    Discredited and died following Tyneside scandal? (7)
NEGATED: D (died) follows Tyneside (2) with a suffix that denotes a scandal

28a    Wise briefly to split up and others may be carrying on endlessly (7)
ETERNAL: A short form of Mr Wise from a well-known double act goes inside ‘and others’ (2,2)


1d    Leader is tricky chap, predominantly ill disposed at heart (6)
CALIPH: An anagram (tricky) of CHAP round an anagram (disposed) of IL (ill with the last letter removed)

2d    Felt tense about screening bug (6)
NETTLE: ‘To bug’ is hidden in reverse in fELT TENse

3d    Ignored, left out, bachelor enters, reserved to an embarrassing degree (10)
OVERBOOKED: Take a word meaning ‘ignored’ and replace L (left) by B (Bachelor)

4d    Opener finally hit out over leg boundary to show authority (5)
RIGHT: R (the last letter of opener) + an anagram (out) of HIT round G (last letter of leg)

5d    Final terms tail off amid tumult for a change (9)
ULTIMATUM: An anagram (for a change) of AMI TUMULT (AMI = amid with the last letter removed)

6d    Appear right leaving simple point raised (4)
SEEM: Remove R (right) from a reversal of ‘simple’ and a point of the compass

7d    Neither shower nor a drip? (8)
RAINDROP: It’s an anagram of NOR A DRIP but I don’t really see how the clue works

8d    Boxer dog on international register (8)
PUGILIST: A dog with a wrinkled face + I (international) + a register

13d    Others downing beer devoured US-style spread? (4,6)
REAL ESTATE: ‘Others’ round ‘beer’ + ‘devoured’ = a US term for dealing in property in land

15d    Could be snail trail’s about to cover a pet (9)
GASTROPOD: A reversal of ‘to trail’ Round A and a pet (fit of bad temper)

16d    Egg producer shows way to get egg on (8)
STURGEON : A fish whose eggs are a delicacy = an abbreviation denoting ‘way’ + ‘to egg on’ (4,2)

17d    Cause of depression’s socially acceptable for one who’s overweight? (8)
DUMPLING: Take a word for something that causes depressions (e.g. as on a golf ball) and replace I (one) by U (socially acceptable)

19d    Monster bore (6)
DRAGON: When split (4,2) it means ‘to bore’

20d    Old artist in fifties pursuing forte — could it be to do with naked ladies? (6)
FLORAL: O + an artist in LL (fifties) following F (forte). Here naked ladies are plants (and definitely not an anagram of Adele Adkins)

23d    Create icy detachment with initial change of temperature, and split (5)
HALVE: Take a word meaning ‘to detach (a glacier or iceberg) and change the first letter (which denotes a temperature scale) into another one

24d    Is a chant oddly overlooked in vocal style? (4)
SCAT: The even letters of iS a ChAnT

I’ll see some of you next Tuesday. I’m looking forward to it

30 comments on “Toughie 1395

  1. Hello all, my first post. Oh dear – I thought I had completed, but had put gathering for guttering. No wonder I couldn’t resolve it! Didn’t like midwives. Never heard of naked ladies as flowers. However, really enjoyed this as I did so well for me. Loved lithe and rapt. Dumpling was sweet.
    Thanks guys. Rating 5&5, great fun and pleased with myself, just challenging enough for a newbie.

    1. Hi Lesley, I too had ‘gathering’ rather than ‘Guttering’ only realised it when I read your post. I think gathering works just as well…… Gathering can refer to clouds forming before a storm, and also gathers (eg in fabric) form grooves, so on that basis I’ve left my original answer in…..this I think has some ambiguity in the solution.

  2. Good fun and enjoyable, favourites were 2d 14a and 27a thanks to Pettijean and Bufo for the comments.

  3. I completed it, which is more than I can say for my effort yesterday. Agree about ‘midwives.’ I’ve never heard of naked ladies plants either. I did like 14A and 3D. Thanks Petitjean and Bufo.

  4. Karl! What do you know about guttering? 10a made me think about that famous Victoria Wood sketch.
    But just like Lesley, some answers were filled in without totally understanding their meaning. 20d particularly and couldn’t find the snake without it’s outer letters.
    15d was the same. I got stuck on the dog being the pet.
    Still don’t understand 26a either.
    A really enjoyable toughie and although it took me a while to get into the setter’s mind, I found it very rewarding.
    Thanks to Mr JP and to Bufo for the review and clear explanations.

  5. Some lovely clues, I like the alliterative 9a (supple snake shading skin), I like the surface in 22a (pop chart’s…), very impressed with the reverse lurker in 2d (felt tense…), didn’t see it until near the end. Loved gate for scandal in 27a.

    I was thrown by the naked ladies though the wordplay was clear (20a)

    I was pleased to see the answer to 11a but I have no idea how midwives works as an anagram indicator, can someone please explain? I had only just recuperated from the much milder “tanned”(5a). The icy detachment (23d) was not a meaning of this word I had come across which slowed things down a bit.

    26a was ambiguous in an unchecked place, but 17d (overweight) I also read as ambiguous, and it took me ages to get 18a (last one in), partly because I wasn’t sure whether the first word had a U or an I.

    Thank you Petitjean for an elegant puzzle which pushed the boundaries a bit and thank you Bufo for the review

  6. Quite tricky for PJ and I didn’t care for 7d [unless I’m missing something] but otherwise all the usual fun. I particularly enjoyed 5a [it’s the punctuation that misleads] 28a [Wise briefly] and the very inventive11a. Check your BRBs folks, midwife can be a verb meaning “to give birth to” and if you think about it in that way it’s a perfect anagram indicator. Congrats to PJ for finding it!.

    Many thanks to setter and Bufo the blogger.

    1. I don’t. I think it is really, really awful.

      When is the last time you saw “give birth to” as an anagram indicator? I’m not convinced that works. “Midwives” is even further removed. “Delivery” is interesting but it does not suggest a mixing of letters. I am grateful that a whole set of related vocab that does imply mixing is not on the table.

      I hope I never see “midwives” as an anagram indicator again.

      The rest of the puzzle was quite good.

    2. My BRB says that midwifing is assisting someone to give birth, not to actually give birth oneself.

  7. Some very interesting anagram indicators!

    11a – Midwives
    5a – Tanned

    However, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge! Thanks to PJ.

    If I ever solve a Petit-Jean Toughie and also understand all the wordplay – I will eat my chapeau!

  8. “Midwives” and “tanned” also seem to me ridiculous as anagram indicators. I thought overall that too many liberties were taken in the clues. Sadly, solving this was not at all pleasurable

  9. Appropriately challenging puzzle for a Thursday, with some clumsy clues, such as 3d and 11a. However 25a is surely EPISCOPAL, not ESPICOPAL ? My favourite was the topical 16d, a fishy accompaniment to Salmon(d) ?

  10. I thought I had brain fog. It’s Me Awareness week, but reading comments in relived I got as far as I did! Got ‘Floral’ but still struggling with Phlebotomy and 5a left me cold.

  11. I almost made it through this one but needed a bit of help with 17d and 2d to understand the wordplay. Still, after a good start, it took me a while to solve the left hand side of the puzzle.

    4*/4* for me.

  12. Re anagram indicators -would I be right in thinking that those who quibble at “midwife” or “tanned” would also disapprove of “shot” as in Donk’s clue of the month in the Independent a couple of years back – “Leaves range when shot in balls [7]”?

    1. I am perfectly happy with shot = ruined, I am not at all happy with midwives.

      1. The point I was trying to make was that these are all great anagrinds because they all have a common meaning that doesn’t suggest an anagram. Shot = fired at with a gun; Tanned = processed like leather; midwives = birth attendants. But if you think a bit another meaning emerges in each case: shot = shot to pieces; tanned = beaten up; midwives = [as Jean-luc suggests] delivers. That’s it really!

  13. Quite a tricksy little puzzle from PJ. I agree with the majority of the bloggers that I don’t quite get the anagram indicators for 5 & 11a – definitely new to me and promptly forgotten. Thought that 22a was the pick of the day (good use of a hidden anagram indicator imho) and 8d deserves a mention as well.

    Thanks to PJ and Bufo for his enlightening review.

    I have been perusing the ‘gallery photos’ to try to put faces to names of people that I hope to bump into next week – hope my memory lasts that long

  14. We solved this as a 3K team today as Kitty was with us at the solving table. Ashamed to admit that we had put gathering in as the answer for 10a without checking the wordplay. That’ll teach us to be more diligent with the parsing. The SW corner was the very last to yield. Clever clues and good fun to work on with a team.
    Thanks Petitjean and Bufo.

    1. I had gathering too. I think it works just as well. Can refer to clouds before a threatening storm and to the grooves formed when fabric is gathered.

  15. Whew!, that was a struggle! Had to use electronic help copiously and also a few of the hints. A couple I was completely unable to solve, notably 18d…got the second word, bu the first totally eluded me. I was also held up by putting ‘kraken’ in for 19d, even though I didn’t understand how it could fit the clue (it didn’t of course). I thought 11a amusing and 21a was neat. Had a bit of trouble with 5a too, couldn’t see how it worked until I realised that ‘loose’ was used as a verb rather than an adjective. Anyway I’m just pleased I managed to complete it as I usually find the Toughies so hard I Often abandon them in disgust. ****/*** four stars for difficulty as I had to use the hints and didn’t get 18a. Thanks to setter and to Bufo ….I’d never have finished without you!

  16. I found this moderately straightforward to begin with then getting ever harder. To me unquestionably 4* for difficulty. It was a surprise that I got them right – I had several answers I was unsure of and also several I could not fully explain. On reading the blog I see that all difficulties came down ultimately to my modest vocabulary. I suspected “tanned” as an anagram indicator but “midwives” escaped me totally.

    I have been struggling to catch up after being away for work for a few days. Glad to see RayT is back to form – I thought he was going soft especially with his beam hat on. This week’s toughies do seem to be a clear notch better than last week. Lets hope for a Friday one worthy of the name

  17. I will just agree with most here. Midwives ?? Really?? Too clever for its own good imho. I didn’t enjoy this puzzle at all. A dull grind imho. Just as I’m starting to finish more than I fail on toughie territory too. Ho hum.

  18. I enjoy Petitjean puzzles and this was no exception despite the “unusual anagram inidicators ,” two of which were new to me but neither more deceptive than 7d . Thanks Bufo for the usual excellent review

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