NTSPP – 414 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 414

NTSPP – 414

Winter City by Chalicea

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This puzzle has a ghost theme, but it can be solved without knowledge of the theme (I did, and I knew there was a theme!).  For those who are curious click here:
A number of words in the grid were taken from Ralph McTell’s ‘Streets of London’ but solvers don’t need to know this in order to solve the puzzle. (Of course it might help to spot that.)

Thank you to Chalicea for what is possibly the most solver-friendly NTSPP for a while. I did see the ghost theme (see above) as I was writing in the solutions which left me with an earworm for the rest of the afternoon


1a In private do differently for neediness (11)
DEPRIVATION An anagram (differently) of INI PRIVATE DO

7a Slicker African cat, it’s said (7)
CHEATER A homophone (it’s said) of an African big cat produces a waterproof garment which our friends across the Pond would call a slicker, and I’d personally add the word ‘wind’ to get the British version

8a Troubled world, primarily armed and cruel, in state of political hostility (4,3)
COLD WAR An anagram (troubled) of WORLD and the ‘primary’ letters of Armed and Cruel

10a Slates tattered clothing (4)
RAGS Comments unfavourably (slates) or tattered clothing

11a Guardian, for example, for paupers (not us perhaps) (5)
PAPER Remove (not us) the letters U and S from PAUPERS

12a Tidings of all four compass directions (4)
NEWS The four compass points

15a Guarantees in certain situations principally (7)
INSURES IN (from the clue), a synonym for certain and the principal letter of situations

16a Guides going back circling Troy’s thoroughfares (7)
STREETS A reversal (going back) of a verb meaning guides ‘circling’ or going around the abbreviation for Troy weight

17a Consider rejected mushrooms devoured by rot (7)
RESPECT Some reversed (rejected) mushrooms inserted into (devoured) by a verb meaning to rot

20a Spanish girl catches the French fever (7)
MALARIA A Spanish girl’s name ‘catches’ the French female definite article

22a Strangeness, in the manner of the French returning sadly (4)
ALAS A reversal (returning) of the abbreviation used in physics for Strangeness and the way a French person might say ‘in the manner of’

23a Marsupials must finally settle for the night (5)
ROOST Some marsupials and the final letter of must

24a Rule we hear for precipitation (4)
RAIN A homophone (we hear) of another word meaning rule

27a Waterproofing material dispatched round a US city (7)
SEALANT Another way of saying dispatched goes round A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for a US city

28a Overgrown with ivy covering or made of dentine (7)
IVORIED An adjective meaning overgrown with ivy ‘covering’ OR (from the clue)

29a Inform about shelter with people at first spending night in the open (8,3)
SLEEPING OUT Insert another word for shelter and the first letter of People into a verb meaning to inform by shouting


1d Excavates silt from bottom of pond and river borders (7)
DREDGES The ‘bottom’ of pond, the abbreviation for river and some borders

2d Compassion‘s sententious with hearts not included (4)
PITY Remove (hearts not included) the abbreviation for the suit of Hearts in a pack of cards from an adjective meaning sententious

3d Intrusions within streets (7)
INROADS The two words meaning within and streets combine to make some intrusions

4d People from Ambridge perhaps who have bows and arrows (7)
ARCHERS I’m sure there’s no need for me to explain this double definition clue – I wonder whether the folk in Ambridge do indeed possess bows and arrows!

5d Not keen to work, move furtively, failing to start (4)
IDLE Remove the first letter (failing to start) from a verb meaning to move furtively

6d Currently in this place or out of the running (7)
NOWHERE Merge the two words meaning currently in this place

7d Redesigned big rare cars producing means of transporting purchases (7,4)
CARRIER BAGS An anagram (redesigned) of BIG RARE CARS

9d Nastier dust peculiarly discoloured with corrosion (4-7)
RUST-STAINED An anagram (peculiarly) of NASTIER DUST

13d Proclaims decay not accepted (5)
CRIES Remove the abbreviation for accepted from some tooth decay

14d Genuinely utter refusal say, from time to time (5)
TRULY From time to time indicates that you only need some of the letters of utTer RefUsaL saY

18/20d Witness person’s assignment, we hear in residence for servicemen (7,7)
SEAMANS MISSION A homophone (we hear) of a synonym for witness followed by a person’s assignment

19d Couple of hours after midnight favourites upset dance (3-4)
TWO-STEP The time a couple of hours after midnight followed by some reversed (upset in a Down clue) favourites

20d See 18

21d One without illusions about a catalogue (7)
REALIST Split 2, 1, 4 your solution would indeed say ‘about a catalogue’

25d Partly defaced rising little restaurant (4)
CAFÉ Lurking in reverse (rising in a Down clue) in part of dEFACed

26d Theatrical huntsman’s call in London district (4)
SOHO A huntsman’s exclamation or a district of London

23 comments on “NTSPP – 414

  1. Thanks Chalicea; entertaining crossword.

    I revealed the theme after completion but that wouldn’t have helped me. Accurate and fairly straightforward definitions. I didn’t know the ‘rot’ in 17.

    I particularly liked 28a, 29a and 13d.

    1. re 13d – whether it is staring you in the face probably depends on the state of your teeth ;)

  2. Thanks Shirley, delightful Saturday afternoon treat. Just stuck on one last answer roll on tomorrow when I will be put out of my misery.

  3. Many thanks, Shirley, I enjoyed this one despite completely missing the theme. Just as well it wasn’t essential to the solve!
    Found most of it relatively straightforward although there was a bit of head-scratching required to round up the last few stragglers.
    My personal top three were 23a plus 1&21d – very nice surfaces.

  4. Very nice – thanks Chalicea. I had to work a bit harder in the south. Without BD’s explanation of the theme I would have been completely oblivious to it.

    I wasn’t familiar with the 17a rot but now have a feeling it’s appeared in these parts before. The 26d huntsman’s halloo was also new to me and required dictionary verification.

    Thanks also in advance to CS for the review.

  5. Very entertaining, thanks Chalicea.

    I really liked the 18/20 combo.

    Assuming that I have the right answers, there are a couple that I can’t parse – I will have to wait for tomorrow’s review.

    If I had looked at the theme before solving I doubt that it would have made too much difference.

  6. 13d was our biggest hold up. Had not realised that the abbreviation used there was legit but now see that it is in BRB. We picked up the general drift of the theme which certainly helped with some of our thinking.
    Thanks Chalicea, much appreciated.

  7. Many thanks Chalicea – very nice. I think I have 9 direct references plus the title, as well as a lot of other mood-setting clues and answers. A wonderful saturday afternoon puzzle, and not too difficult.

    I thought there might be something not quite right with 17a until I checked Chambers. Also took me a while to work out 22a, i had gotten myself in a mess with various possibilities.

    Many thanks for an enjoyable puzzle with a lovely and perhaps poignant theme.

  8. Nice to find a puzzle on here that I can solve reasonably easily after a full day’s singing.

    I knew the “rot” part of 17 having once set a clue for that other word which ironically used the slightly unusual regularity seen here in 14d. Can’t parse 13d or see where the last letter of 22a comes from, but that’s par for my course.

    18/20 was a definite groan (in a good way).

    Didn’t spot the theme although I probably should have done as I have a memory from my first few weeks at college of 3 or 4 of us making an arrangement of that song as a backing track to a video we shot in and around South East London. But it was way back in the last millennium, so it’s only a distant memory.

      1. Goodness, never heard of the physics one, but I did fail my O level so not really my subject. Thanks for that. I’d seen Cryptic Sue’s comment but was still totally at a loss – hope she spells it out in simple terms for the dim-witted in her review!

  9. I did complete the puzzle, with 13D being my last one in. I’m not as enthusiastic about it as others seem to be. Fitting the (as I now know) ghost theme-related clues in the grid came, for me, with a price. Some of the clues, like 10A, 12A and 25D seemed careworn for over usage. Still, this is just one person’s opinion. Thanks to all.

  10. Glad to see that I am not the only one having trouble with 13d.
    More a case of waiting for the review for that one. Just can’t see it yet.
    As for the ghost theme, I don’t know what you’re all talking about. Shall go and reveal BD’s hint after posting.
    Didn’t know that 28a could be a verb.
    Favourite 14d.
    Thanks to Chalicea.

  11. Delightful puzzle. Thank you Chalicea. I started this online, but ended up printing it off so I could scribble in the margins. Last one in was 13d once the penny dropped.

  12. Rather late to comment on this one but that isn’t going to stop me.
    The theme didn’t help as I misinterpreted it and thought that it was literally the streets of London – I did wonder about ‘Winter City’. Oh dear.
    Anyway I enjoyed this crossword and it’s helped boost the morale which took a nosedive after today’s cryptic.
    I needed CS’s hints to understand my answers to 13 and 14d both of which caused trouble even though I was fairly sure they were right.
    I didn’t know a few things – the abbreviations for ‘Strangeness’ and ‘accepted, and the huntsman’s call – must try to remember them.
    Thanks to Chalicea and to CS.

  13. Oops – comment flown off into the ether again! Try again………..

    Many thanks for the review, CS, – I’m another who didn’t know the scientific abb. in 22a.
    Looks as though I’ve incorrectly parsed a couple:-
    7a I used the informal definition of a slicker as a smooth-talker – a cheater?
    26a I thought the HO was the huntsman’s cry as in tally-ho and that the SO was the theatrical part – as in ‘she’s SO over the top’.

    Not to worry, got me across the finishing line!

    Thanks again to Chalicea and apologies for not spotting the theme.

      1. Please Miss – I did look them up. Couldn’t find ‘ho’ on its own as a huntsman’s cry and one of the definitions of ‘slicker’ is a swindler, shifty person.

        1. Oh botheration re: 26d – never occurred to me that the full answer might have two meanings!
          Still sticking to my guns over 7a.

  14. Many thanks CS

    Ah, i thought the slicker was a con man…brb seems to agree. Never heard of the coat, though I don’t doubt there is one.

    18d/20d of course also features in the song.

    1. 18/20 was in colour in my Word draft but didn’t transfer to the blog post for some mad reason.

      The coat is the second definition of slicker in the BRB between a smoothing tool and the swindler. People in American novels and crime stories tend to wear that sort of coat which is probably why it was my first thought as to the definition

  15. Many thanks to Cryptic Sue – sorry there wasn’t an opportunity to include your super tomatoes in this one! That issue of using the second or third definition of a word often comes up. I test-solve for some top setters who invariably choose the least-known definition and are considered ‘difficult’ by solvers – they test mine and encourage me to be less kind. I tend to be labelled ‘easy’ or ‘gentle’ as I prefer to use the easier word that I could solve myself, but sometimes the unusual meaning of ‘cheater’ for example, is irresistible when it gives a fine double definition clue. Apologies to those who were puzzled by it. Many thanks for the generous comments that are always appreciated.

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