Toughie No 1601 by Micawber
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ****/*****
This is not one of Micawber’s more difficult puzzles but, as always, it’s really enjoyable. My last answer was 6d – I had to rack my brains to remember the phrase for a life of ease, which I think has fallen out of fashion.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.
1a Release bar on Simpson perhaps ditching American husband (7)
PUBLISH – string together a bar, the first name of a member of the Simpson family without the A(merican) and H(usband). I presume that the surface relates to rumours that Marge and Homer are to divorce.
5a Present mongrel’s kennelling charge? (7)
CURRENT – split 3,4 this could be, cryptically, what a mongrel has to pay for his kennel.
9a Northern relatives sounded out — they’re against (5)
ANTIS – these are female relatives as they may be pronounced by people in the North of England.
10a What to say when leaving dog — advice from Spooner (6-3)
TOODLE-PIP – a type of dog and a bit of advice with the initial letters transposed in the manner of Spooner.
11a A French female made a joke without preparation (10)
UNEQUIPPED – charade of the female version of a French indefinite article and a verb meaning made a joke.
12a Back up car, making vibrating sound (4)
PURR – reverse ‘up’ and add the abbreviation for a posh car.
14a What you might get after hours is landlord’s call — another drink? (4,3,1,4)
TIME AND A HALF – what you might earn from working overtime can be split into a publican’s traditional call when he or she wants to close the bar and a request (3,1,4) tagged on to a drinks order.
18a Women-only therapy involving muscle handling? (12)
NOMENCLATURE – ‘handling’ here means relating to handles or aliases. Start with a phrase (2,3) meaning women-only and add a therapy or treatment containing the short name for a back muscle.
21a Half the kids turned geek (4)
NERD – reverse the ‘proper’ word for kids and extract just half of it.
22a Attack SAS, Goering ordered (10)
AGGRESSION – an anagram (ordered) of SAS GOERING.
25a A new recommendation on wine and snacks (9)
ANTIPASTI – string together A, N(ew), the same recommendation that gave Spooner problems in 10a and a type of wine.
26a German denial followed by confirmation after expulsion of eastern assassin (5)
NINJA – negative and positive responses in German without the abbreviation for eastern.
27a Follows, protecting king, and makes safe (7)
ENSURES – a verb meaning follows or succeeds containing a single-letter abbreviation for king.
28a Expressed symbolically, editor’s instruction not to write rubbish? (7)
NOTATED – when split 2,3,2 this could be a signed order from the editor to a journalist to go easy on the rubbish.
1d/2d Man holding up carton with fish paste (6,6)
PEANUT BUTTER – a man’s name contains the reversal of a carton or pot and a popular fish. This sticky paste is far more popular across the pond than it is here and it inspires so much terror in some people that there’s a special word (arachibutyrophobia) for fear of it sticking to the roof of one’s mouth.
2d See 1d
3d Heedless members of ruling party throw caution to the wind (10)
INSOUCIANT – a short word meaning members of the party currently in office is followed by an anagram (throw … to the wind) of CAUTION.
4d Cross found in middle of Whitehall? (3,2)
HET UP – a description (in a down clue) of the middle three letters of Whitehall.
5d Stock line slurred when tight (5-4)
CLOSE-KNIT – an anagram (slurred) of STOCK LINE.
6d Carefree chap not unknown to get wind up (4)
RILE – “A life of *****” means an easy, carefree existence. Drop the mathematical unknown from the name of the chap. The derivation of the phrase seems to have been lost in the mists of time.
7d Messing up, loses a contract (8)
ESPOUSAL – an anagram (messing) of UP LOSES A.
8d Diminish posh person with interruption by mimic (5,3)
TAPER OFF – a slang term for an upper-class person contains someone who mimics or imitates.
13d Unimpeachable as other clues here are, last one starts with absurd cant (10)
SACROSANCT – start with a word describing fourteen of the thirty clues in this puzzle but with its last letter moved to the front (last one starts). Append an anagram (absurd) of CANT.
15d Praises Brussels record on getting European into space station (9)
EULOGISES – start with the institution for which Brussels is used as a metonym, add a record or journal and finish by inserting E(uropean) into the abbreviation for the International Space Station.
16d One will join sister on night out, getting overcome by drink? (8)
INUNDATE – string together the Roman numeral for one, a religiously-inclined sister and a romantic night out.
17d Times are changing for the States (8)
EMIRATES – an anagram (changing) of TIMES ARE.
19d Singer‘s big win overturned (6)
LINNET – reverse a big win (10-0).
20d Global body’s help is not reported (6)
UNSAID – join together the abbreviation for a global organisation, the ‘S and a word for help.
23d Period when head of government’s in control? (5)
REIGN – insert the first letter of government into a verb to control or keep in check.
24d Knocks up a bit of wood (4)
SPAR – reverse a verb meaning knocks.
As always with Micawber the decision is whether to produce a long list of ‘likes’ or to undertake a pruning job. I’ll just nominate 12a, 14a, 18a, 4d, 13d and 19d. Which ones would make your shortlist?