NTSPP – 385 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 385

NTSPP – 385

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I always look forward to a new puzzle, and this one didn’t disappoint.   Watch out for another one in the Independent soon.


1a Wicked sort of racist men (9)
MISCREANT: an anagram (sort) of RACIST MEN

6a Without knowledge, Kent ace bowled two overs successively – it’s forbidden (5)
TABOO: concatenate [KEN]T without KEN (knowledge), A(ce), B(owled), O(ver) and O(ver) (two overs successively)

9a Anger shown towards advanced disease (7)
CHOLERA: a word meaning anger followed by A(dvanced)

10a Stirs up exploits by American soldiers returning (7)
AROUSES: a verb meaning exploits preceded by A(merican) and the reversal (returning) of army personnel who are not commissioned officers

11a Gas pipe intermittently leaks – a risk ultimately disregarded for cookers? (6)
APPLES: the even letters (intermittently) of the first two words in the clue followed by LE[AK]S without (disregarded) the A from the clue and the final letter (ultimately) of [ris]K gives something of which cookers are an example (indicated by the question mark)

12a Waste left uncovered and free-flowing (8)
EFFLUENT: [l]EF[t] without its outer letters (uncovered) followed by an adjective meaning free flowing

14a Club displaying inflexibility (4)
IRON: two definitions – the first being a golf club

15a Deliriously happy Carol is fabulous (10)
APOCRYPHAL: an anagram (deliriously) of HAPPY CAROL

18a Leave Italy mostly relaxed after band’s appearance in street (10)
SABBATICAL: the IVR code for Italy followed by most of an adjective meaning relaxed preceded by (after) the four-letter name of a Swedish group (band) inside (appearance in) S(tree)T

20a Innocent soul finds pound mid-morning? On the contrary (4)
LAMB: instead of putting the abbreviation of the Latin for a pound in weight inside (mid) the abbreviation of the Latin before noon (morning), do it the other way around (on the contrary)

23a Neat and in good order (8)
STRAIGHT: two definitions – the first being, of a drink, without added water

24a Have an obligation to fawn in speech? What a pity (2,4)
OH DEAR: a charade of words that sound like (in speech) to have an obligation, typically financial, to and the type of animal of which a fawn is a young example (that question mark again!)

26a Watch a patient ingesting Indian food (7)
CHAPATI: hidden (ingesting) inside the clue

27a Book addresses prison love, it produces hot material (7)
VOLCANO: the abbreviation of a book is followed by a colloquial word for a prison and O (love)

28a Heartless, lax Roman age? (5)
SIXTY: the age represented in Roman numerals by LX (heartless lax – without its middle letter)

29a Unconscious deterioration in taste perhaps (9)
SENSELESS: this could be a deterioration in the faculty of which taste is an example (perhaps)


1d Mischance disrupted routine procedures (9)
MECHANICS: an anagram (disrupted) of MISCHANCE

2d House with a dangerous tale it’s rumoured (7)
SCORPIO: I didn’t have a problem with this one – the eighth astrological house is represented by this sign of the zodiac, which, as an arachnid, has a sting in what sounds like (it’s rumoured) its tale

3d Staggered a fisherman may have done this (6)
REELED: two definitions

4d Horse raised from Manitoba ranch (4)
ARAB: hidden (from) and reversed (raised in a down clue) inside the clue

5d Horns may be heard during its slow movement (7,3)
TRAFFIC JAM: my favourite clue because it made me smile – a humorous cryptic definition of a number of vehicles so obstructed that they can scarcely move

6d Upset group with piercing cry, they are gathered outside supermarket (8)
TROLLEYS: a group or set with a cry inside (piercing), all reversed (upset in a down clue)

7d Implore gutless Swede to enter wood (7)
BESEECH: the outer letters (gutless) of S[wed]E inside a type of wood

8d Attack where cast is filming (5)
ONSET: split (2,3) this gives where the cast can be found making a film

13d Argue about fine distinctions in, say, mammals from Adriatic city (5,5)
SPLIT HAIRS: what sounds like (say) some mammals from a city on the Adriatic

16d Strenuous work for American meeting debts (9)
LABORIOUS: the American spelling of a word meaning work followed by our usual debts

17d Stone-cutter‘s paid early maybe, but missing final cheque (8)
LAPIDARY: an anagram (maybe) of PAID [E]ARLY without the final letter of [chequ]E

19d Irritate retired former partner acquiring area above posh offices (7)
BUREAUX: the reversal (retired) of a verb meaning to irritate followed by our usual former partner around (acquiring) A(rea) and the letter that represents posh

21d Ordinary woman wearing silver over expensive top (7)
AVERAGE: a woman’s name inside (wearing) the chemical symbol for silver all followed by the initial letter (top) of E[xpensive]

22d Put aside quiet guidelines essentially to cap day of celebration (6)
SHELVE: an exhortation to keep quiet followed by the middle letters (essentially) of [guid]EL[ines] and the abbreviation for a day of celebration of cessation of some of the hostilities in WWII

23d Dismisses absence of label at first in casual trousers (5)
SACKS: drop the initial letter (at first) of L[abel] from some casual trousers

25d Often viewed enclosing Nigella’s starters? (4)
OVEN: this answer to this all-in-one clue contains the initial letters (starters) of four words in the clue

29 comments on “NTSPP – 385

  1. Very enjoyable and not too tough – thanks Silvanus. I ticked lots of clues including 11a, 24a, 28a, 6d and 22d.

  2. Nice one Silvanus, lots of enjoyment indeed. Curiously just one of my list of stand-outs – 28a – overlapped with Gazza’s, which must prove something… probably a good sign!
    I also had 6a, for its surface, 12a, 26a and 5d. Anagrams all top notch as well.

    Btw I don’t think some editors would like the use of ‘house’ in 2d as a synonym for sign. I suffered an editorial knockback from Eimi when I tried it – something to do with astrology and the confusion between the 12 houses and 12 star signs which don’t actually align or something. He did say however that he would have accepted it up until quite recently, when Hob pointed it out to him.

  3. I always look forward to a puzzle from our own Silvanus and this one didn’t disappoint. Kath will be delighted that you even managed to include a clue for her latest addition!
    So many that I could nominate for the top honours but 12a nudges ahead for the broad smile it generated.

    Many thanks, Silvanus – more soon, please.

  4. Thanks Silvanus; entertaining puzzle.

    I ticked 12a, 28a, 6d & 16d. I take Maize’s point about the non-equivalence of house and zodiac but it seems to be used in published crosswords and is in Bradford’s.

  5. Thankyou Silvanus- excellent balance, I wonder if anyone else who only had the checkers “t and C” for 5d, was stuck on “tantric sex”.

    1. All done now. 20A was last in. Tricky, but I enjoyed it immensely. 24A, 28A, and 5D tickled my fancy. Thanks Silvanus.

  6. We managed to do this one in fits and starts over a very busy day. Lots of well put together clues that kept us amused every time we came back to it. We feel a bit disappointed that we did not think of tantric sex for 5d as Tonto above did as that would have been an extra chuckle. Good fun.
    Thanks Silvanus.

  7. This was a lovely Saturday treat! I found it most entertaining.

    Seems I am flying in the face of adversity! I really liked 2d. It is one of my special preferences, together with 5d, 6d, 13d, 18a, and 20a (a special for Kath). My standout fave was 28a.

    Big thanks to Silvanus. Super stuff! :D

  8. a breath of fresh air on a saturday afternoon. i’ll have to wait for the review to confirm my solutions though.
    thanks to silvanus & to prolixic (?)

    1. It would have been me doing the review but I submitted the pink leave of absence form as I am too busy celebrating our grandson’s 4th birthday – we are off to Enniskillen for the party soon, so I’d say that BD’s review will be along in due course

  9. Silvanus has provided us with a puzzle that contains nearly all the clue constructions I know.

    A very nice variety of clue types! And most importantly, of course, very nice surface readings!

    28a takes the top spot on the podium, closely followed by 12a & 5d.

    I solved 20a and 24a quite early – thought it might be a theme on our favourite grandmother!

      1. Many thanks from me, Stan and I’m sure that Kath will be along later. We’ve been doing a bit of mutual support over the last few days of waiting – a totally unexpected bonus of being part of the BD gang!

      2. Warmest congratulations to both new Grandmothers. Enjoy your new roles! Thanks, Stan for the link.

  10. I always love SIlvanus’ puzzles and this one was no exception. Nicely challenging and good fun throughout, the smooth surfaces are the icing on the cake.

    I didn’t previously know that 1a could be used as an adjective. I am happy with the house in 2d, but I would say that the clue doesn’t quite work as the answer itself does not have a “dangerous tale”; only the symbol representing the answer does.

    Lots of ticks – 6a, 11a, 15a, 24a, 6d & 22d.

    Many thanks to Silvanus. Please keep them coming. Many thanks too to BD.

  11. Many thanks for taking on yet more overtime, BD – much appreciated.
    I remember reading of a great way to recall the name of the 27a you depicted – ‘Hi, a fellow yokel’. Works for me!

    Thanks again to Silvanus, I’ll keep an eye out for your offering on the ‘dark side’.

  12. Many thanks as always to everyone who tackled the puzzle and especially to those who took the time to leave such nice comments. Thanks of course as well to BD for setting everything up, his review, and for slotting me in for another NTSPP so soon after my last one.

    I certainly had Kath in mind when drafting 20a, little did I know that it would coincide with such a happy event! I do hope that she will find the time to pop in later, but I can completely understand that other matters obviously take priority. Congratulations too to Jane, the cricketing knowledge that she has accumulated from cryptic puzzles may now prove more useful than she could have imagined!

    Maize’s comment that a “house” and a zodiac sign may no longer be considered synonymous by some has me intrigued, especially as I have used a very similar device to 2d in a recently drafted puzzle (which may now have to change!). The BRB has as one of its definitions for house “one of the twelve divisions of the heavens in astrology”, and it’s also shown under BD’s “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” too, so if anyone has any further input on this, I’d be very interested to hear.

    1. Cricket! Oh gosh, this is all starting to sound a bit too much for me. Maybe he’ll be content with sandcastles and rock pools for a while?

      1. Take it from one who knows, boys are easier, both as sons and grandsons. All you need to do is feed them well.

  13. Hi Silvanus – I’ve tracked down Eimi’s email to me from last October. I had had ‘Viragos’ clued as ‘Area in house with small battle-axes’ and he replied as follows:

    Until recently I had been happy accept house as zodiac sign, but Hob of this parish seems to be knowledgeable about astrology and finds these clues annoying. I’ll allow him to explain:
    A house is one of twelve divisions of the Zodiac, but these are not the same divisions as the signs of the Zodiac. I studied Astrology some while ago now and learnt the difference. Furthermore the “first house” in an astrological chart might be nowhere near to Aries. The simplest and correct approach is never to equate “house” and “sign”. The incorrect assumption to equate them seems to have been made from the fact that dictionaries define a “house” as something like “one of (the) twelve divisions of the Zodiac”, but they don’t actually say that these are the same divisions as “signs”, because they aren’t!

    Personally I ain’t no astrologer, so I’ll go with the flow!

    1. Many thanks for your input, Maize. Astrology means nothing to me either – by the way, are test-tube babies born under the sign of Pyrex?!

      As they say, “the editor’s decision is final”, so it looks like I’ll have to tweak my forthcoming clue which was for “Lean-to”, which I had clued as “Soldier occupies house and shed”. Oh well, c’est la vie! Thank you again.

      1. Arf! on the pyrex – every confidence you’ll come up with an alternative just as good as that clue :)

  14. :phew: Everything is a bit ‘stressy’ round here at the moment.
    I’ve been doing crosswords all day – my sister, who goes in for comments like this, calls it ‘displacement activity’.
    I’ve already done yesterday’s back pager and today’s, wherever it was in the newish place, so this one is my third.
    I loved it.
    Got into a right royal muddle trying to untangle 18a so decided to let BD do it for me.
    I think that 20a has to be my favourite but I also really liked 24a which I’ve said numerous times today – a friend of mine says that it’s the favourite expression of nurses.
    With thanks to Silvanus and to BD and to everyone else for their lovely comments on my new status.

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