Toughie 1597

Toughie No 1597 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This one’s not too difficult and there a number of smiles along the way but I also had a few niggles, for which I’ve deducted half a star from the enjoyment rating.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Monotony in bedroom — that’s sad (7)
BOREDOM – an anagram (that’s sad) of BEDROOM.

5a In search of air, finds a lot? (7)
FORTUNE – charade of a preposition meaning ‘in search of’ and an air or melody.

9a Gallery in Diss backed opening of exhibition: ‘To America’ (9)
STATESIDE – reverse DISS (a town in Norfolk that’s very useful for setters) around our usual art gallery and finish with the opening letter of exhibition.

10a ‘On yer bike — and ring the bell when date’s collected!’ (5)
PEDAL – a verb to ring a bell contains the abbreviation for date.

11a Periodically, iron traps particles (5)
IOTAS – regular letters from the middle two words.

12a Parts of building suffer with bug (9)
EAVESDROP – parts of the roof of a building are followed by a verb to suffer or deteriorate.

13a ‘Stand up straight‘ in hole? (4,5)
TALL ORDER – this is one (together with 26a) of a pair of very similar clues. Hole, here, is a tricky situation and ‘stand up straight’ could, cryptically, correspond to the answer. I don’t believe that a hole (an awkward situation) is the same thing as the answer which means a difficult assignment.

16a Falsehood rejected, misguided believer gets long note (5)
BREVE – remove the falsehood from ‘believer’ and make an anagram (misguided) of what’s left.

17a Last drink in institute (5)
BEGIN – a verb to last or continue unchanged is followed by an alcoholic drink.

18a Rather doubt earl’s malt’s matured (5,1,3)
SMELL A RAT – an anagram (matured) of EARL’S MALT.

20a Interrogation from Persian possibly chimes awkwardly (9)
CATECHISM – this is a word I dredged up from my enforced attendance at Sunday School. Start with what Persian is an example of in the animal world and add an anagram (awkwardly) of CHIMES.

23a Month in performance for ‘Pinafore‘ (5)
APRON – an abbreviated month followed by an adverb meaning ‘in performance’.

25a Understood ourselves to embrace quality (5)
ODOUR – a lingering quality or impression is hidden in the clue.

26a ‘Turn right‘ for chips, say? (4,5)
SIDE ORDER – a cryptic definition and a definition by example.

27a It could indicate Ali’s launch? (3,4)
SET SAIL – a reverse anagram which should lead you to ALI’S.

28a In the Paris train there’s scope for footsie! (7)
LEGROOM – a French definite article followed by a verb to prepare or train (someone) for a particular activity or purpose. I don’t really like ‘the Paris’ – ‘the Parisian’ would be fine but how does ‘the Paris’ work?

Down Clues

1d Born to help the lowly performer (7)
BASSIST – the abbreviation for ‘born’ followed by a verb to help. ‘the’ seems redundant here and I’m not convinced that lowly means the same as low.

2d Cook perch — middle needs to be agitated at the outset (5)
ROAST – start with a perch and replace the middle letter with the first letter of agitated.

3d How 7 may be exposed — producing reprimand? (5,4)
DRESS DOWN – 7d may be exposed if there’s a wardrobe malfunction.

4d In a state, conductor’s on drug (5)
MAINE – a principal conductor of electricity is followed by the abbreviation for a specific drug.

5d Veers, perhaps, into unrestrained lines? (4,5)
FREE VERSE – an anagram (perhaps) of VEERS goes inside an adjective meaning unrestrained.

6d Guys maybe promise changes, but I’m up and away (5)
ROPES – an anagram (changes) of what remains of ‘promise’ after we’ve removed the reversal (up) of I’M.

7d ‘Items not to be disclosed‘ are short of use (9)
UNDERWEAR – split the answer 5,4 and it could mean short of use.

8d Obscure snippet in middle of page seven (7)
ECLIPSE – insert a snippet or excerpt into the middle three letters of ‘page seven’.

14d Decamps in the dark? (6,3)
LIGHTS OUT – as 5’1,3 this could mean that we’re in the dark.

15d Princess’s breviary’s in sack (9)
DISMISSAL – string together the name of the late Princess of Wales, the ‘S and a breviary or book of Roman Catholic texts.

16d Measure a ring found in pool (9)
BILLABONG – charade of a measure that the government may try to get through Parliament, A and a ringing sound.

17d Bluestocking vigorously denies guilt wrongly indicated in summons (7)
BECKONS – remove the letters of ‘guilt’ (not in that order, so ‘wrongly indicated’) from bluestocking and make an anagram (vigorously) of what you have left.

19d Crepitant rumble reveals storm … (7)
TANTRUM – hidden in the clue. Crepitant apparently means ‘making a crackling sound’ but it can also mean ‘breaking wind’ – I intend to drop it into a conversation at the earliest opportunity.

21d … around Channel Islands; reportedly Crevichon’s affected initially (5)
CIRCA – the abbreviation for Channel Island followed by the initial letters of three words in the clue. Crevichon is a tiny, uninhabited island off the coast of Guernsey.

22d Intrude noisily with gong (5)
MEDAL – this sounds like a verb to intrude or interfere.

24d Medium plug inserted in port (5)
RADIO – insert a plug or puff into a South American port.

The ones which made me smile were 1a, 10a, 26a, 28a and 3d. Which one(s) exercised your laughing muscles?



  1. dutch
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Of the reverse anagrams, I preferred 27a to 5d (I’m really not keen on “perhaps” as an adequate indicator, though it’s seen).

    Ah, only just realised that unlike Gazza, I took “unrestrained lines” as the def, with the answer being a reverse clue for Veers.

    Some fun definitions: I liked the footsie (28a), turn right (26a, though similar to “stand up straight” in 13a) and the 1d lowly performer (to go with this morning’s players) – though I agree with Gazza’s quibble – wondering if “to play lowly” counted, but it’s being used as an adjective… And I also wondered about hole.

    I enjoyed the subtractive anagram in 17d (had to find a pencil) and in the 19d/21d pair I liked the wordplay and the way the surface worked nicely across the ellipsis

    Many thanks Firefly and Gazza

    • Gazza
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I hadn’t noticed that 5d could be a reverse anagram. It works like that, though I wonder about the ‘into’.

      • dutch
        Posted May 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

        not saying it’s right, but I just thought ‘into’ was the link from wordplay to definition, chosen to work with ‘Veers’ in the surface.

  2. Posted May 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A distinct north-south divide for me in this one. Soft on top and harder below, in part because I had a couple of very silly lapses – like being very slow to think of kind of Persian in 20a. :oops: After a bit of plugging away I sorted myself out and the stragglers then all came in a rush.

    I needed to look up breviary to understand 15d. I thought I’d have to look up crepitant, but it turned out I could leave that until later. I was slow to parse 16d (and now have that song in my head).

    I completely missed the finer points Gazza mentioned, but did wonder about suffer=drop in 12a.

    I parsed 5d as Dutch did.

    28a produced the biggest smile.

    Thanks Firefly and Gazza – your pictures today for 1a and 28a are particularly brilliant.

    • Gazza
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I wondered about suffer=drop too but I persuaded myself that it works in a sentence such as ‘He was dropping with exhaustion’.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I parsed 5D the same way as Dutch, too. I thought the puzzle was very straightforward. I didn’t look up the meaning of crepitant because I didn’t need it to solve the clue. When typing this, my US spell check didn’t recognize the word and offered precipitant and repentant as alternatives, both of which raised a smile. My picks are 5D and 16D. Thanks to Gazza and Firefly.

  4. Heno
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. Actually finished without the hints, so it must have been on the gentle side. Favourite was 27a. Last in was 17a. Was 2*/3* for me.

    • Gazza
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Well done, Heno. Your solving has come on in leaps and bounds recently.

      • Heno
        Posted May 4, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Gazza, much appreciated. I think I got a bit lucky recently with a couple of “easy” Toughies, but maybe something’s happening to the old grey matter :-)

        • Jane
          Posted May 4, 2016 at 7:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Don’t get too excited, Heno. If you’re anything like me, the old grey matter has a mind of its own – sometimes it decides to play ball, other times you’re back in the ‘now what did I come in here for’ zone!
          Ah well – let’s celebrate our little triumphs.

  5. LetterboxRoy
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    No trouble today. Liked 17d, 13a & 26a but like Kitty, had a wry smile at 28a. Agree with Heno’s rating.
    Thanks to all.

  6. Hanni
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Also parsed 5d like Dutch but see how both work.

    Smiled at 1a,10a, 13a, 26a, 14d, 16d and 22d. Favourite is 28a. Great clue.

    Many thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for a top notch blog. Loved the pics.

  7. Shropshirelad
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not too much to scare the nags but it did feel that some clues were a bit ‘fluffy’ – in that ‘well, this could be the answer, but then again – maybe not, you decide’. I hope that makes sense but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, as I’m a bit woozy today. I have no stand out favourite but I thought 9a was quite clever.

    Btw – loved the pic for 3d – bless

    Thanks to Firefly for the puzzle and to Gazza for his review.

  8. Jane
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Motored along quite happily until I got into all sorts of difficulties with the SW corner. Tried so hard to make 17a into the initials of an institute with a drink inside and didn’t know 14d as a term for ‘decamps’.
    Still not totally ‘with it’ regarding 27a – would somebody be kind enough to lead me through it, please?

    Votes for surface reads go to 1&18a plus 6d. Others on the podium are 26a plus 4,5&8d.

    Thanks to Firefly and, of course, to the knight in shining armour – loved the pic for 20a!

    • Gazza
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The answer to 27a is SET SAIL. If you treat this as a reverse anagram (where the indicator and fodder are in the answer rather than the clue) you end up with an anagram (set) of SAIL – giving Ali’s.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jane,
      In 27a, it could indicate means it could be clued as. So you have to “set” Ali’s.

    • Jane
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks guys – it was the anagram = set that was bothering me. Goodness, there’s so much I still need to learn. Can’t tell you how grateful I am to have the access through this amazing blog to lovely people who are willing to help us L-platers on our way.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted May 4, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Good lord,
        I am one of those L platers too.
        Even if I have been trying to solve cryptics since 1988 I still don’t complete some of them.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I wish for every toughie to be as smooth as this.
    Certainly restores confidence in my solving abilities.
    Parsed 5d like Gazza although I can see where Dutch is coming from.
    Favourite is 16d just because I love that word.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review.

  10. Gazza
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Kcit tomorrow.

  11. Una
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree with you , Gazza about 13a, not quite a snug fit.the parsing of 17d was completely beyond me, but I guessed it , eventually.
    There were lots of good clues including 1a, 10a, 26a, 3d and 7d.
    Billabong is one of the words I rarely remember.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  12. KiwiColin
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A gentle solve which is just what I like on a Wednesday. Plenty to keep me smiling as Firefly can be relied on to do.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  13. Sheffieldsy
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 8:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nothing overly taxing here and a pretty straightforward solve. We did have to check our understanding of breviary. All our favourites were in the top half – 9a, 10a & 8d. We noted three subtractive anagrams which seemed a lot – 16a, 6d & 17d – of which 17d was by far the best.

    We agree with Gazza’s ratings and thank him for the blog and Firefly for the crossword.

    • Sheffieldsy
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s odd. We started attempting the Toughie just two years ago and now we finish them fairly regularly (except when they are pushing 5* for difficulty). Almost blase these days, but just saying that probably means a period of poor results is just over the horizon!

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hmmm… breviary, agreed. Slightly tenuous.

  14. Jon_S
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 9:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Definitely on the gentle side, solved leisurely over a cup of tea and biscuits with Masterchef on in the background. I always enjoy Firefly’s puzzles, both here and elsewhere, no complaints today. Last in 27ac, after a little struggle in the NW corner.

Leave a Reply, but please read the Comment Etiquette (under Contact on the menu) first, especially if you are asking a question

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *