Toughie 1585

Toughie No 1585 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Even though this puzzle is numbered 11,585 on the online site we haven’t suddenly shot forward almost 50 years. I thought that it was perfectly reasonable but fairly straightforward and without a great deal of oomph.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Across Clues

1a/3a One way to throw    a scapula? (4-10)
BACK-PROJECTION – one way to throw or cast a moving image on to a screen could also, cryptically, describe a shoulder blade.

3a See 1a

9a/24a Dons setting difficult oral — 75 per cent coming unstuck (4,4)
GETS INTO – an anagram (difficult) of SETTING is followed by O[ral] after we’ve peeled off 75% of it.

10a Boisterous associate (10)
KNOCKABOUT – split the answer 5,5 to get a phrasal verb meaning to associate or keep company with someone in a casual way.

11a Cart‘s still reversing and circling to get going (7)
TROLLEY – the reversal of an adverb meaning still or ‘until now’ contains a verb to get going or set off.

13a A raft of parts to be returned — OK in recycled boxes? (3-4)
KON-TIKI – The answer is the name of Thor Heyerdahl’s raft in his 1947 voyage. Reverse a word for a set of parts which you have to assemble yourself and put it inside (boxes) an anagram (recycled) of OK IN.

14a Enclosing material with craven message (7,4)
CHICKEN WIRE – charade of an informal adjective meaning craven and a mainly US term for a telegram.

18a Put together dubious weather forecast with a few bits missing (11)
ORCHESTRATE – an anagram (dubious) of [wea]THER [f]ORECAST without the individual (bits) letters of ‘a few’.

21a Parking near a school impeded by nose of hackney carriage (7)
PHAETON – start with the abbreviation for parking, add A and our usual public school and finish by inserting the first letter of hackney.

22a Star using drugs (7)
HEROINE – join together a drug and the abbreviation for a different one.

23a Bury and Aston Villa initially in small tangle (10)
INTERWEAVE – a verb to bury is followed by the initial letters of Aston Villa inside an adjective meaning small.

24a See 9a

25a/26a Those apart from leads trip up with songs and act poorly (10,4)
SUPPORTING CAST – an anagram (poorly) of TRIP UP SONGS ACT.

26a See 25a

Down Clues

1d Threat from grown-up’s instant (3,5)
BIG STICK – string together an adjective meaning grown-up, the ‘S and an instant or short period of time.

2d Liberal left in chaotic upset (8)
CATHOLIC – insert the abbreviation for left into an anagram (upset) of CHAOTIC.

4d Amorous beginnings to relationship are now definitely ‘yesterday’ (5)
RANDY – the starting letters of five words in the clue.

5d Sailor joining cutter employed for dive (9)
JACKKNIFE – charade of an informal word for a sailor and something that cuts.

6d Train landlord in extended communication (5,6)
CHAIN LETTER – a train or series (often followed by ‘of events’) and a landlord (not a publican but someone who rents out property).

7d Press endlessly hostile and sarcastic (6)
IRONIC – a verb to press or smooth followed by an adjective meaning hostile or frosty without its last letter.

8d Idiot can upset wife with sex appeal (6)
NITWIT – reverse another word for a can and add the abbreviation for wife and an informal word for sex appeal.

12d Great sheet of water where oil tanker’s adrift, with nought but Australian on board (4,7)
LAKE ONTARIO – an anagram (adrift) of OIL TANKER is followed by the letter resembling nought or zero. Finally insert A(ustralian).

15d Not one against pilot? That’s unequal competition! (2,7)
NO CONTEST – string together an adjective meaning ‘not one’ or ‘not any’, the short form of a Latin word meaning against and a verb to pilot something in order to gauge its usefulness or popularity.

16d Regularly lodged in the Arctic, wind up American estate (8)
HACIENDA – start with regular letters from ‘the Arctic’ and add a verb to wind up or terminate and an abbreviation for American.

17d Safe elsewhere — so fade away (5,3)
PETER OUT – a slang term for a safe followed by an adverb meaning elsewhere or away from home. There’s no agreement on the derivation of the term for a safe but I feel confident in refuting the suggestion that it’s rhyming slang based on J M Barrie’s young hero – the term was in use long before the appearance of the play.

19d Measures   eyes (6)
OPTICS – double definition, the second being (new to me) a dated term for eyes (now mainly facetious, according to Chambers).

20d PC version of appellation ‘alien’ not proper, and scrubbed (6)
LAPTOP – an anagram (version) of [a]PP[el]LAT[i]O[n] after we’ve removed (scrubbed) the letters of ‘alien’ (the fact that the letters are not in the correct order is indicated by ‘not proper’).

22d Retreat inside with a vengeance (5)
HAVEN – as so often with the final clue it’s a lurker.

The clue I liked best, for its misdirection, was 9/24a. Which one(s) earned your approval?



  1. Expat Chris
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    It took me a long time to get going, but i did complete it (with just a bit of e-help for 10A). 22A was last in and co-favorite with 1D, though I did like 9/24 once I’d sorted it out. Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  2. Una
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    4d was my first one in.I really enjoyed it. A Goldilocks toughie.
    I particularly liked 1&3a and 25&26 a.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted April 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure that someone has asked before .., but what exactly is a “Goldilocks toughie”?

      • Gazza
        Posted April 13, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Not too hard, not too soft.

        • Kitty
          Posted April 13, 2016 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

          Just right, in fact :) .

  3. dutch
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Nice puzzle with some tricky bits and roughly back pager time – though i might have been on the setter’s wavelength – I was happy that the dive, carriage, and raft all went straight in. I liked the two fiddly subtractive anagrams (18a: Put together dubious weather.. and 20d: PC version..). Once I’d parsed it, I also liked 9a (Dons setting difficult oral..). I was thrown by “throw” in 1a, I know it can mean project, but i didn’t think that also applied to movies (throw a movie?). I hadn’t come across the usage of 19d for eyes. Many thanks Firefly and Gazza

    • Physicist
      Posted April 13, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think one would say “throw a movie”, but certainly “throw an image onto a screen” is ok.

  4. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable crossword.
    Couldn’t quite parse 17d but the answer was obvious. Thanks to Gazza for that.
    Favourite is 18a.
    Thanks also to Firefly.

    • dutch
      Posted April 13, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      peter is a slang word for a safe

      • Hanni
        Posted April 13, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Out of curiosity, why?

        • crypticsue
          Posted April 13, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable isn’t sure but says it might be to do with St Peter having keys

          • Hanni
            Posted April 13, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            Thanks CS :-)

      • dutch
        Posted April 14, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        just also found it could possibly be from saltpetre, an explosive used for blowing safes, the job of a peterman.

        • Hanni
          Posted April 14, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

          Brilliant. That is impressive fact finding. :-)

  5. crypticsue
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Micawber tomorrow :yahoo:

    • Gazza
      Posted April 13, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink


    • Una
      Posted April 13, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Where did you find the emoticon ?

      • Posted April 13, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        The code is in a table in the FAQ. I had to stop the display of the icons under the comment box as it was affecting performance.

        • Una
          Posted April 13, 2016 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

          Ta :smile:

      • stanXYZ
        Posted April 13, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Emoticon? What emoticon? :good:

  6. Hanni
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t find this altogether straightforward. Like J-L I also struggled with 17d. Panicked a bit when I first read 23a in case specialist football knowledge was needed.

    Quite a few smiles with 1d and 14.

    Favourite goes to 9/24a “Dons setting difficult oral…”

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

    Loved the 6d pic.

  7. Sheffieldsy
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    A reasonable offering which we would give 3*/3*, and which we finished without recourse to Gazza’s excellent write-up (thanks Gazza).

    On 1&3a, we thought that this was possibly something to do with dislocating a shoulder, but couldn’t quite make it work, so we just bunged it in! And isn’t the picture for 5d showing somebody (Tom Daley?) in the piked position, rather than jackknifed?

    Favourites were 13a and, for the chuckle, 4d.

    Thanks to Firefly for the fun.

    • Gazza
      Posted April 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      You could be right on the diver’s picture. The BRB says jackknife is “a dive in which the performer doubles up in the air and straightens out again” whereas its says a pike is “a posture in which the body is bent sharply at the hips with legs kept straight at the knees and toes pointed”. Both could apply to the picture it seems to me. In my defence the picture did come from a Google search for jackknife dive.

  8. KiwiColin
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I actually found this one quite tricky. It took ages to work out what was going on with 1a/3a and I got held up with the SE corner. This was largely because I had put ACTS as the second word despite thinking at the time that ACT was part of the fodder so not very good. Eventually all sorted but it did take some time. I enjoyed the anagrams where quite a lot of adjustment was needed to sort out the fodder letters. Good fun.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  9. Salty Dog
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    The only real problem I had was due to my putting in “supporting acts” for 25/6a, which made me doubt 17d when I got it, and rendering 16d unnecessarily difficult. On balance, then, 2*/3*. I liked 14a and 17d. VMTs to Firefly and Gazza.

  10. Jon_S
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Found this quite tricky, with some very well disguised definitions, and wordplay that always seemed to pass me by. But did I enjoy it? Yes, so no complaints. Last in 10ac, after having started more or less in the bottom of the grid and worked my way up. Thought 13ac was nicely done.

  11. Jane
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Struggled with the first four across clues, but OK on the remainder.
    Quite enjoyable but think I’m a bit too tired tonight to get excited about it.
    Liked 14a&5d but the winner’s sash goes to 23a.

    Thanks to Firefly and definitely to Gazza for sorting out the odd half-parse!

  12. Wolfson bear
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Most unusual – I found this too much on the easy side only having a few difficulties with the raft and not having the corect reason for safe (I guessed the answer and thought peter =rock = safe but apparently not – so I was a tad lucky)

    Good chance micawber will get a lacklustre toughie week back on track

  13. Kitty
    Posted April 13, 2016 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t have much time to devote to this today, and after a rather slow start I had to leave it for later. I have to admit that on my return I wasn’t in the mood to do it properly. What better reason for making good use of the blog?

    1d, 4d and 9/24a all elicited smiles.

    Thanks to Dutch and CS for the peter=safe info. A new one on me.

    Thanks to Firefly, and a promise that I will tackle your next one properly. Many thanks too to Gazza for doing a lot of the thinking for me today. I’m even going to copy your favourite!