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Toughie 1922

Toughie No 1922 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

I never know what to expect with a Firefly puzzle because I can never remember what previous ones were like. In fact I was surprised to find that this is my eighth one of the year because I would have guessed that it was only my second or third. I didn’t particularly enjoy this puzzle. Most of it went in fairly easily but it took me some time to finish the last few off and I wasn’t impressed by some of the surfaces

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a & 5d    What may be vile, or evil, and coming from Wimbledon perhaps? (4,9)
LIVE BROADCAST: The first word of the answer is an anagram of VILE or EVIL and the second word is an anagram indicator. The whole is a TV or radio programme not coming from a studio such as coverage of the tennis at Wimbledon

3a    With void between two spacemen, there’s misery (3,7)
WET BLANKET: W (with) + a creature from another planet + a void + the same creature from another planet = a misery or a killjoy

9a    Priest gives healing (4)
CURE: 2 meanings: a parish priest in France/something that heals

10a    Kojak perhaps toiled unusually; it helps to check every angle (10)
THEODOLITE: The first name of Kojak from the American crime drama TV series + an anagram (unusually) of TOILED = a surveying instrument for measuring angles

11a & 22d    19’s home language actor’s to remember (7,5)
LANGHAM PLACE: An abbreviated form of ‘language’ + a bad actor + ‘to remember’ = a street in London where the headquarters of the organisation with the nickname of 19 down can be found

13a    Where monks don’t drink it brings about power (3-4)
DRY CELL: This could be a small room in a monastery where no alcoholic drinks are allowed

14a    Islands are about to crumble at the margins by two-thirds of lake (11)
ARCHIPELAGO: ARE round ‘to crumble at the margins’ + the first four letters of a six-letter word for a shallow lake

18a    Dish has Laura and Lottie all of a quiver (11)
RATATOUILLE: An anagram (all of a quiver) of LAURA LOTTIE

21a    Look for some overrun if I err in merger (7)

22a    Run down the king’s cat (7)
PANTHER: ‘To run down’ or ‘to criticise’ + THE + R (king)

23a    Twister engendering riots against bank (7,3)
TORSION BAR: Something used in a vehicle suspension to absorb force by twisting = an anagram (engendering) of RIOTS + ‘against’ + a bank or shoal as at the mouth of a river or harbour

24a    Delivered and not in distress (4)
GNAW: A homophone (delivered) of ‘and not’ = ‘to distress’ or ‘to worry persistently’

25a    Report topless camper seen around Bognor? (10)
ENREGISTER: An unfamiliar word for ‘to report’ = a camper (someone who lives under canvas) with the first letter removed round the word that follows Bognor in the name of the seaside report

26a    Spot where nymphs get turns regularly (4)
ESPY: ‘To spot’ = a reversal of alternate letters in NYMPHS GET


1d    Hackney left short after pub’s payment to council (5,3)
LOCAL TAX: One’s nearest pub + a hackney cab with the last letter removed

2d    I’ve no car, unfortunately, thus pass by bullfighter (8)
VERONICA: An anagram (unfortunately) if I’VE NO CAR. I spotted this anagram immediately and was pleased to find that it was indeed a bullfighting term

4d    Where in Surrey one may see, say, a bit of thigh? (5)
EGHAM: An abbreviation denoting ‘say’ or ‘for example’ + the back of the thigh or hock. I couldn’t justify ESHER so had to think of somewhere else in Surrey

5d    See 1 Across

6d    Pain, sitting on file? Help’s available here! (5,6)
AGONY COLUMN: Extreme suffering + a file (such as a line of soldiers)

7d    Cutters, turning turtle, go down with cargo of books (6)
KNIVES: A reversal (turning turtle) of ‘to go down’ round a 2-letter abbreviation for what I assume is a version of the Bible

8d    Bet placed in the inner ring? (6)
TREBLE: 2 meanings: a bet involving three horse races/the narrow inner ring on a dartboard

12d    Scary shock in lift (4-7)
HAIR-RAISING: The shock is one found on top of the head

15d    Infiltrations from leaderless Argentines overthrown (9)
ENTERINGS: An anagram (overthrown) of RGENTINES (ARGENTINES minus the first letter)

16d    Past masters of antique scripts (3,5)
OLD HANDS: ‘Antique’ + scripts

17d    Meal not cooked, alas, and tough (8)
TEARAWAY: A meal taken in the afternoon + ‘not cooked’ + ‘Alas!’ = a tough or a reckless and violent young person

19d    Relative minutiae the setter’s brought up ignored in editing (6)
AUNTIE: A relative is an anagram (in editing) of NUTIAE, i.e. MINUTIAE less a reversal of I’M (the setter’s)

20d    ‘Glass Menagerie’ introduces recent recruits of RADA to take leads (6)
MIRROR: Initial letters of Menagerie’ Introduces Recent Recruits Of RADA

22d    See 11 Across

28 comments on “Toughie 1922

  1. I didn’t find this one terribly inspiring initially and just when I was beginning to like it a bit better I reached the ‘homophone’ at 24a (What’s the point in having the letter R in English if some people are going to ignaw it half the time?). The clue I liked best was the simple and amusing 22a. Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  2. Definitely not on the setter’s wavelength and – as Bufo commented – some of the surface reads weren’t good, which never helps matters.
    Couldn’t imagine what the lady at 2d had to do with bullfighting (should have asked the BRB!) and I didn’t realise that the camper in 25a can be referred to in that way.
    Goodness knows where I dredged up 23a from, just inordinately pleased that I did.
    Missed the homophone in 24a which was silly of me but I can’t see that one making Gazza’s podium list!

    Didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable solve although I did quite like the king’s cat and the antique scripts.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo for sorting out where I’d slipped up.

  3. I got a bit stug at the end of this one too, so thangs to Bufo for the block — as well as to Firefly for the puzzle, of course.

    It helped that I’ve spend quite a lot of time queueing up on 11a/22d.

    Not so sure about 22a!

    1. 22a reminded me of a story (from News at Ten, I think) in the 1980s. Firefighters were on strike and the army were on standby using the old Green Goddess fire engines. They were called out to rescue an old lady’s cat from a tree. This took them some time as they were unfamiliar with the equipment but eventually the cat was safely brought down. The old lady was so pleased that she invited them in for a cup of tea. As they drove off with a cheery wave they ran over the cat.

  4. 1a was first one in so all started well, but a few at the end caused me grief.

    11a/22d i knew what we were looking for but I didn’t know the address – it was quite hard to find, mostly I got just ‘broadcasting house’ of course I didn’t twig the abbreviation for language, I was trying to find a language.

    2/3 of the lake is also Italian for lake which threw me somehow.

    Last one in was the homophone – took me ages!

    Many thanks bufo and firefly

  5. An “Ugh” by 24A on my print-out. That was after I had to reveal a couple of letters to solve it. I also had to look up Auntie’s home. Other than that, I enjoyed the puzzle and found lots to like…3D. 10D, 13D, 23D and 22A. Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  6. I was able to finish this which always adds to my enjoyment quotient. I am never a huge fan of inter-connected clues, and although I (eventually) got the 11a, 22d and 19d combination, I am not quite sure how it all works together (I think I may be missing some local knowledge perhaps). There were a couple of things I had to invent and was pleasantly surprised to find they existed (23a and 25a). Thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  7. With the greatest respect to Gazza, whose thoughts I always value, I’m not getting his message re 24a.

    All the major sources show both “gnaw” and “nor” pronounced with the same sound, i.e. “the open mid-back rounded vowel” (ɔ in phonetic script.) I don’t think the R is pronounced in NOR, unless with a Somerset burr.

    Thanks for all your comments so far — always interesting and informative.



    1. Hi Firefly – thanks for dropping in. I have an ongoing problem with homophones involving non-use of the rhotic R. It is true that most people in England do not distinguish for example between the pronunciations of ‘sore’ and ‘saw’ but most native English speakers in Scotland, Ireland, the whole of North America and the South-West of England (where I live) definitely do.
      There’s a lot more detail to be found here.

      1. Gazza – I would distinguish the pronunciations of ‘sore’ and ‘saw’ because to a Northerner like me they have completely different vowel sounds. I remember that in one of the first Toughies I ever blogged SCORE DRAW was an answer. It took me ages to parse the clue because it depended on the fact that ‘score’ rhymes with ‘draw’ and I just couldn’t see it. So there’s always going to be differences of opinion on homophones. It could have been worse you know. Firefly could have clued AUNTIE as a homophone of ANTI. I did this once and have been careful to check homophones in Chambers ever since.

  8. Like some others I disliked 24a. At least there wasn’t a Spoonerism – I dislike them even more than homophones!

  9. I found it quite tricky, couldn’t finish it without Bufo’s hints (for which I thank you).

    I’m usually quite lax about homophones, but I agree with Gazza on this one. ‘Gnaw it’ and ‘nor it’ are distinctly different in how one says the two. The W is whispered (there’s a name for whispered consonants, but I can’t remember what it is right now). Dialectal I suppose. (Surrey)
    ‘Staff-ish’ and ‘starfish’ – well, that’s another story… :wink: :smile:

    I enjoyed most of what I could do, so thanks Firefly.

  10. We had to do some investigoogling to find Auntie’s place but at least where were looking for the right Auntie. Had problems justifying AY for ALAS but do note that they are listed as synonyms in Mrs B. Enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  11. Needed hints for 11a and 24a and whereas I could have looked up the broadcaster’s location I would not have got the homophone ina month of Sundays. Top clues for me were 13a, 3a 22a. Would any one born after the last two decades of the last century have solved 10a without help?

  12. Enjoyed this and we give it 3* /3*.

    Thought the homophone was fine. Our award for best clue today goes to 3a – very neat.

    Thanks to Gazza and Firefly.

  13. Took nearly as long on 17d and 24a as the whole of the rest of the puzzle, but sometimes getting the last couple can be fun too. Especially if completed before the beer is finished. No complaints from me.

    1. Al, Al Mills, Almills, Al in Sowerby Bridge. This is your fourth incarnation in four comments, dating back to September 2015!

      By the way, I stayed at the The Stirk Bridge Inn a few years ago while working in nearby Copley.

      1. The Stirk Bridge is long gone, I’m afraid. Try the Shepherd’s Rest should you be in the vicinity again (for beer only, no accommodation).

  14. Pretty tough, I thought, though solved when perhaps I would have been better off curling up in bed, so I claim a handicap. I didn’t have a problem with 24ac, though was surprised by the camper at 25ac. Pleased to finish without having to Google 11/22.

  15. I can’t even pronounce Gnaw properly. Would certainly accentuate on the G. Or if I take Gn, it would sound like Ni.
    Needless to say that I didn’t get 24a nor 17d for that matter. Thought the latter was some kind of meal called a Geerawdy. Was way off the mark there.
    Wasn’t keen on 13a and 7d which took some time but enjoyed the rest.
    In France we pay the TV license on our local tax bill. 134€ per household but we never question where the money goes.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo.

  16. I enjoy cryptic crossword puzzles, but for me sadly this was very hard work with no real enjoyment. Much went in with litte effort, but some clues were way above my level of thinking, which meant that I needed quite a few of Bufo’s tips.. So on my part more practice is needed for this kind of puzzle. I’ve no real complaints – I simply need to stick at it, so to speak. Thanks to Firefly and special thanks to Bufo for enlightenment on several.

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