Toughie 1956 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1956

Toughie No 1956 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Warm greetings friends, especially to any of you celebrating your 62nd birthday this year — Happy Birthtoughie.  (I wonder if any solver will have their birthtoughie on their birthday?)

Perhaps it was just that I’m not spending much time in the crosswording zone at the moment, but I had a bit of trouble with this.  After about half went in smoothly (and enjoyably, I hardly need add) I suddenly found myself staring blankly and clicking around between clues hopelessly stuck.  A reminder of Hertfordshire towns did the trick.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints.  You’ll find the answers inside the buttons.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative — click only if you wish to reveal all.

As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.



1a    Famous crooner keeps awkward person in tears (10)
BLUBBERING:  The nickname of a famous American singer of the last century contains (keeps) an awkward person (which Chambers does not mark as archaic unlike the Oxford definition I have linked to)

6a    Lacking energy, put on party (4)
STAG:  A type of party that Americans would call a bachelor party is formed of a verb meaning to host or put on without (lacking) E(nergy)

9a    Black magic may concern criminal (10)
NECROMANCY:  This kind of magic is an anagram (criminal) of MAY CONCERN

10a   Food with short tradename (4)
BRAN:  A trademark is cut short to give some cerealWhat do zombies eat for breakfast? Click here!

12a   Noise from animal fair ringing round most of pub (4)
OINK:  Fair or adequate around (ringing) most of a pub or tavern

13a   Draw colleague, not British (9)
STALEMATE:  A colleague (who may or may not be equine) is missing B(ritish)

15a   Secure area then look out protective clothing (8)
PINAFORE:  A charade of secure, A(rea), and a golfing warning

16a   Nip home without finishing place in Devon (6)
TOTNES:  An alcoholic nip plus a home (usually for a bird) missing its last letter (without finishing)

18a   Look after  cook (6)
CODDLE:  This is a double definition, the first often preceded by molly

20a   Feud erupting at event interrupted by Democrat (8)
VENDETTA:  The letters in AT EVENT rearranged (erupting) containing (interrupted by) D(emocrat)

23a   Supporter backed new attire for referee (9)
ARBITRATE:  A feminine supporting garment reversed (backed) and then an anagram (new) of ATTIRE

24a   Torture regularly fails to appear right (4)
TRUE:  The first word of the clue loses alternate letters (regularly fails to appear)

26a   Part of a pack, returned dark-coloured clothes (4)
LOCK:  A “rekrul” — part of the clue reversed (returned) contains (clothes) part of a rugby pack

27a   Unsure and cutting about Sheeran retiring (10)
INDECISIVE:  Keen or sharp around (about) the Mr Sheeran who was allegedly cut by Princess Beatrice, reversed (retiring)

[picture pending]

28a   She made Adrian M a bit of a pudding (4)
SUET:  Write the creator of Adrian Mole in the same form as he is written in the clue

29a   Detective losing vehicle on vacation could be troublemaker (10)
INSTIGATOR:  A sleuth minus (losing) vehicle with its inner letters removed (vehicle on vacation)



1d    Fleeing Welsh city, men strike (4)
BANG:  The abbreviation for other ranks (men) gone from (fleeing) a city in North Wales which isn’t far from Anglesey

2d    Do without fine ointment (7)
UNCTION:  A social gathering without F(ine)

3d    Remove access to facilities in high-rise housing (5,2,5)
BLOCK OF FLATS:  Remove access to (5,3) and an informal abbreviation for some toilet facilities

4d    Comfort a son in note — definitely! (8)
REASSURE:  Take the A from the clue and S(on) and pop them in between a note of the sol-fa scale and a synonym of definitely

5d    Reportedly kissed that girl in ‘ackney? It’s very tasteful (6)
NECTAR:  This sounds like (reportedly) an informal word for kissed passionately and “that girl” with the H dropped (in ‘ackney)

7d    Water creature avoiding soft ground (7)
TERRAIN:  A water-dwelling reptile without (avoiding) soft in musical notation

8d    Dancer’s sleep is something sweet (10)
GINGERSNAP:  Fred’s partner, the ‘S from the clue and a short sleep of the type kitties like to take

11d   Reserve supports Hertfordshire town (6,6)
SECOND STRING:  Supports or endorses and a Hertfordshire town

14d   These shows that I’m playing could be Test Match Special (10)
SPECTACLES:  This is a subtractive anagram, where [ANSWER] THAT I’M, rearranged (playing), could make the last three words of the clue.  So the answer is an anagram of tEST matCh SPECiAL

17d   Answer to 3 English chaps in temporary shelter (8)
TENEMENT:  A multi-occupancy dwelling like 3d is given by E(nglish) and some males all inside a canvas shelter

19d   Girl coming out left overwhelmed by great disaster (7)
DEBACLE:  Follow a society girl “coming out” with L(eft) inside (overwhelmed by) great

21d   One in French city on start of trip? (7)
TOURIST:  An all-in-one where the whole clue gives an example of the answer.  Insert the Roman one into a French city and place it all on the first letter (start) of trip

22d   In M*A*S*H, pass would be shown with this gun (6)
CANNON:  A mountain pass very useful to setters plus this artillery gun would produce some mash (yes, we can ignore the punctuation).  So remove the pass from the mash to get the gun

25d   Give birth to  wild animal (4)
BEAR:  Two definitions, the second ursine


Thanks to Samuel.  I liked the animal fair in 12a and am always impressed by an all-in one so I must mention 21d also, but there are many fine clues here.  What did you think?


36 comments on “Toughie 1956

  1. I didn’t find this one easy either, though the Hertfordshire town was one of my first in. For me it was the SE corner that caused most trouble, though I should have seen 26a much earlier. A few more went in partly unparsed because I ran short of time, but at least all the guesses were correct.

    Thanks to Kitty and Samuel.

  2. I really enjoyed this – thanks to Samuel and Kitty. I liked the clever 3d but my runaway favourite was the LOL 28a.

  3. Very enjoyable with not too much head scratching, although it took forever to ‘see’ the reverse lurker in 26a mostly because I was not thinking about the correct type of pack.

    Favourite – 11d.

    Thanks to Samuel and Kitty.

  4. A nice steady solve I thought. 12a and 28a both made me chuckle, but I liked them all. 14d last one in because I couldn’t parse it properly. No hints posted when I looked, but thanks to Kitty for clarification. Thanks to the setter too

  5. I loved this. It was very enjoyable and challenging without being impenetrable, and, for the second time today, it was lovely to find a puzzle with such brief cluing.

    I spent a bit of time trying to think of a dancer called Brandy until the penny dropped. The slang for facilities in 3d was new to me but not hard to guess. I bunged in 22d with no idea at all about the parsing, so thank you Kitty for unravelling that one.

    The brilliant 28a was my favourite, with special mentions for 3d & 11d.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Kitty.

  6. Samuel on fine form but I can’t tell you how long it took me to nail 1a – Kath’s dim days are obviously catching!
    8d caused a bit of trouble initially as the ‘sleep’ made me want to put Mr Wayne of that ilk somewhere in there. No doubt a deliberate red herring from Samuel.
    Thought the 5d Cockney lass was a bit of a stretch even for Samuel – I even looked up a potential alternative spelling.

    The subtractive anagram got me as usual – those and the cycling things are truly my worst crossword nightmares.
    No problems with 26a – think he cropped up relatively recently and I’ve somehow managed to remember him.

    Top of my pops was 3d with 28a hard on its heels.

    Thanks to the currently extremely prolific Samuel (using up all your reserve puzzles in advance of the Big Day?) and to our Girl Tuesday for a great blog. Laughed at the Hippo joke!

  7. I subscribed to the Magpie yesterday which leaves me a bit less than a week to solve all its fiendishly difficult January puzzles if I am to submit them – having been doing barred puzzles around the clock for a few days this seemed, comparatively anyway, remarkably easy, though of course it wasn’t, not really! I shall confess to starting at 22d for quite a long time before the very clever penny finally dropped. I’ll give that my clue of the day I reckon, though 14d was also typically clever (I’m getting better at spotting this kind of device now, finally!) and I must say I would like to have.a drink at the sign of the 1a 6a. Regards Samuel & Kitty.

  8. A really enjoyable puzzle from Samuel. Favourite amonst many was 28a.

    My only problem was parsing the Test Match Special one.

    Unfortunately, now that Kitty has explained that it is a “subtractive anagram”, I’m even more confused. Maybe all will become clear when I get home from the pub?

    1. 14d is rather like one of those dreadful mathematical posers that used to do the rounds where the last instruction was always – ‘now take away the number you first thought of’.

  9. I was left with three cities in the end, argh, with two of them crossing. I managed to get the hertfordshire one but gave up on Devon and Wales, though they do sound familiar now.

    My favourite is the all-in-one. Great penny drop when i realised it was an all in one. French cities are easier than UK ones.

    I also liked 26a and 28a and quite a few more.

    Many thanks Samuel and thanks Kitty for the geographical help.

    1. Believe me, many of us have given up on that Welsh city, even those of us who live relatively close to it! Some of its counterparts across the globe look rather more appealing.

  10. Yes, SUE T for me. Most amusing, and in a great puzzle.

    Am I the only one who doesn’t know LATS for loos (latrines)?

    1. I think it’s very much an army phrase these days although it was definitely used during my days as a Girl Guide. The one ‘detail’ that we all dreaded was being on latrine duty! Apparently it comes from the Latin ‘latrina’ – to wash.

    2. No – you’re not the only one – I had to look it up because the answer was so obviously what it was.

  11. You’re right it does come from latrina It seems to have two meanings, latrine or privy and also washroom . I think Lavo means wash.

  12. Quite a bit of geography in this one that would have been more familiar to people less remote than we are, but even with this, still found it was a faster solve than back-pager. Plenty to keep us smiling and chuckling.
    Thanks Samuel and Kitty.

  13. Thanks for pointing out the 1956 thing, which I hadn’t noticed… I thought this was really enjoyable but I’m worried why as a rugby and cricket fan I found 26a and 14d so hard to spot; my last ones in. Thanks all

  14. Hi Kitty
    We’d noticed that the toughies were in date but we will not be having birthtoughie birthdays.
    G says we have been over the Hertfordshire place summit on the historic tug Bittell.
    As for the crossword G got the penultimate 22d which somehow gave me an inkling into the wherefore of 14d. Pleased to have them confirmed, thanks Kitty.
    Enjoyed, thanks Samuel.

    1. Hi J&G. I think given the number of commenters one having a birthdaytoughie birthday is pretty unlikely, but it would be pleasing.

  15. Well, I nearly finished without external help, but needed maps to spot the Herts and Devon towns. I used to live in the Welsh one, so that was no problem.

    I was left with just 14d and 28a. Kitty had to be my source for 28a and that gave me 14d but no way could I parse it, thanks again Kitty, and thanks to Samuel.

    Does anybody else see a black dot in the bottom left corner of the screen when visiting this page? It stays in the same place even when scrolling, and I don’t see it in any other web pages. I use Opera.

    1. Yes – there are black dots all over the place down the left hand side – they’ve been around for a little while and don’t seem to be doing any harm to anyone but you never can tell . . .

    2. Glad you mentioned the black dot, Malcolm – I’ve been trying to clean it off the screen for ages.

  16. Hmm – tricky in places but more of a 2* difficulty and 4* enjoyment.
    Never heard of the 3d loos.
    Sorting out why, or even if, my 14d was right defeated me. Still not sure I’ve got it but doesn’t matter.
    Being particularly dim today my last answer was 25d.
    The clues that I particularly liked included 12a and 8d.
    Thanks to Samuel and to Kitty

  17. Just couldn’t see what 1a could be as I wrote Onction in 2d. What a plonker.
    On the upside I knew the three towns mentioned.
    Liked the reverse anagram in 14d.
    Thanks to Samuel and to Kitty.

  18. I got the top half, and most of the bottom. I had at least half a dozen penciled in that were correct in bottom half without fully understanding the word play. However, in the end I was beaten by too much local and general knowledge that I was not aware of (the reference in 28a being one, and rugby is foreign to me – 26a). In the end I was left feeling a little disappointed, but very much appreciate the blog and all the comments to help set me straight.

  19. Not too easy, and not too hard, but just right for a Tuesday Toughie. Solved in fits and starts with long periods staring at empty bits of grid… As all good puzzles do this fell gracefully in the end, with the NE corner last of all. Places in Devon? Yet again my appalling geography fails me. 14d tickled my fancy today, amongst many good clues.

  20. I’m surely being thick here, but why does ‘on vacation’ mean just the first and last letter of?

  21. Thanks Malcolm, I was being thick, as suspected. You might say I’m gutted at not seeing that.

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