NTSPP – 372 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 372

NTSPP – 372

Days Out by Soup

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Since making his debut in our Rookie Corner back in May 2014, Soup has come a long way and now edits the 1 Across magazine, having taken over from Tom Johnson in October 2016.

Started by Araucaria in 1984, 1 Across magazine publishes five high-quality cryptic crosswords (including a Prize Puzzle) every month. Four are brand-new challenges (often with themes or conceits) from their bank of setters, and one is an Araucaria, drawn from our extensive archives.

Download a free sample issue from 1across.co.uk – there’s a subscription form on the website. Subscriptions are great as a treat for yourself, or make excellent presents! 


Right … a crossword with instructions which relate to the Across clues,  so do what I usually do in these cases and start with the Downs.   First one was easy and I got a couple more and then I looked and muttered for quite a while.  Things improved when I took a break and  looked at my emails and found one that said ‘The instructions for the puzzle might have been clearer if they had said two letters have to be added to the wordplay in each clue to get the definition’.   So, BD, there are at least two of us who looked at this from a ‘Days In’ rather than a ‘Days Out’ perspective. 

I also found that it was impossible to solve this puzzle using my usual trusty piece of paper method and I had solve online, as for some of the solutions I had to use the check button to make sure I was correct.   It does help when you realise that the days follow in sequential order.   I also have to thank Mr CS for his assistance – he’s mentioned in dispatches below.  

Checking to see whether the review this week would be down to me or Prolixic, I found that Soup had had a Guardian Genius puzzle published – I think we’ve discovered a whole new Saturday afternoon puzzle type – the NTSPP Genius – Guardian Genius puzzles usually have instructions that confuse the solver too!


7a           Beaten about, I returned under the influence of spirits (8)
DEMONIAC A reversal (about) of a verb meaning beaten (as an old form of punishment in schools) into which is inserted I (from the clue) and the two letters gives you the wordplay and to get the solution you insert the first two letters of a day of the week.

9a           Improve the surface of waterproof sheet (4,2)
TART UP Take an abbreviation for a waterproof sheet and insert the first two letters of the next day of the week

10a         Record lament (4)
WEEP   Here the first two letters of the next day in the week are followed by the abbreviation for an Extended Play record

11a         It’s a mother s duty: cut 1/3 off pasta (10)
PARENTHOOD You should have got the hang of this by now.   Insert the first two letters of the next day in the week between a verb meaning to cut or shave off the outer surface or edge of something and the first four letters of a six-letter type of pasta (1/3 of the letters having been removed)

12a         Supporter’s one purpose (6)
FRIEND Start with the next day’s first two letters, add an I (one) and a synonym for purpose

14a         Agent’s despair when drug goes to the head (8)
EMISSARY Move the E in a synonym for despair (drug goes to the head) and insert the first two letters of the next day….

15a         Scrap new festival (7)
WHITSUN Here the next day’s first two letters go between a scrap of something and the abbreviation for New

17a         Flask I dropped belongs to those people (7)
THERMOS Drop the I from the possessive pronoun meaning belonging to those people, and then insert the two letters from the day of the week

20a         Being back in church… (8)
CREATURE Take the abbreviation for the Church of England, insert another word for back and the required two letters from the day of the week.

22a         …. Heaven’s broken link (6)
WELKIN Another word for the sky I knew from both Shakespeare and hymns – the two letters plus an anagram (broken) of LINK

23a         Left queen bee flying around heads of amorous, excited drones (10)
BEQUEATHED BEE (from the clue) goes round the abbreviation for Queen and is followed by the ‘heads’ of Amorous Excited Drones, not forgetting to insert those pesky two letters

24a         In the middle of Portuguese dance (4)
FRUG A dance craze from the mid-1960s which included vigorous dance to pop music.  Follow the next two letters with the ‘middle’ of PortUGuese

25a         Oddly, sperm set seed? (6)
SESAME The next two ‘day’ letters inserted into the odd letters of SpErM sEt

26a         Wealth often buried – unfortunately greater good ignored (8)
TREASURE An anagram (unfortunately) of GREATER (ignoring the G for Good) into which is inserted the next two letters of the day


1d           Investigating, scare her off (8)
RESEARCH An anagram (off) of SCARE HER

2d           Well done, me! (4)
SOUP An adverb meaning well and another shorter way of saying done

3d           Crystal-clear contents of Mendip millpond brought up (6)
LIMPID ‘brought up’ indicating the lurker found in the contents of MenDIP MILlpond is reversed

4d           Dreadful din in store might well be seen here? (8)
STANDISH I hadn’t heard of this town near Wigan so ‘here’ wasn’t particularly helpful as a definition. Thanks to BD for pointing out that the solution is an inkstand. An anagram (dreadful) of DIN goes into a secret hiding place (store). Question is: was the inkstand named after the town near Wigan?

5d           Un-cap pen, taking on case for a large company (10)
ORCHESTRAL For a large company of musicians.   Remove the ‘cap’ or first letter for a pen for cattle and insert a large strong box (case)

6d           Gags on your and my stench (6)
HUMOUR The possessive pronoun meaning belonging to us (your and my) goes on or after a slang term for a strong unpleasant smell

8d           Struck toe and heels of hempen shoe found on the floor (6)
CARPET The checking letters made the solution fairly obvious but ‘why?’  When I said ‘hempen shoe’, Mr CS mentioned the name of the French one and then, because he loves a good reference book, he did a little 1d, and found another hempen shoe from which I could ‘strike’ the first letter (toe) and last two (heels) from to get the solution

13d         Beyond the city walls, without means of transport, on a mountain (10)
EXTRAMURAL A preposition meaning without, an electrically-powered vehicle running on rails in the road, and a mountain.   The BRB confirmed my thought that Soup would have done better to put river rather than mountain.

16d         Hooted when pop star raised a little bear (8)
ULULATED A reversal of a female pop star followed by A (from the clue) and an abbreviated (little) toy bear

18d         Not having finished, are you shifting segment inside, written about someone’s death (8)
OBITUARY An anagram (shifting) of ARe (not finished) YOU into which is inserted a segment

19d         Spooner s nut crumble is glowing (3,3)
RED HOT The dreaded Reverend might have said that his ‘nut’ was to ‘crumble’ or decay

21d         Sailor’s jacket (6)
REEFER A sailor who folds sails in a particular way or a type of jacket

22d         Duck with on-time substitution apparatus (6)
WIDGET Substitute the ON at the end of a particular type of duck with the abbreviation for Time

24d         Look for an answer: if A is C and B is D then ____? (4)
FISH I’m still wondering where E went, but as Mr CS helpfully pointed out (I think he was hoping I’d stop muttering out loud), what I needed was to ignore E and apply the ‘equation’ to the next letter along –   F  IS  H

39 comments on “NTSPP – 372

  1. Those of you doing the puzzle online, rather than on the PDF, may find it a little tricksy without the preamble! “In each across clue, two letters are omitted from the answers indicated by the wordplay. Definitions are unaffected.” Have fun… H/S

      1. Grin. I’m thinking about working on a puzzle where there’s a misprint in every clue (be that a letter insertion or deletion, a homophone or the like). That’d be even harder to proofread! :-)

  2. I realised after solving 20 what was going on and checked the .pdf. I think the preamble could be a bit ambiguous. I would have thought something like ‘giving the wordplay’ would be clearer than ‘indicated by the wordplay.’ What is indicated by the wordplay is two letters short of the answer.

  3. A fortnight’s worth of fun. With the combination of title and preamble, I quickly worked out what was going on … although it took me some time to figure out that the letters are missing from the wordplay not the solution. I’m glad to see from the comments above that it wasn’t just me! That sorted, the days out have been a great help in getting me well underway.

    I haven’t finished yet, but am taking a break from the Soup to have some soup, and when I have finished the soup I will come back to finish the Soup.

    Many thanks to Soup and thanks in advance to crypticsue for the review. I’ll be back a bit later to choose a favourite and add any further mews.

    P.S. BD: the .puz version seems to have fallen into the soup.

    1. I found this harder to finish than to start.

      24a was new to me. I rejected what turned out to be the correct answer to 4d until I finally looked it up. Didn’t know 22a either, and had to consult a higher power to get the letters in the right order. I also had to do some investigating to find the 8d hempen shoe and hence explain that answer.

      I like the image in 23a, the on-spot substitution in 22d and the despairing tipsy agent of 14a. There were other smiles too. Thanks again.

      Off now to enjoy the sunshine from a shady spot.

  4. Thanks Hamish/Soup; nice idea!

    One or two unusual words, for example the ‘extended’ version of 8 (which doesn’t seem to be in my dictionaries if I’ve got the right word,) and 22 & 24.

    I think as this was quite tricky, I would have put ‘town’ or some such in the clue for 4, rather than just ‘here.’

    Very entertaining solve with some good clues. I liked 7 & 23 among others.

  5. Thanks to Soup for an enjoyable puzzle to solve. Once you work out what is going on, it’s quite straightforward solve although you do need to think a little outside the box occasionally. Remember in these puzzles, the title provides an oblique clue to what is going on.

    I can thoroughly recommend subscribing to 1 Across if you want to raise the difficulty level of your solving. Challenging enjoyable puzzles but not as tough as EV’s, Listeners or IQ’s,

    You can get a free sample copy and see how you go before subscribing.

  6. Not really my cup of tea although I can appreciate the amount of work that went into achieving the theme. With the clarification from BD, I did manage to root out what I’d suspected I was looking for – I’d been going at it a*** about face! I’ve still got a couple of parsing issues to sort out but think I’ve got the correct grid-fill.

    Surprisingly, the Rev. Spooner was one of my first answers to go in – they’re usually almost the last – and I think 24d was probably my favourite.

    Thanks to Soup and apologies for not being more enthusiastic.

  7. I still haven’t worked out what’s going on. :sad:
    I’ll have another look later or tomorrow.

  8. Phew! Finally finished! I really enjoy this sort of puzzle.

    I might be stupid but shouldn’t the preamble read “In each across clue two letters are omitted from the wordplay but are included in the answer”.

    However, I’m sure that Soup’s preamble must be right … there must have been a great deal of time and effort involved in setting this puzzle. So I doubt if Soup’s preamble is incorrect. But I just don’t understand it..

    It was very kind of Soup to put them all in the right order, Thanks!

    1. I find preambles tricky beasts. I want to give just enough information to make it clear what to do if you think about it, but I don’t want to spell it out for people. For me, part of the fun is working out what the setter means in a case like this. But Others disagree. I will try to be clearer in future.

  9. I came late enough to this puzzle to benefit from BD’s further explanation of the ‘rules’ and realising the significance of the Days Out title did help with the across clues. Thanks to Soup for the puzzle. The clues I liked best were 2d,16d and 22d.

  10. We were really struggling with this one. We had about half the grid filled in but had not been able to fully parse any of the across clues. We decided to give up and came back here to read the comments. After reading the first couple we realised that we had been trying to add two letters to our answers instead of removing them and it all started to make sense. With this new insight and realising they were all in order we returned to the puzzle and found that the days out device was actually a help and not a hindrance and the rest all went together without too much fight.
    So, Soup we take back all the derogatory things we were muttering about you and thank you for the clever puzzle.

  11. I too started the wrong way round by assuming that the across wordplay was leading to two letters more than the answer, but, like Windsurfer, the penny dropped after I had solved 20a. The whole thing took me quite a time as I was trying to do some gardening and watch the semi-finals of the British Open squash championships more or less simultaneously. Given the current dominance of the Egyptians in world squash it was very surprising that the ladies’ final tomorrow will be between two English women, and the men’s final will be between an Englishman and a Frenchman.

    Back to the crossword. I concentrated on the downs to start with and as I progressed I found the right hand side considerably harder than the left. The mind boggles at how hard this must have been to set with the constraint of having to add two consecutive letters to all the across clues while ensuring that all the pairs of letters were used twice in the 14 across clues, and maintaining generally smooth surfaces.

    What a pity to have used an unindicated American abbreviation in 9a. Why not “improve the surface of waterproof sheet across the pond”?

    I’ve still got three clues for which I think I’ve got the right answer but which I can’t parse fully – 2d, 5d & 8d – and will wait with bated breath for tomorrow’s review. 22a was a new word for me. Do people still dance the 24a? The only time I have come across it before was in the mid-60s when I saw a picture of a winsome young lady dancing it in an American magazine much enjoyed surreptitiously by teenage boys. (I wonder why it has stuck in my mind?) Perhaps this is another unindicated Americanism?

    Well done, Soup. Many congratulations and thank you so much for the entertainment. There were lots of great clues here and I’ll go along with Gazza’s choice of 16d & 22d as my joint favourites. Perhaps 2d will join them when I understand it.

    1. Hello there,
      Glad you enjoyed it – and impressive multi-tasking!
      The puzzle was actually not that bad to set. I had a big list of words for each of the sets of letters I wanted to miss out, and the grid came together in a couple of hours, I think. I don’t use an auto-grid-filler; I do it all by hand with a dictionary search for wildcards (?O?P etc).
      9a: Chambers (my go-to dictionary) doesn’t have anything about it being a US abbreviation – it just says ‘abbreviation for ‘ – which is why it’s unindicated. OED says ‘Chiefly N. American’, so perhaps there should have been something. 24a: we did Sweet Charity at school (if you don’t know it, find the Youtube video of the Bob Fosse choreography in the film; it’s amazing). 22a: have a look at the Ashes poem!

      1. Many thanks for your reply, Soup. One of the many great things about this site is when setters participate.

        I had a look at Sweet Charity on YouTube. Amazing!

        What do you mean by the Ashes poem? I didn’t get any enlightenment on 22a via Google although I did uncover some quite decent poems both about cricket and mortality.

    2. Many thanks for your review, CS, which has successfully unravelled 5d for me.

      I had correctly identified the logic for 8d but I still can’t find a 9 letter hempen shoe which incorporates the answer. Respect to Mr CS!

      Also I expect I am being very thick but how does “done” lead to the last two letters of 2d?

        1. Mmm…

          I’m not convinced this isn’t a case of Thesauritis. You can say “your time is **” meaning your time has finished but it’s a bit of a stretch to say “your time is finished” and I don’t think anyone would say “your time is done”.

          Can you (or perhaps Gazza!) suggest a sentence which demonstrates equivalence?

          1. Yes, I think there might be an argument that it’s two synonyms of the same word, rather than two synonyms of each other. It’s why I put the exclamation mark after it (‘something is up with the clue’); it was too pleasing to re-clue!

    1. Sorry to hear, Chris. I’d go for the downs, and also have a look at what the title might mean :-)

  12. Thanks to CS for the review and thanks again to 2d who seems to have given the definitive answer to the query we had recently as to which of Monday or Sunday is the first day of the week.

    1. I used to write business management software and we had a date picker in there. We started the week on Monday. We had lots of Americans write to us telling that the week should begin on a Sunday. I think there is a strong Atlantic divide! (In the end I changed the code so you could select which day the week started on – you could’ve picked Wednesday if you wanted to!)

  13. Many thanks for the review, CS – and well done to Mr. CS for the research into 8d which achieved far more than mine did!
    Must have a look at the Sweet Charity choreography.

  14. I don’t think the definition in 4d is a town – a standish is an inkstand and the definition should be “might well be seen here”, the well being an inkwell

    1. That’ll teach me to look in the BRB rather than online after Windsurfer’s post.

          1. Thank you, Sue – and thank you for the review and explanations, too. Lots of hard work goes into them, I know! It was one of those moments when only that word would fit, and it’s an irritating word, and defining it is very difficult. But that’s one of the challenges of setting a puzzle which has a conceit in it like this one!

  15. Oh dear – I thought this one was going to be beyond me when I first looked at it – I was right!
    I’ve now gone through it all with the help of CS’s excellent hints – I should have ‘perservated’ for longer but didn’t really have quite enough time (or stamina).
    Whatever – as I’ve said before somewhere(?) I don’t possess a hat but if I had one I would take it off to anyone who can set a crossword so thanks to Soup and to CS.

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