Toughie No 100010 by Firefly
Hints and tips by Kitty
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BD Rating – Difficulty *** – Enjoyment ***
Seasonal felicitations to all you lovely setters, bloggers, solvers and lurkers. I hope you are having the kind of time that you wish. If not, it’ll be over soon.
Firefly has served up a feast of a puzzle with all the … well, that will become clear.
Definitions are underlined in the clues below and indicators are italicised when quoted in the hints. You’ll find the answers inside the buttons. As usual you may click on pictures to enlarge them or uncover hidden extras.
1a First of particularly intriguing gifts staying under wraps for a 9 (4,2,8)
PIGS IN BLANKETS: The first letters of four words of the clue followed by a phrase meaning wrapped up inside some coverings (under wraps)
9a Time to put in a call about Jimmy’s interior decoration (8)
TRIMMING: T (time) plus a verb to call on the phone around (about) the inner letters of Jimmy (Jimmy’s interior)
10a See 26 Across
12a Conscientious editor somewhat worn (4)
USED: Included in the first two words of the clue (somewhat) is a word meaning not new. This made me smile as I imagine our conscientious editor might be feeling a little worn out after quite a year. His cat, meanwhile, might be feeling just worn:
13a Mean to bowl Don out, letting India in (4,4,2)
BOIL DOWN TO: An anagram (… out) of TO BOWL DON containing the letter encoded by India in the NATO alphabet
15a How to work a pantomime horse? (2,6)
IN TANDEM: A description of the way of operating a pantomime horse, for example, or a bicycle made for two. The front end of the horse should be aware of where the back end is, but still the audience insist on repeatedly hollering the reminder: “(s)he’s behind you!”
16a Forced to stand up inside Palladium (6)
PRISED: A four-letter word to stand up goes inside the chemical symbol of palladium
18a Maybe Hamish — back home — can give warning (6)
TOCSIN: Hamish is an example of a person of a particular nationality, who is reversed (back) and followed by our usual two-letter word for (at) home
20a Mister Scrooge behind at nothing? (8)
ATOMISER: A scrooge goes after (behind) the combination of AT from the clue and O (nothing)
23a Tumbled head first over Victor’s car part (5,5)
DRIVE SHAFT: An anagram of (tumbled) HEAD FIRST around (over) the letter encoded by victor in the NATO alphabet
24a Single-handed mariner’s nemesis, oddly featured in cartouch (4)
CROC: Letters at the odd-numbered positions of (oddly featured in) cartouch. The mariner is the one in Peter Pan
26a &10a Double brass for a 9? (5,5)
BREAD SAUCE: A slang term for money (brass) plus a synonym of cheek or impudence (brass)
27a Specify Pinot, perhaps? (5,3)
POINT OUT: An inverse clue, in which an anagram of PINOT is followed by an anagram indicator. Don’t mind if I do! … but if you’d prefer a beer, how about reinbeer?
28a Arrangement of ‘Silent Night’ not hard, but needing a head for learning — i.e. brains! (14)
INTELLIGENTSIA: An anagram (arrangement) of SILENT NIGHT without H (hard, of pencils) but with A (from the clue), the first letter of (head for) learning and I.E. (also from the clue) included
2d Queen wears last word in great clothing (7)
GARMENT: A single-letter abbreviation from the Latin for queen goes inside (wears) the last word (especially of a prayer); this is then all placed inside an abbreviation for great
3d A measure of William Blake’s work? (4)
IAMB: This poetic measure is contained in the clue
4d Hit the roof with partner after conclusions taken from lab to FBI (4,4)
BOIL OVER: After the final letters of (conclusions taken from) the last three words of the clue, we have a romantic partner
5d Seasonal harbingers perched on trees (6)
ANGELS: A cryptic definition of the bringers of tidings in the Christmas story
6d Skis go awry with crash; son mouthed ‘Greetings’? (10)
KISSOGRAMS: SKIS GO anagrammed (awry), and then crash or hit plus the genealogical abbreviation for son
7d Skivers can be mostly honest workers (7)
TRUANTS: Most of a word meaning honest followed by some worker insects
8d Invaluable specification for Vincent’s successor? (6,5)
BEYOND PRICE: The successor of American actor Vincent might be described thus
11d Rowing? Take out a loan (3,4,4)
RUN INTO DEBT: Another reverse clue. The first word of the answer can be abbreviated to R, and the rest of it gives owing
14d Say performance is coming up to ‘not out’ — this could be player’s downfall (6,4)
INSIDE EDGE: The combination of the Latin-derived abbreviation for example (say), a performance or act, and IS from the clue, reversed (coming up, in a down clue) to a word meaning “not out”
17d Tricky broadcast during carol for 9 (8)
STUFFING: Four letters which sound like (… broadcast) tricky or hard inside (during) a verb to carol
19d Interrupt bells during … (5,2)
CHIME IN: Bells (5) plus during (2)
21d … quiet retreat held in Saint Agnes’ basement for a 9 (7)
SPROUTS: The musical abbreviation for quiet and retreat (4) go between (held in) the single-letter abbreviation for Saint and the final letter of Agnes (Agnes’ basement)
22d Tip for Christmas — husband to take off loud top for service! (6)
CHAPEL: A charade of the first letter of (tip for) Christmas, an abbreviation for husband, to take off or imitate (3), and the first letter of loud (loud top)
25d Heads up for what a cracker may do? (4)
STUN: An informal term for heads reversed (up). The cracker is a knockout, not the type containing some tat, a hat and a bad joke. Apparently cracker jokes are deliberately unfunny so that people can all join in even though humour varies widely: not everyone will laugh at a good joke, but everyone can groan at a bad one.
I hope Firefly won’t mind if I mention clues by other setters, but both of these clues reminded me of ones by our ex-rookies. There was Dutch’s lovely Mister Blue-Rinse gets a makeover (9) (4d in Independent 10015), and my absolute favourite cryptic definition of the year by Eccles: He single-handedly fought to secure eternal youth (7,4) (1d in Independent 9922).
Well, all that has made me hungry. I’m off to rectify that. See you in 2019!
These hints and tips are for anyone who might find them of use. The asides and illustrations are to add a personal perspective and some colour. The forum is for everyone. Please do leave a comment if you need anything clarified, have any corrections or suggestions, or if there’s anything else you’d like to say.