NTSPP – 334

NTSPP – 334

Life’s a Gas by Hoskins

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Crossword logo

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by crypticsue follows:

A beast of a Saturday afternoon puzzle from Hoskins – the parsing of a few  of the clues took longer than all the rest put together, not to mention most of them being quite tricky to hint at in simple and plain English.


1a           He performs poorly with Lee at Lords (5,2,3,5)
PEERS OF THE REALM   An anagram (poorly) of HE PERFORMS and LEE AT.



9a            Chill and gas with tenor or get back to work? (7)
RESTART    Another way of saying relax (chill being an informal term for this), the chemical symbol for Argon (gas) and the abbreviation for Tenor.

10a         Flash northern lad having ball breaking wind (7)
MONSOON   A seasonal wind we tend to associate more with the rain that accompanies it –   an informal term for a small period of time (flash) the abbreviation for Northern, a male child (lad) with the letter that looks like a ball ‘breaking’ or being inserted.



11a         Gas board’s second and final letter about energy (5)
OZONE   The second letter of board, the final letter of the alphabet, the preposition meaning about, and the abbreviation for Energy.

12a         Lack of faith in detective getting second conviction (9)
DISBELIEF  The abbreviation for a particular rank of detective, the abbreviation for second and another word for conviction.

13a         A gas ousting The First Couple for power or wealth (9)
AFFLUENCE   A (from the clue) and the chemical symbol for fluorine, the latter ‘ousting’ the first two letters of a word meaning the power of producing an effect, especially unobtrusively. 

15a         Fumes associated with mature son, or passing gas (5)
RAGES   Fumes here being part of a verb meaning gets very angry –  Remove the O for oxygen from OR (passing gas) and add a verb meaning to mature and the abbreviation for Son.

16a         Like Hoskins to occupy very large watering hole (5)
OASIS    AS I (like Hoskins, our setter) to occupy the two letters used to indicate very large.



18a         Male committed after losing head on drugs (9)
MEDICATED   The abbreviation for Male followed by a word meaning committed, without its ‘head’ or first letter.

20a         Most filthy German titters on sniffing gas (9)
GROTTIEST  The abbreviation for German and an anagram of TITTERS into which is inserted the abbreviation for the gas we removed in 15a.

23a         Collect a van for major US gas producer? (5)
AMASS   A (from the clue), the van or leading letter of Major and the American term for the part of the body that ‘produces gas’.

24a         With right direction, a bishop can be up to date (7)
ABREAST   A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Bishop go with R (right) and a compass direction.

25a         Fellow sat in shivering again without gas money? (7)
AFGHANI   A monetary unit of a central Asian republic –   F (fellow) ‘sat in’ or inserted into an anagram (shivering) of AGAIN, the result put outside the chemical symbol for Hydrogen (without gas).



26a         Possible treatment for a proven hysteria? (8,7)
AVERSION THERAPY   An anagram (treatment for) of A PROVEN HYSTERIA


1d           Parents groan on raising a black sheep (7,3,5)
PERSONA NON GRATA   An anagram (raising) of PARENTS GROAN ON followed by the A from the clue.

2d           Reduce intensity of gas after taking drugs orally (4,3)
EASE OFF  A homophone (orally) of the informal way we might refer to two tablets of Ecstasy, OF (from the clue) and the chemical symbol for Fluorine.

3d           Ops in which German police will ring Domino’s? (5-4)
STAKE-OUTS   The abbreviation for the German Nazi police corps ‘rings’ the sort of food of which Domino’s pizza is an example, if you were in North American anyway.

4d           Foul gas this setter had after egg and tofu starters (5)
FETID  The abbreviated way Hoskins would say I had goes after the chemical symbol we already met in 2d and the ‘starters’ of Egg and Tofu.

5d           Ranch dressing some hated (9)
HOMESTEAD  An anagram (dressing) of SOME HATED



6d           Get up about noon to wash quickly (5)
RINSE   A verb meaning to get up goes about the abbreviation for Noon.

7d           Like a party with wedding band, perhaps! (7)
ADORING     Liking intensely-   A (from the clue) an informal way of referring to a party, and the item of jewellery often referred to as a wedding band.

8d           New feminists and yet old doctrine? (8,7)
MANIFEST DESTINY   An anagram (new) of FEMINISTS AND YET –  In the 19th century, this was a widely held belief in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America.

manifest destiny


14d         Crap opium perhaps source of tummy with gas (6,3)
NUMBER TWO   Opium is an example, perhaps, of an anaesthetic, so you need the informal way an anaesthetic is referred to, especially in Crosswordland, followed by the ‘source’ of Tummy, the abbreviation for With and the gas we’ve met twice already.  I share Expat Chris’s views of this type of clue.

15d         Side dominated by City in right form (9)
RECTANGLE   The abbreviation for the postal area of the City of London inserted into an abbreviation for right and then followed with another word for side.

17d         Pest turned up gas, and egg’s on top of oven! (7)
SCOURGE    A reversal (turned up) of a particularly nasty gas used for crowd control, the ‘top’ of Oven, and a verb meaning to egg on. 

19d         Scholar at autopsy holding heaven-bound reptile (7)
TUATARA  The 2Kiwis should know this NZ lizard-like reptile –  the rest of us have to spot the reversed (heaven-bound) lurker in scholAR AT AUTopsy



21d         Fix up covering over gas leaking from ducts? (5)
TEARS   A reversal (up) of a verb meaning to fix covering over the chemical symbol for Argon

22d         Weaselly type dropping what looks like a dollar for pledge (5)
TOAST    Take a relative of the weasel and drop the letter that looks like a dollar sign down a bit.




I’m going out now and won’t be back until early afternoon, so if anyone spots anything wrong, I’ll deal with it then.


  1. Kath
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really can’t do this – I’m completely stuck. :sad:
    Need to do some cooking now – will have another try later.

  2. Jane
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve got a full grid but am honestly not sure what to make of this one. Isn’t there just one ‘s’ in the middle of gases for a start? Maybe I’ve missed something pertinent. I do know that I printed off a list of gases for reference and didn’t seem to need any of them.
    Hopefully, some of our other commenters will enlighten me.
    Sorry, Hoskins, I obviously didn’t get onto the right wavelength.

    • crypticsue
      Posted July 2, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      If it helps, I’ve just finished typing the review and the words ‘chemical symbol’ featured quite a lot. I checked earlier and the BRB says that the plural is ‘gases’ with one S.

      • Jane
        Posted July 2, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, CS. I was obviously looking for complications where none existed! Think I’ve got everything parsed but there are a couple of question marks awaiting your review.

  3. dutch
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m fortunate in that I’ve seen this puzzle before, when it took me between back page and toughie time to solve, with one or two unparsed. Surprisingly, when I tried it again today it took me just about as long. I only remembered the answers once I had re-solved them.

    Hoskins is very efficient, there aren’t many (if any!) unused words… that might help some people

    I thought there were some brilliant clues – 23a in particular was a laugh out loud penny drop moment.

    Collins has gases or gasses, so does Oxford. Oxford suggests gasses is mainly US

    • Posted July 2, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I missed it as well – Chambers (on WordWeb) allows gasses, but presumably as a verb not a noun.

    • dutch
      Posted July 2, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks BD, that must have been in response to my message before I edited it. In case anyone is confused, I had said that I had missed the misspelling first time I did the puzzle with apologies to Harry – but now I think both spellings are ok. Unless you want to be strict brb.

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I have three left, all in the SW corner, and there are several I have yet to parse. Like Jane I don’t know what to make of the puzzle. The fun factor was missing for me and I’m not a fan of euphemisms for bodily functions appearing in a crossword clue or answer.

  5. 2Kiwis
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The bottom half of the puzzle and particularly the SW was where we got held up the longest. There are still a few, 17d for example, where we still have a bit of parsing not sorted out. Something to contemplate on our morning walk.
    Thanks Hoskins.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted July 3, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink | Reply

      We forgot to mention this morning how much we enjoyed 19d. It was of course a read and write clue for us, we don’t need to explain why.

  6. dutch
    Posted July 3, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the review CS – a tricky one to write tips for!

    The answers aren’t hidden?

    I’m sure you intended these but:
    1a AT is included in the anagram
    1d the last A doesn’t have to be in the anagram
    8d old would be part of def
    14d abbreviation for west

    • Posted July 3, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink | Reply

      All now resolved.

    • dutch
      Posted July 3, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply


    • crypticsue
      Posted July 3, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks both. When I first turned on the computer my intention was just to put a holding comment to the effect that although I’d drafted the review, real life had to take precedence. Then I decided I just had time to publish the blog and ended up rushing it because there was a man at the bottom of the stairs telling me to come on or we’d be late.

  7. Jane
    Posted July 3, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks for the review, CS. I had got the parsing OK but wonder whether there should have been an anagram indicator for 20a?
    I was also rather unsure about angle = side but see that it is listed in Chambers Crossword Dictionary. I tend to think of it more in terms of ‘right angle’ etc.
    The 25a currency and 19d reptile seemed to be somewhat obscure, as if the setter had rather boxed himself into a corner.
    Like Chris, I wasn’t very happy with some of the clues e.g. 23a & 14d.

    • Gazza
      Posted July 3, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink | Reply

      I think the anagram indicator in 20a is ‘on’ – I’ve never seen it before but it is listed as an indicator in Chambers Crossword Dictionary and it means, apparently, tipsy. It seems to be shorthand for ‘on the booze’.

    • dutch
      Posted July 3, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ah! yes, much nicer, I see now brb def 4 under adverb is “on the way to being drunk” – no doubt that is Hoskin’s intented meaning.

      I had missed that, and thought the anagram indicator might be one of the other definitions of on, e.g. def 12 under preposition “with action applied to”. I need to learn to finish reading the list.

  8. Kath
    Posted July 3, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    This was way beyond me – as CS said in her introduction, a beast of a Saturday afternoon puzzle.
    I did about half of it and gave up.
    All I can say really is thanks to Hoskins and thanks, admiration and a :rose: to CS.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted July 3, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink | Reply


  9. Hoskins
    Posted July 3, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks to CS for the review, to those who solved and commented, and to BD for having me. Apologies for the gasses/gases confusion – not very helpful of me! Hope everyone has a nice Sunday.

  10. Maize
    Posted July 3, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Unfortunately I have an inbuilt bias against long anagrams unless they are clever reworkings of the meaning, or jokes in some way, in which case I love them – Aniston/ onanist for example was a cracker by Paul that sticks in the brain somehow! When compiling myself I try to only use them if they have some kind of special appeal or else I’ll turn to them as a last resort, so all four long lights around the edge were not, alas, my cup of tea. Which is not to say there’s anything bad about them at all – many others solvers love them, I know – so this is one of those where I have to shrug my shoulders and admit my tastes are my own undoing.
    On the other hand there was plenty for me to enjoy – 11a, 18a and 21d take my podium places and the idea for the theme was a super one. Many thanks Hoskins!

  11. windsurfer23
    Posted July 3, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Harry, nice idea!

    I didn’t of course know 19d although easy to see it. 8d was also new to me.

    I liked the toilet humour in 14d.

  12. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 4, 2016 at 12:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Slow but steady progress with this one.
    Would have liked to see more references to the gases in the answers.
    Was even trying to fit Flatulence in 13a at one point. (sorry Chris)
    Thanks to Hoskins and to CS for the review.

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 *