NTSPP – 362 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 362

NTSPP – 362

A Puzzle by Knut

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This week’s NTSPP setter, Knut, uses other ursine-related aliases to provide topical current affairs related cryptic crosswords for both the Independent and the FT.   We are extremely fortunate that this particularly splendid puzzle is being published here on Big Dave’s blog.  

At first sight, you’d imagine you were solving a puzzle themed on a childhood favourite song, with a slight detour to an Eagles 1977 hit, but if you look carefully enough you’ll see that the theme actually relates to the person in the news, fake or otherwise, across the Pond.

I was going to mark all the relevant clues, but instead I hope Expat Chris won’t mind, but I’ve “borrowed” her explanatory comment:  Trump’s victory was certainly 24D and the result might 11A those on the other 27D who now hold a big 10A, but the party of the 14A prevailed and those who said “not on your 12A” are the losers. The revelation of the 26A payment to a hostile foreign power didn’t help. It’s a 21A out there and may the best man win, as the 21D and stateless 7D might say.

Thank you very much to Knut for an excellent and  delightful Saturday afternoon diversion,  now if only I could stop singing that song.


8a           Total Wipeout time? Absolutely! (7)
ERASURE A period of time and another way of saying absolutely

9a           Silly egg-chaser often seen with a pint (6)
CUCKOO An informal adjective meaning silly; a bird that is well-known for its egg-laying activities, although I’m not sure what ‘chasing’ has to do with it.   The reference to ‘often seen with a pint’ is that if you put the solution with the word PINT, you get a type of plant we also call Lords and Ladies

10a         Government urged to review entrenched position (6)
GRUDGE The abbreviation for Government followed by an anagram (to review) of URGED

11a         Finish cooking the meat Prudence spoiled (5,3)
BROWN OFF The surname of a Chancellor of the Exchequer who balanced his budget ‘with prudence’ and another way of saying spoiled or bad

12a         Woman born about ’50, ’51? (6)
NELLIE An adjective meaning born, used when stating a woman’s maiden name goes about the Roman numerals for fifty and fifty-one.  Apparently the ‘woman’ in the musical theme was ‘born’ in ‘LVI

14a         The plane crashed; was it a jumbo? (8)
ELEPHANT An anagram (crashed) of THE PLANE

16a         She‘s regularly hiding during air raids (4)
IRIS  She can be found hiding in the regular letters of aIr RaIdS

18a         Mascherano’s first half injury creates a huge gap (5)
CHASM An anagram (injury) of the first half of MASCHerano.  A good surface reading if you are a football fan as you’d know that Javier Mascherano is an Argentinian footballer who also plays for FC Barcelona

19a         Military band displayed by The Regiment, first in Hereford (4)
SASH The abbreviation for a particular army regiment based in Hereford plus the first letter of Hereford

20a         Italian master‘s Lorna Do one translation “not on” (8)
LEONARDO – An anagram (translation) of LORNA DOONE, without (not) the word ON

21a         It’s tough to get through golf league in early summer (6)
JUNGLE The letter represented by Golf in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and the abbreviation for League go inside one of the early summer months

23a         Equalised, like the 21a after 12 the 14a has passed? (8)
LEVELLED If you’ve already solved 21a, 12a and 14a, the second part of the clue will surely make you smile

26a         Hip, California special hotel (no credit cards) (2,4)
IN CASH Another way of saying hip or fashionable, and the abbreviations for the State of California, Special and Hotel.  Another song opportunity if you don’t fancy getting stuck singing the themed one!

28a         He flies first class for a jolly Antiguan vacation (6)
AIRMAN – the two letters used to indicate first class, the abbreviation for the type of serviceman known as a ‘jolly’ and the outside letters (after vacation) of AntiguaN

29a         Stone me! Messenger is about to lose his head! (7)
EMERALD The messenger loses his head and then goes ‘about’ ME (from the clue) [Thanks Dutch]


1d           Leaves the king a drop? (4)
TEAR Leaves used to make a hot drink and the abbreviation for Rex (king)

2d           A round of applause for the Spanish composer (6)
HANDEL A round of applause and the Spanish definite article

3d           “It’s not present in Farage’s DNA” O’Neill (6)
EUGENE Split the Christian name of Mr O’Neill the American playwright 2, 4, and you’ll ‘get’ the first part of the clue – another ‘make you smile’ piece of wordplay

4d           It’s used to flavour American ice, not having solidified on the outside (4)
HERB Remove a synonym for solidified (not having solidified) from the outside of an American water ice -something I had to check as to me the word is something I’d enjoy as part of a xxxxxxx Dib-Dab!

5d           Outer layer of newly-formed red comet (8)
ECTODERM An outer layer of cells comes from an anagram (newly-formed) of RED COMET

6d           Leaves a loo in this way? (8)
ACANTHUS A (from the clue), a slang word for the loo and an adverb meaning in this way

7d           Remove Cambridge degree from disgraced Ponzi salesman (4)
MADOFF Remove the abbreviation for a postgraduate degree from the surname of a disgraced Ponzi salesman.    At Cambridge, and Oxford too, these degrees are awarded without the need for further examinations – I know because one of my nephews just got one from Oxford.   I too wondered about Cambridge MA (Massachusetts) but apart from showing my knowledge American cities, it doesn’t really help solve the clue.

13d         I take Jane out to see Where Eagles Dare (5)
EYRIE I (from the clue) inserted into the surname of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane

14d         Sheraton accommodates poetic inspiration (5)
ERATO The muse of lyric/love/erotic (depending on where you look her up!) poetry is ‘accommodated by’ or lurking in ShERATOn

15d         Los Angeles hospital elevates type of care central to ENT dept (5)
NASAL A reversal (elevates in a Down clue) of the abbreviation for Los Angeles and an abbreviated way of referring to a type of hospital.   

17d         Raise in conversation old cars (8)
SUNBEAMS A homophone (in conversation) of RAISE should make you think of  some RAYS which just happen to be the name of  old British cars

18d         No racial abuse in this state! (8)
CAROLINA An anagram (abuse) of NO RACIAL

21d         Flipping famous cook- Japanese put one in jug (6)
JAILED A reversal (flipping) of a famous TV cook and the abbreviation for Japanese

22d         Midlands expo pitch for sweet drink (6)
NECTAR The abbreviation for a Midlands exhibition centre and another word for pitch in the sense of a bituminous substance

24d         Amazing story in regular instalments of Red Prince (4)
EPIC The regular ‘instalments’ of rEd PrInCe

25d         Pulled the Duke of York, without an introduction! (4)
DREW Remove the letters AN at the start of the Christian name of the Duke of York

27d         Team is on the way up, qualified finally for Europe (4)
SIDE A reversal (on the way up) of IS from the clue, followed by the final letter of qualifieD and the abbreviation for Europe

I hope everyone spotted the Nina and sang along while solving the puzzle.   If you’ve forgotten some of the words and fancy a bit of a sing on this very cold wet day, then you’ll find help here:


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46 comments on “NTSPP – 362

  1. I really enjoyed this. There was a good mix of clue types and difficulties (the NW corner being much the hardest), some clever ideas and generally smooth surfaces. I felt there was slight overuse of single letter abbreviations, but that is just a question of personal taste.

    9a – I needed Google to understand the bit about “often seen with a pint”. The answer Miffypops doesn’t fit!
    11a – I’m assuming Prudence has to be a reference to a particular politician, otherwise I can’t parse this one.
    6d – The definition is plural but the answer is singular (admittedly very leafy!). A similar comment could apply to 1d!
    7d – I can’t see any need for “Cambridge”.
    22d – My understanding is that “expo” means an event, whereas the abbreviation it is leading to is an event venue.

    My page is littered with ticks (including 6d, in spite of my reservation regarding the definition), but the magnificent 3d takes the winner’s prize.

    Many thanks Knut for the great entertainment.

    P.S. There is a typo in the clue for 14d.

      1. But it’s just occurred to me it might be the other Cambridge, in Massachusetts. Even so…

  2. Those who know me well will be pleased to know that I can say ‘yes I did’ and it’s left me with a favourite childhood earworm to keep me company while I draft the review :D

  3. Trump, trump, trump – Oh well it’s going to happen next Friday! :sad:

    Thanks to Knut for the puzzle – and the Nina!

    1. Good spot, stanXYZ. I missed the Nina, and its oblique relevance to trump, trump, trump!

  4. Thanks to Knut for a very enjoyable puzzle with a Nina which did help me (for once) with the last couple of clues. Lots to like including 8a and 17d but I can’t decide on favouritism between 3d and 25d.

  5. That was fun and has kept me occupied for quite a while.
    I got completely stuck in the top right corner but have finished now although I don’t know who Prudence is and I don’t understand my 7d but I think it’s right.
    There are a couple more answers that I don’t quite see.
    4 and 13d both took a long time to work out the ‘yes, but why’.
    I liked 12 and 14a (and the Nina once I read CS’s comment and went on a hunt) and 15 and 17d – my Dad had a 17d convertible.
    With thanks to Knut for the fun and, in advance, to CS for the review.

  6. Many thanks Knut for a most enjoyable puzzle especially with 23a and the associated nina.

    I’m also missing the Prudence reference, and I agree with Rabbit Dave re 7d & 22d. I also wasn’t happy with the ‘for’ in 27d.

    However I liked loads, esp 17d which took me a while to twig and 21d, as well as 3d,4d and 25d.

    thanks for sharing and congrats on this achievement

    1. Hey Dutch….I’m still counting on you coming to Freiburg to free me from the shackles of Dry January, by the way

  7. Thanks Knut, very nice puzzle!

    The NINA helped with a couple.

    I assume 11 is referring to George, although there is another Prudence with an ‘e’ on the end.

    As well as the others above, I ticked 29a, 9a (although the ‘a’ is a bit superfluous but improves the surface) and 4d.

      1. That was my assumption as I couldn’t think of anyone else that fitted the wordplay. But, if that is the explanation, I think it’s a bit tenuous.

  8. A sheer joy, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Not for the first time, I find myself in almost complete unanimity with RD, including his choice of favourite, the superb 3d. I also ticked 12a, 16a, 18a, 28a, 7d, 25d and 27d.

    Twigging the excellent Nina halfway through certainly helped with the last few clues, although it wasn’t a tricky solve by any means.

    My repetition radar did give a little bleep when seeing “regularly” and “regular” both used as alternate letter indicators, but they did not mar the enjoyment of the puzzle’s quality.

    I do hope that Jane enjoyed her date with the setter at the cinema, but I suspect she would have preferred something a little more up to date than the film mentioned in 13d! ;-)

    Many thanks, Knut.

    1. Hi Sylvanus,
      More than happy to watch that film again – particularly with such excellent company!

  9. Most enjoyable puzzle and a great topical Nina which I found just in time to put an end to the head-scratching over 3d.
    I had a question mark alongside Prudence and I’m not entirely convinced that 9a can be called an ‘egg-chaser’.
    That has to be the most complex clue I’ve ever seen for 27d!

    Plenty of ticks on the sheet with podium places going to 12a plus 2,13,17&25d.

    Many thanks, Knut – like CS, I’m left with an earworm (quite enjoying it, though!).

  10. I’m still puzzling over 1D, 8A and 29A. No hints, please. I want to keep going for a bit longer. I like so many of these clues, but right now my personal standout ( and big laugh) is 3D. I do have a quibble with 4D. I’m sure I have the right answer but what in the heck does it have to do with American ice? In my experience, that’s a completely different word. I could be talking out of my hat, of course. It has been known.

    1. OK…I take that back. I Googled and it’s that stuff that nobody in their right mind actually eats. It’s usually dumped into a bowl of non-alcoholic punch like a gigantic frozen artificially flavored ice cube. I can guarantee you won’t find it at the Inaugural Ball.

      Just 1D to go now…

      1. I can’t believe it took me this long to see 1D! Definitely tried to make it more complicated than it was. Thanks, Knut for a great puzzle.

      2. The definition of my answer was not an issue. It was the reference to American ice. I have already resolved that. Thanks. .

  11. Many thanks Knut – that’s a great take on the big baby taking charge over the pond.
    I especially admired the way you fitted 12/14a in with the Nina – very nifty.
    Quite a selection of clever, fun clues in there as well – top of the pile has to be 3d for me.
    Can’t yet see the parsing for 7d, so will await review with interest.

  12. Very enjoyable.
    Couldn’t see the link with prudence either in 11a which becomes my only bung in.
    Liked the little story with 23a.
    Loved 1d and 3d.
    Nice to see a bit of Switzerland in 9a.
    Thanks to Knut.

  13. We were late getting on to this as we were returning home and now that we have finished it we are left with the ear-worm from the Nina and some of the answers. We needed some googling to justify our answer for 11a but we did eventually get it sorted. A real d’oh moment when we twigged 3d. A cleverly put together topical puzzle and a real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Knut.

  14. Trump’s victory was certainly 24D and the result might 11A those on the other 27D who now hold a big 10A, but the party of the 14A prevailed and those who said “not on your 12A” are the losers. The revelation of the 26A payment to a hostile foreign power didn’t help. It’s a 21A out there and may the best man win, as the 21D and stateless 7D might say.

  15. Thanks Sue for a great review – didn’t know the regiment was also based in Hereford and happy to be put of of my misery regarding Prudence

    29a – nothing is reversed, about just means ‘goes around’

    1. Thank you – hint now corrected. I think I was led astray by seeing that ME is reversed at the front of the solution

  16. I don’t mind at all, Sue! I’m quite flattered. I was just having a bit of fun in a rare quiet moment. Thanks for the great review. I didn’t know the “prudence” meaning and thought it was the first name of an author. Ah, well. Thanks again to Knut.

  17. Many thanks for the review, CS, and to Expat Chris for her wonderful explanatory comment.

    Regarding Oxbridge degrees, the first anomaly is that science graduates are awarded BA and not BSc degrees. MAs are conferred automatically to those of BA standing (upon payment of a fee) after a defined period of time, which is slightly different for the two universities. These Masters’ degrees are designated MA (Cantab) for Cambridge and MA (Oxon) for Oxford in order to differentiate them from Masters’ degrees from other universities which have required further study, so, strictly, the designation MA cannot refer to a Cambridge degree.

  18. Many thanks to @crypticsue for the review and to those people who took the time to comment. Thanks too to BigDave for publishing it.
    I’m mortified by the typo in 14d- you’ve no idea how many times I check this stuff!
    I’m also disappointed with the use of “regular” and “regularly” in the same puzzle as alternate letter indicators which I should have picked up. I never send my puzzles for test-solving; perhaps this is a mistake,
    Gordon Brown was known as either “the clunking fist” or “Prudence” for a good ten years (my debut puzzle in the Indy was themed around his retirement as an MP and featured both answers). How quickly we forget!
    Regarding ACANTHUS, I think that I can just about get away with the singular vs plural issue by thinking of the acanthus leaf used as decoration in classical pillars. Just about….
    Lastly, thanks to @expatchris for the excellent Trump riff. I’ve written a few puzzles featuring the President-elect and I was interested to read some comments along the lines of “oh no; not nother Trump puzzle!” below-the-line on fifteensquared the other day, so setters might not enjoy a four year period of freebie gratuitously insulting puzzles!
    warmest regards,

    1. With reference to line 3 of your comments, I would refer you to Big Dave’s email to you of 17 August 2015 ;)

          1. Posted in the wrong place. I’ve requested deletion and then I’ll put it where it should be.

    2. Nice of you to pop in, Knut. Worry not, I reckon the incoming white elephant will give you plenty of opportunities for gratuitous insults over the next four years!

  19. Many thanks for the review, CS – and for yet another earworm in the shape of The Eagles!
    I shall now pack my trunk and trundle off to the Hotel California……….

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