Toughie 1589

Toughie No 1589 by Petitjean

A cakewalk

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I am a great fan of Petitjean’s quirky puzzles but I thought that this one was probably more suited to the back page than the Toughie slot. There are some enjoyable clues but too many seemed very straightforward (especially if, as in the case of 15a, you’ve blogged pretty much the same clue in yesterday’s back-pager).

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Across Clues

1a Appliance one is content to see gathering dust in a corner? (6,7)
VACUUM CLEANER – when I read this first clue the answer seemed obvious – so obvious in fact that I suspected a trap and didn’t write it in until I had some checking letters. Then I spent time looking for some wordplay, but I concluded that it’s just a very simple cryptic definition – unless you know differently.

9a Cameron confused about Northern area being part of Ireland (9)
CONNEMARA – an anagram (confused) of CAMERON contains N(orthern) and we finish with A(rea).

10a Clairvoyant showing no sign of hesitation; instead a means of communication (5)
MEDIA – start with a clairvoyant and replace the expression of hesitation with A.

11a One charged with possession died from barbiturate (5)
OWNER – remove the abbreviation for died from the start of a type of barbiturate.

12a Woodwind is less loud instrument (4)
LUTE – a woodwind instrument without the abbreviation for loud.

13a Leader of Boomtown Rats missing point — the rascal (4)
BRAT – the leading letter of Boomtown followed by Rats without the cardinal point.

15a Dotty genuine unsophisticated young woman (7)
INGÉNUE – an anagram (dotty) of GENUINE. This is obviously the word of the week since we had the same answer and the same anagram fodder in yesterday’s back-pager.

17a Working in tuxedo — high-class article for ladies’ man (3,4)
DON JUAN – put an adverb meaning working or in operation inside the abbreviation for a tuxedo, then add the letter used to mean high-class and an indefinite article.

18a Drunk‘s sound of snoring interrupting only daughter (7)
SOZZLED – insert the sound of someone snoring into an adjective meaning only and append the abbreviation for daughter.

20a Language at its most basic: ‘Gi’s a bell!’ (7)
PHONEME – this is the smallest unit of sound in a language. Split it 5,2 and it means ‘Give us a bell’.

21a Somewhat loathsome obscenity (4)
OATH – hidden word.

22a Slick    25 perhaps (4)
FILM – double definition. Slick is a noun meaning a coating of oil (on the sea following an oil spill, perhaps).

23a Ape managed to stop try going over (5)
ORANG – a verb meaning managed goes inside (to stop) the reversal of a try or attempt. I didn’t know that just the first bit of the ape (normally 5-4) could be used on its own.

26a Good to ogle without yen to arouse (3,2)
GEE UP – start with G(ood) and add a phrasal verb meaning to ogle (3,2) without the abbreviation for yen.

27a Religious leader in a part of Africa with a youngster? The opposite (5,4)
DALAI LAMA – string together A, a country in West Africa, A again and a young man. Finally reverse the lot.

28a The cultivation and care of arugula could be an intellectually demanding activity (6,7)
ROCKET SCIENCE – this activity or profession is often used as an example of something that requires a lot of brainpower. Cryptically it could describe the cultivation of arugula (a Mediterranean herb used in salads), though why anyone would want to grow the nasty stuff is beyond me.

Down Clues

1d Top dog turned first-class scrounge getting sandwich (8,6)
VICTORIA SPONGE – string together a top dog or gold medal winner, the reversal of the abbreviation meaning first-class and a verb to scrounge or bum.

2d Clergyman  accepted rule (5)
CANON – double definition, the second being a generally accepted rule or principle.

3d Loose-jointed girl runner right away approaching style essentially like clockwork (10)
UNERRINGLY – an anagram (loose-jointed) of GIRL [r]UNNER without one of the abbreviations for right followed by the central letter of style.

4d Proper name for a fool? (7)
CHARLIE – double definition, rather clever because when the answer is used to mean a fool it is often preceded by ‘proper’.

5d Acclaimed cockney charm given a rest (7)
EXALTED – put together a charm or magic spell and a past participle meaning given a rest or brought to a standstill. Now drop the initial letter from both elements in the manner of a Cockney.

6d Fancy having turned up. Mike is in shock (4)
NUMB – fancy here is a small cake (of the sort served up on doilies at Sunday teatime when I was young). Reverse an example of this and insert the letter for which Mike is used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

7d Wine to go with beef or game (3,6)
RED GROUSE – charade of a type of wine and a verb to beef or whinge.

8d Checked sweet can bake better mixed with last of icing (10,4)
BATTENBERG CAKE – an anagram (mixed) of CAN BAKE BETTER and the last letter of [icin]G. I always thought that this was spelled with a U rather than the second E (and Chambers does give that as an alternative) but the correct spelling is as in the answer because it comes from a town in Germany with that name.

14d Surfing on domain name, one that’s of its time now (4,6)
ANNO DOMINI – an anagram (surfing, presumably in the sense of foaming) of ON DOMAIN N(ame) followed by the Roman numeral for one.

16d Official journalist always has look over Times first (9)
GAZETTEER – ‘official journalist’ is one of the meanings in the BRB for this word. A poetic form of a word meaning always is preceded by a verb to look intently and two occurrences of the abbreviation for time.

19d Peter out with Ian on vacation in double date with loveless Leo (7)
DWINDLE – put the abbreviation for with and Ian without his middle letter between two abbreviations for date. Finish with Leo without the letter that resembles love or zero.

20d Spots politician hoarding fortunes? On the contrary (7)
PIMPLES – not a politician hoarding fortunes but fortunes or stacks of money containing our usual elected politician. Presumably ‘… politician entertaining pains in the ar*e …’ would not have made it past the editor.

24d A victory once more (5)
AGAIN – A followed by a victory or advancement.

25d Ignore the odds of disco record heading to be huge (4)
EPIC – the even letters of disco headed by an old music record.

My favourite clue today was one of 20a, 4d and 6d. Which one(s) made you sit up?



  1. MalcolmR
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m struggling with 16 down. Where does the second T come from?

    • Gazza
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Times is plural so there are two Ts.

      • MalcolmR
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink


  2. crypticsue
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I too thought the cake had a U not an E. One of my favourite cakes so you’d have thought I’d have known the ‘correct’ spelling.

    An enjoyable visit to Wrong Envelope Land – thanks to PJ and G

  3. Hanni
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t find this completely straightforward. Took me ages to figure out why 5d was correct. Never heard of 7d, had no idea that 23a could be used on its own and arugula definitely had to be looked up.

    Old chestnuts in 24d and with 15a.

    Now I know what it is loved 7d as well as 26a and 28a.

    Many thanks to Petitjean and to Gazza for a first rate blog. So glad you’re still blogging on Wednesdays.

    Beautiful here still and have finally ridden out…and might again later.

    I wonder if 8d is difficult to make? CS?

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      re the cake – Lakeland do a special tin to make it and Mary Berry has a recipe for it (I expect other people do too)

      read enough American novels etc and you’d have known arugula.

      Don’t know about riding out but a group of us have just been for a lovely lunchtime walk in the woods full of bluebells and wood anemones. None of us now want to have anything to do with work! A cup of tea and a piece of that cake would be just perfect now.

      • Hanni
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. Thought I might attempt it with the child type thing…any excuse to go on the Lakeland website too. :yes:

        Oh how weird…I was talking about bluebells with Jane yesterday, each declaring the ones local to us to be the best!

        Sounds a lovely way to spend a lunch hour.

  4. Kath
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    This was more than 2* difficulty for me – I’ll put the flags out on the first day I find one less than 3*. At least 4* for enjoyment.
    I failed totally on 20a – didn’t know the word and wasn’t smart enough to work it out for myself.
    I spent quite a long time trying to make 20d measles but that didn’t work.
    I love the first word of 28a and grow lots in the garden – put it in salads every night.
    I liked 13 and 26a and 1d. My favourite was either 18a or 4d because they both made me laugh.
    With thanks to PJ and to gazza.
    Back to the garden . . .

  5. dutch
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable puzzle – took me a while to see the cockney words, and I had to take a stab at the part of Ireland, turned out to be right. The long ones went in quickly which helped, though I did first try to work arugula into anagram fodder. I liked 17a (working in tuxedo), 18a (the snoring drunk), and 20a (gis a ring). Also thought the anagram indicator in 3d was original and apt.

    Many thanks Petitjean and thanks Gazza as always – you’re version of 20d more or less appears in my NTSPP

    • Gazza
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Sorry dutch – I didn’t mean to infringe your copyright. :D

      • dutch
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        didn’t mean it that way – just like minds

        • Gazza
          Posted April 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          I know – I was only joking.

  6. Jezza
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    With 1a and 1d my first couple to go in, the rest fell into place without much of a struggle. My last in was 5d, 4d made me smile.
    Many thanks to PJ and to Gazza.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    The four perimeter clues went in quickly. I did wonder about the “one is content to see” part of the 1A clue and whether it was significant. Count me among those who initially thought 8D had a U. No problems with arugula. That’s what it’s called here and I learned the UK name in crosswordland. I slowed down after that, but still completed in good time. Very enjoyable, but strangely no stand-outs today, so I guess that means I liked all the clues equally! Thanks PJ and Gazza.

    • dutch
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      the surface reading for 1a I thought was just an appliance you’d be happy to see in disuse – but the cryptic reading is different.

  8. Una
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Not being able to rely on my spelling of anything, I looked up the spelling of the cake and the dictionary said it contains a “u”.So that did for 20 a.
    Otherwise a delightful and even I will admit , not particularly tough toughie..Getting 1a and 1d fairly quickly helped.
    Seeing 15a again made it a write in and recently I watched “Margin Call”, where the genius who worked out that Goldman Sacks was in big trouble turned out to have been a 28a ist before joining the bank. 5d also came up yesterday in another forum.
    Thanks Petitjean and Gazza , particularly for explaining the parsing of 17a.

  9. crypticsue
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Beam tomorrow

    • Jane
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      That’s the afternoon spoken for then!

      • Kath
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        What do you mean the afternoon? It’ll take up the whole of the rest of the day won’t it? I love Ray T crosswords – I think that the difference between a back page Ray T and a Toughie Beam is very marked, probably more than the difference between any of the setters who do both back page crosswords and Toughies. Does that make sense? I do hope so . . .

        • Jane
          Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

          OK Kath – the ‘afternoon’ was perhaps a triumph of hope over experience!

    • Expat Chris
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      If it’s Beam tomorrow, I’m getting nervous about what Friday has in store.

      • Hanni
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

        I often struggle with Beam but I think CS is right about Her Majesty etc. Think it’s too soon for an Elkamere but I am sure we are due a Sparks. Hope so.

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      GIven Mr T’s ‘history’ with Her Majesty, what’s the betting on a special Birthday celebration puzzle tomorrow?

      • Expat Chris
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Oh I do hope so!!

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    My first thought in 4d was Pigeon. Good think it didn’t fit.
    The Gi’s a bell in 20a made me laugh and 27a too: There’s a few scandals in France at the moment about priests misbehaving with young boys and girls.
    Last ones were 1a and 1d.
    Thanks to PJ and to Gazza for the review.

    • Hanni
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      And now the highlight of this puzzle is the possibility of pigeon for 4d. Not sure why but that made me laugh so much.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Made so much sense. The setter is named John Pigeon I believe and I’m sure a pigeon can be a fool. In France we have a citizen movement call “on est pas des pigeons”.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted April 20, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. A pigeon is someone’s who’s fleeced by a con artist. Best wrong answer ever!

          • Jane
            Posted April 20, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            I was thinking along the lines of a stool pigeon to fit in with JL’s ideas. That might cause him even more confusion!

            • snape
              Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

              I remember an unfortunate encounter with a stool pigeon. Actually, no, it was a pigeon stool.

              • Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

                Nice to see you on form, Snape. :yes:

              • jean-luc cheval
                Posted April 20, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink


        • Hanni
          Posted April 20, 2016 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

          I want to live in France. I did like your answer.

  11. Jane
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Filled the grid OK but needed to turn to Gazza’s review for the parsing of 26a&5d. Also needed his reassurance that I wasn’t missing something in the rationale of 1a.
    22&26a were my last ones in – kept trying to make an anagram out of ‘epic’ for 22a.
    16d was a new one for me as was 20a, which I have a sneaking suspicion we’ve had before relatively recently. Rather spoilt the joke – but that’s my own fault!
    15a &24d are definitely chestnuts, but came as a bit of light relief.
    Can never spell 27a – for some reason I have this desire to put an ‘H’ into it somewhere. No, I don’t really know why…….
    Smiled at 9a. As a result of a series of books I read many years ago (they were based in Shropshire, as I recall) – I desperately wanted to own a Connemara pony. Never did succeed in talking my parents round to the idea.

    Favourite has to be 28a – sorry, Gazza, but I love its peppery taste in a mixed salad. Also got much amusement from 18a.

    Many thanks to PJ for the puzzle and to my favourite ‘knight’ – so glad you’re not leaving us without a mentor. By the way – your alternative clue for 20d was absolutely excellent! Must bear it in mind for a certain future NTSPP.

  12. Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Wow – for once my solving experience was similar to that of CS. The back page and this took roughly as long as each other (unless you count time asleep). No doubt that in the matter of actual numbers we steeply diverge again, but that’s fine by me :) .

    No matter. I found this heaps of fun. I must have been wearing the right flavour of mad cap as a nightcap. The only two remaining when I went to sleep were 9a and 4d. 4d was clear in the morning, and I took a guess at the most plausible thing for 9a and confirmed it online.

    I had to inspect the anagram fodder carefully before writing in all of 8d.

    I didn’t know what 28a’s arugula was, but easy to deduce once there were a few checkers.

    There were lots of clues that I really liked, including 18a, 20a and 26a.

    Many thanks to PJ for the fun and to Gazza for the review – the 20d comment is a gem!

  13. snape
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I managed this, parsing of 5d excepted – so nice of them to put a not tough Toughie in. Was 24d not in yesterday’s back pager, too?
    I enjoyed it all, although none stood out. I’ll go for 11a as favourite, as no one else has.
    One question, as I always worry when cluing adverbs – is like clockwork fine for the def for 3d? In my head, I have like x as cluing an adjective, but the same head hurts when I try to think about it.
    Many thanks to PJ and to Gazza

    • Gazza
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      ‘Like clockwork’ is an adverbial phrase so seems fine as the definition for an answer which is an adverb.

      • snape
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. I will go and try to get to grips with all that. And my spelling.

  14. DroopyH
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    My first ever Toughie completed with no hints or electronic aids!!!!!!!!!

    • Gazza
      Posted April 20, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Well done. Let that be the first of many!

      • Robin
        Posted April 20, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        I too was glowing with pride at finishing a toughie unaided, until I saw Gazza’s comment that it was more suited to a back pager. Crushed again, like Lady Jane.

        Battenberg with an e was the original name of Prince Philip’s family, subsequently anglicised to Mountbatten. “Berg” means mountain, “Burg” means town.

        • Jane
          Posted April 20, 2016 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

          Don’t worry about it. This particular ‘lady’ Jane gets crushed regularly by the Toughies, but at least I now have the courage to try them – a million miles away from where I was before I joined in with the BD blogs.

  15. halcyon
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    With 2/3 of it done before the coffee was tepid I’m thinking “Get a grip PJ” particularly in the light of clues like 12a, 21a, 4d and 7d. But then it all got a bit more interesting in the lower part and I decided the mad -hatter hadn’t lost his bottle after all. Loved 20a, 27a [spent ages trying to do a MynoT type “on the contrary” before realising what was going on] 16d and19d [bitty clues often leave something to be desired but this one works nicely].
    So 2*/3* overall.
    Thanks PJ and thanks Gazza [are some republican sympathies showing in your picture at 4d?]. Loved your alternative for 20d.

  16. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    We solved this sitting beside the local pool where the granddaughters were swimming. It all went together smoothly with the biggest laugh coming from 20a.
    Thanks Petitjean and Gazza.

  17. Salty Dog
    Posted April 20, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Right on the 2/3* cusp for difficulty, and a solid 4* for enjoyment. Plenty of contenders for top clue, but my vote goes to 20d. Thanks to Petitjean and Gazza.

  18. Jon_S
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Rather late to the party. I’m not sure I found it as straightforward as others, and 20ac defeated me hands down, but all good stuff.