Toughie 1744

Toughie 1744 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Greetings from sunny South Kensington, currently the domain of two purring kitties.  Excalibur today brings us a mostly straightforward crossword which I enjoyed solving.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the all 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 Late caller, one’s same as another (4,6)
DEAD RINGER: Deceased, as a doornail, plus one who calls on the telephone (or perhaps in person, using the doorbell).  Click for video

9a Shut up holes to make creatures go away? (4)
SHOO: Two letters meaning be quiet together with two ring-shaped letters give an exhortation to make a pest or pests go away

10a Does it take the mother and father of a mind to produce one? (5,5)
BRAIN CHILD: A cryptic definition posed as a question.  An offspring of a mind could literally be one of these: an original thought or work.  The enumeration given in Chambers is (10)

11a Erase half of Handel ‘Parisian Summer’ (6)
DELETE: Join together half of Handel and the French word for summer

12a Domain of pampered little dogs? (7)
LAPLAND: Not “handbag” but somewhere which might, in crosswordland, mean a comfortable place to sit.  In fact, the northernmost region of Finland where the dogs aren’t likely to be little or pampered

15a Waiting until you finish your meal (7)
SERVICE: A mildly cryptic definition of what a waiter gives

16a Transgressed with Queen of hearts or diamonds (5)
ERRED: Two letters for our queen and either of the playing card suits listed

17a Listening, identifies organ (4)
NOSE: This facial feature sounds like (listening) identifies or recognises

18a It’s not unusual, perhaps, for some agnostics to be converted (4)
SONG: Part of (some) one of the words of the clue reading backwards (to be converted).  Some cheeky false de-capitalisation, but all in a good cause


19a Odd, possibly, installing power point with fuzzy head? (5)
DOPED: Make an anagram (possibly) of ODD containing (installing) the abbreviation for power and a point of the compass

21a Tipsily tells one quietly. Blabbed (3,4)
LET SLIP: An anagram (tipsily) of TELLS I (one) followed by the musical abbreviation for quietly.  Grumpy Cat probably won’t have done this

22a Don’t agree damage is small to interior (7)
DISSENT: Take a type of damage and insert into its interior IS and S(mall)

24a Hollow unfortunately got filled with garbage (6)
GROTTO: An anagram (unfortunately) of GOT contains some rubbish

27a Pub stranger’s question after telling you his name? (5,5)
WHAT’S YOURS?: A stranger introducing himself by name might commonly add this follow-up question; it’s also the question one might ask at a bar when offering to buy a drink

28a Neck and neck in shot put, say? Not quite! (4)
EVEN: Something of which shot put is an example minus its last letter (not quite)

29a Shout ‘There’s a boy inside, dressing‘ (5,5)
SALAD CREAM: A loud shrill cry contains A from the clue and a boy to give a saucy dressing



2d Get job satisfaction (4)
EARN: The satisfaction here is payment (the opposite of the job satisfaction of a blogger)

3d Overwork apprentice? Nonsense! (6)
DRIVEL: Work hard plus the usual abbreviation for learner

4d Tip‘s unusually nice having received nothing served up (7)
INCLINE: This tip is slope, and it’s an anagram (unusually) of NICE containing the reversal (served up) of a word meaning zilch

5d Make a trap to catch (4)
GAIN: A type of snare is here to trap the A from the clue

6d Having had many shots at,  solved puzzle (7)
RIDDLED: Two definitions, where the shots in the first have made lots of holes

7d Nick and you in love? Ridiculous! (3,4,3)
THE EVIL ONE: Start with an old-fashioned word for you and add an anagram (ridiculous) of IN LOVE

8d Sink holes when playing one before nine (4,6)
LOSE HEIGHT: An anagram (when playing) of HOLES followed by the number preceding nine

12d Daddy is so tall? (4-6)
LONG-LEGGED: An adjective describing the daddy of a popular name for the crane fly (not pictured)

13d Put one by one in pots I’d prepared (10)
POSITIONED: I (one) next to ONE in an anagram (prepared) of POTS I’D

14d Decline to take fifty per cent of poor devils climbing (5)
DROOP: Take fifty per cent of two words of the clue, reversed (climbing)

15d Hard to jilt, that woman got her man stitched up (5)
SEWED: A pronoun for that woman having had H(ard) removed (to jilt), then what the woman might be having got her man

19d Won’t have it and clamours to get animal protected (7)
DISOWNS: Some loud noises with an oinker inside (protected)

20d Abandoned, sided with us to restore (7)
DISUSED: A compound anagram (to restore) of SIDED with US

23d A very lemony coating, enjoy to the full (6)
SAVOUR: A from the clue and V(ery) with a coating of a word meaning having an acid taste

25d Bar false witness from the south (4)
RAIL: A false witness, written going upwards in the grid (from the south)

26d On vacation, ramble in a twinned zone (4)
AREA: The outer letters (on vacation) of ramble inside the A from the clue twice (twinned)


Thanks to Excalibur for a light and fun puzzle.  I liked lots of this, including the late caller in 1a, and also 9a, 7d and 26d.  Of these, I think 9a is my favourite.  27a … 



  1. crypticsue
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I quite enjoyed this one – what I want to know as did anyone else originally write ‘handbag’ for 12a ? :)

    Thanks to Excalibur and the purring one

    • Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes (well, I thought about it) – which was why I mentioned “handbag” in my hint. :)

    • Miffypops
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      No. Toyland

  2. beery hiker
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Most of this went in pretty smoothly, but 19a and 15d were the last two in and needed a bit more thought. All quite enjoyable.

    Thanks to Kitty and Excalibur.

  3. Verlaine
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t enjoy this as much as everyone else it seems – there was some clever stuff but I found some of the construction irritating for some reason. e.g. “Handel ‘Parisian Summer'” instead of Handel’s, “It’s not unusual” uncapitalised, “tells one quietly. Blabbed”, “to jilt” meaning “removed” etc etc… pedantic stuff and probably quite defensible by the setter, but it just rubbed me up the wrong way!

    My favourite was 6dn, simply because I’d forgotten that “riddle” could mean to “solve” – but it’s obvious really from phrases like “riddle me this”! Thanks setter and Kitty.

    • neveracrossword
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      I thought this was easier than the Rufus offering on yesterday’s back page and agree with Kitty’s rating. I biffed the answer for 18a and the penny did not drop until I saw the photo of TJ.Thank you Kitty and setter.

  4. Miffypops
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    The grid filled easily enough but I needed a bit of help with a couple of parsings so thanks to Kitty for that. Why does on vacation suggest the outer letters of ramble?Thanks to Saint Sharon for taking enough time in Morrisons to allow me to solve this in the car park listening to Bob Dylan live in Dublin from 1966. Thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle

    • Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Hi MP. On vacation = on emptying.

      • Miffypops
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Mmmn dodgy. To vacate I can see. On vacation is not so obvious. I suppose we can discuss it over the emptying of a pint glass in Little Venice.

        • Jane
          Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          I think we’ve seen ‘on vacation’ plenty of times before, MP. Mr. K could doubtless verify but I suspect he’s rather busy at the moment……..

          • Posted January 17, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

            You’re right, Jane – Mr K is rather busy at the moment. Making my dinner.

          • Mr Kitty
            Posted January 17, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

            Now that the important matters have been taken care of I can address your question, Jane. You’re quite right about “on vacation” being used frequently in that way in the Toughie. Examples include:

            Fri 25 Jan 13 TOUGHIE 917 Annual fruitcake one put away on vacation in Argyll (7) ALMANAC
            Fri 14 Mar 14 TOUGHIE 1153 Cook Islands toured by British attache on vacation (6) BRAISE
            Fri 24 Apr 15 TOUGHIE 1384 Laurel and Hardy on vacation, boarding British plane? (3,4) BAY TREE
            Wed 5 Aug 15 TOUGHIE 1442 Novel about a henchman on vacation a long way overseas (8) AUTOBAHN
            Fri 11 Dec 15 TOUGHIE 1516 Religious ceremony: on vacation, miss it, having got up after breakfast? (7) BAPTISM
            Tue 29 Dec 15 TOUGHIE 1524 The French (three of them) on vacation needed a fantasy world (2-2,4) LA-LA LAND
            Fri 12 Feb 16 TOUGHIE 1551 Horrid sort of slip pinched by old dames on vacation? (6) ODIOUS
            Wed 20 Apr 16 TOUGHIE 1589 Peter out with Ian on vacation in double date with loveless Leo (7) DWINDLE
            Tue 27 Dec 16 TOUGHIE 1732 Hound lunatic keeping safe on vacation (9) PEKINGESE

            • Jane
              Posted January 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

              Thank you, Mr. K. I was sure it was a device that I’d managed to store in the memory banks and had needed to recall on several occasions.

              • Mr Kitty
                Posted January 17, 2017 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

                Interestingly it’s only seen in toughieland. Not a single usage over on the back page.

                • Jane
                  Posted January 17, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

                  I hadn’t realised that. Maybe that’s why MP was questioning it – I’m not sure how often he ventures into toughieland.

  5. happy days
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Excalibur always brings fresh air and sunshine into fusty Toughieland. Always amusing and fun to solve. Loved 1a Late caller and 10a the mother and father of a mind but loved many, many others, too. I was just fed up that the crossword wasn’t twice as long. Thanks very much Excalibur and Kitty. What fun the illustrations were, too

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Apart from having postponed for 13D, which fortunately didn’t impact anything else, I had no trouble filling the grid. Not much of a fan of either 15A or 7D, but I loved 1A, 12A, 18A, 8D and 12D, with 18A being the clear winner for me. Thanks to Excalibur for the many smiles, and to Miss Kitty for the review.

  7. Gazza
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Excalibur and Kitty. I thought that this was a mixed bag – I didn’t think much of some of the cryptic definitions (e.g. 15a and 2d) but I liked 12a (I thought of lapdogs straight away so didn’t stray into Lady Bracknell impressions). Top clue for me was 27a.

    • shropshirelad
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      I bet you’ve been watching the last Sherlock Holmes Gazza – or should that be ‘Mycroft’ :)

      • Gazza
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        You’re right, SL. I watched it last night, having missed it on Sunday because I was driving back from Exeter having watched the mighty Chiefs achieve a splendid victory.

        • shropshirelad
          Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          Yes – excellent match I thought, with Mr Nowell surely showing Eddie Jones why he should be included in the 6 Nations Squad. Just a shame that they are now relying on others to get the results that may see them progress further. You will be in London on the 28th I presume?

          • Gazza
            Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

            I shall be there (strikes permitting).

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Incredible that Toulon are still in the running.
          Good luck against Clermont.

          • Gazza
            Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            Thanks but divine intervention would be required to get through, even if we managed to beat Clermont. All Toulon have to do is beat Saracens away (no problem there!).

          • Jane
            Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            Have you decided about the birthday bash yet – JL? You would be sorely missed………..

  8. shropshirelad
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    A fairly enjoyable puzzle to start off the Toughie week. There were a few groans along the way but the smiles redressed the balance with 27a as my favourite of the day.

    Thanks to Excalibur for the puzzle and to Kitty for her review.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely no need to open a dictionary, thesaurus, or any reference book to solve this pleasurable offering from Excalibur.
    It made the experience even more enjoyable.
    Thanks to the setter and to Kitty for the review.

  10. LetterboxRoy
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Some very good clues (27a, 29a, 7d, 12d), so I can forgive the surface/cryptic definition niggles that others have pointed out. Having said that, I do quite agree.

    Enjoyable overall, so thanks to Excalibur and to Kitty. (Incidentally, Collins gives 10a as (10), too.)

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    When reading out the clue for 18a one of us subconsciously did so using the musical intonation that immediately made the answer a write in. 1a gave us a smiling start to the puzzle and this continued throughout.
    Thanks Excalibur and Kitty.

  12. Una
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed a lot of it , 1a 12a and 27a in particular.
    Thanks Kitty and excalibur.

  13. Gazza
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Elkamere tomorrow – should be a good Wednesday!

  14. Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    We enjoyed this and not just because it’s the only one we’ve fully completed and parsed on the same day for a bit.
    Did check through the blog to confirm our answers to a couple of woolly ones. So thanks to Excalibur and Kitty. Cheers.

  15. Marky
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Just got it all done. Had spare time in our SP office 8d, 15 d favourite

  16. Paul Rosevear
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Big help thanks, not happy with 15 acc. Clue , too slight(toughie’s not yours)!

  17. Jane
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Always enjoy a puzzle from Excalibur and this was no exception. I was slow to ‘get’ the parsing of 29a & 8d and spent a while looking for a different answer for 15a – rather a weak clue? My other ‘dim’ moment came with sorting out the correct anagram fodder for 13d – so frustrating when you know very well what the answer is!

    Plenty to choose from for the podium – 27a & 12d taking silver and bronze with 1a in gold medal position.
    Many thanks to Excalibur (who doesn’t grace Toughieland as often as I would like) and to our Girl Tuesday for her commitment to the blog when she would probably have much preferred to take the day off! I didn’t know the 12d animal (how cute looking is he!) and I did watch the 23d clip several times over. I reckon that Kitty actually only took one bite and then spat it out!
    For once I refrained from watching one of your clips, Kitty – no Tom Jones, thank you.

    • Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      I must admit I didn’t bother to watch that (beyond verifying it was what it said it was) either!

  18. Salty Dog
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Quite enjoyable, but not a Toughie. No more difficult than the back-pager, really. Call it 1*/3*, and I liked 3d and 19d. I thought 15a was a bit weak, though. Still, thanks to Excalibur and Kitty.

  19. Jon_S
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    The NW corner put up a bit of resistance, and I felt like it took me a while to get on the setter’s wavelength, but this was still solved pretty rapidly, and as someone else noted above, in less time than yesterday’s back pager. For a Toughie, then, maybe ** for difficulty.