Toughie 1805

Toughie No 1805 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Getting a Micawber to blog on Wednesdays is always the highlight of the crossword week for me. This one was on the easier side but as enjoyable as ever (and it’s a pangram).

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared with the puzzle and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a After wine, Margaret’s one often found pinning a guy down (4,3)
TENT PEG – a red wine from Spain followed by one of the many diminutive names for someone called Margaret. What a brilliant definition!

In search from A to Z they passed, 
And “Marguerita” chose at last; 
But thought it sounded far more sweet 
To call the baby “Marguerite.” 
When grandma saw the little pet, 
She called her “darling Margaret.” 
Next uncle Jack and cousin Aggie 
Sent cup and spoon to “little Maggie.” 
And grandpapa the right must beg 
To call the lassie “bonnie Meg.” 
From “Marguerita” down to “Meg,” 
And now she’s simply “little ***.”

5a Roll back restraining order mostly with which one might be taken for a ride (7)
PEDICAB – a bread roll is reversed and contains an order without its final letter.

9a Joe backing John for White House? (5)
IGLOO – reverse the abbreviation for the US serviceman known informally as Joe and add what the falsely-capitalised john is a slang word for across the pond.

10a Gave too much weight to column in print media? On the contrary (9)
OPPRESSED – put a collective term for the print media inside a newspaper column (2-2) expressing a personal opinion.

11a Conservative judge initially dismissing opening speech as opinion without proof (10)
CONJECTURE – string together an abbreviation for Conservative, the single-letter abbreviation for judge and a formal speech without its opening letter.

12a Plant right in bog (4)
FERN – insert an abbreviation for right into a bog or marsh.

14a Awfully patient with Girls Aloud? Very! (3-9)
EAR-SPLITTING – an anagram (awfully) of PATIENT and GIRLS.

18a Dumping half of book, abridged Pride and Prejudice — eviscerated, rewritten as explicit novel (6-6)
BODICE-RIPPER – start with just half of the word ‘book’ and add an anagram (rewritten) of PRID[e] and PRE[jud]ICE.

21a Cue to use butt of machine-gun in centre for interrogation (4)
QUIZ – start with the letter ‘cue’ and add the name of a sub-machine gun of Israeli origin with its last letter (butt) moved to the centre.

22a Graduate bouncing check promises to pay, refraining from excess (10)
ABSTEMIOUS – assemble the reversal of an arts graduate, a verb to check and promises to pay.

25a Tramp can retain terrible clothes (9)
ITINERANT – another word for a can is contained inside an anagram (terrible) of RETAIN.

26a Wound up mini grandfather clock at the back with two keys (5)
IRKED – the final letters of three words from the clue followed by two musical keys.

27a Pensioner perhaps runs away, trapped by contrary DIY bore (7)
YIELDED – someone of advanced age (pensioner perhaps) without the abbreviation for runs goes inside the reversal of DIY.

28a Grants immunity to former politician given time in case of egregiousness (7)
EXEMPTS – start with a prefix meaning former then insert our usual elected politician and the abbreviation for time into the outer letters of egregiousness.

Down Clues

1d End of tryst with enchanting woman produces involuntary response (6)
TWITCH – the last letter of twist and an enchanting woman.

2d Spoilt only son throwing away old hose (6)
NYLONS – an anagram (spoilt) of ONLY S[o]N without one instance of O(ld).

3d Origin of man? Start off in south-eastern France (10)
PROVENANCE – insert the word ‘man’ without its starting letter into a region in south-eastern France.

4d Look like the cat who got the cream, left surrounded by butter (5)
GLOAT – the abbreviation for left is surrounded by one that butts.

5d Mash rice mixed with core of apples as staple alternative? (5,4)
PAPER CLIP – start with a word for mash or soft food and follow this with an anagram (mixed) of RICE and [ap]PL[es].

6d Welsh water pressure’s down a long way (4)
DEEP – the name of a river which rises in Snowdonia is followed by the abbreviation for pressure.

7d Company restructured Times — changes primarily superficial (8)
COSMETIC – bolt together the abbreviation for company, an anagram (restructured) of TIMES and the primary letter of ‘changes’.

8d Banter‘s good when you’re young, by implication? (8)
BADINAGE – split your answer 3,2,3 and it could imply good when young.

13d Make more efficient power cable, getting round resistance (10)
STREAMLINE – join together a source of power and a synonym for a cable and insert the abbreviation for electrical resistance.

15d Sierra vineyard — dull, stunted plants here (9)
SCRUBLAND – concatenate the letter that Sierra is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet, a word from French for a vineyard and an adjective meaning dull or uninteresting.

16d Resignation statement penned by red after polling being all over the place (8)
UBIQUITY – insert a terse resignation statement (1,4) into a deep red colour without its first letter (after polling, i.e. cutting its top off).

17d Colouring maybe can be habit-forming if not caught (8)
ADDITIVE – an adjective meaning habit-forming without the cricketing abbreviation for ‘caught’.

19d Meg, being cryptic, to arrive unexpectedly (4,2)
ROCK UP – cryptically the answer could be signalling the reversal of a ‘meg’.

20d Words spoken on stage, for example on Caesar’s dying day (6)
ASIDES – a conjunction meaning ‘for example’ or ‘by way of illustration’ is followed by a day in the ancient Roman calendar.

23d Rank deed in book (5)
TITLE – triple definition, the second being a deed in law.

24d Grass object of hunt up (4)
REED – when reversed this is a creature hunted by the unspeakable.

I could list almost all of the clues as my top picks so I’ll have to be ruthless and restrict myself to 1a, 9a, 14a and 19d. Which one(s) exercised your chuckle muscles?

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24 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t note down the time I finished so can’t remember if I found it easier or harder than usual (I’ve been testing a Radler over lunchtime so the brain is suffering just a tad and it is a wonder I can remember anything)

    what I can say is that it was as entertaining as we expect from Micawber, I noticed it was a pangram and that I too marked 9a and 19d for special mention, so I’ll finish by thanking both setter and blogger for their parts in today’s Toughie production.

    • jane
      Posted May 3, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear – that sounds ominous in light of another MPP being due soon!

  2. Una
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Very entertaining. I liked 9a, 4d, 14a and 18a.
    I found it really very tough and needed several hints.
    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  3. jane
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    As you commented on the back-page, Gazza, this one was a joy from start to finish – even though it did contain a few things that required me to confer with Mr. Google before I could be happy with the parsing. Firstly the wine in 1a, secondly the machine-gun and then the newspaper column. ‘Polling’ was also unfamiliar – I would always add ‘ard’ into that one.

    Happy to concur with Gazza’s list of mentions but would like to add in 4d, particularly in light of the accompanying picture in the review!
    Many thanks to Micawber for the enjoyment and to Gazza for a great blog. ‘One foot in the grave’ always made me laugh and your rhyme about ‘Meg’ is so true. I keep telling expectant daughter that no matter what name she chooses for her child, someone will manage to ‘muck about’ with it.

    • crypticsue
      Posted May 3, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      There’s an interesting article about names for babies in today’s paper

  4. LetterboxRoy
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable and engaging, with 18a across the only guess. Groaned at 8d as I think I have seen that or something similar before.
    Massive D’oh! when I worked out 27a but favourite today is 9a since I do like short, sweet clues; 19d a close second.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

  5. Gazza
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Kcit tomorrow.

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    19d took us ages to sort out and was last in by a considerable margin. So obvious once we saw it and can’t it eluded us for so long. As has already been said, a joy from start to finish and we did note the pangram.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  7. Rabbit Dave
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    This was pretty tough by my standards but mostly solvable and very enjoyable with just three exceptions:

    – 10a although the answer was obvious I thought the cluing of the first two and last two letters was far too obscure.
    – 18a is a tortuous charade of the type I personally dislike (but others seem to love).
    – 21a is quite simply ghastly.

    1a was a great clue even though as a very experienced wine drinker I have never heard of the first word in that connection and I needed Gazza’s review to get the answer to 19d.

    There were many more positives than negatives, and I awarded double ticks to 14a, 5d & 8d with 9a my favourite.

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

  8. dutch
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I was left with 3 in SW but got them as soon as I saw the word pangram in Gazza’s preamble.

    Really very enjoyable. My winners were 9a (white house), 14a (girls aloud), 21a (good surface though hard to parse), 26a (winding up grandfather clock), 5d (staple alternative), 17d (seen before but elegantly presented)

    I was less comfortable with the random evisceration of 3 central letters in 18a, and I had to look up the column in 10a.

    Many thanks Micawber, excellent stuff as always and thanks Gazza for the usual excellent blog

  9. Posted May 3, 2017 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    What a lot of fun that was – thanks, Micawber.

    So many good ‘uns that I’d either have to give a long list (which would have included all of Gazza’s picks) or none at all, except that I can remember the biggest smile – when I got the cream at 4d, of course!

    I’d seen that it was a pangram but forgotten all about it … until I was left with 21a, and the Z hit me between the eyes. Parsing it was no trivial matter.

    Other small problems with parsing came in wondering how tent=wine (1a), and it took me a while to twig the required meaning of polling in 16d. Nice!

    After singing the praises of the puzzle, it now only remains for me to say that the review was rather good too, and to add my thanks for that. Thanks, Gazza – especially for “my” pic. :)

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted May 3, 2017 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Nothing at all to do with the crossword but my son has had a problem with mice in his flat in London and he asked my advice. I said get a cat. He did and the mice have already moved on …

      • Posted May 3, 2017 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

        :)

        As long as he isn’t now going to seek similar advice on what do about a problem with a cat in his flat …

        (That line of thinking has led me to an earworm in the shape of that little old lady who swallowed a fly. Argh!)

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted May 3, 2017 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

          My daughter-in-law is pregnant so when the baby arrives in a few months’ time that could well make the cat scarper…

          … but don’t let’s go any further than that!

          • Posted May 3, 2017 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

            Yes, let’s not!

            (Oh, and to be serious for just a sec, do make sure she keeps herself safe from the wrong end of the cat, or rather what comes out. Presumably you know about toxoplasmosis. Any cleaning duties are your son’s, I’m afraid – and quite right too!)

  10. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the hints, Gazza

  11. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the hints, Gazza, especially the photo for 2d

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Yes, 2* difficulty but some very nice clues (19d in particular) so 3.5* for enjoyment. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  13. Jon_S
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps more like a *** for difficulty here, and thoroughly enjoyable. One or two I couldn’t parse, but it’s a little late to be thinking properly now so that’s to be expected. :-) 8d raised a groan and several ticks.

  14. Heno
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review and hints. Much too difficult for me to enjoy. Had to look up 10 of the answers. Still don’t understand 19d.

    • Gazza
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      It was difficult to write a hint for 19d without spelling it out. Rock is a slang term for a precious stone and gem is a precious stone. So, if you reverse the gem (rock up) you get ‘meg’.

  15. Expat Chris
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Bad day at black rock. I ended up with 14A, 21A, 15D, 16D and 19D all unsolved. I couldn’t parse 5D either. Of course, the possibility of a pangram never occurred to me since I hadn’t solve the ones that might have given that away. Never heard of the 1A wine. Not to worry. I enjoyed what I could do and ticked 25A, 3D, and 8D. I worked out 5A, which was new new me, and then googled to verify. . What a great idea! Thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza for the much needed explanations.

  16. Catnap
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this. Plenty of super clues, the ones I liked most being 9a, 14a, 4d and 19d.

    There were, however, three I couldn’t do — 21a, 27a, and 16d — and I wasn’t at all sure how to parse 15d although I had the right answer.

    Appreciative thanks both to Micawber for a delightful crossword and to Gazza for the much needed enlightenment.

  17. Verlaine
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Easyish indeed but I did have to come here to check I’d parsed 21a aright so not completely transparent! 1a my favourite for the very funny surface