Toughie 1502

Toughie No 1502 by Elkamere


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

Last week a Micawber, this week a superb puzzle from Elkamere – Wednesdays can’t get much better. This one is not too tough but is chock full of d’oh-producing clues – I loved it.

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 Dawn’s slave struggling to hide love pains? (6,6)
FRENCH LOAVES – the surname of comedian Dawn is followed by an anagram (struggling) of SLAVE containing ‘love’. What a brilliant start!

9a Quality of fighters on the move (9)
MIGRATING – split the answer 3,6 to get the appraisal of fighter planes.

10a An acting president (5)
PERON – I expect that lots of you, as I did, thought initially of Ron Reagan here but this was a president from further south. Combine a preposition that can mean ‘an’ (as in ’50p an ounce’) and an adverb meaning acting or performing.

11a A bit  sooner (6)
RATHER – double definition, the second meaning sooner (as in “I’d sooner you didn’t do that”).

12a Mean, having no box for games console (8)
NINTENDO – a verb to mean has ‘no’ boxing it.

13a In speech, compare fungus and alga (6)
LICHEN – this sounds like a verb meaning to compare.

15a Idiot turning steel key (8)
PASSWORD – reverse an idiot or gullible person and add the weapon for which steel is a literary term.

18a One is Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman (insert ‘old’) (8)
FORENAME – Hi there, pop pickers. We need an anagram (fluff) of FREEMAN containing O(ld). I always assumed that the nickname ‘fluff’ was related to on-air mistakes (such as his once announcing a record as ‘Cast your wind to the fates’) but I’ve learnt today that it was because he wore fluffy jumpers – how disappointing.

19a Stop account of university (6)
CANTAB – charade of a North American slang verb meaning to stop and a running bill or account.

21a Vehicle attachment, sort of bar to extract oil? (4,4)
ROOF RACK – a sort of bar fitted to the front of road vehicles in the Australian outback is followed by a verb (one that we’ve heard a lot in recent years) meaning to extract oil.

23a An English soft drink — to drink I would (6)
PIDGIN – the musical abbreviation for soft and an alcoholic drink contain the contracted form of ‘I would’. Any accusation that the surface is a bit ropey can be countered by the claim that it’s written as an example of the answer.

26a Produce kittens after room’s emptied (5)
ALARM – a preposition (1,2) meaning after or ‘in the manner of’ is followed by vacated room.

27a Contact that hurts after criminal grabs one (2,2,5)
BE IN TOUCH – an expression of pain (that hurts!) follows an informal adjective meaning criminal or dishonest containing the Roman numeral for one.

28a Unreasonable contract to secure church event (12)
STEEPLECHASE – stitch together an informal adjective meaning unreasonable or exorbitant and a contract of hire containing one of the abbreviations for church.

Down Clues

1d Iron Maiden vocal that’s near the bone? (7)
FEMORAL – string together the chemical symbol for iron, the abbreviation for maiden and an adjective meaning vocal or verbal.

I’m coming back
I will return
And I’ll possess your body and I’ll make you burn
I have the fire
I have the force
I have the power to make my evil take its course

2d People rowing, worried by announcer (5)
EIGHT – sounds (by announcer) like a verb meaning worried or gnawed away.

3d Blender with scales attached (9)
CHAMELEON – cryptic definition of something that blends into the background.

4d Lane in the heart of Kent (4)
LOIS – that’s Clark Kent. Absolutely brilliant!

5d A Christian point of view, mostly ‘It’s easy for me’ (8)
ANGLICAN – a point of view or approach without its last letter followed by ‘It’s easy for me’ (1,3).

6d Turned up video about unknown person living abroad (5)
EXPAT – reverse a verb (or noun) meaning video containing a mathematical unknown.

7d Show where boxers are during fight (5,3)
BRING OUT – where boxers perform goes inside a fight or contest.

8d Radio broadcast about end of Martian invasion (6)
INROAD – an anagram (broadcast) of RADIO contains the end letter of Martian.

14d Officer  material (8)
CORPORAL – double definition, the second an adjective meaning material or physical rather than spiritual.

16d Still about to meet up, in fact (9)
STATISTIC – an adjective meaning still or motionless contains the reversal of a verb to meet (as a parliament, for example, does).

17d Is the writer’s telegram good-natured? (8)
AMICABLE – “Is the writer” posed as a question from the writer’s viewpoint (2,1) followed by another word for telegram. With the Liberal Democrats out of government we no longer get their Business Secretary every other day.

18d Keep pinching the old lady’s make-up (6)
FORMAT – a keep or citadel contains an affectionate term for one’s old lady.

20d Spirit has been beaten (7)
BANSHEE – an anagram (beaten) of HAS BEEN.

22d Take and give out orders (5)
REMIT – the single letter abbreviation for take (appearing on medical prescriptions) is followed by a verb to give out or discharge.

24d A couple beginning to grate up cheese (5)
GOUDA – string together A, a couple and the first letter of grate then reverse it all.

25d Have intention to   leave (4)
WILL – double definition, the second a verb meaning to leave or bequeath.

There are a whole host of clues I could mention but I’ll confine my choices to 1a, 10a, 18a, 1d and my absolute favourite, 4d. Which one(s) had you chuckling?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    This is everything a Toughie should be – it should take a decent time to solve (took me about 3.5* difficulty time) , it should be hugely entertaining with some splendid d’oh moments and one should be left with a feeling of satisfaction and a big smile on one’s face. Perfection in crossword form – 5* entertainment.

    I have * by lots of clues I really liked but will agree with Gazza that 4d takes the top spot by a very long way. I also noted with pleasure that we have at last abandoned the politician in 17d and returned to the good old-fashioned telegram.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Gazza too – it would be nice to dream that the rest of the week might reach this standard too.

  2. Jezza
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    A super toughie; I am a little bit out of practice on these, but managed to get through most of it in reasonable time with a struggle to finish the last three.
    1a and 4d were the two I liked most.
    Many thanks to Elkamere, and to Gazza.

  3. Hanni
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink


    Utterly fantastic fun. Smiled all through solving it. Only minor thing was 28a appeared in the S.Times this week. Almost the same wording.


    I’ve got stars by 15 clues today. Agree with Gazza about 4d. Just beamed when I got that. What a brilliant clue.

    Many thanks to Elkamere for a masterclass of a puzzle and to Gazza for a great blog.

    • anax
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Oh, that’s a shame. Is it the same clue in both paper and online? When the puzzle came back for editing I realised I’d selected the clue from my tiny database, where it should have been deleted after the ST puzzle (I forgot). I did change it to something very different.

      • crypticsue
        Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        It is the same in both – I wouldn’t worry too much – I solved your puzzle on Sunday too and didn’t remember the clue today (which isn’t a reflection on the unmemorableness of the clue, more the fact that I’ve solved around eleven or twelve more puzzles since then!)

      • Hanni
        Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Oh blimey. Sorry. Do you know what, I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Cause it doesn’t reflect on what I thought of the puzzle. That was first rate. 4d is still making me smile..and 1a.

        • anax
          Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s OK, these things happen, and the upshot is that I’ve got a ready-made starter clue for a future puzzle.

          • Hanni
            Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink


  4. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Last one was 5d as I had the wrong ending for 9a.
    Lots of great clues. 1a (dawn’s slave), 23a (an English) and 27a (contact) were the one that I enjoyed the most.
    Fluff Freeman too. When he moved from Capital Radio to Capital Gold, we renamed it Capital Old.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for the great review. Don’t know if I can bring myself to listen to 1d. My phone is not insured.

  5. Jane
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re all being jolly clever – I’m only halfway through.

  6. halcyon
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    What a stunner – but no more than we’ve come to expect from this amazing setter. Totally agree with CS about this being everything a great crossword should be. I have 8 asterisked clues – too many- oh all right then:-1a [second last in, 2 great penny drops = Dawn and pains] 12a [no box] 13a [cunning – one expects alga to be the def and fungus part of the play] 23a [lovely disguised def] 26a [ditto] 27a [polished in every way] 4d [last in but so obvious in retrospect – takes this year’s cryptic def prize] and 5d [perfection].

    Many thanks to Elkamere/Anax and to Gazza for a great blog.

  7. dutch
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff, made my day. 18a (Alan fluff Freeman) is my favourite, and I also adored 1a (love pains), 12a (no box for games console), 21a (vehicle attachment), 1d (Iron Maisen, first one in), 3d (blender), 8d (the war of the worlds one), 18d (pinch old lady’s make-up), but hell, they were all good! Smiles throughout.

    Of course I liked the Dutch cheese (24d). I thought this and 8d (war of the worlds) were the best clues I’ve ever seen for these two “old friends”.

    However, I had put in a dodgy PUTIN for 10a (“put in” for acting?), suggesting an unparsable STAND OUT for 7d. After hitting the submit button and confirming they were both wrong, I quickly got the right and oh-so-much-better answers. Also, I get caught out every time by the latin R(ecipe) for “take” (22d).

    Absolutely brilliant, many thanks Elkamere and Gazza for an enthusiastic blog

    • andy
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      I’m also in the Putin led to unparsable Stand Out club :(

    • Hanni
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      I went down the whole Reagan/Putin route too.

  8. Jane
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Wow – that was tough! Brilliant, but tough.
    A few things I didn’t know: –
    My prescriptions always say ‘take’ – probably just as well, I wouldn’t have known ‘R’!
    A ‘roo bar’ – although not difficult to guess.
    ‘can’ I thought meant to throw away rather than to ‘stop’.

    My favourite is 1a with 18,26&27a plus 3,7&17d getting honourable mentions.
    Many thanks, Elkamere/Anax/Dean and thanks to Gazza for explaining the difficult bits!
    ps – nice mention for Chris at 6d.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      The BRB has can as a transitive verb meaning to stop or put an end to (North American slang). Merriam-Webster says it’s a slang verb meaning stop or put an end to. So no transatlantic disagreement there.

      • Jane
        Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Gazza – I knew you’d find it! Another of those pesky little words that seems to have a myriad of definitions.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      I also had great trouble with 22d.
      Had “exact” as exaction for take and it is also a synonym of give orders in my thesaurus until the checkers didn’t make sense.

  9. stanXYZ
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink


    “Not ‘arf”

    Brilliant crossword from Elkamere!

  10. Lesley
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Double freak – new comment box as well as impossible puzzle. Never mind Iron Maiden (actually got that one), I am in Dire Straits! Will try again in the morning and blame it on flu.

  11. KiwiColin
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    I went down the same path as Dutch, Andy and Hanni and had Putin and ‘stand out’, despite not being able to parse the latter. Had never heard of the person in 18a (not surprisingly) but still worked it out without too much trouble. It took me quite a long time but I was having so much fun that had not noticed how much time had elapsed. An excellent puzzle and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Elkamere and Gazza.

  12. JonP
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Highly enjoyable and brain-bending exercise today. It took me quite a while to complete (and understand).

    I’m currently awaiting delivery of a new guitar amp (supposedly being delivered later this evening by Parcelforce…) and 1d made me go and play the riff from it – didn’t know you were a fan Gazza… \m/

    Thanks to Gazza for the explanations and Elkamere for an excellent challenge.

  13. Dr_Bob
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Excellent crossword. I definitely needed the hints for about a third of the clues. Lots of head scratching and then big smiles when the penny dropped. 4d and 26a were my favourites.

    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for a great review. I needed the help.

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Managed about half of this before resorting to the hints. My problem, apart from being dead from the neck up, is that I am so far from Elkamere’s wavelength that I just cannot see how I was supposed to get (say) “Peron” from 10a. Of those I did get, I liked 9 and 21 across. Certainly 5* difficulty – for me, anyway – but my enjoyment was limited by my inability to understand many of the clues! Still, it’s good to be reminded of one’s limits occasionally. Thanks to the Elk, and to Gazza for explaining at least some of it.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      I hoped that the blog explained all the clues.
      10a is PER (e.g. 50p per/an ounce) + ON (acting, as in “he’s on at the Old Vic this week”).
      Which other clues need more explanation?

      • Salty Dog
        Posted November 19, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Gazza, thanks for coming back. Yes, I suppose it does work, but the two words (“an” and “acting”) seem to have rather tenuous links, if any, to the words they are meant to indicate. 1a also seemed rather a leap of faith, although I accept that the word “pains” should perhaps have made my antennae twitch. Please don’t worry about it – I’m just not bright enough to make these connections. I’ll keep trying, though.

  15. Expat Chris
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    My heart wasn’t really in crossword solving today.

    I was left with four clues unsolved but loved the whole experience. Lot’s of D’Oh moments. If there weren’t so much competition, I would have gone for 6D as my favorite, ofcourse. As it is, 3D, 4D and 23A could not be ignored, but 26A is far and away my favorite…and the D’Oh moment of the year for me. Thanks Elkamere and Gazza.

    • Jane
      Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      Glad you decided to go for it, Chris – too good a puzzle to miss out on.
      I couldn’t go along with the 4d choice of so many folk for favourite as I never watched Superman so it just frustrated the heck out of me – not to mention the fact that it left me short for a long while of that all-important checker for the second word of 1a! I’d tried to justify French kisses, French leaves (?!) and started to think that I’d got the wrong Dawn.
      I would agree with you that 26a was rather special.

  16. Lesley
    Posted November 19, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Well, that was indeed a mindbending challenge. Managed to complete after using hint for 26a. Same as most, loved 1a, 4d and 26a. I really feel I have achieved, although it took an extra day (my brain is at its best early mornings.

    Congratulations and thanks guys, and to all who mastered this one.

    ps Comment box back to normal, so not freaked today!

  17. Tstrummer
    Posted November 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Phew! What a brilliant crossword. Too many good ‘uns to pick a favourite. Thanks to Gazza for sorting me out in the NW corner and to Elk for the brain game. 4*/5*
    PS I think Fluff went the same way as Brentford Nylons and the Triumph Stag