Toughie No 1965 by Petitjean
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty ***/**** – Enjoyment ****
We have another superb puzzle from the late Petitjean – mad hats are definitely the order of the day. I started it pretty slowly but Petitjean has kindly provided a fair number of gimmes to help the tardy solver and I picked up speed once I had half of the grid filled.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.
1a/ 9a Suggestive input that might make a molecule out of a molehill? (10,4)
PREDICTIVE TEXT: cryptic definition of a very annoying feature of mobile devices which it is best to turn off in my experience.
9a See 1a
10a What Bamford to Manchester fast train might do for amateur detective (4,6)
MISS MARPLE: Bamford is a village in the Peak District on the Sheffield to Manchester line. A fast train on this line is unlikely to stop at smaller stations, including a town near Stockport.
11a Violin section provides middle eight (6)
BRIDGE: double definition, the second a passage (typically of eight bars) linking two parts of a song.
12a Engine drivers knock back drink — lots! (7)
PISTONS: reverse a verb to drink slowly and add an informal word for a large number.
15a See second half of game, not first, in fashionable feature (7)
ELEMENT: start with an adjective meaning fashionable or stylish and replace the first half of the word ‘game’ with the second half.
16a Genial role now and then for wooden lump (5)
GNARL: alternate letters from two words in the clue.
17a Check filling of pesto panini (4)
STOP: a lurker.
18a Meditator greeting US soldier (4)
YOGI: stitch together an informal greeting (mainly American) and a US soldier.
19a Aromatic Spanish rice lacking endless anise and hot, right? (5)
SPICE: aromatic here is a noun, not a verb. Start with ‘Spanish rice’ and remove various bits as demanded in the clue.
21a Unappreciative individual made of granite (7)
INGRATE: an anagram (made) of GRANITE.
22a A socially unacceptable former colleague of Shane MacGowan hitting a new high? (7)
APOGEAN: start with A and add a member of Mr MacGowan’s erstwhile group without the letter meaning socially acceptable. Finish with A and N(ew).
24a Blocks in east M51 — it’s a stinker being caught there (6)
EMBOLI: expand E(ast), M and the Roman numeral for 51 and insert the abbreviation for something personal that stinks or hums.
27a See about leaving fresh pie ‘alla tonno’ from Campania? (10)
NEAPOLITAN: an anagram (fresh) of PIE A[L]LA T[o]NNO without the letters of an exclamation meaning ‘see’ or ‘behold’. ‘about’ doesn’t contribute to the wordplay so seems to be there just to improve the surface.
28a Film actor‘s craggier characters appearing regularly (4)
CAGE: regular letters from a word in the clue.
29a Noise made by vociferous ox? (7-3)
YACKETY-YAK: cryptically this could be a raucous sort of ox.
2d Bar scoff (4)
RAIL: double definition – scoff in the sense of to jeer or mock.
3d Bully drank up, putting away last of Chablis (6)
DESPOT: reverse a verb meaning ‘drank to excess’ and insert the last letter of Chablis.
4d Film in which Spooner’s having a puff (7)
COATING: Spooner might have rendered this as TOKING (taking a puff on a naughty cigarette).
5d Game and cold pizza ordered (1-3)
I-SPY: ordered is indicating a homophone of ICE PIE.
6d What footballers should do in challenge (7)
EYEBALL: split the answer 3,4 to get what footballers should do.
7d Sound of gong a bit intrusive (10)
MEDDLESOME: what sounds like a gong or award followed by an adjective meaning ‘a little’.
8d Criminal interests acting finally as diversion, perhaps (6,4)
STREET SIGN: an anagram (criminal) of INTERESTS and the final letter of [actin]G.
12d Change incorporating border access for epidemic (10)
PESTILENCE: some small change (coins) containing a structure used to get across a border (from one field to another, say).
13d In-flight freebies? Cadge loads (6,4)
SPONGE BAGS: charade of a verb to cadge or scrounge and an informal word meaning loads or plenty. I presume that these are examples of what airlines hand out to their premium passengers on long-haul flights – I’ve no personal experience of this, having never risen higher in the pecking order than cattle class.
14d Expect a lengthy bill for this attack (5)
SNIPE: this is a wading bird with a long bill.
15d Some heather I categorise as ‘ling‘ (5)
ERICA: there are two words for heather found regularly in crosswords – ling is one and the other is hidden in the clue.
19d Mean to keep run tough (7)
STRINGY: an adjective meaning mean or miserly containing the cricket abbreviation for run.
20d Less than entirely impressive book abridgement (7)
EPITOME: join together an adjective meaning impressive or monumental without its last letter and a word for a weighty book.
23d Gritty leaders of Germany, Romania and Italy never yield (6)
GRAINY: the leading letters from the last six words.
25d 13 Down’s content? Answer lies in solicitous attention (4)
TALC: insert an abbreviation for answer into a three-letter abbreviation for solicitous (and affectionate) attention.
26d Cubata foremost a very adult drink (4)
CAVA: Cubata (new to me) is a cocktail made with dark rum. Start with its first letter and append A and the abbreviations for very and adult.
Lots to enjoy here. I particularly appreciated 1a,10a,12a and 7d but my favourite was the laugh-out-loud 29a. Which clue(s) had you in stitches?