Toughie 1620

Toughie 1620 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Hello and welcome to you all.  I embarked on this with my BRB poised and ready, but was in for a surprise.  A few little bits just nudged this beyond the 1* difficulty I was originally leaning towards.  In all, a pleasant puzzle which takes us across London then on to Oxford before we get merry.  The setter appears more than once and I have followed his lead: if I gave my reviews subtitles, today’s would be 11a and a half.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the Click here! boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal the answer.

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



1a Part of London appealing to the general public but not suiting the toffs? (6)
POPLAR: This part of East London is a word meaning widely well-liked without the letter that means posh or upper-class (not suiting the toffs?)

4a Cage – ape finally escaping is free (6)
GRATIS: A framework of bars with the final letter of ape (ape finally) removed (escaping) followed by the IS from the clue

8a Doctor’s coming to capital city – source of disease here (8)
MOSQUITO: The abbreviation for one of our usual doctors and a South American capital, the highest official capital city in the world.  These little bloodsuckers are carriers of disease

10a Imperfect piece of legislation US board’s introduced (6)
FLAWED: An abbreviation for a US board (FEDeral Reserve Board) contains (‘s introduced) a statute


11a Yours truly repeated something passed on down the generations? (4)
MEME: “Yours truly” twice.  The something passed on is a cultural analogue to the gene.  Originally coined by Richard Dawkins it now largely refers to such things as keyboard-playing cats and fake Chuck Norris quotes.  I love the internet!  Deciding what to illustrate this clue with took up most of today’s blogging time.  Click on the illustration for a brief history of these on the internet – there are lots of these about but I had to go with this one because the url had me chuckling


12a Explosive academic is twitching, anticipating the next thrill? (10)
HEDONISTIC: The abbreviation for high explosive, then a fellow of a college or a university (or today’s setter), IS from the clue and a twitching

13a Fat men getting a bit elevated on account of old-fashioned grub? (4-8)
PLUM-PORRIDGE: It’s an antiquated dish I’d never heard of, but I could make it from the recipe provided by the clue: chubby or rotund and our usual men who aren’t commissioned officers followed by a narrow elevation or raised strip

16a Blasted to hell, afraid and trembling severely (3,2,1,6)
ALL OF A DITHER: An anagram (blasted) of TO HELL AFRAID

20a On battlefield take no notice of dignitary’s title (10)
MONSIGNORE: A battlefield of the First World War (which turned up last Tuesday too) and then disregard or pay no attention to.  A title conferred on prelates and on dignitaries of the papal household


21a £25 for a small glass of beer?! (4)
PONY: I knew the slang term for a quarter ton but didn’t know it also means a small glass of beer.  You live and learn.  At any rate, you live.  (Acknowledgment: Douglas Adams.)  The surface is rapidly becoming true in London

22a Shelter in fine church in something warm (6)
FLEECE: The shelter often found in crosswords in between F(ine) and an abbreviation for a church

23a Traffic in part of London impeding daughter and son (8)
DEALINGS: A district of London (we’ve moved to West London now) inside (impeding) the abbreviations for daughter and son.  Not vehicular traffic but trade

24a Container has nasty chemical (6)
POTASH: A container then an anagram (nasty) of HAS.  The answer is a general name given to a variety of salts of a metallic element which are used in fertilizers, and the name actually originates from the container originally used to manufacture this

25a What Oxford may hold for Giovanni? Nonsense! (2,4)
MY FOOT: The solver is required to know the identity of today’s compiler: fine for paper solvers and Toughie regulars, but newcomers to the online puzzles would have cause to moan.  Anyway, the setter could say that an Oxford (note the indefinite article) may hold ** *****.  I’m sure you can guess the answer I really wanted to put in here!



1d Extremely informal support soon being voiced (8)
PROPERLY: An informal word for extremely.  A rigid support (or support as a verb; that also works) and then four letters which sound like (being voiced) a word meaning in the near future (though I feel some opposition to this sound-alike may be voiced)

2d Offence taken when bird nips Queen (5)
PIQUE: A short version of a common corvid is outside (nips) a short version of queen

3d Sound of brief eruption – and of what’s produced after it? (7)
ATISHOO: The brief eruption is an involuntary bodily expulsion and it sounds like something (1,6) that many would reach for as soon as they felt it coming on


5d Embarrassed about punishment, becoming graceful (7)
REFINED: Shamefaced around a monetary penalty

6d Bard’s doll that may be ripped apart (9)
TEARSHEET: Two definitions. Doll ********* is a Shakespearian character, a woman of ill-repute, who appears in Henry IV, Part 2.  This is also a page designed to be removed from a newspaper, magazine etc.

7d Favourite turning up in something wicked, unfastened garment maybe (4-2)
STEP-IN: A garment that is put on by being stepped into.  The reversal of a crosswordland favourite – in both senses – inside a trespass or wrongdoing

9d Revised draft of Lord’s cricket ground (3,8)
OLD TRAFFORD: An anagram (revised) of DRAFT OF LORD

14d Financial enquiry disturbing statesmen (5,4)
MEANS TEST: An anagram (disturbing) of STATESMEN

15d Two knights in condition of being high? No event for chaps to get tiddly! (3,5)
HEN NIGHT: Two chessmen inside “the condition of being high,” a definition taken straight from Chambers but used to good effect

17d Like a snake or like a newt? (7)
LEGLESS: An adjective literally describing a snake.  The newt has had too much to drink (though I haven’t seen this state described as being like a newt without a preceding a six letter word).  An interesting timeline of synonyms for this can be found here.

18d New idea – try relating to recommended food? (7)
DIETARY: Another anagram (new) of IDEA TRY

19d Idle, money running short? Then work! (6)
LOLLOP: An informal term for money without its final letter (running short) and followed by an abbreviation for a work

21d No amateur, this person’s bound to get leading role (5)
PRIMO: The abbreviation for one who is not an amateur containing the way the setter would say that he is


Thanks to Giovanni.  I didn’t note down any particular favourites during the solve.  Did anything stand out for you?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Even allowing for the time taken to search the depths of my memory for the name of Mr Shakespeare’s lady of the night, I’d still have to call this an ‘escapee from the back page of the paper’. 1*/3* from me too.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Kitty.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite happy to get through this little ego trip. “yours truly” in 11a, “this person’s” in 21d amd “Giovanni” in 25a which gave me the identity of the setter.
    Everything went smoothly until I was left with 6d (bard’s doll) for which I had to rev up the search engine.
    17d (like a snake) made me laugh.
    Thought of Clam Porridge first for 13a until I realised that clamp didn’t mean fat although the dish does seem to exist.
    Thanks to the Don for the fun and to Kitty for the wonderful review.

    • Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Purr – thanks, JL. You forgot his name in 12a! Anyway, I had fun continuing the mememe theme. :)

  3. beery hiker
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’d agree that this was mostly straightforward, but there were a couple I struggled a little with (neither of the definitions of 6d were familiar to me, so that was last in, and I’ve never heard of 21a in a beer context). Liked 9d and 17d

    Thanks to Giovanni for the puzzle and to Kitty for another fine blog

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Don’t know the countenance of a pony but if it’s a half of a half, that’s what I will be drinking in York in October.

      • Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink | Reply


        I’d be delighted to buy you a pony … and that’s not something I thought I’d ever say!

      • beery hiker
        Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’ll stay on the pints – all of the pubs John chooses serve a selection of fine ales! My local at work does a tasting tray of three thirds…

  4. halcyon
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought 1a was quite fun.
    Thanks for the review Kitty and thanks to Giovanni for the puzzle.

  5. dutch
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Made life harder for myself by bunging in ‘common’ for 1a.

    Didn’t know the old-fashioned grub – I may be lucky. Nor the Henry IV Part 2 character.

    Some clues seemed quite wordy – e.g. ‘high condition’ might help make 15d less clumsy – (doesn’t change the meaning, does it?)

    17d made me laugh. Also liked 25a.

    Many thanks Giovanni and Kitty – what a tremendous review – the informal was confusing in 1d, but yes, it’s in brb.

    • Dutch
      Posted June 14, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      i meant I found the 1d clue confusing and thank you for explaining it well, and now i see it is there in brb

  6. Una
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I loved all the cats and the chemistry jokes. Great review , Kitty !

    I needed 3 hints, the doll, the newt and 11a.

    Clues I particularly liked were 6a, 25a, 8a, 12a.

    Thanks to all concerned.

  7. Jane
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 6:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Started out full of confidence having seen Kitty’s difficulty rating and then it all started to go downhill. Thank goodness for 16a which gave me a way in! Things I didn’t know included 11,13&21a plus 6d. 1d only went in because, by that stage, nothing else would fit and I didn’t think that 24a was a chemical – obviously it is!
    Favourite slot goes to 17d – really made me laugh.

    Thanks to DG and also to our Tuesday girl – I will forgive you in time for getting my hopes up! Loved the 3d clip and the pic for 17d.

  8. Verlaine
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I quite enjoyed doing this this morning, but now you come to mention it, none of the clues do really stand that far ahead of the pack, do they?

    Relaxing early-in-the-week fare is no bad thing, I expect.

  9. Heno
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty for the review. I found this quite straightforward, but I fell at the last, to use horse racing parlance. Had never heard of Ms Tearsheet, so put in transient which fitted the checkers. Favourite was 13a. Back to the football.

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had forgotten Doll, so missed out on 6d, and had never heard of 13a. Otherwise, this was a relatively gentle outing. Call it 2*/3*. If I have to choose a favourite, it’s 8a. Thanks to the Don, and to Kitty.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 7:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We seem to have had more of a struggle with this one than most people are reporting. The NW corner stood empty and mocking us for quite some time where the London geography, although heard of by one of us, did not immediately come to mind. Eventually getting 1d sorted out gave us a starting point with a few checkers to help along the way. We also spent ages trying to work out how TRANSIENT could possibly work for 6d until the penny dropped. Again one of our team did know of her. 13a needed a bit of confirmation by Google. Suspect it is not something we will put on our ‘recipes we must try’ list.
    Thanks Giovanni and Kitty.

    • Jane
      Posted June 14, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi 2Ks – I reckon that makes at least three (sorry, four) of us who went down the ‘transient’ route. Sad thing is that I watched the play in question quite recently……….

  12. Sheffieldsy
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What to make of this one? Relatively easy with the exception of the doll clue – never heard of the Shakespeare character (or have forgotten) and never heard it used as the name for the ripping off thing either. Mostly nice clues, as we expect from Giovanni, then along comes ‘condition of being high’ for height – clumsy and ugly I felt, direct lift from the dictionary or not. Overall then, 2*(1* without the doll)/2*(3*without the height clunkiness).

    Favourites were probably 22a and 25a.

    Thanks to Kitty for a relatively innuendo-free blog and to Giovanni for setting the puzzle.

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    i’m with the 2Kiwis. I definitely found this more of a struggle than others seem to have, particularly in the NW corner. I did not get 6D. That play was not on my grammar school literature list. Never heard of 13A either, though I did work it out. Is twitching the same as tic? I would have thought that would have to be twitch. I did like 3D but apart from that I did not particularly enjoy this. Thanks anyway both.

  14. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the hints, Kitty.

  15. Jose
    Posted June 15, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    Kitty, I haven’t done this one but I still like to read the hints, tips and comments – fascinating and intriguing they are to me! Wouldn’t 17d be more humorous as: Like a snake, or as a newt? As in: “you’re six-letter word as a newt”.

    • Posted June 15, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jose. Thanks for the comment. I think I amused myself more than anyone else when writing these hints, because this is not quite the right audience for a celebration of internet memes! I wonder, for example, how many readers of the blog know what “rickrolling” is … :)

      I think 17d works well enough. It requires a little leap because the expression isn’t “legless as a newt” but several people above cited it as their favourite. Smiles among the solvership is what I like to see.

      • Jose
        Posted June 16, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink | Reply

        Well, I certainly didn’t know what “rickrolling” is – but I do now! Also, I’ve heard and read the word “meme” many times before but never really knew what that meant either. So thank you – that’s a new word to go straight into my “little red book”, which I’ve been compiling for decades. But I don’t think rickrolling will make it into there :-)

  16. Kath
    Posted June 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nothing like being a day late!
    I did do this one yesterday but didn’t get round to commenting so thought I would now.
    I agree that it wasn’t too difficult but I still had two answers that I couldn’t get – 20a and 17d and one wrong answer – 6d. It was called a Toughie which always means I can’t quite finish it.
    I enjoyed this one – some good clues.
    I liked 8, 12 and 25a and 3d. My favourite, even though I couldn’t get it, was 17d.
    With thanks to Giovanni and to Kitty.

  17. Nairnsue
    Posted June 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve only just done this too, with half an eye on the racing on tv – great way to spend a wet afternoon. Although I got 11a, 6d and 13a, I didn’t really understand them until I read Kitty’s hints, and wasn’t at all sure that 20a was spelt the way it would have to be to fit into the clue. I enjoyed 1a, 25a and 17d. Many thanks to Giovanni and Kitty’s blog, which is always entertaining.

  18. Hanni
    Posted June 15, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Could have been a lot worse for a Giovanni but enjoyable. 17d gets the favourite award.

    Thanks to the Don and Kitty.

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