Toughie 1746 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1746

Toughie No 1746 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This is the third posthumous Petitjean puzzle and this time it is Petitjean as we remember him best with his slightly mad hat on. I had little difficulty in filling the grid but some of the wordplay took a lot of unravelling. I think I got there in the end.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Airport worker trained to deal with passengers’ past emotional experiences? (7,7)
BAGGAGE HANDLER: An airport worker who deals with cases, etc. The first word is also a word for past emotional experiences

10a    Leaving hotel, porter covers broken fly in ungainly dive (5-4)
BELLY-FLOP: A hotel porter (especially in North America) with the letter H (hotel) removed goes round an anagram (broken) of FLY

11a    Folk perhaps revealing character thus (5)
MUSIC: A letter of the Greek alphabet + the Latin word for ‘thus’ or ‘so’

12a    Link between barge and its propeller? (3,4)
TOW ROPE: A cryptic definition for the thing that joins a barge to whatever is pulling it along

13a    A mess — and out of place, we hear, on 19 Down? (6)
PIGSTY: The animal that lives here is not the same animal that features in the answer to 19 Down

15a    Sporting body sought by outwardly virile winger (4)
FAVE: The body that runs soccer in England + the first and last letters of VirilE. Chambers tells me that winger is military slang for this answer

17a    Film star once: not exactly great, nothing to show off about (5,5)
GRETA GARBO: A Swedish-born film actress is GREAT with 2 letters transposed + a reversal of ) (nothing) and ‘to show off’

18a    More than one Lexus, possibly, ahead of carbon science — it’s semantics (10)
LEXICOLOGY: A possible plural form of ‘lexus’ + C (carbon) + a science

20a    Small white waterfowl (4)
SWAN: S (small) and ‘white’ or ‘pale’

22a    Jumpers being passed round — hush — they could be what they sleep in (6)
ROOSTS: Australian animals that jump round ‘Hush!’

23a    Keyboard with appealing sound (7)
CELESTA: A keyboard instrument in which bell-like sounds are produced by hammers striking steel plates suspended over wooden resonators. I’m assuming that a homophone of ‘appealing’ is ‘a pealing’ which refers to the bell-like sounds

26a    Sell universal rindless Edam cheese (5)
GOUDA: ‘To sell’ (as in selling like hot cakes) + U (universal) + the middle two letters of Edam = a Dutch cheese

27a    Artiste appearing in tower in a couple of parts (4,5)
DRAG QUEEN: TOWER in a couple of parts = TOW ER. ‘To tow’ + ER = a professional female impersonator

28a    Close and stupid like shoplifters (5,2,7)
THICK AS THIEVES: ‘Stupid’ + ‘like’ + shoplifters possibly


2d    Lit up as red, show green light — left going for good (5)
AGLOW: Replace one letter L (left) in ‘show green light’ or ‘permit’ by G (good)

3d    Ugly colour partly alcohol (6)

4d    Guiding principle: dole gruel out, accommodating indefinite number (6,4)
GOLDEN RULE: An anagram (out) of DOLE GRUEL round N (indefinite number)

5d    Long to deal with changing temperature? (4)
HOPE: ‘To long’ or ‘to yearn’ = ‘to deal with successfully’ with C (cold) replaced by H (hot)

6d    Killing feeling, reckoning to show no sign of hesitation (7)
NUMBING: Remove ER (sign of hesitation) from ‘reckoning’

7d    Stalwarts involved in potential backbreaker (4,5)
LAST STRAW: An anagram (involved) of STALWARTS

8d    Pals perhaps in range (5,9)
ROCKY MOUNTAINS: The first word is an anagram indicator. The second word is a synonym of a word that is an anagram of PALS. The whole is a range in North America

9d    Almost not acceptable, OK? Or very much so (1,3,2,3,5)
A BIT OF ALL RIGHT: ‘Not acceptable’ (1,3,3) with the last letter removed + OK (3,5)

14d    Great Western transport in the past (10)
STAGECOACH: A cryptic definition for a type of transport that often features in Western films

16d    Sound bites, if not always sound opinions (3,6)
VOX POPULI: A Latin term for public opinion. I wonder whether Petitjean was a Remainer

19d    Clubs answer gossip about women’s place in fashion shows (7)
CATWALK: C (Clubs) + A (answer) + ‘gossip’ round W (women’s)

21d    Measure of intelligence in clue set (6)
CLIQUE: A measure of intelligence goes inside CLUE

24d    The night before is coming back — and it’s full of holes (5)
SIEVE: A reversal of the night before and IS

25d    Plans without a significant date? (4)
IDES: Remove the letter A from ‘plans’ to get a day in the middle of the month in Roman times

An interesting review to write

31 comments on “Toughie 1746

  1. Great stuff from Petitjean – thanks to Bufo for the analysis.
    I thought that the definition of 14d was just ‘Great Western’ (i.e. the John Ford classic). I couldn’t understand 13a (and still can’t with Bufo’s hint) – how does ‘we hear’ fit in? It just seems very odd and I have the feeling that there must be more to it.

    1. Gazza’s comment sums up what I was going to say perfectly so I’ll just go back to the day job

    2. I agree that we’re all missing something with 13a.
      I also don’t get the ‘hush’ in 22a.

  2. Spot on, Bufo. Easy to fill in the grid but there were seven I couldn’t parse without your help. Petitjean is a great loss. Never again will we see such an off-the-wall mind!

    Thanks, Bufo, for the much needed help.

  3. Marvellous fun – for me the best of the posthumously published Petitjean puzzles.

    I too had to work hard for the last few parses, and am still wondering about 13a. The best I can think of is that a pig’s tie would be out of place on a 19d. :unsure:

    Many thanks to the much missed Petitjean and to Bufo.

    1. I also thought about pig’s tie and googled it, but all I could find was ties for sale with pictures of pigs on them. I can’t see why they would necessarily be out of place on a 19d.

    2. On ancient QI programmes that we have been watching lately the participants are supplied with little paddles with a question mark on them. These can be held up when there is a question to which there is no known answer. Reckon that we all need one of these paddles for 13a. :smile:

  4. Hi all – came across the normal DT cryptic blog a few weeks back and noticed on there recently that there was one for the Toughie as well – so here I am.

    Finished today ok. Had a bit of a struggle with 8d not helped by putting ‘celeste’ in for 23a. Celesta made all the difference. Possibly quite an easy one today. I get the back page one 98% of the time and I guess the Toughie 33% but getting better.

  5. Grid filled up pretty quickly but even with the big mad hat on 27a and 8d remained incompletely parsed. So thanks to Bufo for explaining the significance of tower in 2 parts and alps/pals. I think Kitty is on the right lines with pig’s tie. It’s pretty obvious but I was quite taken with the plural of Lexus in 18a – and 17a is nicely done.
    For sheer quirkiness it was close to his best. Greatly missed.

  6. Another excellent puzzle from Petitjean; I hope there are more to come.
    I finished it after a couple of visits, but failed to parse 27a and 8d.
    Many thanks to Bufo for the write-up and explanations.

  7. I, too, filled the grid without much trouble but got hung up on the parsing of several clues, including 13A. Sadly, we shall probably never know for sure. 15A was new to me. I had ticks beside 1A, 18A, 7D and 14D, but now that I understand the parsing of 8D that’s high on the list too. Thanks for the memories, Petitjean and much appreciation to Bufo

  8. Easy except for 15a. I got the word from its construction but hadn’t heard that meaning and can’t find it on the internet. A bit forced in my humble opinion – liek the bizarre words that Scabblers use !

  9. More difficult to parse some of the clues than finding the right answers from the definitions.
    That was the case in 13a, 23a and 16d.
    Understood 8d at the last minute.
    Thanks to PJ and to Bufo.

  10. 1a had me laughing so much it lasted all the way through the solve – PJ at his ‘mad’ best!
    Haven’t heard of 15a before – tried to make FIFA work until 16d became impossible – and didn’t realise that ‘st’ is acceptable for ‘hush’. Can’t say that I understand why it is.

    Great fun all round. As Expat Chris so eloquently said – thanks for the memories, PJ.
    Thanks also to Bufo – I’d still be trying to figure out the parsing for 8d without your help!

    1. The BRB says st or ‘st is an interjection meaning hush or a sound made to attract someone’s attention.

      1. Thank you, Gazza. I’m only familiar with ‘sh’ for the former and ‘psst’ for the latter!

  11. A fun puzzle from start to finish.
    18a was my favourite . 3d was a surprise , I tried ginger first , even though I would say red hair is attractive.
    Thanks to PJ and Bufo.

  12. I loved all of it – I wonder how many more of these are stored up – lots, I hope.
    I did have trouble sorting out some of my answers and still have a few problems.
    1, 10 and 28a all made me laugh so I can’t decide which one of those to call my favourite.
    It’s a bit late to say thanks to PJ but I will anyway, and thanks also to Bufo.

  13. Our first action on getting up this morning was to turn on the computer to find out what we had missed in 13a. Looks like we should have stayed in bed. Everything else we managed to get sorted, most of it at the time of solving and then a few where we went back to sort out and chuckle all over again at how the wordplay fitted together. 8d held us up longer than it should have as we had opted for the E ending for 23a not realising that there was an A alternative.
    Truly zany and great fun.
    Thanks Petitjean and Bufo.

  14. Certainly a ‘mad hat’ day and all the better for it. I must admit though, I ‘bunged in’ the answer for 13a as I still can’t parse it properly – I’m sure it will come out in the wash. There are far too many clues to try and pick one favourite so I won’t even try – great fun. I will say one thing, what an amazing coincidence that ‘stagecoach’ appears as an answer – I’m sure we’ve seen it recently.

    Thanks to those involved in allowing us a puzzle from PJ – I hope that there are some more. Thanks to Bufo for his review.

  15. What a joy to find another Petitjean puzzle. This one was great fun, and, as others have commented, having a mad hat on certainly helped.

    I managed to fill in everything with the same concern as mentioned above about how 13a works. I needed Bufo’s help to parse 5d and to understand why my answer to 15a was right – I did a Brian and didn’t think to check my BRB! Thank you too to Gazza for the explanation for 23a that “st” = hush.

    I did like 8d, which I guess is an indirect reverse anagram! :wacko:

    I’m not going to try to single out a favourite, but I’ll go along with Kath’s choices of 1a, 10a, & 28a, and add 27a & 16d into the mix too.

    Many thanks to PJ and to Bufo.

    1. Re 15a – I didn’t do a Brian at all – I did look it up – it’s not in my BRB but maybe, having the attention span of a gnat, I’ve done my usual which is get bored before having gone through everything.
      I tried to make it ‘five’ – thought it might have something to do with the number that a football player called a winger wore on his front but that didn’t seem to work. Oh dear, for the umpteenth time today.

  16. Loved it, and without Bufo’s help I would have failed to manage parsing five of these clues. Slightly disappointed there isn’t a nice penny-drop moment for 13a!
    My favourite was 1a which made me laugh, in rather the same way that the Matt cartoons always do. (Could Petijean’s version of 1a be a possible job vacancy on Southern Rail should the strikes ever end?)
    Thank you to Bufo – and of course much praise to PJ.’s legacy.

  17. Only 23a got me. And bit stuck on 12a.
    Nice gentle one.
    Always behind you lot as on Sao Paulo with time difference. And some work!

      1. Thanks. Frustrating as with 2 hour time lag here and work I m being everyone. Only just finished 1747

        1. I understand. I work and I’m five hours behind. There’s usually someone who’ll respond, though.

  18. Quite gentle, but lots of fun: 1*/4*. I liked 17a – it made me think of Peter Cook, another much missed. Renewed appreciation to the spirit of PJ, who no doubt haunts this blog, and thanks to Bufo.

  19. 13ac is a homophone of “pig’s tie” – an item of clothing that would be out of place on a catwalk (as a pig isn’t a cat). I hope that helps!

  20. Easily solved apart from hope/cope and the pigsty. Solved between opening and our first customer. Work that one out if you can. V enjoyable

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