Toughie 1508

Toughie No 1508 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This took me double normal toughie time but in retrospect I should have seen a lot of it much earlier – others may get the personalities more quickly than I did, which already gives you the perimeter. I hope this satisfies those wanting a tougher solve, and others might wish to check it out anyway to experience the rather amazing clueing that Osmosis gives us today. An excellent puzzle.

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    Actress‘s delight finding source of mint cake (8,6)
FELICITY KENDAL: Delight plus a kind of mint cake originating from a town in Cumbria. Easy and a good start if you know the cake – I didn’t

10a    Geek displays this in European country, loudly occupying capital (9)
INFOMANIA: In from the clue plus the name of a European country bordering the Black Sea, replacing its first letter by F (loudly occupying capital)

11a    This writer welcomes jolly name for cartoon characters (2,3)
MR MEN: A 2-letter personal pronoun (this writer) is written around (welcomes) the abbreviation for Royal Marines (jolly = a royal marine) followed by the abbreviation for name. Helped by the theme of a recent NTSPP on this web site

12a    Remedy connection on the phone and finally contact America (7)
LINCTUS: Sound-alike (on the phone) of a 4-letter word meaning connection or part of a chain, the last letter (finally) of contact, and the usual 2-letter abbreviation for America gives a remedy for coughs or sore throats

13a    Signior regularly enters as food favoured by 8? (6)
QUINOA: The even letters (regularly) of Signior go inside (enters) the Latin word for as, or in the capacity of, to give this buckwheat-like food favoured in vegetarian or vegan recipes

15a    With skill, Daryl balances boxes leaning over (4)
ABLY: A reverse lurker (boxes leaning over) in Daryl balances

17a    ‘Big Spender’ might symbolise this record buyer? (10)
SHOPAHOLIC: Cryptic definition for a compulsive buyer. An appropriate clue for today!

18a    Male scientists must protect enclosure of trees which provide shelter (10)
HARBOURERS: The 2-letter male pronoun plus the abbreviation for Royal Society (scientists) to go around (must protect) a 6-letter word for an enclosure or bower of trees

20a    Book footballer thumping one perhaps Cockney’s saying (4)
EDDA: This Scandinavian collection of mythological stories is perhaps how a Cockney might pronounce a football shot using the head

22a    Boring thing‘s the latest to conform wearing jacket (6)
GIMLET: The last letter of (latest to) conform goes inside a quilted sleeveless jacket or waistcoat

23a    Recite nonsense in French for all (4,3)
TROT OUT: A 3-letter word for nonsense goes inside (in) the French word for all

26a    Say, Windsor Castle having Pacino as neighbour (5)
ROYAL: The first names of the multitalented Mr Castle and the film star Mr Pacino

27a    A sample divided by Roger satisfactorily in one go (2,1,6)
AT A STROKE: A from the clue plus a 5-letter word for to sample, or to eat or drink a small amount of, are divided by the abbreviation for Roger (used in signalling and radio-communication) and the 2-letter abbreviation for satisfactorily or alright

28a    Sports broadcaster having to pester worker on box? (5,9)
HARRY CARPENTER: His first name is a word meaning pester or harass, and the surname is the profession of someone who works on box or any other kind of wood


2d    Small, delicate flower raised, attracting female (5)
ELFIN: Reversal of a major African river containing the abbreviation for Female

3d    Con pound out of business when procuring rug (6)
INMATE: Remove the 1-letter Latin abbreviation for pound from the start of a 4-letter word meaning business or occupation, and insert (when procuring) a 3-letter word for rug

4d    Poison spread to this place — it’s in the air (10)
IONOSPHERE: Anagram of POISON (spread) on a 4-letter word for this place. My first one in

5d    Given period of time, husband at last agreed (4)
YEAH: Take a period of time equal to 12 months, and replace the last letter with the abbreviation for husband. My last one in, since I was trying to use the D from husband

6d    Classical units unpopular in sorry English resort (7)
EXMOUTH: Take the Roman numerals for ten and thousand (classical units), add a 3-letter word meaning unpopular (hence not in), and insert the lot into (in) a 2-letter interjection meaning sorry? or come again?

7d    Type of market using borders of material in transaction (6-3)
DEMAND-LED: The borders of material are M AND L. Place this in (using….in) a 4-letter word for a legal transaction, especially involving the transfer of property

8d    She took photos ardently in ground, capturing amateur cricketers (5,9)
LINDA MCCARTNEY: Anagram (ground) of ARDENTLY IN surrounding (capturing) A(mateur) and the abbreviation for the Marylebone Cricket Club (cricketers)

9d    Female group monopolise painting in hall I’m moving for artist (7,7)
WILLIAM HOGARTH: Start with the 2-letter abbreviation for a female group or organisation. Now take a 3-letter word for monopolise (as in a traffic-lane) plus a 3-letter for painting, or what painting is an example of, and place these inside an anagram (moving) of HALL I’M

14d    Light alcohol with punch and power (6,4)
SPIRIT LAMP: The kind of alcohol that is generally 40% plus a 3-letter word for punch or beat and the abbreviation for power

16d    Urban controller gets gutless offender, tagging boy one month (4,5)
LORD MAYOR: Remove the inside letters from offender (gutless), then place this after (tagging) a 4-letter interjection expressing surprise like boy or goodness, and the 5th month. I’m guessing “one month” just means a month…?

19d    Carpet area wearing excessively (7)
OVERLAY: The abbreviation for area has around it (wearing) a word meaning excessively

21d    Punk‘s outrageous probing topless bird (6)
ROTTEN: A 3-letter abbreviation for outrageous or too much goes inside (probing) a 4-letter small songbird missing the first letter (topless)

24d    Gas unit connected to Bruce’s home? (5)
OZONE: A 3-letter word for unit or a single thing follows (connected to) a 2-letter slang name of the country where all men are called Bruce

25d    Dieter’s certainly getting minimum of Vitamin A in island (4)
JAVA: How Dieter might say certainly or yes, the first letter (minimum) of Vitamin and A from the clue

I liked a lot of the wordplay and enjoyed some excellent surface readings, e.g. 15a. Biggest smile though came from today’s Black Friday clue with its musical surface, 17a. What did you like?


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Was a bit of Osmosis meets Kate Mepham today.
    So much General knowledge, my head is spinning.
    You even had to know that Linda McCartney was a vegetarian. Mind you she did produce a food line.
    1a made me laugh just thinking about her and the Cambrian mint cake was excellent.
    Last ones in were 7d and 20a for which I was saying aloud, beata, kicka, etc until I thought of the silent H as well. Very clever clue.
    16d was the only one I couldn’t parse so thank you Dutch.
    1a definite favourite.
    Thanks to Osmosis.

    • Posted November 27, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink


      The mint cake is Cumbrian not Cambrian – although I’m sure that they do eat it in Wales!

    • Hanni
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      I’ll bring you some to the birthday bash J-l.

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m very happy to see such a high rating, because I found this very difficult. What a lot of people! Nevertheless, I completed all but one answer. Yeah! No, not that one. 20A is the one I fell down at. I don’t suppose there’s a book called Edna out there somewhere, is there? 1A and 28A were extra tough for me. I am familiar with the 1A person, and once I had the first word (thanks to, I must admit) the second part came easily. Never heard of 28A but was able to sort it out. 7D and 25A are my favorites. Thanks for the challenge,Osmosis, and thanks Dutch for the review.

  3. Hanni
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink


    Good golly! What a puzzle. Certainly 5* today, in fact maybe a bit extra. 1a was no problem whatsoever as I am familiar with the mint cake and the town. I passed my driving test there many years ago. The rest had to be teased out. Never heard of 28a but was solvable. I’ve never read 20a but it comes up in puzzles so often I feel I should. Did spot the hidden reverse really quickly in 15a which is a miracle for me. Couldn’t figure out the word play of 6d, goodness knows why and I had to double check 9d.

    However this was a wonderful solve to compliment a wonderful afternoon that’s made me smile.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for another great blog. Loved the pics.

  4. Gazza
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    I thought that this was a proper Friday Toughie though I did wonder whether the inclusion of Messrs Carpenter and Castle as well as the actress and the photographer would make it very difficult for non-Brits. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.
    I’m not sure how valid the use of Roger is in 27a. Investigoogling it I discovered that it was the codeword for R in US and (some) UK military radio alphabets up until 1956 so the usage is pretty old.

    • dutch
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      its not in brb under “R”, which is how i would normally check my abbreviations, but the abbreviation is in brb under roger (codeword for R=received)

      • Gazza
        Posted November 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks – I didn’t think of looking up roger.

  5. Liverpool Mike
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Unusually for me I got three and a half of the four names pretty quickly and so the rest was doable without too much electronic help. A challenging end to a challenging week (2 young grandchildren for 2 days and no time for crosswords).
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  6. Shropshirelad
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, what a lovely way to finish off the toughie week. Very enjoyable and good fun solving it, even with the GK required. Never knew the ‘delight’ synonym but it did remind me of travelling up the M6 and stopping at ‘Kendal Facilities’ – how we did laugh (yes, easily pleased, but it was back in the 70’s). The 4 letter clues were the most difficult to solve for me – for whatever reason I’ve always had a blind spot on them.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the challenge and Dutch for the review.

    Have a great weekend all.

  7. KiwiColin
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid that this one had just too much localised general knowledge that I am unfamiliar with for me to really appreciate it. Google had to work very hard. Eventually, after a long long time I did get a completion with just a few parsing question marks left, the cake in 1a for example.
    Thanks for the challenge Osmosis and Dutch for the review.

  8. JB
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I must say I am not very fond of real people in a crossword. Makes it difficult for expats and for me when I meet it in a crossword book of repeats at a later date. I also resent the use of ” ‘s ” after actress in 1a. Made me look for an expression not a person. Perhaps this was the idea?

    • Posted November 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      The ‘s device is used a lot as it can be any of the possessive (belongs to), is, has or us. In this case “actress has delight …” would appear to be the setter’s intention. Of the four long answers, William Hogarth will almost certainly stand the test of time.

  9. Jane
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Well – that was a bit of a voyage into the unknown! Got to the finishing line eventually, bar the correct ending for 5d, but accrued lots of question marks along the way which required Dutch’s excellent review to unravel. Many thanks for that.

    10a – found it hard to believe that there really is such a word in the dictionary and regret to say that I hadn’t heard of the 20a book.
    Favourite is 1a – fun clue and a truly delightful actress. 17a comes in as reserve and most appropriate for today with 27a also deserving of a mention.

    Hate to nit-pick after such a masterpiece of a blog, Dutch, but – come on – the MCC is surely the famous Manchester Cricket Club?!

    Thanks to Osmosis, who is way out of my league as usual!

    • dutch
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      The mcc as described is a cricket authority – not that I know anything about cricket….

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Do the Manchester Cricket Club play better than the Football club at Old Trafford?

      • Expat Chris
        Posted November 27, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Oy! That’s my team you’re casting nasturtiums on!

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted November 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

          Is that the Lancashire Cricket Club or MU ?

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      I thought it was the Middlesex County Cricket Club. But there’s a C too many.
      Not doing very well today what with my Cambria, Doormouse and Cat flap.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted November 27, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Worry not JL – I do love your ‘doormouse’ gravatar.

        Have you noticed the trend for the ’emoticons’ appearing on this ‘side’ of the blog?

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    As is usual for me with the last Toughie of the week, I needed a bit of help. I had completed all the RHS, but drew on the hint for 9d to break into the gaping void on the other side. In the end, I needed 3 hints to finish. Even then, my dictionary didn’t have “harbourer” in it at all (nor does the pesky spillchucker on my iPad). 5*/4* though, and 1a my stand-out favourite (I am, after all, a chap of a certain age!). Ta to Osmosis, and to Dutch.

    PS: Surely the M in MCC is for Marylebone?

    • Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      … just like it says in the hint. I think others have been a bit mischievous.

      • Hanni
        Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        To be fair I thought it was quite funny.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Also had to look up “harbourer” and found some even stranger synonyms:
      Havener, refuger and shelterist!

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      I am with you on 1a Salty Dog – used to envy Richard Briers sooooo much. Shame to see she’s a bit ‘plastic’ these days

    • Expat Chris
      Posted November 28, 2015 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      I understand from reading an interview with her some months ago that back in the days of the Good Life, the beds that 1A preferred to spend time in were far removed from the vegetable and flower kind. She was a bit of a goer, was our Felicity.