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Toughie 1965

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.

Across Clues

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).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

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.

Down Clues

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?

33 comments on “Toughie 1965

  1. 29a was my favourite too out of so many good clues in another splendid mat hat production. Although we didn’t have as many as yesterday, I see the pesky double unches are still in evidence

    Thanks to Gazza and the keepers of the Petitjean legacy

  2. PJ’s wonderful sense of fun much in evidence here (in 5d for example). I had an easier ride today than yesterday save for having a brain fail at 15a, which I let Gazza explain.

    Much enjoyment at 1a/9a and 29a and I also really liked 7d.

    Many thanks.

  3. Didn’t we just love 1a. How many times have our postings been bedevilled by this. 10a was great too.
    My one hold up was 11a where the lurker ‘insect’ threw me off course.
    Thank you Petitjean. What a legacy!

  4. This came straight out of the mad hat’s top drawer – excellent fun.
    I did need to check with Mr G to verify 22&24a but ‘The Joker’ got me through the Spoonerism with little trouble.

    Top billing went to exactly those already chosen by Gazza although I did also include 14d as a personal choice.

    Many thanks yet again to the holders of PJ’s gems and to Gazza for a great blog – don’t think I’ll be tempted to listen to any more from Mr MacGowan!

    1. Surely you listen to ‘Fairytale of New York’ (best Christmas song ever) at least once a year?

      1. Hadn’t even heard of it until your comment prompted me take a look. Think I actually preferred being in blissful ignorance………

      2. I hear it all the time around Christmas and remember you saying, many years ago, that it’s the best Christmas song ever.

      3. Apparently Fairytale of New York is the result of a bet by Elvis Costello that the Pogues could never write a christmas song.

  5. Wow. A tour de force of lateral thinking. No wonder I struggled. Sponge bag got me too. (Only travelled business once on Etihad and the sponge bag, like the rest of the experience, was rather marvellous).

    1. You’ve expanded your alias so moderation was required. This alias plus your various previous ones will all work now.

  6. Took ages with NW corner due to putting Paul Temple in 10a. For some unexplained reason.

  7. Wonderful

    Thanks Gazza for explaining 15a which had me confused.

    I misspelled yakkety which didn’t help (ooh, the 1a tried to nail me there).

    10a is my favourite clue even though I needed a map (I know, it’s my neck of the woods and all). I thought it was going to be miss clues or something like that.

    I’m familiar with middle eight, but wasn’t sure how many non-musicians would know that

    Great stuff,

    many thanks Petitjean and Gazza

    1. I too was misled on the spelling of 29a for a while by one of my early favourite songs:

        1. I was only 11 and my musical taste hadn’t started to develop at the time. That’s my excuse anyway…

  8. For once I guessed the setter correctly! I had to look up MacGowan to understand the clue but did work out the answer and I needed Gazza’s help to parse 15A. I loved every minute of this and my page is littered with ticks. I’ll settle for the wonderful 29A and 5D as my top picks today. Thanks to Gazza and the keepers of the flame.

  9. Thanks to Gazza, a super offering from Petitjean. I found it much too difficult to really enjoy it. I only managed to get 15 answers. Favourite was 10a, which was my first one in.

  10. Significantly tougher than recent Petitjean puzzles, and the 1a/9a combo completely defeated me until, as ever, the Blog came to the rescue.

    I thought 15a was extremely clever, but my top two by some margin were the brilliant 10a and the hilarious 29a.

    Many thanks to Gazza and to those keeping us “Pidgeon fanciers” well satisfied.

  11. What a joy! Marvellously mad as ever although I’m not quite sure why “pizza” = “pie”.

    As usual I’m aligned with Silvanus regarding my favourite clues, although I did manage to winkle out the excellent 1a/9a.

    Thanks to Gazza and to whomever is responsible for keeping these superb creations coming.

  12. 1a/9a held out for a long time for us and was a real laugh out loud moment when the penny dropped. Surprised ourselves with 10a. The geography meant nothing to us but the combination of definition, wordplay and enumeration let us write it straight in without help from any checkers. Excellent fun from start to finish.
    Thanks Petitjean and Gazza.

  13. What fun!
    I confess to finding this one very difficult.
    I had to ask Mr Google about 22a – I know the Pogues but not their singer.
    My geographical general knowledge, or lack of it, didn’t help with 10a and ‘netball’ for 6d didn’t help with anything. Oh dear!
    I couldn’t do 27a at all.
    So many great clues that it’s tricky to pick out any particular ones – I’ll just go for 1/9a (although I hate talking about molehills) and 12a and 7d. My favourite was 29a.
    With thanks to whoever makes it possible for us to still be able to do PJ’s great Toughies so long after his death and to Gazza for the hints and explanations.

  14. Yes! Fun! I thought 29a showed a marvellous way to get around what must be a pretty daunting-looking word for a setter!

    Many thanks, for yet another wonderful Petitjean puzzle, and to Gazza for his great hints and remarks.

  15. Completed this successfully, although I couldn’t parse everything, so a certain amount of guesswork was involved. I had never heard of ‘toking’, for instance.

  16. As a footnote to my earlier comment, I thought at first that the ‘film’ in 4d might be ‘King Kong’, which brought to mind the story of Spooner announcing the hymn ‘Conquering Kings their Titles take’ as ‘Kinkering Kongs’.

  17. Another wacky, quirky and splendid puzzle from P. Tough in parts but very entertaining and enjoyable. It kept me going, on and off, all yesterday afternoon and evening. What a joy! I wonder how he acquired that rather obscure knowledge of the Sheffield-Manchester railway line? I can’t rate it because I don’t do these Toughies regularly enough to judge.

    1. PS. Why, oh why, do people mention or even notice “double unches”? What’s the problem with them? If they make the puzzle very slightly more difficult to solve (in this one, I can’t see they make any difference), then that’s a good thing isn’t it? The mind boggles…

  18. Far too difficult for me only managing the easiest clues (ca 30%) Ref 13d and Gazza’s comment. While rarely travelling anything but economy I was once delayed on a connetcting iAir France flight and they had to put me in an hotel overnight- but they wouldn’t reunite me with my luggage so gave me said object which went so far as to include “ something for the weekend”

  19. Another fantastic Petitjean puzzle which I finished a bit late today.

    1a/9a was the stand-out for me with 29a a close second.

  20. Following Cryptic Sue’s recommendation in the Wednesday back pager blog I printed this puzzle off but didn’t get around to trying it until late on Friday night, but i’m very glad I did, so thanks for the tip Sue. I’m not a regular toughie solver but a night’s sleep and a fresh mind this morning was enough to be able to fill in the remaining blanks of what was a very entertaining and satisfying puzzle to solve. Too many smiles and chuckles to pick a favourite clue. 15a was my last one in and I must admit that the exact parsing of it eluded me until reading Gazza’s review, but I’m still counting it as a completion!

    Thanks to all. I do hope the archive of Petitjean’s posthumous puzzles has more left if they are like this one.

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