Toughie 1493

Toughie No 1493 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Toro

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Those pesky warblers! After blogging from east Norfolk last Tuesday I tried and failed to catch up with a Pallas’s Warbler that had been spotted in coastal woodland. Today it was 8d that eluded me. I thought I was going to tear through this puzzle but slowed down a lot in the lower half. All very enjoyable though.


1a Smoochy Romeo almost lost his parental inheritance (1-10)


10a It’s upright to vote right instead of left? (5)
ERECT To vote, with L(eft) replaced by R(ight).

11a Curiously lovable wife very absorbed in that part of locomotive (4-5)
BLOW-VALVE Anagram of LOVABLE W(ife) around V(ery).

12a Irregular soldier sounds like big thug (9)
GUERRILLA Sounds like a word for a thug or heavy.

13a Silly argument about recipe for fish (5)
SPRAT A silly argument or tiff around R(ecipe).

14a Genre of theatre there’s no reason to see? (6)
ABSURD Cryptic definition of a genre of theatre associated with Pinter, Beckett, Ionesco and others.

16a Features needed for good health? (4-4)
CHIN-CHIN A facial feature, repeated.


18a A politician visiting Herts town is going on a walking tour (8)
TRAMPING A + an elected politician, both inside a Hertfordshire town that is, among other things, the location of the headquarters of the British Trust for Ornithology.

20a Will’s fairy trap (6)
COBWEB One of the fairies in “Will” Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a kind of fly trap.

23a In Spain friend regularly warms in glow (5)
AMIGO Look at the alternate letters in WARMSINGLOW.

24a Shrub in hotel garden designed around yard area (9)
HYDRANGEA H(otel) + anagram of GARDEN around Y(ard) A(rea).


26a Decree artillery is to surround island (9)
ORDINANCE Artillery or mounted guns around I(sland).

27a Central parts of rain-cloud on top of Everest inspire (5)
IMBUE Meteorological term for a large grey rain cloud, minus the first and last letters, + E(verest).

28a Angry judge, taken in by divorced spouse, reptilian journalist (11)
EXASPERATED To judge or assess inserted somewhere inside divorced spouse + a reptilian (a snake, in fact) + the usual journalist.


2d Dear French present, with cents put by (5)
CHERE C(ents) + present or in attendance. (A purely foreign-language word, but familiar enough.)

3d Frisky terrier injured batsman, perhaps (7)

4d Ever-changing Alabama city (6)
MOBILE Fluid or shifting, and a city in Alabama.

5d Small cat in pain, having a paunch (8)
STOMACHY S(mall) + male cat + suffering pains.


6d Takes up residence in Nov, semi having been given makeover (5,2)

7d NCO announced conductor’s musical interval (8-5)
SERGEANT-MAJOR Soundalike of Malcolm, English conductor and composer (d.1967), then a musical interval or difference in pitch between two notes.

8d Short priest cut humorous poem (8)
CLERIHEW Clergyman or woman minus the last letter + to cut or chop.

9d Playing Scrabble with date — that’s given new double chance of success (4,3,6)
BELT AND BRACES Anagram of SCRABBLE DATE around N(ew).


15d Blows in the main spot we hear turn south (3,5)
SEA WINDS Soundalike of to spot or notice + to turn or twist + S(outh).

17d Wearing flimsy garments with middle cut out? They’re all the rage! (2-6)
IN-THINGS Wearing (of clothes) + flimsy or insubstantial + G(arment)S.

19d Paragon‘s forlorn hope coming to nothing (7)
PHOENIX Anagram of HOPE + nothing, zip or nada.

21d Instrument found in old vehicle in America (7)
OCARINA O(ld) + a vehicle + IN + A(merica).

22d A duke needs that woman’s love ultimately to remain faithful (6)
ADHERE A + D(uke) + feminine possessive pronoun + (lov)E.

25d Actor loses money in bet (5)
GABLE To bet or wager, after deleting M(oney).

I was tickled by several of the anagram clues – 1a, 24a and 9d especially.

Over to you – please rate and comment on this puzzle below.


  1. Peter
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Stuck on 14a ……

    • Liverpool Mike
      Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      The answer is rather ‘silly’, I am afraid.

      • spindrift
        Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Ridiculous as well…

      • Expat Chris
        Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink


  2. Liverpool Mike
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I found this pretty straightforward so **/****. No problem with 8d – I really am doing too many crosswords. Only major hold up was 19d as I had never seen this defined as a paragon although I now see it is in the BRB.
    Thanks to Toro and Warbler.

  3. Kath
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this one, and I could do it which is always a plus!
    My last two answers were 14a – never heard of the term – and 9d – an anagram so no excuses there but just couldn’t see it for ages.
    I liked 1a and 5 and 8d. My favourite was 16a.
    With thanks to Warbler and to Toro.

    • Kath
      Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      PS Toro – please don’t think I’m nit-picking – I’m not but you only need the W(ife) in the 11a anagram.

      • Toro
        Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for picking that up Kath. I’ll change it. And please do point out such mistakes – it helps.

        • 2Kiwis
          Posted November 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          We might be looking at the revised version, but it is correct in the hint as written now. It does need the W(ife) and the V(ery) to make up the fodder.

        • Kath
          Posted November 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          At least it shows that I do read the hints!

  4. Gazza
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Very gentle stuff – thanks to Warbler and Toro. My last one in was 17d as I was originally convinced that the flimsy garments were thongs.

    • Hanni
      Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      I prefer your version.

    • Kath
      Posted November 3, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Me too with the thongs! I think this could be a good time for you to quote your favourite clue to do with thongs – you told me about it a very long time ago – it’s brilliant!

      • Gazza
        Posted November 3, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Is this the one you mean? It comes from a Firefly Toughie.
        Fondle a thicker thong? (5)

        • Hanni
          Posted November 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

          Ha! Brilliant.

        • Kath
          Posted November 3, 2015 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          Yes – of course it is!
          It followed on from a Ray T clue:- “It’s tiny – hardly obscuring naked glutes to begin with.”
          With apologies to Ray T if that’s not completely right.

  5. Hanni
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink


    Lovely stuff. Didn’t find it completely straightforward though. Working out some of the wordplay/anagrams held me up a bit. Had to check 8d…not sure if I’d heard that word before. Possibly…just forgotten.

    9d gets the favourite vote, for the clue and the illustration.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Toro for a lovely blog.

  6. markb
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to setter and reviewer. I was all done except for 14 ac, which I just couldn’t see. Thanks for the much needed hint. ***/***.

  7. Shropshirelad
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Fairly straightforward I thought, with only 17d holding me up. That was only due to the fact that I was trying soooo hard to make thongs fit (unfortunately they don’t come in my size – damn those size 0 models). Joking aside, 1a was the first clue in and the rest just fell into place.

    Thanks to Warbler for the fun and Toro for his review.

  8. Jane
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Think I’ll go for a 2.5*/3*. Took me ages to work out the 9d anagram and hadn’t come across 8d before.
    19d – I opted for ‘IN (no)THINGS’ – wrong, but it got me there!
    Favourite by far was 20a.

    Thanks to Warbler – not as many birds as usual today! Also thanks to Toro for the great review and particularly for the 21d clip – what an amazing sound.

  9. dutch
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks toro, great pictures.

    My favourite is the poetic 19d (Paragon’s forlorn hope coming to nothing). I also liked the naked scrabble one (or perhaps it can be played in the answer).

    I liked the wordplay to 17d, but the answer I hadn’t heard as a serious expression, anyway it isn’t in brb.

    Many thanks warbler and toro

    • Toro
      Posted November 3, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      It’s in BRB 12th ed. as an example of one of the first adjectival meanings of ‘in’. I think “the in thing” for “all the rage” is common enough, though I’m not sure one hears “in things” very often.

    • Toro
      Posted November 3, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I’ve just got what you meant about naked Scrabble being played in 9d – nice!

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    What has really impressed us is the extra cleverness in the clue for 1a that Toro has pointed out in his review. We wonder whether this was intended by the setter. We’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say, ” Well done Warbler” and Toro for spotting it. We rattled through this one fairly rapidly with 27a the last one to fall. Warbler always seems to keep us smiling right through the solve as she did with this one.
    Thanks Warbler and Toro.

  11. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Also learned about clerihews and limericks while I was at it. Nice clue.
    But 17d was my last one also.
    18a was new to me too. It seems it has a very different meaning in NZ.
    Le theatre de l’absurde in 14a brought back some good memories. Genet, Ionesco, Beckett, great playwrights.
    And on the other hand, 20a ( Will’s fairy trap) made me think of Tommy Cooper and his wife in the attic joke.
    Can’t do without a giggle really.
    Thanks to Warbler and to Toro for pointing out that the Bard discovered the chromosomes.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted November 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Is this the one JL?

  12. Paso Doble
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    We really liked this puzzle even though a bit of head scratching was going on…

  13. Salty Dog
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    A good start to the week’s toughies: 2.5*/4*. My favourite was either 1a or 8d. I must say that l thought 2d slightly offside, though, and l would be grateful if setters found another musical instrument. 21d comes up so often that l start writing it in as soon as l see the word “instrument”! Nevertheless, thanks to Warbler, and to Toro for the review.

  14. Una
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Obviously on the solver friendly side, and twice as enjoyable for that.The clues I found most enjoyable were 1a (terrific ), 14a, 16a, 20a, 27a and 9d.
    Thanks Toro for the great review and especially the pic at 24a.
    I always love a Warbler puzzle .

  15. Expat Chris
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this on the whole, though I didn’t care for 2D, 3D or 5D. I also fell at the fence on 14A and 8D, but that was my fault. Loved 1A 20A and 9D. Thanks Warbler and Toro.

  16. Miffypops
    Posted November 4, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    What with erect smoochy romeos, naked scrabble, clues pointing towards thongs and blow valves I am beginning to wonder what toughie land is really all about. I’m outa here.

    • Kitty
      Posted November 4, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      It’s for those who like a hard one.

  17. Tstrummer
    Posted November 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Sailed through this over a bowl of Corn Flakes – far easier than the back-pager that exercised me last night. My favourite has to 8d, if only because it brought to mind my favourite clerihew, by W H Auden:
    “Lord Byron
    Succumbed to a siren.
    His flesh was weak,
    Hers, Greek”