Toughie 1985 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1985

Toughie No 1985 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

What a superb legacy Petitjean left us! This one didn’t cause me any real problems (apart from trying to decide how the answer to 26a fitted the definition) but it’s great fun with loads of laughs.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Illegal prospector who risks landing in kangaroo court? (5-6)
CLAIM-JUMPER: cryptic definition of someone who illegally seizes another person’s rights to property, especially relating to mineral rights.

9a Film director lacking the least elements of style and charisma isn’t an actor anyhow (9)
TARANTINO: an anagram (anyhow) of I[s]N’T AN A[c]TOR without the first letters of style and charisma. Petitjean obviously wasn’t a great fan!

10a Western wear that sounds like Autry’s? (5)
JEANS: this sounds like something belonging to Mr Autry, the singing cowboy.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

11a Look in study for stock again (6)
RELOAD: insert an exclamation meaning look or behold into a verb to study.

12a Well-heeled in more ways than one? (6,2)
WEDGED UP: who but Petitjean could have created this clue? Cryptically it could mean standing on a shoe with a thick type of heel and, even more cryptically, it could mean being in possession of wads of notes.

13a Women’s party by North London suburb (6)
HENDON: a women’s party (3,2) and the abbreviation for North.

15a Firm kiss by lover for keeper of course (8)
COXSWAIN: stitch together the abbreviation for a firm, the letter used to represent a kiss and a literary term for a lover or suitor. The answer keeps his or her craft on course.

18a Egg-layer additionally incorporating a species from the Isle of Man? (8)
PLATYPUS: a conjunction meaning additionally contains A and a word for species or kind without its last letter (tailless, like a feline from the Isle of Man).

19a Ranch in Mayo? (6)
SPREAD: double definition. Mayo here is a foodstuff, not the Irish county.

21a Island where French succeeded in retiring (8)
TIMOROUS: bring together the name of an island in the Indonesian archipelago, the French word for ‘where’ and the genealogical abbreviation for ‘succeeded’.

23a Trial prompted by political volte-face in capital (6)
PLAGUE: start with a European capital city and change one letter from one political leaning to the opposite.

26a Pinched openings to nostrils affecting sinuses, adenoids, lungs (5)
NASAL: stick together the opening letters of the last five words. I presume that the answer describes the speech of someone with a restricted or pinched hooter – unless you have a better explanation!

27a ‘Rock the Casbah’ covers in Skegness? (5,4)
BEACH HATS: an anagram (rock) of THE CASBAH.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

28a Conservative reprobate with universal support backing volatile chamber (11)
CARBURETTOR: assemble a synonym for reprobate or cad, the abbreviation for universal and our usual support garment. Now reverse all that and append it to the single-letter abbreviation for Conservative.

Down Clues

1d Sign of cold in Gulf state, reportedly (7)
CATARRH: this sounds like one of the Gulf states.

2d Damper yield now and then — it’s a time for showers (5)
APRIL: regular letters from the first two words.

3d Piece on daughter, a right-winger, allowing no alternative (9)
MANDATORY: paste together another word for a chess piece, the abbreviation for daughter, A and a member of a right-wing political party.

4d With capsized dhow sunk, mystery becomes flat (4)
UNIT: start with a word for a crime mystery and remove the rearranged (capsized) letters of DHOW. What’s left could be a flat or self-contained part of a building.

5d Hour in post office with bill, big beastly thing where fewer and fewer calls are made (5,3)
PHONE BOX: put the abbreviation for hour into the abbreviation for post office. Now add a dialect word for a bill or beak and a large bovine.

6d Part of leg I jerked climbing bringing about change unexpectedly (5)
REJIG: hidden and reversed in the clue.

7d Rotten stand-up could be cleaner (7)
DUSTPAN: an anagram (rotten) of STAND-UP. I’m not sure this can be called a cleaner without its bristly partner.

8d Garden tool operated noisily first to expose poisonous plant (8)
MANDRAKE: a garden tool is preceded (first) by what sounds like (noisily) a verb meaning operated or crewed.

14d Collision narrowly avoided where keen learners congregate? (4,4)
NEAR MISS: whereas those pupils who don’t want to be noticed try to hide at the back the keen ones sit close to the teacher.

16d Vault helps cure invalid (9)
SEPULCHRE: an anagram (invalid) of HELPS CURE.

17d Vine fruit‘s colour originally between copper and brown (8)
CUCUMBER: the first letter of colour sits between the chemical symbol for copper and a brownish colour.

18d Bake tuna pie for yearly visitor (7)
PETUNIA: an anagram (bake) of TUNA PIE.

20d Theatrical assistant that could be Welsh (7)
DRESSER: double definition, the second a piece of furniture.

22d ‘Essential Jacques Brel’ I concede is blast from the past (5)
RELIC: extract the central five letters from “Jacques Brel I concede is”.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

24d Hard work produced by good right back (5)
GRAFT: abbreviations for good and right followed by the back of a vessel.

25d Sauce made from spun sugar missing the point (4)
RAGU: an anagram (spun) of SUGAR once we’ve removed the cardinal point.

I’ve got far too many ticks to list them all – I’ll just mention 1a, 27a, 4d and 14d with my favourite being 12a. Which one(s) made your shortlist?

44 comments on “Toughie 1985

  1. Another treat – thank you to the keepers of the legacy. Thank you to Gazza too – my thoughts on 26a matched yours

  2. I was not sure if I was going to be able to access the Toughie today as the current storm ravaging the East coast of North America caused a power outage and hence my internet connection to disappear just after midnight.

    But at about 5 am it was restored and all was well again. I really admire the power guys out there in 100 kph winds and driving snow up in the air restoring power!!!

    But back to the puzzle which I thought was very straight forward with the exception of 12a,which was my last one in, and not one that parsed too well to my way of thinking. I must have spent as much time pondering on this as I did on the rest of the puzzle! I have never heard this term in regard to money.

  3. For me, nearly completing any Toughie, is an achievement. I managed all bar three with another three that I couldn’t parse.

    No idea how long it took, as I was rudely interrupted by screaming sirens, and then a news pop-up telling me a body has been found half a mile from my house.

    COTD has to be 14d for it’s groan value alone.

    Thanks to all.

    Now I just need to get the bonfire going to burn these clothes . . .

  4. Yet another humorous, madcap offering from the late and much lamented Petitjean.

    1a was a new term for me (I suspect US provenance, but it did make me laugh) and I didn’t know the lover in 15a. 12a was my last one in and gave me one of many LOL moments.

    Several times throughout the solve I kept thinking, “that’s going to be my favourite” and then another one popped up to beat it. To mention only a few in clue order from a superb collection: 18a is bizarrely brilliant; 28a is everything a good charade should be; 4d wins the prize for creativity; and 14d is very clever.

    Bravo PJ, and, to whomever is the keeper of his puzzles, please keep them coming, and many thanks to Gazza for the review.

  5. I solved a Petitjean! So, it must be a gentle one.

    Setters are not shown on-line and I didn’t check the continuously updated list of Toughie setters, I might have ‘passed’ if I had.

    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 3d, and 20d – and the winner is 20d – neat!

    Ditto on your interpretation of 26a.

    Posthumous thanks to Petitjean and thanks to Gazza.

  6. That was fun , even if I thought 1a was claim hopper .
    There were lots of great clues but the stand out one for me is 14d and below is the suggested musical illustration.

    Thanks to PetitJean and Gazza.

  7. Just beaten by 12a an expression I’d never heard of before and 27a which I foolishly did not realise was an anagram.

    Here’s hoping there are still many more Petijean puzzles in the pipeline!

  8. Always a pleasure to solve a Petitjean.

    I say solve. I had to get help for 12a. 1a was new to me, as was neb=bill in 5d, and I didn’t know Autry (10a) either. But those went in ok.

    All great fun, and no need to choose a top favourite.

    Sending thanks skywards to the inimitable PJ and westwards to the equally brilliant Gazza (I smiled at the bristly partner comment at 7d).

  9. Great stuff from the late Mr Pidgeon yet again, only 12a and 23a caused me problems, plus having to look up “neb” in the BRB, I’m glad that I’m in good company with Kitty on that one. A sixteen-word clue though, wow!!

    The cream of the crop for me was 7d, closely followed by 14d.

    Many thanks to the guardians of the Petitjean legacy and to Gazza.

    1. For some inexplicable reason Petitjean’s wordy clues don’t seem to me to be as verbose as those of other setters. :wacko:

  10. This was indeed a lot of fun. My question is one that’s probably been answered elsewhere, but anyway, how was this (very gifted) compiler able to stockpile so much work?

    If anyone knows, please say.

    Thanks Petitjean and Gazza.

    1. I know at least two of ‘my’ setters have submitted quite a few puzzles, some of which won’t see publication for anything up to a year. I would imagine Petitjean would have been the same and he probably decided to produce as many ‘future treats’ for us as he could in the time available. Let’s hope there are still more to come

  11. Was also beaten by 12a.
    The beak in 5d was new to me.
    Loved the Welsh dresser in 20d.
    Thanks to PJ and to Gazza.

  12. PJ wearing his mad hat at a particularly jaunty angle today.
    All nicely parsed (amazed myself with the ‘volatile chamber’!) apart from 12a where I didn’t know the monetary connotation. I’ve heard of a ‘wad’ of money and even a ‘wodge’ of same but neither would fit. The answer went in on a bit of a wing and a prayer because the shoe reference amused me.

    Can never think of 21a without being reminded of Robbie Burns’ ‘wee beastie’.

    List of favourites a mile long but I’ll put 14d on the top of the pile.

    Many thanks to the keepers of the legacy and to Gazza for a great blog – with the possible exception of the clip from The Clash!

    1. Apologies for The Clash record. I had to turn the sound down when I tried it out – my excuse is that it was Petitjean who selected it, not I.

  13. The money meaning for 12a was new to us and caused our biggest delay. Plenty to enjoy and chuckle over in a puzzle that we really enjoyed and appreciated.
    Thanks Petitjean and Gazza.

  14. Wonderful stuff, but a slight downer because it was not difficult and over too quickly.

    Like other commentators above, we had many likes, the best of which were 18d, 23d, 5d (hang the number of words), 8d and 14d.

    Many thanks to Petitjean for providing us an ongoing feast and to Gazza for a well-written review.

  15. Can I put in a plea for a favourite, 18a, “platypus” -I had not before come across the concept of “pus” being a “curtailed” puss, although perhaps this is not new to most solvers.

    I also failed on 12 a where I had “legged up” not “wedged up”. I have heard the phrase “have you the legs?” in the context of “are you going to handle this bill?”. So without checking further I assumed that “legged up” meant being in the money ie well heeled. Alas, the dictionary does not support me. Maybe in years to come I might get the credit for a neologism!

    Lovely puzzle though-thanks to all

    1. Hi Ash,
      Think you need to look again at Gazza’s hint for 18a – it’s not the ‘puss’ that gets curtailed!

  16. At last! Managed to complete a Toughie without needing the hints or explanations .
    Loved this, knew the word “neb” although I haven’t heard it used here in the North for quite some time, bill =beak and beak is northern slang for nose , so older generations would playfully/ kindly ask someone to “keep your neb out” as in stop interfering or mind your own business….. so this clue really made me laugh out loud!
    Thanks to Petitjean for such a wonderful legacy and Gazza for making my evening by confirming my answers and parsing – much appreciated

      1. Thanks, not been a regular Toughie solver but have persevered for a good few months now and it is beginning to pay off .

  17. Brilliant to have a Petitjean again and a most enjoyable puzzle it is.

    Thanks Gazza for wedged up.

    I enjoyed the clue(18a), but I’ll admit i have had previous rants where I’ve tried to suggest that Manx means ‘from the isle of man’, it certainly does not mean tailless. Hence, it cannot be used as a ‘detailer’ unless applied to a cat, given it’s only Manx cats that have no tails. ‘Manx cat’ to generate CA is fine. Somehow it’s even worse with ‘from the isle of man’ instead of ‘Manx’ in the clue. Probably a losing battle.

    I too am amazed at our fortune at the continuation of these treats. I hope they continue

    many thanks Petitjean, and thanks Gazza I enjoyed the clash clip (just to annoy jane)

    1. Petitjean has used the ‘Isle of Man’ reference in this way before and, like you, I don’t like it. In Toughie 1949 we had:
      15d Blaze in Isle of Man — Douglas? (3)
      My hint for that one finished with: Petitjean has used ‘Isle of Man’ and ‘Douglas’ before to trigger cutting the tail off a word – I don’t really like it when there’s no mention in the clue of the relevant feline.

      1. I agree, it’s clearly a device to which Petitjean was partial, perhaps his attitude was “well, I’ve used it before, so solvers will know what I mean”, but I don’t particularly warm to it, to be honest.

      2. I don’t agree. I would have thought that any reference to the IOM (especially “species” from there) is going to obviously be a “truncate trigger” – especially in a Toughie clue. Why else would a setter have such an apparently specious and extraneous reference in a clue? For me, it works and it works well.

        1. Yes, it’s obvious what the setter’s after but that doesn’t make it right. It’s a cat that has no tail not the island.

          1. Yes, of course, that’s the pure logic. The cat here is the “species from the IOM” – which I read as a pun for a Manx cat and also obscure word play to de-tail a synonym of “a species” (ie a type) to give ATYP inside PLUS. It depends on how far you are prepared to think laterally, I suppose.

    2. I guess quite a few people enjoyed their ‘sound’ – must have made their money somehow!

  18. 2* difficulty or not it was tricky enough for me.
    I failed completely on 4d – don’t know why but I just did – and also on 27a – missed the anagram indicator and anyway, having now seen the answer, would 27a’s ever be necessary in Skegness?
    I didn’t know the money bit of 12a.
    I don’t think I would have got 1d had I not already had lots of letters in.
    28a caused grief, lots of it, and even once I had an answer I had to look it up to see what it meant – a mechanic, me? Are you having a laugh?
    I loved 18a once I realised how it worked and that was my favourite but too many other great clues to mention them all.
    With thanks to whoever makes it possible for us to still be enjoying PJ’s brilliant crosswords and to Gazza.

  19. I hadn’t come across 1a since I used to watch westerns on the tv as a child, but it surfaced immediately to give me a good start. A lot of good clues – with the exception of 12a! Although nothing else would fit, I failed to parse 4d. Thank you setter and blogger.

  20. Not difficult – only just into 2* time – but l wanted it to last longer. I loved 18a, and appreciated the nautical flavour of 15a. My thanks to the shade of Petitjean, and may your legacy continue to delight us. Thanks to Gazza too.

  21. Pretty straightforward throughout, with a sting in the tail at 12ac and 8d. The former I needed a little help with, at which point the latter became abundantly clear. Another good one…

  22. Wow a toughie I almost managed by myself just 3 across clues left when I turned to the hints.28a raised a wry smile/grimace as the expensive car problem I have is the equivalent of28a in a modern car known as the throttle body £840 and they can’t even tell me when as no one in the country has one 😣
    1a and d and 3d were my faves.
    Thanks to Gazza and Petitjean.

  23. I got stuck and ran out of time sadly; the third I did was fun although it soon fell above my ability level. Thanks a lot to the late PJ and Gazza.

  24. So very late to the party again. If I don’t get the puzzle done by early evening UK time (Midday my time) I miss out on joining in the conversation.

    I fell at the fence on 12A and needed some e-help for 23A, but I loved the puzzle and ticked 21A, 4D and 8D in particular. Thanks Gazza and the keepers of the Petitjean flame. May it burn for a long time to come.

  25. Excellent again from the great PJ. Not his most difficult, but a decent challenge with cracking clues and very entertaining/enjoyable.

  26. It’s Friday and I nearly threw this out before noticing it was a Patitjean. Gentle but very amusing Toughie (except I couldn’t get 12a – the best I could come up with was Legged It.). His answer is so much better, of course. Hope there’s still more to come from the Master.

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