Toughie 1832 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1832

Toughie No 1832 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hello, and a welcome as warm as today’s Surrey weather to you all.  This is a real treat for me: a Petitjean on a Tuesday.  Having struggled with some of the last PJ Toughies I approached this with a little trepidation, but found it a perfect fit for the billing – really rather gentle, with my difficulty rating just nudged up a tad because I had to guess at a spelling and also didn’t feel completely confident about one of my answers.

This crossword has been published to coincide with a memorial event for Petitjean – a note by the puzzle today (and the information has even made it into the Toughie Setters web page!) reads:
“Petitjean, the late John Pidgeon, is being remembered by his family and friends at a memorial event today (Tue Jun 20) in aid of Macmillan, Pilgrims Hospices and Cancer Research UK. If you would like to contribute to one of those charities, please search for ‘John Pidgeon’.”

Well, I have done the Googlework for you (that’s a bit like groundwork but in cyberspace) and can give you the links.  Do click to read more, and donate if you wish to.

Click here for the Macmillan page
Click here for the Pilgrims Hospices page
Click here for the Cancer Research UK page

Ok, now for the entertainment.  As I said, I found it easier than the last few published, but I was smiling all the way.  (If you’re not a Toughie regular, don’t be discouraged if you found it harder than that suggests.  I remember before I made the transition that Toughies deemed to be easy never were for me.  It just takes practice.) 

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all



1a    Knot a scarf into eye-catching headgear (10)
FASCINATOR:  Make an anagram of (knot) A SCARF INTO.  Click the “mad hat” below for one of the many photoshopped versions out there

6a    Maintain a very pained expression (4)
AVOW:  The A from the clue and very, abbreviated, followed by a sound of pain.  I did wonder for a nanosecond whether ER could really be considered a pained expression.  Silly me …

10a   Gather in part of quadrangle anxiously (5)
GLEAN:  You may infer that the answer is lurking in part of the clue

11a   Masked man, almost giving up Ecstasy once for good, looking well ahead (4-5)
LONG-RANGE:  A masked character in Western films lacking his final letter (almost) has one E(cstasy) removed and replaced with G(ood)

12a   Box with runny brie and Chinese takeaway? (5,3)
SPARE RIB:  To box (using fists) plus an anagram (runny) of BRIE

13a   Answer: succeeded with ‘Tainted Love’ (5)
SOLVE:  S(ucceeded) with an anagram (tainted) of LOVE

15a   A Welshman, a Scotsman and an African … (7)
IVORIAN:  A welsh name and by one of our usual Scotsmen put together give someone from a country in West Africa.  I couldn’t get a handle on the right Welshman for a while even though I had the Scotsman from the outset

17a   … all in a bar together (7)
SYNCHED:  Whose round is it?  Nobody’s.  The bar in question is a musical measure.  These are in time and in tune.  The right word came to mind readily enough, but I was prepared to find out that there was another answer

19a   Dealer for Americans, one on a bike, we hear (7)
PEDDLER:  This US variant (which I wasn’t quite sure how to spell) of a travelling salesperson (pedlar) sounds like one using a pushbike (pedaller)

21a   Perfect example of a rap song needing intro remixed (7)
PARAGON:  A RAP and sONG without its initial letter (needing intro) are anagrammed (remixed)

22a   Marine investigator netted cuttlefish (5)
SEPIA:  Marine containing (netted) containing the abbreviation for a private investigator

24a   Order pair of smalls provided in medium (8)
CLASSIFY:  Order or categorise.  Two instances of the abbreviation for small plus provided (2) all inside an artistic medium

27a   Stop dancing alone around clubs in city (9)
BARCELONA:  A verb to stop or block and an anagram (dancing) of ALONE around the abbreviation for the named playing card suit

28a   Could happen, perhaps (5)
MAYBE:  A charade of synonyms of could (3) and happen (2)

29a   What you’ll hear at least once between middle of paso doble and foxtrot (4)
ECHO:  The middle of paso doble is D and foxtrot is F.  Stay with the phonetic alphabet and the bit in the middle is something repeated

30a   In football, red and yellow are so likely (2,3,5)
ON THE CARDS:  The first part of the clue is a description of the answer: this is where the referee will write names of offending players down to send them into the naughty corner (and perhaps off the pitch).  BD has been known to do the same – you could write a below the belt comment below the line for a demonstration (but please don’t!)



1d    Shrouded in mist apart from top of Grosvenor Square (4)
FOGY:  The condition of being covered in heavy mist without the first letter (apart from top) of Grosvenor

2d    Pound worth every penny to Bo Peep? (9)
SHEEPFOLD:  This animal enclosure would have been well worth the investment for a keeper of sheep prone to wandering off

3d    Champion missing with score from the oche of 50? (5)
INNER:  Take a champion and remove the abbreviation for with

4d    Engineer near oil in a flap familiar to 18 (7)
AILERON:  Make an anagram of (engineer) NEAR OIL.  The definition requires the literal interpretation of the answer to 18d

5d    Transport  round-up (7)
OMNIBUS:  Two definitions: the long name of the form of transport I refer to as the misery can … or some collected editions of a series

7d    Roma’s 6-0 reported — this makes some kind of record (5)
VINYL:  Roman numerals for 6 and a rough homophone of 0 (as it would be spoken in the score above).  I think the definition could equally well include the “this makes” to produce the material making the type of record in question and dithered over exactly what to underline

8d    Taking short break that’s ultimately a let-down to relate (10)
WEEKENDING:  This sounds like (to relate) an anticlimax.  (WEAK ENDINGThe first thought that came into my head for this was catnapping (an appallingly bad sound-alike of caught napping), but I already had checkers in place so didn’t need to embarrass myself by meowing up the wrong tree

9d    Hostage runs into Crippen famously dropping round (8)
PRISONER:  The cricketing abbreviation for runs inside what Dr Crippen was noted to be (now disputed) without its first O (dropping round)

14d   Liquid  to be thrown away after use (10)
DISPOSABLE:  A double definition: liquid (of assets, perhaps) or throwaway

16d   Damned feta and dill salad (3-5)
ILL-FATED:  Toss the letters of FETA and DILL together in a tasty anagram (salad)

18d   Go-getter with head in the clouds? (4-5)
HIGH-FLYER:  This go-getting type might be a jet-setter

20d   Vehicle picked up my new animal (7)
RACCOON:  A common type of vehicle reversed (picked up) and followed by an expression of surprise and N(ew)

21d   Spooner’s occasional enemy a member of ancient royalty (7)
PHARAOH:  Take words meaning occasional and enemy (RARE FOE) and spoon them (weirdly, spoonerise isn’t in my dictionary, so I shall choose my own verb) to get an important ancient Egyptian

23d   Under pressure pollarded conifer gets to dry out (5)
PARCH:  Under the abbreviation for pressure goes a pollarded (having had its top cut off, top being the first letter) type of tree

25d   Tiramisu Ma creates filled with spice (5)
SUMAC:  The first words of the clue are filled with the answer

26d   The opposite of pointless information (4)
NEWS:  This information is the opposite of pointless – legitimately because it’s considered to be important, and in wordplay because it consists of all four cardinal points of the compass.  None of it is good, it is said, and the bad 26d is that this is the end of today’s Toughie.  On the other hand, there has been no mention of this being the last, so there will be more


I really enjoyed the joke in of 15a/17a (suggestions for punchlines, anyone?), 21a is a perfect example of that type of clue in the PJ style, I liked the not-so-pointless information of 26d, the dancing alone in clubs in 27a, the encore of dancing in 29a … I could go on, but it is time to hand over to you.  What made you dance today?

It has been a privilege to have this opportunity to wear the slightly mad hat while sitting in the blogging chair.  Thank you.



48 comments on “Toughie 1832

  1. What a delight to be presented with yet another Petitjean puzzle! Mad hats on and away we go …

    This wasn’t particularly tough, but for me it was off scale for enjoyment with Petitjean’s humour and style making this a joy to solve. Many thanks to whomever it is who continues to supply us with these gems and to Kitty for her fitting review.

    P.S. It took me several thousand nanoseconds to realise that “er” is not a cry of pain!
    P.P.S. Whoever set up the chess board in the video for 9d appears to have done so incorrectly :negative:

  2. v pleasant but needed a few reveals to finish i’m afraid. thanks to pj & to kitty.

    re 1a: i heard an old lady ask her daughter-in-law if she would be wearing a fornicator in her hair at the forthcoming family wedding.

  3. I had no idea about the context, as I don’t think I have seen a Petitjean puzzle before, but I certainly enjoyed this one, fairly gentle after a protracted struggle with Arachne in the Guardian. All very neat and ingenious, and I think I have finally cured myself of misspelling 21d…

    Thanks to Petitjean and Kitty

    1. Glad that somebody has – I spent a long time looking for a relevant city that ended with ‘O’!

      1. Smug because I do, at least, know that it’s one of the words where the letters tend to wobble a bit so I alway look it up.

  4. Lovely puzzle from PJ – thanks to him and to Kitty. It’s certainly good news that we have more to look forward to from him (let’s hope, from a selfish point of view, that they turn up in their rightful slot, i.e. on a Wednesday!).
    I didn’t know the word for the eye-catching headgear but I suppose it’s relevant that Royal Ascot starts today. Top clues for me were 24a, 30a and 8d.
    The temperature outside in the shade is currently 33.7 degrees – far too hot for a black Labrador but fine for his owner.

    1. I’ve been selfishly hoping for a Tuesday PJ for a long time. One was one more that I had expected so I don’t mind at all if the rest should turn up on Wednesdays. Gazza/PJ is a great pairing.

      This weather is too hot for a Kitty too :( … but at least today is not like yesterday where I was trapped for hours in a space which reached a humid and unpleasant 35 degrees C. I like clouds. And night time.

    2. Oh dear – I’m sorry for your black Lab – it must be very hard for him in these temperatures – I’m absolutely with him about it – it’s far too hot for a Kath too.

  5. 1a brought a tear to my eyes – I’m sure it was PJ giving a nod to his latterly acquired alter ego. How marvellous that we can still enjoy his compiling skills despite his physical departure from our ranks.

    In company with others it would seem, I tried to make ‘ER’ sound like a pained expression – almost got there.
    Have to say that, in 10 years of living here full time, I have yet to meet a Welshman named Ivor!
    Thank goodness I’m not a complete newbie to DT crosswords – 3d would otherwise have been a distinct no-go area.

    Half hoped for a clip of Mr. McGoohan at 9d – should have realised that he’s out of your sphere, Kitty! Remind me to take you to the setting for the series next time you come over here.
    Thought the spelling issue you referred to was going to relate to 21d – gets me every time and today was no exception!
    Hovered before entering the answer to 26d – thought ‘gems’ would also have fitted the bill reasonably well?

    Many thanks to the keeper of PJ’s masterpieces and to our brilliant Girl Tuesday for doing justice to his memorial puzzle. Loved the 20d cartoon – like to think that he would also have chuckled over it.

    1. I watched The Prisoner with a friend a few years back so it’s not out of my sphere at all. However, I remembered that song (which came into my consciousness via the same person, as it happens) and thought that the musical clip would be appropriate for a PJ puzzle.

      We may have once been to Portmeirion when I was a kitten but remember nothing about it, so a return visit would be great.

      I’ve at least managed to remember that the end of 21d is spelled the other way round, although I frequently only remember that after I’ve typed it.

      1. We visited Portmeirion last year. It’s weird walking through a place you’ve seen so much of on TV (I was an avid follower). And I got the T-shirt….

    2. Portmeirion has been towards the top of my list of ” UK places not yet visited” for many years now, could I come too?!

      I fell in love with it from watching The Prisoner, although as someone at primary school at the time, I never really understood it then and still don’t today! It was perhaps the first in a long line of dramas that my granddad would have referred to as “too much up its own a**e”, if you pardon the expression, to be followed more recently by Lost, Twin Peaks and several others…

      1. You’d be more than welcome, Silvanus – best to arrange a visit out of school hols when the hordes have subsided a little!

  6. A rare foray for me onto the Toughie page (by the way, why do the clues need to be on a yellow background?), but it was as enjoyable as I had hoped.

    I really liked the 15a/17a combo and the clever 11a, but my top three were 24a, 7d and 26d.

    Two wonderful puzzles to grace another glorious day, and another reminder of Petitjean’s immense talent. Thanks to Kitty in sweltering hinterland.

    1. Hi Silvanus,
      I railed against the yellow background at first, but have to admit that it makes it easier to flick through the paper to the relevant page!

  7. What a great day, Arachne in the guardian and Petitjean here,mass well ass our own Prolixic in the independent as kairos.

    Many thanks kitty for the blog – especially for the parsings of 22a, 28a, and 9d, which I now realise I just bunged in.

    Last one in was 17a – I was playing guess the vowel and it took me a long time to get to Y. I’d never heard of the fancy hat and hadn’t realised it was an nod to another pj pseudonym.

    It was nice to see the comment about the memorial event in the online setter list.

    Many thanks Petitjean

  8. Ha, I wondered how come big dave’s Twitter alert had picked up a cat in the hat pic (it normally grabs the first pic). Found it of course.

    1. Glad you liked him! I continue to pop little bits into that hideyhole​ even though they’re, well, hidden.

        1. Well, they are related, but my thinking was simpler than that. I just wanted the cat (kitty) wearing the (mad) hat as my little extra to hide under the spare spoiler. Finding that picture for 1a was sheer luck.

  9. Have struggled with the last couple of Petetjeans, but had a quick look at lunchtime and made good progress. After meeting up with Gavin he was filling them in. We ended up, in the pub of course, with a complete effort, two needing Kitty’s help with the full explanation. Enjoyed it all. Don’t want anything too challenging on Tuesday that’s going to hang about all week.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed this although it was a long slow solve.
    I was very amused when the anagram fodder for 1a revealed itself.I though when I saw that particular example on HRH’s head ” Who on earth let her out in that thing ? ” It looks like a toilet seat.
    Lots and lots of great clues , too many to enumerate.
    Thanks kitty and to the late Petitjean.

  11. A brilliant crossword – well, what else would we expect from the much missed PJ – but more than difficult enough for me.
    Three mistakes that I made ‘all my own self’ scuppered any chance of completely finishing this one.
    I didn’t quite get beyond the very obviously wrong answer for 6a, wrong ending for 17a and wrong kind of spelling for the second word of 18d. Oh dear.
    I agree with Una about 1a – why on earth did they let her loose in that?
    My favourite was 24a – not what I was expecting at all.
    Long may these crosswords keep coming – I do hope that PJ’s family read this blog to see just how much he’s still appreciated.
    Thanks to Kitty for sorting me out and making me see all my seriously dim mistakes.

    1. Yes, I am reading them now! It is lovely to see everyone enjoying my late husband’s work. A little chance at immortality! Julia Pidgeon

      1. Welcome to the blog, Julia. It’s great to know that you’re aware of everyone’s high regard for John’s work.

      2. How lovely to hear from you, Julia. I do hope that yesterday’s service brought back some delightful memories for you. We fans of PJ’s crossword compiling skills are indeed fortunate to have on-going reminders of his ‘mad hat’ exuberance – many thanks for continuing to share that part of him with us.

      3. Many thanks for popping in Julia. I’m really glad that you can see how much John’s puzzles were – and are – admired, and hope that it is of comfort.

      4. I have only just noticed your comment and I can only endorse everything that previous commenters have said. Thanks to you and your family for allowing us to carry on enjoying the works of a master wordsmith.

  12. Superb stuff all round after a trip up Snowdon (by train) and a walk down.

    It’s sad to think that at some stage there will just be no more PJ puzzles, but whilst there still are some, they are a joy.

    Thanks Kitty and PJ.

  13. Was tempted into this because of the dream team, and because I saw the ‘rather gentle’ in the preamble. I’ve never attempted a PJ puzzle before, and was delighted that I managed to solve it, albeit with my usual electronic cheats. Great fun, particularly the liberal use of homogroans (the Spoonerism was just about so bad it’s good).
    I agree with the general choice of favourites, 24a I think was top for me. Thanks to Kitty for the blog and photos/music, and for explaining what I failed to understand (mainly the liquid, the hostage and the coo) and of course to PJ.
    My Lab is reasonably cool today- it’s air-conditioned.

      1. I like it too, but can’t help wondering now – what would the definition of “heterogroans” be?

          1. Careful, Jane – you know very well to avoid politics in comments! You hoping to bring out BD with his yellow card?

            (Mind you, your suggested definition is a whole lot more printable than mine … )

  14. I was emboldend to do this after reading the back page blog. I finished though I spent a long time meowing up the wrong tree in 8d.

  15. Thought Chris would have been in by now. If you do pop in later, I’m sure Kitty won’t mind me going rather off-topic to mention a clue written by one of our own for today’s puzzle in another place.

    Maybe those who take tiffin without bits of butter (6)

    Worth a smile?

    1. I’m curious about the answer to this now… I assume it’s not just a straight definition!

      1. Hi Verlaine,
        Chris was born and bred in the UK but now lives in the USA. Does that help?

        1. Aha, I think so! I thought VEGANS (of which I am sometimes one) was insufficiently cryptic :)

  16. Very enjoyable if speedily solved puzzle – loved the men in the bar, though had to come here to check I had the right answer for 21a. Amusingly I got confused and thought 17a had to begin with 21’s S, resulting in a temporary gridfill of SWABIAN, which would have been brilliant if either SWAB meant Welshman or Swabia was in Africa. Oh well!

  17. Thanks to Pettijean and to Kitty for the review and hints. What a marvellous and entertaining puzzle. I fell at the last, having thought 6a was a lurker, and put in aver, thus making 8d impossible. Also needed the hints to parse 22&29a. Favourite was 7d, was 2*/4* for me.

  18. This was pretty sneaky for 6 across i had aver because it appeared to be “maintained” in the clue (a very) this held me up on 8 down until the penny dropped and i revisited 6 across and found the OW i did get the ivorian esily enough and had enough fillers to get the synched but i still dont understand it, could anyone enlighten me? I got 23 only after resorting to chambers, we have cut the tops of some of our very tall conifers but i was unaware that i had in fact been pollarding, this toughie deserves its title and merits a toast to our late and much admired petitjean

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