Toughie No 1430 by Firefly
Niggles but few Giggles
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment **
I may be unduly grouchy today as I spent a lot of the morning trying to communicate with BT staff in India about a fault on my telephone line – an activity guaranteed to raise the blood pressure. I didn’t enjoy this puzzle very much – at one stage I had the left side fully completed and the right side completely blank, then (admittedly my fault) I wrote in the wrong answer for 5d which held me up a lot.
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7a Scan with a French instrument to reveal problem (9)
CONUNDRUM – charade of a verb to scan or study, ‘a’ in French and a musical instrument.
8a In house, most exhausted, rain outside having departed (5)
ARIES – start with a superlative meaning most exhausted or most fatigued and remove three of the outside letters (a noun meaning rain). I don’t like the ‘In’ stuck on the front of the clue.
10a Stall vehicle briefly but intermittently (6)
CARREL – this is a small cubicle in a library for private study (new to me, but the wordplay is clear). A motor vehicle is followed by the even (intermittently) letters of briefly.
11a Peaked cap dropped among swarming ants in hell-hole (5-3)
SNAKE-PIT – insert a peaked cap, as worn by the French foreign legion and gendarmes, into an anagram (swarming) of ANTS.
12a Mariner — from HMS Beagle perhaps? (3,3)
SEA DOG – cryptic definition of an old and experienced sailor.
14a Estate agent’s beginning to value in seconds (6)
ASSETS – start with the first letter of A(gent) and then insert a verb to value or rate between two S(econds).
16a Marmite incorporates last of chowder that’s left (4)
PORT – marmite is not the black, smelly stuff but a cooking vessel. Insert the last letter of chowder.
17a Wind blows in winter, interminably (5)
TWINE – an anagram (blows in?) of WINTE(r) without its last letter. ‘Blows in’ as an anagram indicator?
18a Inadequate rest (4)
LEAN – double definition, the first an adjective meaning inadequate or meagre.
19a Strict prohibition surrounds group beyond state control (4,2)
BANG ON – a prohibition contains the abbreviation for a not-for-profit group which is not run by the government. The answer is an informal adverbial phrase meaning exactly right – I don’t see how it can mean strict and I can’t come up with a sentence in which the two are interchangeable. Can you?
21a Small mammals settle away from three western parts (6)
ERMINE – start with a verb to settle or establish and take away the first three letters. The plural of this small mammal can be the same as the singular.
24a Boot out from Liberal Democrats, without discreet manoeuvring (8) [online version]
24a Boot out from Liberal Democrats, without discreet negotiation (8) [paper version]
BALMORAL – an anagram (out) of L(i)B(er)AL (de)MO(c)RA(ts) without the jumbled letters of discreet.
27a Roll around in horrible gabardine (5)
BAGEL – hidden and reversed.
28a Trace special constable — at home prior to Arsenal’s kick-off (9)
SCINTILLA – string together the abbreviation for special constable, an adverb meaning at home, a preposition meaning prior to or up to the time of and the first letter (kick-off) of Arsenal.
1d Sally‘s in favour of a stop in Torquay (5)
FORAY – a preposition meaning in favour of, A and the final letter of Torquay.
2d Devotee acquires nothing in Paris — time for food? (8)
NUTRIENT – string together a devotee or aficionado, the French word for nothing and T(ime).
3d Encumbered without leader, and lost (6)
ADDLED – the definition here is lost, in the sense of confused or muddled. Start with a past participle meaning encumbered or lumbered and drop its first letter.
4d Female on the George Washington possibly causes furore (4)
FUSS – the abbreviation for female followed by the designation of the George Washington (which is an aircraft carrier for guess which country).
5d Fleeting sun brings out scanty wear (6)
BRIEFS – an adjective meaning fleeting or ephemeral and the abbreviation for sun. Not ‘shorts’ which I rather foolishly wrote in initially.
6d St Matthew’s almost within easy reach –- it’s huge! (9)
LEVIATHAN – I guessed the answer here from the checkers then had to do some investigoogling to find out that the first four letters are apparently the name by which Matthew is known in the other three gospels. Add a phrase (2,4) meaning within easy reach but without its last letter (almost).
9d Ebb with current in front (6)
FACADE – a verb to ebb or die away has the abbreviation for a form of electric current inside it.
13d For starters, gourmet rillettes including pheasant, emu and grouse (5)
GRIPE – the starting letters from five words.
15d Throw a wobbly as a 19 crashes (2,7)
GO BANANAS – an anagram (crashes) of AS A and the answer to 19a.
17d ‘Plain fish’ medic’s written in (6)
TUNDRA – an edible fish with an abbreviation for medic inside it.
18d Particular gift from manager needing to be reduced? (4,4)
LONG SUIT – I knew this phrase from card games but I didn’t know that it can also mean a particular gift or special talent. Cryptically this could be a tall manager or high-ranking executive but why he or she needs to be reduced I’ve no idea.
20d Ageism, albeit evenly disseminated, can be a piercing thing (6)
GIMLET – the even letters from the first two words.
22d Answer may appear in godsend some day (6)
MANANA – insert A(nswer) in some Old Testament food from heaven. In this part of the world we have a word ‘dreckly’ which means the same as the answer but without the same sense of urgency.
23d Low note in brass (5)
MOOLA – a verb to low followed by a note from tonic sol-fa.
25d Engine off the rails (4)
LOCO – double definition, the second a slang term meaning off the rails or crazy.
My favourite today was 26a. Which one(s) took your fancy?