Toughie 1660 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 1660

Toughie 1660 by Busman

Hints and tips by Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***


It must be autumn (despite the sweltering heat) because the mahoosive house spiders have invaded.  I removed three from chez Kitty just last night and one a couple of days ago.  Shudder.  After a birthday celebration yesterday, I myself was tending more towards the legless state, which may explain why I found this as tricky as I did.

Welcome, however many legs you have – although if it’s eight, tell me how!

In the cold (or rather, hot) light of day this, apart from a few unfamiliar bits, doesn’t seem too bad at all.   Furthermore, a quick word search reveals nine instances of the word “anagram.”  Oh well – I shall leave the stars as I found them, shining in triplicate.  Still, this is one for the Toughie-shy to try as there are plenty of things which should slip down nicely.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the 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    One who takes issue for a while (11)
CHILDMINDER: Not one who enjoys a casual argument but somebody who temporarily supervises offspring

9a    Holy books are returned as source of inspiration (5)
ERATO: Some books of the Bible (abbreviated) and the third word of the clue all reversed (returned) give this muse of Greek mythology

10a    Bring in reduction, as arranged (9)
INTRODUCE: An anagram (as arranged) of REDUCTION

11a    Seaside entertainer in his performance area? Tosh! (7)
PIERROT: This is a stock character of pantomime and Commedia dell’Arte, the sad clown.  He is formed of a place in which he might be seen and rubbish or poppycock

12a    In a tizzy, gripe about daughter seen uncovered in family history (8)
PEDIGREE: An anagram of GRIPE around D(aughter) followed by the central letters (uncovered) of seen

14a    Drink‘s cold after vehicle containing trendy bishop left (3,5)
VIN BLANC: C(old) after a vehicle which has inside it a usual crosswordland word for fashionable or current as well as the abbreviations for bishop and for left

15a    Expression that may come from pen unable to write? (4)
OINK: This is a noise which may emanate from a farmyard pen.  Split (1,3) it may describe the (lack of) contents of a pen which has run out of juice

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

17a    Eating nothing is not so easy for a squirrel (7)
HOARDER: Not so easy or relatively difficult containing (eating) the letter that symbolises nothing

19a    Minerals located in the heart of Arden, say (4)
ORES: Arden was once heavily wooded, giving rise to the name ****** of Arden.  Take the central four of those asterisks, replace them with the letters they stand for and you have the unrefined minerals of your answer

20a    Record Greens organising decorations for board? (8)
EPERGNES: Follow a musical recording that is neither a single nor an album with an anagram (organising) of GREENS to find these ornamental centrepieces for a dining table, typically used for holding fruit or flowers.  A new one for me

21a    How to read a palindrome whilst watching the pendulum? (2-3-3)
TO-AND-FRO: The answer describes how you could read a palindrome (alternately one way and the other) or the movement of a pendulum, swinging back and forth.  This is not hyphenated in any of the big three dictionaries

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

23a    Now and then in American square? (2,5)
AT TIMES: This phrase which means occasionally could also mean positioned in a famous area of Manhattan.  The “Naked Cowboy” is this, for he’s a prominent fixture here:

25a    Tee up late when playing for decoration (9)
EPAULETTE: An anagram (when playing) of TEE UP LATE.  The decoration is found on the shoulder

26a    One cut out sugar at first to get fit (5)
ICTUS: Put together the Roman numeral one, an anagram (out) of CUT and the first letter of sugar

27a    Good behaviour isn’t commonly linked with rows on board (11)
SAINTLINESS: An informal way of saying isn’t next to (linked with) some rows or ranks, all of which is contained within a steamship, i.e. on board.  The definition is the condition of being like MP’s wife, we have it on good authority!



2d    Bird starts to collect eggs from here (5)
HENCE: Take a female bird and append the first letters of (starts to) the indicated words in the clue

3d    Rickety latticework, not fitting to a T in islands’ capital (7)
LERWICK: An anagram of LattICEWoRK without (not) TO A T (not in that order, but moved, or fitting) gives the main port of the Shetland Islands

4d    Movement in Highland eisteddfod before 9 (8)
MODERATO: This is a musical movement, neither fast nor slow.  The first three letters of the solution are a Highland Gaelic literary and musical festival.  I didn’t know this, but the answer is nevertheless easy to get if you have 9a, which accounts for the last five letters

5d    Marine environment  needing much understanding (4)
DEEP: A double definition which doesn’t require all that much understanding.  The marine environment is not in the shallows

6d    Servicemen arm perhaps for recall … (8)
REMEMBER: The abbreviation for an army corps so useful to crossword setters and a term for a body part which may be (perhaps) an arm or a leg or something

7d    … serviceman who enjoys Macaulay? (3,6)
LAY READER: This person (only defined as male in the clue, not the answer) is one who is not ordained but licenced to undertake some ecclesiastical duties.  To understand the rest, you need to know that Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote a collection of narrative poems (Lays of Ancient Rome).  (I didn’t, and needed to get my investigoogle on)

8d    Count to ten? 100 or 1000 is incorrect (5,6)
MONTE CRISTO: The Count of … this anagram comprised of quite a few bits: TO TEN (100) OR (1000) IS – just replace the numbers with their Roman numerals and rearrange

12d    After endless investigation, variation in climate is seen as tricky (11)
PROBLEMATIC: Take an investigation or exploration and remove its last letter (endless); after that make an anagram of (variation in) CLIMATE

13d    Late afternoon siesta – it’s hard to get up (7)
EVEREST: Very late afternoon: the close of the day, and then a doze.  This peak is hard to mount

16d    After a makeover, I enter fit for a queen (9)
NEFERTITI: An anagram (after a makeover) of I ENTER FIT

17d    Eminent graduate’s second service (4,4)
HIGH MASS: A charade of eminent or distinguished, an arts graduate, the ‘S from the clue and second (abbreviated)

18d    College waiter upset me first (8)
EMMANUEL: Take a famous fictional waiter (he’s from Barcelona) and put an upset – reversed – ME before him

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

19d    Address of worn-out runner? (3,4)
OLD BEAN: A dated affectionate form of address, usually to a man, could be a past-it vegetable of which runner is a type (perhaps it’s a has bean)

22d    Formal procedures necessary to inherit estate (5)
RITES: These ceremonies are included in (necessary to) the final words of the clue

24d    Half the wine? Half it is! (4)
SEMI: The answer is half. It’s also the first half of a white wine. Red is pictured instead because it’s more photogenic. Plenty of wine today – bottoms up!


An enjoyable solve.  I particularly liked the high nap at 13d and the extra half a wine (perhaps a hair of the kitty) in 24d.  Which one(s) would you drink to?


33 comments on “Toughie 1660

  1. Found this a little tricky in places. Very neatly constructed, quite enjoyable and a good antidote to the mental block I got two thirds of the way through Nutmeg in the Guardian. 20a was distantly familiar as a word (probably from previous crosswords) but I wouldn’t have remembered what it meant, as was 26a, which Mr Henderson used in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago. Liked 3d, 15a and 19d

    Thanks to Kitty and Busman

    1. Thanks – but no, it was not my birthday, Mr Hiker. I don’t generally mention it when it comes around (not even when I blogged on my last one).

  2. Rather a quirky offering from Busman – from the rather feeble 21a to the rather clever 7d. I liked 27a too [for the cunning “isn’t commonly”]. 20a is one of those words that only seem to exist in crosswordland.
    Thanks to Kitty for the blog – [I wonder how many more of us had to google the works of Macaulay for 7d?] and to Busman for a satisfying puzzle.

  3. Add me to the list of McCauley googlers. I really enjoyed this and checked off 15A, 13D, 18D and 19D. Thanks to Busman and Kitty.

  4. I found it really difficult and used lots of hints.
    Thanks Kitty and Busman (though I might take the car or train next time).

  5. Didn’t know quite a few of these, but the artful wordplay made it a joy to solve, and I got full marks anyway. A nicely balanced crossword and my favourite one to come along for a while. 15a, 13d & 27a get the medals today with 2d beaten by a whisker. Guessed 7d from the checkers.

    Great stuff, thanks to all.

  6. Everything went smoothly until I hit a brick wall in 7d.
    Guessed the answer but wasn’t able to understand why.
    So thanks to Kitty for doing the research and to Busman for a very enjoyable crossword.

  7. Nowhere near as difficult as last weeks – but still a tricksy little rapscallion. Lots to admire with only 7d as a ‘thumbs down’ clue – I couldn’t get a vision of Mr Culkin out of my head and that’s not a nice to have bouncing around in your nut. Not only that, I don’t think that the reference to Macaulay is common knowledge and with a double unch in the last word – it was more a leap of faith.

    Thanks to Busman for the rest of this enjoyable puzzle and to Kitty for her usual splendid review.

  8. Many thanks to Busman for setting a Toughie which I could actually do without any pain. Consequently **** for enjoyment for me. Maybe there weren’t too many laughs, but I did smile at 18d, also liked 3d and 15a. Thanks to Kitty for the blog – favourite picture 21a.

  9. A few hiccups along the way, but got there in a reasonably respectable time.
    Not good on ‘muses’ so had to check that one along with 20a. As Beery Hiker said, I think we’ve come across 20a before but it had got lost in the mists of time.
    4a bothered me somewhat as both ‘highland’ and ‘Mod’ are most commonly associated with Scotland whilst ‘eisteddfod’ is definitely Welsh!
    Wondered for quite a while what Macaulay Culkin had to offer to the parsing of 7d………

    Top three for me were 8,18&19d.
    Thanks to Busman, who has definitely upped his game in recent puzzles and to our Tuesday Girl who is always on top of her game. Loved the 21a clip and the reminder of long-suffering Manuel. Yes, I did notice that you managed to include some birds for me – even if it was only some rather distant ducks and a couple of pigeons!

    1. I have two Red Kites soaring overhead in the sunshine over Box Hill this afternoon – would post you a pic if I could, they are fantastic to watch.

      1. We’re lucky enough to get Red Kites in Snowdonia as well and a few are making it across to Anglesey. Beautiful birds and a glorious colour when the sunlight catches them.

    2. Apologies that I didn’t manage to include more birds, Jane. I suppose I could have found something for 12a or illustrated the clue for 2d.

      Ok – here are a few 15as coming from a less usual source:

  10. Is this the least controversial crossword in recent times or what? Not so much as a whinge from anyone. Can’t make up my mind whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing though? :unsure:

    1. Hi LetterboxRoy – You obviously missed my whinge at comment #8. I think it’s an unwritten rule of the blog that no crossword gets through unscathed :cool:

      1. They’re not whinges, they’re points that make it more interesting. Ta for back pager.
        Quiz is: is controversy a good or bad thing?
        Looking forward to Dada tomorrow.

        1. Hi LBR Re controversy – I think it makes for a good debate whatever the subject. Thanks for the ‘back pager’ mention – much appreciated.

  11. Remembered quotes from “How Horatius kept the bridge” were recited out loud when we got 7d. Its amazing how these things from schooldays stick in the mind. It all went together smoothly for us but we did need to check in BRB for the first part of 4d and the 26a answer was only a faint ‘inkle’ that needed checking. Good fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Busman and Kitty.

  12. I’m glad to say that the annoying child actor never reared his head during my consideration of 7d; it was “Lars Porsena of Clusium, by the nine gods he swore…” all the way. Overall, 2*/4*: quite gentle, but rewarding. My little ticks – no relation to Kitty’s spiders – appeared against 11a, 15a, 7d and 8d, but 18d gets the vote for top clue. Thanks to Busman and Kitty. My dear old mum used to say “If you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive”. It has worked so far.

        1. You said that just in time – got bitten really badly by a spider in the sink when staying with our French bit of the family in the Loire about four years ago. :sad: and :cry: but shhhh – don’t tell Kitty . . .

          1. I played with a Redback in Oz, didn’t know what it was. Ooops! And a funnellweb for fun with a stick.
            Mum’s the word re Kit. Horsefly bites and bee stings are my intolerance.

    1. I was bitten by a spider two weeks ago here in East Kent, and still have the red mark on my leg to prove it :cry:

  13. I really enjoyed this one.
    I thought that I was going to be defeated by my last answer – 7d – wrong Macaulay but husband sorted it out for me.
    Not sure that I’ve met either 20 or 26a before but have probably just forgotten both of them.
    I liked 13 and 18d. My favourite, and last answer, was 15a made me laugh. When we were all little and, as usual, eating like little piglets my Dad always used to say, “oink, oink”.
    With thanks to Busman and thanks and well done, again, to Kitty.

  14. Thanks to Busman and to Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. Was only stumped by 8d. Favourite was 15a. Was 3*/4* for me. Great puzzle.

Comments are closed.