Toughie 1648 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1648

Toughie 1648 by Warbler

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello and welcome to another Tuesday.  They do come round very regularly.  I shouldn’t have been surprised: after all it was Monday all day yesterday.

Warbler has given us a Toughie which is very much on the gentle side, with plenty of musical content.  So tell your friends where the party is.  The clues didn’t afford me many opportunities to cater to the aural tastes of many of you, but never mind – after the review, I’ll happily hand control of the playlist over to you.  BYOB!

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers nestled inside the The answers are all in Chambers.  Except for the ones that aren’t. boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.

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



1a    Drug isn’t affected when taking a temperature (6)
STATIN: An anagram (affected) of ISN’T containing (when taking) A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for temperature

4a    Investment by independent fellow in charge is precise (8)
SPECIFIC: The shortened form of an investment which carries some risk followed by the abbreviations in turn for independent, fellow and in charge

9a    One knocks  musical performer (6)
RAPPER: Someone who give short sharp knocks or a performer who may be described as musical.  Perhaps you would knock said performer by disagreeing with this assertion!

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

10a    Mistake way driving on this? (4,4)
SLIP ROAD: A minor mistake by a thoroughfare gives the entrance or exit part of a motorway.  The way in the clue is a little close to the whole for my complete satisfaction

11a    Body cells lining epiglottis initially that may be red or white (9)
CORPUSCLE: Body, then the initial letters of the next three words of the clue.  The definition refers to some cells

13a    It’s invigorating to be part of pageant on ice (5)
TONIC: The answer is included in the clue, signposted by “to be part of”

14a    Australian state representatives slang teenager behaving badly (6-7)
AGENTS-GENERAL: An anagram (behaving badly) of SLANG TEENAGER.  These are representatives in the UK of the government of an Australian State

17a    Having expanded submits at heart to measurement of obesity (4,4,5)
BODY MASS INDEX: Take the central three letters (at heart) of submits, and expand the abbreviation.  The definition could equally well be measurement of thinness.  Mine has increased a little: I have expanded due to too many treats consumed during my recent holiday

21a    Keen to get some of Stone Age relics (5)
EAGER: Our second lurker: he’s inside (to get some of) the last three words of the clue

23a    Attempted once again to save thousands, and cut anew (9)
RETRIMMED: A word which could mean attempted again has inside it (to save) a couple of copies of the letter that is a thousand in Roman numerals.  The answer is to cut again, but only a little

24a    Hussy’s beginning to entice author (8)
TROLLOPE: A derogatory term for a lady of loose morals and then the first letter of (beginning to) entice gives either of two well-known authors.  The letters page in the DT has featured these recently, giving those who read the paper, rather than just use it to line the litter tray, a slight advantage

25a    Driven model organised festival – not large? Not very (6)
FIESTA: This model of Ford car is also a festival, but that’s incidental: you need to take the letters of festival without (not) the abbreviations for large and very and organise them into a little anagram.  We had one of these, and it survived worse than baboons

26a    Spent former writer died before his boss? (8)
EXPENDED: String together two letters that mean former, a staple crosswordland writer, D(ied) and our regular newspaper boss

27a    Additional comment by unknown revolutionary soul (6)
PSYCHE: The letters that signify an extra message appended to the end of the main body, a mathematical unknown and a revolutionary figure beloved of crossword setters. The soul, spirit or mind



1d    Tidy  tree (6)
SPRUCE: Two definitions, the second being a conifer

2d    In the morning Southern Republican rises with character (9)
AMPERSAND: The abbreviation for before noon followed by the reversal of abbreviations for Southern together with that for Republican, then a word meaning with or also.  The character originated as a ligature of the letters et, Latin for “and” and its name has an interesting etymology:

(Read more)

From Wikipedia:

The word ampersand is a corruption of the phrase “and per se & (and)”, meaning “and intrinsically the word and (represented by the symbol &)”.  

Traditionally, when reciting the alphabet in English-speaking schools, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself (“A”, “I”, and, at one point, “O”) was repeated with the Latin expression per se (“by itself”).  This habit was useful in spelling where a word or syllable was repeated after spelling; e.g. “d, o, g—dog” would be clear but simply saying “a—a” would be confusing without the clarifying “per se” added.  It was also common practice to add the “&” sign at the end of the alphabet as if it were the 27th letter, pronounced as the Latin et or later in English as and.  As a result, the recitation of the alphabet would end in “X, Y, Z, and per se and”.  This last phrase was routinely slurred to “ampersand” and the term had entered common English usage by 1837.  However, in contrast to the 26 letters, the ampersand does not represent a speech sound – although other characters that were dropped from the English alphabet did, such as the Old English thorn, wynn, and eth.

Through popular etymology, it has been falsely claimed that André-Marie Ampère used the symbol in his widely read publications and that people began calling the new shape “Ampère’s and”.


3d    9 is cooler (3,4)
ICE CUBE: The name (not the one his mother gave him: that was O’Shea Jackson) of a particular musical performer of the type given in 9a.  A piece of frozen water that can be used to cool a drink and is rarely quite the shape suggested by its name

5d    Deciphering Poe’s title originally reveals ghostly spirit (11)
POLTERGEIST: An anagram (deciphering) of POES TITLE with R and G, the first letters (originally) of reveals and ghostly

6d    Seals off most of tank’s mechanical device on ship (7)
CAPSTAN: Seals off and then most of the letters of the next word in the clue.  The mechanical device is used for winding heavy ropes or cables

7d    Loud noise before noon brings sign of disapproval (5)
FROWN: Loud, in musical notation, a noise (also loud, as it happens) and N(oon) all put together gives us a sign of disapproval expressed on the face

8d    Will supplements treat colds around here in Brittany? (8)
CODICILS: Make an anagram of (treat) COLDS and place it around the French word for here.  I had the “here” but was fooled initially by the surface into first considering “medicine.”  Oops!

12d    Act out a Greek choral song? That would be a disaster! (11)
CATASTROPHE: An anagram (out) of ACT followed by A from the clue, after which is a Greek choral song.  That last part sounded right but I did have to look it up to pin it down precisely: it was the song sung by the chorus in a Greek play as it moved towards one side, answered by an exact counterpart, the antistrophe, as it returned.  So now I know

15d    Seventies band heard Stones finally play with harmony (4,5)
ROXY MUSIC: Some letters that sound like (heard) some stones, the final letter of play and some harmony or melody

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

16d    Sailor posted to Eastern Spain becomes missing person (8)
ABSENTEE: A charade of: a sailor, posted or dispatched, E(astern) and the IVR for Spain

18d    Army in line goes mad for her (7)
MARILYN: An anagram (goes mad) of ARMY IN L(ine)

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

19d    Beings worshipped high tide, one with water endlessly rising (7)
DEITIES: An anagram (high) of TIDE, then the Roman numeral one, then a large mass of water without the final letter (endlessly) reversed (rising, in a down clue)

20d    Imagine the setter had worried interminably (6)
IDEATE: How the setter would say she had, followed by worried without the final N (interminably)

22d    Collective  15, perhaps (5)
GROUP: A double definition; a collective in general or a musical collective as exemplified by 15d


Thanks for the music, Warbler! My favourite clue today is 17a.  Which clue(s) got you singing or tapping your toes?


63 comments on “Toughie 1648

  1. I wouldn’t argue against one star today – this was one of the easiest Toughies I have seen (but then I think the number I have done is not much above single figures). 14a was unfamiliar but very guessable once the crossers were in place and 20d was last in. Did wonder whether 1a 11a and 17a were part of some mini-theme.

    Thanks to Kitty and Warbler

    1. And there was me being cowardly by hedging my bets and adding an extra half star!

      Yes, I was going to mention the medical clues. There are also the cold supplements (8d).

      1. Oh well, that just goes to show how subjective a thing difficulty can be! I must have picked up on the medical stuff because I’ve had more dealings with the profession than I’d like recently. I thought 17a was largely discredited as a measure of obesity (I think escaping the overweight zone is almost impossible for somebody my shape).

        1. I solved it in possibly record time (for me) for a Toughie, but did have to check a couple of things afterwards in the BRB so thought that was enough justification to up my rating a tad.

          As for BMI, yes, body type counts for a lot. And, as is often pointed out, muscle is weighty.

  2. This was possibly the easiest toughie that I have ever attempted. Great fun though. As for music Kitty, I will go for Bryan Ferry singing Bob Dylan songs. Ta to all.

    1. dylanesque – brilliant.

      And I have very fond memories of sitting in the pub at the top of clifton beach in CapeTown with the sun on my back drinking carling black label listening to it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall when I was a student.

  3. For once I really have to agree that this could have been a back pager.
    I am not saying I didn’t enjoy it. My favourite is 24a. I am a Brian Ferry fan , especially of his version of Carrickfergus :
    With thanks to Warbler and Kitty.

    1. My mother was at Newcastle University with Bryan Ferry, in Richard Hamilton’s art class with him.

      I can’t help but feel she didn’t make the most of those networking opportunities!

      1. I was once seated opposite George Michael in a cafe in Patmos . When I told my pupils about this , you could clearly read their thoughts “Why was such a heavenly opportunity wasted on her ? “.

    2. We just love him in France. He even appeared in a series in the eighties.

  4. Definitely a *-ish difficulty. Quite a few clues that I wrinkled my nose at, because, as you already say, some of the parts of the clues seem weakish – to 10a I’d definitely add the second word in 15d, for instance.

    But good early-in-the-week fare and I liked some of the surfaces, e.g. 26a, 16d. Thanks Warbler and Kitty!

    1. I agree that 17a is a clever clue now that I have seen it parsed (clever Kitty!) … obviously I just bunged it in, as you do for clues of such unusual shape and crossers!

      1. Me too – just bunged it in – only when I read kitty’s wonderful review did i realise i hadn’t actually parsed it

  5. Happy to see a real kitty review as the last one was a bit lacking in our favourite animal. Not complaining but just saying as we have been accustomed to the genre.
    Loved the clip for 9a. Wish I could put these outfits on my cats and ask them to do the cleaning.
    17a takes the podium. Very clever.
    11a also.
    Thanks to Warbler and to kitty.

    1. I sometimes worry that I’m overdoing the cat pics, J-L! For unfathomable reasons, they are not everybody’s favourite. But if you like them, I feel I have ca[r]t[e] blanche to continue. :yahoo:

      1. Very amusing pic for 12d, and a very appropriate use of a cat pic for that clue, so you’re fully vindicatted… and you’ve adopted it I see!?

        1. Vindicatted! Like it! Yes, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to adopt a cat. I’d adopt more, but the landlord won’t allow me to have any of the furry type. (Or ones like those in 9a.) A total 12d. :(

  6. A very enjoyable solve I thought with a lot more sparkle than todays back pager. Having expanded, on and off, over the years – I only have a ‘body mass’ these days as there is no room for an index.

    The only solution I didn’t enjoy was 20d as it seemed to be a bit contrived. I will go with 15d as my favourite as Bryan Ferry and his band have always been in my top 3 performers. If you listen and look at him now and think of him back in the early 1970’s – he defines the word ‘cool’.

    Thanks to Warbler for the fun and to Kitty for her excellent blog. I feel guilty now that I didn’t go the extra mile on my blog but I had far too many pressing matters to attend to.

    1. Actually ,Brian Ferry is the epitome of Hot. (Which is a cryptic crossword solver’s conundrum.)

  7. As last week tried the Toughie after the “plug” on the back page blog.. This week finished without help for first time, so your 1.5* probably generous. Didn’t know why BMI but hint made clear. Satisfied to finish even though not a serious challenge for Toughie aficionados I guess
    Music references wrong generation for me.
    Thanks to setter &; Kitty, your bias is what it says on the tin & I wouldn’the presume to be dog in a manger about it.

    1. Most of the Labs I know wouldn’t fit in a manger. I did once hear them described as life support systems for stomachs.

      1. Certainly our current resident wouldn’t, he is 25ins tall. We think in a previous life he was a cat though as he insists on sitting on our laps in the mornings (crosswords have to wait).
        Better 7/8ths is dedicated cat person, although no resident at the moment for first time since we married.

          1. A stray f made its way into your email address, which is why you went into moderation. I’ve amended it for you.

            Regarding the avatar: :good:

    2. Congratulations on your first solve!
      Don’t be so hard on yourself though; there will be plenty out there who will still be struggling with this, I suspect.
      You solved it, well done.

    3. Well done. :) I suppose I’d rather be called generous than a bit harsh, even though I’m aiming for accurate!

      P.S. I think Kath’s description of Labradors is apt. My brother has a Lab and she certainly seems to rule OK in that household!

      PPS. In the above, I was unsure about capitalising Labrador, so asked the interwebs. It brought some enlightenment, but now I am pondering vegetable names. The paths this blog can take you down …

  8. Very gentle stroll, but enjoyable. Are we being lulled, I wonder…?
    Liked 8d, the 9/3 combo & 24a – that word always makes me smile, don’t know why, but it does.

    10a my least favourite; the first two words are like two clues from the quickie bunged together.
    21d – Not at all keen on eaten for worried, either. Is that really as in “I’ll sort it out, don’t eat.”?

    Otherwise all good fun, thanks to all.

  9. Very gentle, I agree, but fun nonetheless. I do like a Warbler puzzle. The only small grumble was having 9A/6D described as musical. My favorites today are 11A and 27A and perhaps 15D (for the clue, not the band). Thanks to Kitty for the review, entertaining as always, and to Warbler.

  10. I loved it – I agree that it probably didn’t count as a Toughie but, for the second time today, it just goes to prove that a crossword doesn’t have to be difficult to be good fun.
    I completely missed the logic behind 17a although it was obviously what it was so :negative: to me and :good: to Kitty.
    I’ve never heard of the 3d ‘musician’ or any others of that genre, thankfully.
    Didn’t know the 12d Greek choral song.
    I liked 24 and 25a and 7d. My favourite was 15d – love Bryan Ferry.
    With thanks to Warbler and to Kitty and another :good: to her for being brave enough to take on doing the hints for Toughies.

  11. Always enjoy a Warbler puzzle and this was no exception, despite the ‘music’ clues. Have never heard of 3d and rather thought the 9a clue should have been followed by a question mark!
    Didn’t know the Greek choral song and confess that both the answer to that clue and that for 17a were ‘bunged in’ long before I got to grips with the parsing.
    Top of the pops for me were 17a (very clever, once I’d worked it out!) and 24a. Like Letterbox Roy, I just love the sound of the word – it’s so expressive.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to our Girl Tuesday – very much liking the punctuation paws.

  12. Thanks to Warbler and to Kitty for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle that could have been a backpager. My only problem was solving 20d, which was last in, but I got there in the end. Favourite was 11a. Was 1*/3* for me.

  13. I’ll go along with the 2Kiwis on this one – gentle but a lot of fun.

    For once it seems as if we are all agreed about Roxy Music. Wonderful! Just to celebrate here is my favourite song of theirs.

    Many thanks to Warbler and to Kitty.

    1. I listened to both clips, since I had not paid any attention to this group before. We are most definitely not all agreed!

        1. You’re welcome. Both songs sounded the same to me! And I thought his voice was mediocre and his delivery was dire. But musical taste is like puzzle rating. Very subjective.

    2. Yes – I’m with you on this one – Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music – brilliant. I could go on as it’s not just his music that I like . . . :unsure:

  14. An easy romp with a good deal of levity. */***.

    17a was our favourite, because we just began our diet, today, to get in trim/trimmer for our two month antipodean trip which starts in mid-October. If previous diets are anything to go by, we’ll be a pair of grumpy boots in a few days time.

    Have to say, didn’t much like 23a or being told I can’t eat dried mango any more.

    Thanks to Kitty for the review and Warbler for the fun.

  15. I feel the need to comment. This is the first Toughie I have completed correctly with no need of hints, dictionaries nor electronic devices. I feel good. Mind you I’ve been at it all day, off and on. It may have a low difficulty rating by others but the enjoyment factor for me is off the scale. Reminds me of that day in 1975 when I solved my DT cryptic for the first time.

    1. Well done!
      They get easier the more you try to do. Don’t take too much notice of the crossword-nutter’s difficulty ratings, we all think differently. Some of us can sit here all day working it out, others have busy lives…

      1. Thank you LBR, understand what you are saying, very Einsteinium, everything is relative!

        1. Well done, Graham. Yes, ratings are very subjective. I think they follow the mathematics of Chaos Theory more that Relativity!

        1. Well, ‘crossword-nutter’ in my vocabulary means the likes of most of us here :)
          Thanks Kitty, nice posts.

          1. The pedant in me noticed the position of your apostrophe which indicates that you were referring to a singular crossword nutter, which in context would mean me. I did of course know what you meant (and besides, if the cap fits … ) There is no emoticon for “expression of mock outrage” otherwise I would have used it!

          1. Definitely wise in my book (though I quite like that others do because it’s interesting to see the distribution). I don’t give them either. I find that words do the trick quite nicely.

  16. Have been wracking my brain for a term signifying easier than a walk in the park – cinch? – but whatever it is this was it. I don’t often tackle Toughies however was encouraged today by comments on BD and did enjoy the ride. Thank you Warbler and the felinophile (or are you an ailurophile?) although this time I did manage unaided. **/***.

  17. Not difficult, but quite enjoyable; call it 2*/3.5*. I enjoyed 24a – what a splendid word (without the “e”, of course) – but my favourite was 27a. Thanks to Warbler and Kitty.

  18. bit late to comment, went to see Jason Bourne followed by a Korean meal

    Enjoyed this. Many thanks Warbler

    Love your catastrophe kitty – thanks for a great blog

    And yes, I’ve always been a Brian Ferry fan

  19. Very much on the easy side for a Toughie, but an enjoyable one. One or two I couldn’t fully parse on solving, so many thanks for the blog.

  20. I found the back pager harder than this so not too pleased A few decent clues but to be really honest it was an OK puzzle in the wrong place and not what a toughie is advertised to be

  21. Thanks for all your comments today – they are much appreciated as always. It was fun spending time with you, but now I really must sleep. :yawn:

    ‘Night all! :bye:

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