Toughie 1596 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1596

Toughie No 1596 by Dada

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***


Hello and welcome, clued up and clueless alike.  I hope you have had an enjoyable bank holiday weekend.

This is a faintly 11d but very enjoyable crossword containing several body parts from a setter who is not afraid to be a bit cheeky.  I haven’t adjusted ratings today because I haven’t a clue but I personally found this pretty tricky.

I always stay up too late hunting for pictures (a mistake today as we had the elephants in early this morning) so I couldn’t resist including a few that didn’t make the cut (like this one), accessible by tapping/clicking on the ones displayed.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the “Already know you, that which you need” boxes.  If they are not hidden for you, make sure that the address at the top of your browser starts with http:// and not https://

Do leave a comment below telling us how you found it and what you thought.



1a    In the back of the car, brown, half shut brolly (11)
BUMBERSHOOT: Place a shade of brown and half of SH(ut) inside the back of a car.  The answer is a US term (facetious, according to Chambers) for umbrella, probably a portmanteau of (a corruption of) umbrella and parachute.  It’s great to start with a new word – unless you’re blogging, that is!

9a    Love has passed by a very old libertine, one heavily stoned? (7)
AVOCADO: The letter that looks like a love score in tennis follows (has passed by) A from the clue, V(ery), O(ld) and a rascally roguish kind of libertine.  This is something containing a large stone, not one having partaken of any illicit substances

10a    Set point after fast runner nets backhand, finally (6)
HARDEN: To become firm or stiffen.  Formed of a point of the compass after a fast runner (who should nonetheless not be complacent when racing any tortoises) which contains (nets) the last letter (finally) of backhand.  Anyone for tennis?  No – no tennis here, but a great surface

12a    Tasteless sandwiches needing, primarily, parsley perhaps? (7)
GARNISH: Tasteless – gaudy rather than bland – contains (sandwiches) the first letter (primarily) of N(eeding)

13a    What’s great, mind, about it? (7)
BRITAIN: Place mind, or rather the bodily organ from which it rather mysteriously arises, around (about) IT from the clue to give the island known by the answer on its own, or preceded by “Great,” which I and many of you call home

14a    Initially, old German half as mysterious as ancient writing system (5)
OGHAM: The first letters (initially) of five words in the clue spell out an ancient Celtic and Pictic alphabet.  Another new one on me

15a    Striker on trial in game (4,5)
TEST MATCH: Chestnutty clue of the day: what you may use to strike a light after (on) a trial

17a    Calm about key – it’s found back in park (9)
SERENGETI: Start with calm of mood, place this around (about) a musical key, and follow with a reversal of the IT from the clue to find an African national park

20a    Lower part below ground (5)
BOWEL: An anagram (ground) of BELOW

22a    Where lots will be close to you in battle (7)
AUCTION: The last letter of (close to) you inside a word for battle or warfare.  The lots are for sale

24a    Error ultimately filed in report is framework for training? (7)
TRELLIS: Put the final letter (ultimately) of error inside a word meaning report or say, then add the IS from the clue.  It’s a (usually wall-fastened) lattice used as a support for fruit trees or creepers

… and a character from North Wales (click to expand)

Letters from Mrs Trellis of North Wales:

“Dear teams: When I noticed in the Radio Times that your show was back, there were three big ticks next to the listing, so I sprayed them with DDT. Yours etc., Mrs. Trellis.”

“Dear Dr. Clare, So pleased to hear that Tim Brooke-Taylor is back – without him the show was like Hamlet without the balcony scene.”

“A Mrs Trellis of North Wales has written in to complain that the show has ‘an enormous fistful of rampant innuendo rammed into every crack’, but only a truly filthy-minded person would think such a thing.”

“Dear Mr. President: What were the chances of someone called Mr. President actually getting that job? Yours Sincerely, Mrs. Trellis. P.S. Love your butter.”

“Dear Mr. Rees, I understand you’re looking for suggestions for your ‘Quote, Unquote’ programme. Can you tell me where the expression ‘Dull as Ditch Water’ comes from?

“Dear David Dickinson, I can sum up why the BBC have your programme on TV every night in three words: Cheap As Chips. Yours etc., Mrs. Trellis.”

“Dear Mr Titchmarsh: This morning I went out to dig up some dandelions and a giant hogweed on my lawn. The filthy beast! Yours faithfully, Mrs Trellis.”

“Dear Woman’s Hour: Why waste money on baby-naming books when all the names you need can be found in the telephone directory? Yours, Mrs. Trellis. P.S. Any chance of a signed photo for my grandson Dyno-Rod Emergency Hotline Trellis?”

“Dear Mr Titchmarsh, never let them tell you that size isn’t important. My aunt told me that, but then all my new wallpaper fell off.”


25a    Destroyed, as are semi-finalist and runner-up? (6)
DASHED: “Semi-finalist” and “runner-up” could both be so-described (as could “so-described”).  I was slow to parse this, misdirected by the answer also meaning ran

26a    Othello, say, set about seeking latitude (7)
LEGROOM: A group of people Othello is one of and set or come together, all reversed (about)

27a    Pen circling blot, poor Einstein (11)
SMARTYPANTS: Not specifically Albert, but a general word for egghead or brainbox, as his name has become shorthand for.   This particular one is a bit self-satisfied.  The type of pen which houses pigs around (circling) blot or spoil.  Then a colloquial term meaning a bit rubbish



2d    Element I’m not sure will support posh queen (7)
URANIUM: A word of hesitation (I’m not sure) after (will support) the letter that means posh and a four-letter Indian queen

3d    Spit broth etc out on top of everything (9)
BROCHETTE: The spit is a metal skewer for cooking, and it’s an anagram (out) of BROTH ETC followed by the first letter (top) of E(verything)

4d    That man in pub is up for recovery (5)
REHAB: Put a masculine pronoun inside a pub and reverse it (up, in a down clue) to give a short form of a word for recuperation

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

5d    Woman’s order to wrap up is daring (7)
HEROISM: A word meaning “that woman” and the abbreviation of an order awarded for eminence in any field around (to wrap up) the IS from the clue

6d    A courgette at first wrapped in plain ham (7)
OVERACT: A from the clue and the initial letter of C(ourgette) inside a word meaning plain or open

7d    Ache over defeat in a novel that’s overly optimistic (11)
PANGLOSSIAN: Put together yearning, defeat, and an anagram (novel) of IN A.  This adjective comes from a character in Voltaire’s Candide.  I had heard of this word, but it was buried very deep and needed some excavating

8d    Ordinal away, by the sound of it? (6)
FOURTH: An ordinal number which sounds like a word meaning away or out (as in go thus and multiply)

11d    Suggested incomplete part is noxious? (11)
UNWHOLESOME: The first seven letters of the answer suggest not complete, and the last bit, likewise, means a portion. The answer is not very savoury

16d    Wrong steering mechanism, we hear, producing spark (9)
SCINTILLA: Two sound-alikes put together: one of a wrong or transgression and one of a steering mechanism on a ship.  A spark, or a hint or trace

18d    Recover edge to bind frilly lace (7)
RECLAIM: An edge or border outside (to bind) an anagram (frilly) of lace

19d    No more iodine under boxes (7)
NEITHER: In a slightly Yoda-ish clue, under or lower contains (boxes) the chemical symbol for iodine

20d    Worker with routine guarding grand corporation (4,3)
BEER GUT: The busy worker that lives in hives then a routine that one may be stuck in around (guarding) G(rand).  To be eco-friendly, I’ll recycle Kate R’s picture from Friday

21d    Strike that’s bitter? (6)
WALLOP: This hit is also a slang term for beer

23d    Taxi driver not even found in city of yellow taxis? (5)
NODDY: This fictional taxi driver who moves his head repeatedly and who has a large-eared friend is “not even” inside the city known for having yellow taxis.  For a little while I tried to use the non-even letters of DrIvEr


Thanks to Dada for a great puzzle.  I think my favourite today is 10a.  Which one(s) hit the spot for you?


A year ago tomorrow was my first solo blog.  Here is a bonus 1a to protect you from the elements.  May the Fourth be with you all.

30 comments on “Toughie 1596

  1. I’d have given it between 3 and 4 stars on the difficulty-o-meter and I did enjoy myself. Thanks to Kitty and Dada – my favourite is the taxi driver in 23d with the clever clogs in 27a coming a close second.

  2. Good Lord! That took forever! Quite good fun, though. 1A is new to me. Last pair in were 21D and 20A. Favorite is 23D, though I ticked 13A too. Thanks Dada and Kitty.

    Kitty, I always mentally add another star to your difficulty rating.

  3. Thanks to Dada for a most enjoyable Tuesday Toughie and to Kitty for the excellent blog (especially for the quotes from the indefatigable Mrs Trellis). I thought that 27a really needed a question mark or a ‘maybe’. Isn’t it great (as in 1a) to construct a dubious-looking word from the wordplay and checkers, think ‘That can’t possibly be right’ then look it up in the BRB and find that not only is it there but it also means what you hoped it would mean.
    Top clues for me were 25a, 20d and 23d.

    1. Totally with you Gazza!! Once I had tried a few different browns, suddenly there was a word that was worth a google and “hey presto”!! Never heard of the word either!!

    2. Me, too re:1a, Gazza. It’s so satisfying when the word which seems so unlikely is actually there in the BRB.

      1. Hi, Physicist. You always leave sensible (and very welcome) comments on Toughie blogs, but we don’t know much about you other than your profession. Are you a lady physicist or a gentleman and whereabouts do you live?

        1. Or, of course, you may stick to comments about the crosswords if you wish. Nobody gets interrogated here. :)

          I’d second what Gazza says about your contributions though – when you post you always have something interesting to add.

    3. I’m glad it’s not only me who didn’t know it I can imagine Dada going YES! that’s my 1a.

  4. Some nice penny drop moments, mainly near the bottom (towards the end of the puzzle for me): I particularly liked 23d (taxi driver), 20d (worker with routine), 26a (Othello), 25a (Destroyed…). I also liked 13a

    After working it out, I had to look up 1a. I had no idea the word existed, but it’s quite a funny word. I did vaguely remember 7d – high school French reading.

    Did anyone else enter ELBOW for 20a?

    Many thanks Dada & Kitty – fun puzzle, fun review – I hadn’t heard of Mrs Trellis.

  5. I thought that was quite difficult but don’t really have enough experience of Toughies to rate it – I enjoyed it a lot so 4* for that.
    I’ve never heard of 1a or 7d so lots of putting stuff together and then taking it all apart and trying again was involved.
    I never did get 27a although I probably should have done and needed the hint to understand 25a properly – thanks Kitty.
    Lots of really good clues – I think my favourite was 16d.
    With thanks to Dada and thanks and well done again to Kitty – where on earth did you find Mrs Trellis?!!

    1. Dutch and Kath – Mrs Trellis features in Radio 4’s magnificent I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. There’s a live verion here:

  6. I struggled with this to begin with but managed to get a toe hold in the NW corner – I then managed to paint my out of said corner without too much trouble. I also learned two new words today in 1 & 14a, really can’t recall having come across them before – but fairly clued. Lots to enjoy and it certainly gave the old grey matter a bit of exercise.

    Thanks to Dada for the puzzle and to Kitty for a splendid review – well done.

  7. Must admit that Dada is a setter whom I am very comfortable with.
    Always finish his crosswords in the Guardian without help.
    I like his style.
    I like Kitty’ s style too.
    Thanks to both.

  8. My heart always sinks a little when a crossword starts off with a word I’ve never heard of (is the second ‘b’ pronounced or not?) and then follows up with another in the shape of 14a. However, 7d did come to mind relatively quickly – must mean that we’ve had it in a puzzle fairly recently as it’s not exactly in my everyday vocabulary!
    Had to confirm that 3d is a ‘spit’ – I’ve only heard it used previously as the name of the skewer.
    Not overly keen on 8d and think we’ve had far better ‘punctuation’ clues than 25a.

    All that said – I really did enjoy most of this one!
    Top listings go to 10,26&27a plus 20&23d.

    Thanks to Dada and to our already expert Girl Tuesday. My favourite pic. was actually the one that didn’t quite make the cut!

  9. I am very gratified to find I am far from alone in never having heard of 1a .
    I really liked quite a few. Such as 9a, (it took a while),12a, smile, 20a, 23d, and 5d.
    I knew 14a, one finds it all over the place here.
    When the checkers of 27a jumped out at me , I honestly thought “That ‘s not nice”. It puts me in mind of the sneerers in the back row who can’t bare the pupil who always knows the answer.It a cryptic sense , it is humourus.
    So , apart from 1a, thanks Dada for a good challenge and Kitty for the terrific illustrations. BTW, Kitty, 12a is also a beautiful island off west Cork.

  10. Thanks for all the hints, Kitty. Tuesday Toughie is always a pleasure with you doing the hints. Thanks to the setter too.
    I made great progress with this, but needed a few hints towards the bottom.
    I have to ask…20d, what does the answer have to do with “corporation”???

    1. Hi HoofIt, and thanks for the nice words.

      Corporation can also mean a large stomach (no, I didn’t know that before crosswords either) – so watch out for it cropping up to clue pot or tum.

      1. Yes, just checked the BRB (I should have done that first, smacked wrist), I’m astonished.
        Thanks for the heads-up.

    2. One of the meanings of corporation from BRB is: a belly, especially a pot-belly.

  11. Who could fail to absolutely love a puzzle that contains 23d and 27a. We laughed out loud at both of them. Our experience with 1a was just as Gazza described above too. A good level of difficulty without being fiendish and smiles and laughs all the way through, and all added to by Kitty’s review. We are very satisfied.
    Thanks Dada and Kitty.

  12. I like Dada’s puzzles and this was no exception. Goodness only knows why but I have heard of 1a but I only knew 14a as it was on something recently. Although I can’t remember what…something to do with a beach I think.

    Enjoyed the rest. Quiz time.

    Ta to all.

  13. A decidedly tricky start to the week. I solved without knowing who the setter was, but began to have my suspicions by the time I got to 27ac. Utterly astonished to find that 7d is indeed a word, and delighted that the wonderfully eccentric 1ac also is. A little less cheeky than some of his offerings, but perhaps a lot meatier, as befits a Toughie. Always entertaining, mind. One to sit and mull over at leisure.

  14. It amazes me that anybody can do this crossword without electronic help. However whereas a year ago, before discovering this site, I would never have even got a foothold into this sort of toughie, today I managed about half before having to resort to such assistance, and with that managed to finish and understand the parsing. Two new words for me at 1a and 14a. Thank you Dada and Kitty – and thank you Big Dave for the sheer enjoyment of this blog.

  15. I needed 5 hints, but I rather enjoyed this one. 4*/4* seems about right. I’ve never heard of 1a, and certainly would never have worked it out from the clue, but I’m happy to live and learn. I enjoyed 13a, so that gets my vote. Thanks to Dada and Kitty.

  16. Stap me vitals! That was a true toughie & I only finished it with the help of my friends, Mrs Bradford & Mr Seiko. Thanks to Dada & to Kitty.

  17. Hi Everyone, new to this.

    Sniggered at 23d but otherwise a bit of a struggle with this one. Stuck at 11d & SE corner but got there eventually. Had to look up 1a & 20d.
    1a in particular – I can’t find any derivation for the word, it just seems made up. That’s always going to make it difficult.
    Thanks for the blog folks – I’m not alone after all!

    1. Hi LetterboxRoy, and welcome.

      1a was a new one on me too, and like you I can’t find anything solid regarding its etymology. I did a bit more digging and found that it makes an appearance in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:

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