Toughie 1482

Toughie No 1482 by Petitjean

Slightly Mad Hat Needed

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

This is a puzzle which I had to work at and the time I spent on it was very enjoyable. As usual with Petitjean there is some inventive clueing (e.g. the use of ‘flat’ in 7d).

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 Bus shelters: good trap for evil spirits? (7)
BUGGINS – these are evil spirits or hobgoblins (if you look this up in Chambers you’ll find it as a variant spelling of ‘buggan’). The word bus contains G(ood) and a type of animal trap banned in the UK since the 1950s.

5a Bendy bus under control? And the other half? (7)
HUSBAND – you don’t see a bus for ages then two come along in succession. An anagram (bendy) of BUS is ‘in ****’, i.e. under control or being sorted out.

9a Devise approach (3-2)
RUN-UP – with a space rather than hyphen this is a phrasal verb meaning to devise or make hurriedly.

10a Attacker like skipper a nutcase (9)
ASSAILANT – string together a preposition meaning like, a verb to skipper or navigate a boat, A from the clue and the outer (case) letters of nut.

11a Riddle plus clues which are drawn on out of habit? (6,4)
FILTER TIPS – a riddle or sieve followed by clues or hints (like what you’re reading). I first thought that ‘out of habit’ meant in the nude but it refers to what’s often referred to as a filthy habit.

12a Idiot abandons woodwind, which could be a blessing (4)
BOON – take the idiot out of a large woodwind instrument.

14a Lavish specialist channel is rubbish (5,7)
WASTE PRODUCT – a word to lavish or squander is followed by an abbreviation meaning specialist or full-time and a channel or tube.

18a Dash newsy idea off wanting one to make fast start (3,9)
ASH WEDNESDAY – an anagram (off) of DASH NEWSY [i]DEA without the Roman numeral for one.

21a Downsize roomy accommodation for nothing (4)
ZERO – hidden.

22a Like the idea of force devoid of uniform or distinctive costume (5,5)
FANCY DRESS – a verb to like the idea of or hanker after is followed by a word meaning force or compulsion without the letter that uniform stands for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

25a How we found a Victorian equerry’s joke? (9)
UNAMUSING – ‘we’ here is the royal we.

26a Line from Pooh composition bridging rhythm and blues (5)
RHUMB – a composition made up by Winnie goes between the abbreviation for rhythm and blues to make an imaginary line on the earth’s surface cutting all meridians at the same angle.

27a Island house the French will make a tempting prospect for some? (7)
KEYHOLE – a charade of a low-lying island, the abbreviation for house and a French definite article. I presume that this is something that tempts snoopers to have a look through it but the definition seems a bit woolly to me.

28a Offbeat way to sport favourite regular outfit (7)
DAYWEAR – an anagram (offbeat) of WAY is attired in (to sport) an adjective meaning favourite or precious.

Down Clues

1d Perhaps widowed female wearing traditional headgear (6)
BEREFT – the abbreviation for female goes inside the traditional headgear of the Basques.

2d Lords changing political allegiance gradually (6)
GENTLY – start with a generic word for lords or nobles and change a single letter from one political leaning to the other.

3d Cursed outburst of acid temper (10)
IMPRECATED – an anagram (outburst) of ACID TEMPER.

4d Burn  spruce (5)
SMART – double definition, the first a verb to burn or feel a stinging pain.

5d Tubes destined for Green Park? (9)
HOSEPIPES – the sort of tubes needed to keep a park green during a dry spell. Is it just me or is this cryptic definition a bit weak?

6d It’s foul being this poorly without the end in sight (4)
SOIL – foul here is a verb. It’s a phrase (2,3) meaning ‘this poorly’ with the last letter removed from view.

7d A ‘flat’ young ale brewed in the old-fashioned way (8)
ANALOGUE – start with A and add an anagram (brewed) of [y]OUNG ALE. A ‘flat’ beer has no head so we have to drop the top letter.

8d Tend a toe that’s injured and set off (8)
DETONATE – an anagram (injured) of TEND A TOE.

13d Slimmers’ cheese creates conflict with neighbours (5,5)
LOCAL DERBY – a product advertised for slimmers (2-3) followed by a type of English cheese. I’ve never come across this cheese but it’s on Mrs Bradford’s cheeseboard and apparently it’s similar to Cheddar in taste and texture but with a softer body.

15d Article in Times on a patchwork of lies causing torment (9)
TANTALISE – insert one of the indefinite articles between two occurrences of T(ime) then add A and an anagram (patchwork) of LIES.

16d Top group second to Yes in Germany fear musical fusion (4-4)
JAZZ-FUNK – the first bit of the name of the US rock band ‘** Top’ follows the German word for yes. After that we need a word for great fear (often preceded by ‘blue’). I listened to about 30 seconds of this type of music on Youtube – that was enough.

17d Drug dealer quick to limit damage (8)
PHARMACY – an adjective meaning quick contains a word meaning damage or injury.

19d Fool departs for good in flood (6)
DELUDE – start with a word meaning flood and change the G(ood) to D(eparts) to end up with a verb to fool.

20d Line on weather map as a result of which key is to check air for pollution (6)
ISOBAR – a conjunction meaning ‘as a result of which’ and a musical key go inside (to check) an anagram (for pollution) of AIR.

23d Penned most of page in post-7 medium (5)
CAGED – put most of the letters of page inside a post-7d medium for recording music.

24d 16 player maybe starts to mess up string orchestration (4)
MUSO – the starting letters of four words in the clue.

Top clues for me were 12a and 7d. Which one(s) appealed to you?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    This seemed to take quite a long time to solve as I was working on it but the clock says differently. 2*/4* for me. I really enjoyed the whole thing – I have quite a lot of stars on my piece of paper so I’d better not list all the clues I ‘was fond of’.

    Thanks to PJ and Gazza too.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    1a was definitely a bung in as the parsing made more sense than the answer.
    Same for 24d. Was thinking about the name of a famous player called Muso until I realised you use it as an abbreviation for musician.
    The cheese was also new to me but I suppose every county has a cheese that bear it’s name.
    Apart from these three, the rest made perfect sense and easily parsed.
    5d is my favourite.
    Thanks to PJ and to Gazza for the review and explanations.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I confess to one teensy cheat (to get the first letter of 6D), but otherwise I solved it all by my own self. No time right now, but I will be back to read the review, especially for the couple where the parsing is elusive.

  4. pommers
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Slightly Mad Hat needed indeed. What fun that was.

    No real fav but I did like the flat beer and the lo cal cheese.

    Thanks to PJ and Gazza.

  5. halcyon
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Good fun as [nearly] always from PJ and not one of his easier puzzles – the SE corner took a while to crack.
    Favourite clues were 22a, 2d, 7d [flat ale brewed] 13d [slimmers cheese] and 16d [I’m a sucker for old rock clues and agree with Gazza re this particular genre, which is neither flesh nor fowl].

    Many thanks to PJ and Gazza.

  6. Shropshirelad
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    ‘Slightly mad hat’ – you’re havin’ a giraffe mate. Nevertheless, what a super crossword to complete. Far too many favourites to choose from, so I shall resist.

    Thanks to PJ for the puzzle and Gazza for his review which I will now read.

  7. the dodger
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Anyone else think 6dn was an anagram of ‘this’, how silly of me- never in the toughie. Great fun,thanks.

    • Gazza
      Posted October 14, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      An anagram of ‘this’ did occur to me but then I remembered that this is The Daily Telegraph – Sir Herbert Gussett would be writing a stiff letter to the editor.
      I also came up with ‘manhole’ initially for 27a but decided not to pursue that line of thought.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted October 14, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Guilty on both counts.

        • Jane
          Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          Managed to avoid the pitfall at 27a but definitely up to my neck in it with 6d.

        • Kitty
          Posted October 14, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          Me too!

      • Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        I found three different justifications in the clue for anagramming ‘this’ to fit S-I-.

        • Gazza
          Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          Hi Alan. If you’re the Alan Connor who sets the questions for Only Connect and writes a column for the Guardian Crossword website then a very big welcome from me.

        • Jane
          Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          Three? I only came up with one but that was good enough for me!

      • stanXYZ
        Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Sir Herbert Gussett would find your initial interpretations of 6d & 27a most offensive!


        Disgusted from Tonbridge Wells.

        • Hanni
          Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Sir Gussett has moved again? Will he ever settle down.

        • the dodger
          Posted October 14, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          Oh no I cannot let that pass! It is Royal Tunbridge Wells not the piffling little swamp of Tonbridge. yours disgusted etc

        • andy
          Posted October 14, 2015 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

          Outraged , Mrs Trellis of North Wales

          • stanXYZ
            Posted October 14, 2015 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

            I’m sorry, but I haven’t a clue who Mrs Trellis is!


            • Gazza
              Posted October 14, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

              You need to have listened to “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue”.

              • Jane
                Posted October 14, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

                Ahhh – that explains a lot!

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 14, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      I too paused for a tiny moment and then thought ‘surely not in the DT’ and wrote in the correct solution.

  8. Hanni
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink


    Mad hat indeed. Gosh.

    1a caused me the most problems. Primarily as I’d never heard of it before. 26a had to be teased from the memory banks. And then checked.

    The rest slowly fell into place. Some easy, some difficult, all a pleasure.

    7d and 13d were the stand out clues for me.

    Many thanks to Petitjean and to Gazza for a great blog.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I needed the review to parse 7D and understand 5D, which I also thought was a bit weak. Great puzzle and very enjoyable. 14A and 27A (once I’d worked it out) are my top picks. Thanks PJ and Gazza.

  10. Jane
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Well into 4* time due to being really slow to get 25a&13d, doing a ‘bung it in and check it later’ with the new words at 1&26a plus 24d, forgetting the meaning of 3d and not being able to get beyond the non-pc answer for 6d.
    Needed Gazza’s help to parse 7&20d so, all in all, not an auspicious performance from me!
    Podium list includes 11&14a plus 13d.
    4* for enjoyment, but that was definitely a retrospective vote.

    Thanks to the ‘mad hat’ and also to Gazza for restoring sanity – I think I’ll accept your verdict on 16d and leave it well alone!

  11. Gazza
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Micawber tomorrow. It’s a very good week!

    • Jane
      Posted October 14, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      I guess that rather depends upon one’s perception of ‘good’, Gazza! All I can say is – what the heck is in store for us on Friday?!!

      • dutch
        Posted October 14, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        yes, i’d like to know that too…

  12. dutch
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this. Took a while to get going, first one in was 12a where “woodwind” gave the game away. 5 new words or meanings for me, 1a, 3d, 16d (fear), 24d, 26a. I liked the 7d and the 23d cross-reference as well as the 16d and 24d cross-reference. 22a also raised a smile.

    Many thanks Gazza and Petitjean

  13. KiwiColin
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Not a quick solve for me but slowly and surely it all came together with the NW the last corner to yield, mainly because 1a was a new word for me. I am very disappointed with myself that it did not even consider the possibility of an anagram for 6d let alone the other option for 27a. Deprived myself of several chuckles or even perhaps guffaws. All good fun.
    Thanks Petitjean and Gazza.

  14. Kitty
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    This took me ages, but I got there in the end. I managed to complete the grid with no cheating at all, but needed confirmation of a few bits and bobs: that 1a is a real thing, the flat in 7d, 13d, and finally what a 26a was.

    No individual favourite, but lots of fun. Thanks to PJ and Gazza.

  15. Posted October 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Clues which contain constructs like “nutcase” in 10a are the thin end of a very nasty wedge. How can you criticise Boatman’s dreadful “hasten” meaning insert IO (has ten) and allow nutcase. There is a very interesting thread on the Crossword Centre on this subject and, just this once, I find myself on the same side as Don “Giovanni” Manley. I promise not to let it happen too often!

    • stanXYZ
      Posted October 14, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Sw(e)etheart seems to crop up fairly regularly?

    • andy
      Posted October 14, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      You and me both BD.

    • Gazza
      Posted October 14, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Personally, I see nothing wrong with nutcase to mean ‘case of nut’. It works in the same way as redhead is used to mean ‘head of red’ and midnight to mean ‘middle of night’ which are often used by various setters including Ray T.

      • Jane
        Posted October 14, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        And if Mr. T uses it then it’s perfectly OK by me.

  16. Salty Dog
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never completed a pj puzzle, and wasn’t about to start today. I managed a bit more than half, but just couldn’t get on wavelength. 5* difficulty in my book and l didn’t enjoy it at all – but that’s my fault, not the setter’s! If l had anything at all between the ears, l would no doubt be giving this 4 or 5* for enjoyment too.

  17. Tstrummer
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    This has been lying on my coffee table half finished for weeks. Finally got round to finishing it off this morning. Marvellous – I hardly ever finish a PJ Toughie, but managed this time, although I needed Gazza to explain 7d. I was held up far too long by 25a, having put jazz-rock for 16d, just because it ended in K. After I realised the error, all became clear. I’ll give it 4* for fun, but given that it’s taken me a fortnight to finish, I’ll have to give it 20* for difficulty. Thanks to all