Toughie No 1460 by Firefly
Hints and tips by Dutch
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ***
Well, last night Elkamere/Anax (bass) & I (guitar) did the open mic session at the Goose (or SnowGoose in full) in Macclesfield. This was a first, and none of it was prepared. I was petrified, but we got through a number of songs with varying success rates and even returned for a second “set”. Anax happily tells me near disasters are the most talked about (in a mountaineering context), so there’s my consolation. There were some “moments” though, and some people even said they liked it. Thanks for all the kind comments on yesterday’s Toughie blog; I’m flattered people even remembered this was happening.
I did this puzzle when I eventually came home – perhaps not the best of plans – but managed to get through it without any problems. It is on the gentler side of the Toughie scale. I originally gave it two stars for enjoyment because as I was solving it, it felt somewhat mechanical, without the rewarding aha moments or laughs or smiles or the other emotional responses to which I am prone. When I put together the review, though, I developed a greater appreciation for some of the clues, so now it’s 3* (with 2* for difficulty).
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 New wine Her Majesty’s put by for inspection (6)
MUSTER: A word meaning new wine or partially fermented grape juice with the usual abbreviation for queen appended (put by)
4a Marsupial‘s credible (but brief) expression of doubt (6)
POSSUM: An informal short form of possible (new to me, but in brb) followed by an expression of doubt or hesitation
8a Keep pace? (8)
FASTNESS: Double definition, with the first referring to a castle or stronghold
10a Dispatching missing millions is invalid (6)
AILING: Another word for posting (dispatching) without the M (missing millions)
11a Game licence update delivered, Oliver heads for employment (4)
LUDO: Use first letters (heads for employment) of words 2 to 5 in the clue.
12a Coo! If Diana performs, I’m a fan! (10)
AFICIONADO: Anagram (performs) of COO IF DIANA
13a Honest and quiet player (7,5)
UPRIGHT PIANO: The player here is an instrument which is described by combining a word for upright with the musical term for quiet
16a Surrogate husband’s going into space (8-4)
STANDING ROOM: An expression for surrogate (5-2) followed by a word for husband (at a wedding)
20a Sadly, end is down to fatal errors (6,4)
DEADLY SINS: Anagram (down) of SADLY END IS
21a Riotous time at Cambridge, perhaps? It’s saucy, too! (4)
RAGU: The riotous festivity undergraduates have, typically to raise money for charity, followed by the abbreviation for University (Cambridge, say). Interesting, the whole clue can be read as an extended definition for the first part of the wordplay
22a Instruments made from curious jawbones we dug out (6)
BANJOS: Anagram of JA(W)BON(E)S with the W+E removed (we dug out)
23a Hack doubly in hurry (4-4)
CHOP-CHOP: A word for hack occurs twice (doubly)
24a Totter throwing books into pit (6)
HOBBLE: The abbreviation for b(ook) repeated (since books is plural) inside (throwing .. into) a four letter word for pit
25a Playing footsie with standoffish female? That’s futile (6)
OTIOSE: Anagram of (F)OOTSIE without the F (with standoffish female)
1d Confession – food thrown over copper by secretary (3,5)
MEA CULPA: Food (as in a breakfast, lunch or dinner) surrounding (thrown over) the chemical symbol for copper followed by a 2-letter abbreviation for a personal secretary gives this Latin admission of guilt
2d Struggle to get started (3-2)
SET-TO: With hyphen we have the noun in the answer, without the hyphen we have a phrasal verb with the second definition
3d Rhubarb lotion (7)
EYEWASH: A common-enough product, apparently. Double definition, a lotion for the eye can also mean rubbish (rhubarb)
5d Firm up part of oratorio to include new instrument (7)
OCARINA: A reversal of the abbreviation for Company (Firm up), followed by a song in an oratorio which surrounds (to include) the abbreviation for n(ew).
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6d Left inside, squander the Telegraph’s brilliance (9)
SPLENDOUR: Put L for Left inside a verb meaning to squander or pay out, followed by a 3-letter pronoun meaning belonging to us (and which could replace “Telegraph’s” in for example Telegraph’s readership or Telegraph’s community). A device often seen in the Guardian puzzles
7d Note part way through brooding solo (6)
MONODY: The abbreviation for N(ote) interrupts (part way through) a word for brooding or sullen. New word for me
9d Cut bits of plant on saucer, resulting in injury (7,4)
SLIPPED DISC: First word is a verb meaning took cuttings from a plant, and the second word is a flat thin circular body like a saucer
14d Undercover work? (6,3)
INSIDE JOB: An all-in-one with a cryptic definition: a word for undercover (e.g. under a roof) followed by a word for a piece of work gives this secret and illegal activity
15d My Parisian bird – rat-slayer extraordinaire? (8)
MONGOOSE: French (Parisian) for my followed by bird of the duck family (and for me, another reminder of last night).
17d A handy girl to call up – but lacking ‘bottom’? (7)
ABYSSAL: A from the clue, a two-letter preposition meaning at the side of or next to (handy), and the reversal (to call up) of another word for girl
18d One’s possibly to make a discovery? (4,3)
NOSE OUT: How you might clue ONE’S with an anagram (first word being the anagram, second word being the anagram indicator)
19d Being of a high order, and special, is given initial honour – about time (6)
SERAPH: This winged celestial being of the highest rank in the angelic hierarchy is obtained from the abbreviation for sp(ecial) followed by the first letter (initial) of honour, all surrounding (about) a 3-letter word for a (longish) period of time
21d Brief cotton regularly appearing in Page 3, perhaps? (5)
RECTO: Even letters (regularly appearing) of Brief cotton gives a word meaning right-hand page, which would describe page 3 in a newspaper.
My favourite clue is 25d (playing footsie) – I think it has the best surface. A close second is 21d, where I liked the “page 3, perhaps” definition. And I liked 21a (riotous time), where I was intrigued by the all-in-one definition for a part of the wordplay. Which were your favourites?