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Toughie 1984

Toughie No 1984 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


Hi everyone.  We have a new setter for a Tuesday, bringing us his fifth Toughie.  (Just the same old blogger though, I’m afraid!)

Is Stick Insect sticking with the relatively gentle difficulty of his previous puzzles, or are things about to get stickier?  Well, for the most part I found this of a normal Tuesday Toughie level, but I did get stuck for a while at the end with a troublesome trio in the NE (before finding the answer in a glass).

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.



8a    Company meeting gets into papers — a tricky situation (8)
QUAGMIRE:  The abbreviation for a yearly company meeting is inserted into (gets inside) 24 sheets of paper

9a    Old layer absorbs space in full view (6)
OPENLY:  O(ld) and a layer or thickness which contains (absorbs) a printer’s space

10a   Thing sticking out in river (3)
CAM:  An irregular projection on a revolving shaft is also river flowing through a university city

11a   Exercise rank when I will supplant first European in line (8)
PEDIGREE:  Some school exercise followed by a word for a rank or grade in which I has replaced (when I will supplant) the first E (first European).  The line is one of ancestors

12a   Keep on missing subscriber (6)
MEMBER:  Keep or observe (8) missing a preposition meaning concerning (on)

13a   Hold delivery there, Aggers’ cagoule twisted on most of bat (7,8)
BAGGAGE CAROUSEL:  An anagram (twisted) of AGGERS’ CAGOULE next to (on) most of the last word of the clue

15a   Nearly stream pop star in fool’s errand? (7)
JESTING:  Most of (nearly) a narrow spouting stream and the stage name of a singer who often used to be seen with The Police

18a   Bus route after school (7)
HIGHWAY:  Place a route or passage after a type of school.  The answer is another name for bus as a computing term for distinct set of conductors within a computer system, to which pieces of equipment may be connected in parallel.  I had to check the dictionary here

21a   Source of reassurance provided by MI5 cover? (8,7)
SECURITY BLANKET:  The type of service provided by MI5 and a covering, perhaps for a bed

24a   Rush among ten catching disease (6)
INFLUX:  Among (2) and the Roman ten containing (catching) a horrid viral illness

25a   Salespeople backed taking in somewhere posh for drink (8)
SPRITZER:  Our usual salespeople reversed (backed) containing (taking in) a posh hotel

26a   Little William’s scrapping ends badly (3)
ILL:  Start with a shortened form (little) of the name William and (for the moment) the ‘S from the clue.  Then remove the first letter and that ‘S too (scrapping ends)

27a   Drunk‘s removed seeds (6)
STONED:  Two definitions, the first more commonly meaning intoxicated on something other than alcohol

28a   Leaning towards the West, an island gets breaking news instantly (2,1,5)
IN A FLASH:  The reversal (leaning towards the west) of the AN from the clue and an abbreviation for island followed by an item of breaking news



1d    Brussels baker flips, dismissing British discovery (6)
EUREKA:  We first have the organisation metonymically referred to as Brussels, then the second word of the clue is written backwards (flips) but without (dismissing) B(ritish).  The answer is an interjection announcing a brilliant discovery, and can (*checks dictionary*) also mean the discovery itself 

2d    Starter in athletics getting no race is getting on (6)
AGEING:  The first letter of (starter in) athletics and the fourth word of the clue missing a Tourist Trophy racing event

3d    Explosive information: made energy absorbing one cow’s smelly gas (8,7)
NITROGEN DIOXIDE:  For the first word of the answer, take a short form of an explosive chemical and information or the low-down.  For the second, a word meaning made or carried out and E(nergy) containing (absorbing) the Roman numeral one and a bovine animal.  Phew!

4d    Occasionally idler cleans empty cavity, in fairness (7)
DECENCY:  Regular letters (occasionally) of two words of the clue and cavity without its middle letters (empty)

5d    Cast miracle comeback right for constant interruption to Coronation Street, say? (10,5)
COMMERCIAL BREAK:  An anagram (cast) of MIRACLE cR-OMEBACK in which R(ight) has been swapped for one of the occurrences of C (constant).  We’re not told which C to replace, but I suppose in an anagram it doesn’t matter

6d    Discovered every opening in part of Manhattan (8)
VERMOUTH:  Every without its outer letters (discovered) plus an opening (of a river perhaps, or the one in your face).  The Manhattan is something to drink (and it held me up for ages.  Grr – it should be me holding up the drink!)

7d    A bar area contains ordinary juice that could be healing (4,4)
ALOE VERA:  A (from the clue), a bar turning on a fulcrum, and A(rea).  This lot contains O(rdinary)

14d   Rejected silver surfer’s opening — empty talk (3)
GAS:  The reversal (rejected) of the chemical symbol for silver, and then surfer’s first letter (opening)

16d   English bird has compassion, no power for a long time (8)
ETERNITY:  Join together E(nglish), a seabird (of which the thorough will leave none un-27a), and compassion or sympathy missing P (no power)

17d   All French drink, sharing last of dregs and tumbling (8)
TOUSLING:  French for all and a drink of flavoured spirits and water both appear in order in the answer, but they are sharing the last letter of dregs

19d   Acceptable to follow western hemisphere for culinary purposes (3)
WOK:  Two letters meaning fine or acceptable follow W(estern)

20d   Grand escape hides my turning up in school dress (7)
GYMSLIP:  G(rand) and to escape contains (hides) a word of the clue reversed (turning up, in a down clue)

22d   Nark is a weed (6)
NETTLE:  Two definitions, the first a verb

23d   First lady and child promoted north nevertheless (4,2)
EVEN SO:  The Biblical first lady plus a child with N(orth) raised a couple of places (promoted)


Thanks to Stick Insect for this enjoyable pangram.  I particularly liked the 19d culinary hemisphere and – once I twigged – 6d.  Which did you find tasty?


25 comments on “Toughie 1984

  1. A straightforward start to the Toughie week for me – despite being still cloth-headed from the time change suffered over the weekend. Why we have to endure this anachronism is beyond me – it takes me weeks to get back to a regular sleep pattern!

    But despite my whining, a thoroughly enjoyable solve to go with my morning Cappuccino! I quite liked 2d despite spelling it a bit differently normally. I also like the 15 letter answers although they do make the puzzle a bit easier to solve as there are so many checking letters.

  2. Mostly straightforward but a few more testing ones – for me the fool’s errand was last in – took me ages to see the first letter. Quite an enjoyable solve. I think this is my first Stick Insect puzzle so I can’t compare it with previous ones.

    Thanks to Kitty and Stick Insect

  3. I thought that this was trickier than Stick Insect’s previous puzzles (but enjoyable) and I struggled with the NE corner (tried for ages to work ‘hen’ into 9a). I also didn’t know that 17d could mean tumbling, which sent me scurrying to the BRB. Top clues for me were 21a, 6d and 19d.
    Thanks to Stick Insect and Kitty.

  4. Nice and quite difficult – I struggled with the SE corner as I had pitted not stoned for 27a

    Quite a challenge for me though

  5. Am I right in thinking this was also a pangram? Faced with a final unsolved 15a, I isolated the missing ‘J’ and the penny dropped!

  6. This was plenty difficult enough for me, but very enjoyable. The NE corner was the last in for me, and like Gazza, I tried hard to work a hen into 9a. Finishing this was very satisfying. Many thanks to Stick Insect and Kitty.

  7. Very enjoyable, but I wasted a lot of time mistakenly believing that the reference to “smelly gas” meant 3D was hydrogen sulphide!

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Kitty

  8. Seemed a touch harder than Tuesday Toughies of yore, but also in my opinion of commensurately high quality. I particularly enjoyed the “hemisphere” of 19a and the “fool’s errand” in 15a, my last one in but helpfully confirmed by the obvious pangrammaticism. Thanks Kitty & Sticky!

  9. Needed the hint to get 15a, otherwise it all went in smoothly although much more slowly than this morning’s backpager.
    I’m just going to look up about pangrams now. Not at all sure about them at the moment!
    Thanks to hinter and setter

  10. Ho hum – I spent yesterday toddling round the wrong Richmond searching for predators and today I have been pounding the streets of Manhattan looking for openings – thank goodness for checkers!
    I’ve also become something of an expert on various breeds of poultry along the way………

    Thank you for doing the homework on 18a, Kitty, I was vaguely imagining it to be some kind of Greyhound bus.

    Happy to go with Kitty’s choice of favourites in 6&19d with a nod to 21a.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to our 11a Girl Tuesday.

  11. Only had a bit of trouble in 16d. I read companion instead of compassion and went for pal rather than pity. Soon noticed as it didn’t quite fill up all the blanks.
    Tousle was a new word for me but that ‘s the way I do my hair as I have never used a comb or brush.
    Never knew we could say drunk for stoned. Both states are quite different believe me.
    7d was the hardest to parse.
    Liked the picture for 13a. There was a time when it was a bit like roulette. You never knew if or where your suitcase would appear.
    Thanks to Stick Insect for the very pleasant crossword and to Kitty for the review.

  12. I found this quite hard! I found the grid intimidating. Thank you kitty for 15a, where i wanted to enter DESTINY for some reason (the pangram might have helped if i’d been paying attention) and 18a where I had FISHWAY (blame brb).

    My favourite was 19d with the western hemisphere, and I also liked ‘part of Manhattan’ (6d)

    Nice to see the spring chicken again.

    Many thanks Kitty and stickinsect

  13. Ah, we see that other people wanted the layer to be a hen and the smelly gas to be hydrogen sulphide and even considered that it might have been given its US spelling. The other significant misdirection was looking for geographical allusions in 6d. All in all, a bit trickier than many Tuesday Toughies for us and certainly appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Stick Insect and Kitty.

  14. Certainly a bit more stretching than Stick Insect’s previous Toughies, we thought, but all the more enjoyable for it.

    We liked 6d for the lovely surface and 8a, though this was helped by having been on “pangram alert” and 2d.

    For 26a we immediately went for Billy as the diminutive, so didn’t get tied up with the ‘s.

    Thanks to SI and Kitty.

  15. 2*/3*, but l confess l needed hints for the 8a/2d combo. I thought 3d was clever (even though my first, rather hasty, solution was “hydrogen cyanide”)! Thanks to Stick Insect, and Kitty.

  16. The SW corner put up a fair amount of resistance here, but the rest was as easy as the back pager, and thoroughly enjoyable too. I spotted our second pangram of the day, but it was too late to help with the last few hold-outs. Biggest groan upon spotting the fool’s errand.

  17. Many thanks to Kitty and to all who have commented. The feedback is much appreciated.

  18. Thanks to Stick Insect and to Kitty for the review and hints. What can I say, could only get 14 answers, the rest was totally beyond me. Might be a wavelength thing, as I’ve struggled with this setter before. Must give the next offering a go.

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