Toughie 2235 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2235

Toughie No 2235 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

Kitty now has a full-time job, so is taking a break from blogging. That means that, for the foreseeable future, this blog will be a safe place for ailurophobes!

Many thanks to Donnybrook for a tougher-than-usual Tuesday offering. I particularly liked some of the definitions, like “issue tender”.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Desert Fox set time to surround men in capital route (6,6)
OXFORD STREET: an anagram (set) of DESERT FOX followed by T(ime) and around the abbreviation for some enlisted men

8a    Home birds being those confined (7)
INTERNS: the two-letter word for home and some aquatic birds

9a    Exhausted old couple breaking vase (7)
OUTWORN: O(ld) followed by the number that makes up a couple inside a type of vase

11a    Accommodating people from Usk initially trapped in 21 (7)
HELPFUL: the initial letters of three words in the clue inside another word for the answer to 21 Across

12a    Turned up Bible edition that is wide in scope (7)
PURVIEW: the reversal (turned) of UP followed by a two-letter bible version, the Latin abbreviation for that is and W(ide)

13a    Issue tender where an indefinite number held in New York (5)
NANNY: issue = children and tender = minder, so someone who minds children is derived by putting AN from the clue and an indefinite number in mathematics (not a variable!) inside the abbreviation for New York

14a    Places to broadcast mass medium production (9)
ECTOPLASM: an anagram (broadcast) of PLACES TO followed by M(ass) gives a substance believed by some spiritualists to emanate from the body of a medium

16a    Author to wait on female relatives might you say? (9)
CERVANTES: sounds like (might you say) a verb meaning to wait on and some female relatives (the latter doesn’t work as a homophone where I come from!)

19a    Thick? Way beyond stupid, on reflection! (5)
MIDST: the abbreviation for a way or road follows (beyond) the reversal (on reflection) of an adjective meaning stupid or dense

21a    Fail to draw positive conclusion from Dante’s work? (7)
INFERNO: split (5,2) this suggests to draw a negative conclusion

23a    Someone cruel near person taking us in (7)
MISUSER: near can mean tight or parsimonious, so put someone who is tight with money around (taking … in) US from the clue

24a    Hidden area in stone outbuilding (7)
STASHED: A(rea) inside ST(one) and an outbuilding

25a    Worker sent round takes in dress for Hindu empress (7)
TSARINA: the reversal (sent round) of a worker insect around a Hindu dress

26a    Hurry, then stop, ordered retired pundit (4,2,3,3)
STEP ON THE GAS: an anagram () of THEN STOP followed by the reversal (retired) of a pundit or learned person – not a word that I would apply to sports pundits on the TV!


1d    Bunting taken from door to landing (7)
ORTOLAN: a bird which is a type of bunting is hidden (from) inside the clue

2d    In tree see female insect (7)
FIREFLY: a three-letter tree and a specific see or diocese around F(emale)

3d    Irrepressible soldiers one found in quiet setting (9)
RESILIENT: some soldiers followed by I (one) inside (found in … setting) a six-letter word meaning quiet

4d    Very high temperature inside for water basin (5)
STOUP: two-letter words meaning very and high with T(emperature) inside

5d    Some seaman upset in difficult situation (3,4)
RAT TRAP: a four-letter word meaning some and a seaman, all reversed (upset in a down clue)

6d    A quote recalled about old times in curious collection (7)
EXOTICA: the A from the clue and a verb meaning to quote around O(ld) and the mathematical symbol for times all reversed (recalled)

7d    Provided in turn, in vessels, hot and cold food (4,3,5)
FISH AND CHIPS: he reversal (in turn) of a two-letter word meaning provided is followed by some sailing vessels around H(ot) AND C(old)

10d    Fresh morning mist envelops road in settlement (3,9)
NEW AMSTERDAM: a three-letter word meaning fresh, he abbreviation for morning and a mist around R(oa)D

15d    Put striker through paces in longer game? (4,5)
TEST MATCH: this could mean to put a striker (of a light) through its paces, but it actually means a game of cricket that takes place over 5 days

17d    Change direction having run through official legislation (7)
REFRACT: R(un) separates the abbreviated form of a sports official from a piece of legislation

18d    High-flyer communicates with it (7)
AIRSHIP: a four-letter verb meaning communicates followed by an adjective meaning “with it”

19d    Trotter, wild, should go to the gallows in Bow? (7)
MUSTANG: a feral horse (wild trotter), when split (4,3) sounds like a Cockney (in Bow) saying should go to the gallows

20d    Police officers fail to notice fire (7)
DISMISS: some senior plain-clothes police officers followed by a verb meaning to fail to notice

22d    Ancient line discovered in ordinary study (5)
OLDEN: L(ine) inside O(rdinary) and a study

While I was pleased that New York wasn’t clued as “US city”, I was less pleased with the birds in 8 Across.  The homophone in 16 Across proves how this construct is fraught with problems, particularly with regional accents.


13 comments on “Toughie 2235

  1. Nice to have a toughie to get one’s cruciverbal teeth into – finished in 3* toughie time – I agree with BD about the homophone not working everywhere, although my granny would certainly have pronounced them that way

    Thanks to Donnybrook and BD

  2. This was hard. I don’t think I have ever put in so many inspired guesses aka bung ins. Incredibly they are all correct but I needed BD to show me why.
    I agree theses homophones are fraught with danger – and perhaps anger. We have too many regional accents (thank goodness) to make them work universally. I always look upon them as a last resort and a poor one at that.
    Welcome to Tuesday BD. How we will miss the Kitty pictures!
    COTD 1d.

  3. A very good Tuesday Toughie – thanks to Donnybrook and BD.
    My ticks went to 19a, 21a and 15d.
    I’m sure that Graham Greene really meant to call his novel ‘Travels with my Ant’ – unfortunately his publisher came from the wrong region of the country.

  4. I did enjoy this very much. The bottom half went in a good deal more quickly than the top half. My slowness in the top half was partly self inflicted. I was very slow in seeing the anagram ingredients in 1a, but then there were several things I was not familiar with that added to the challenge (the water basin in 4d for instance). 16a was my last in. Many thanks to Donnybrook and Big Dave.

  5. I am an ailurophobephobe and am so sad to see Kitty go. The blog is all the poorer without her. Could she perhaps do one of the weekend blogs instead?

    1. Thanks starmooner. I am saddened that this blog should need a “safe place for ailurophobes” but there it is!

      Another thing – the “now” in the introduction is potentially misleading: for something like the past three months I’ve been producing the Toughie blogs overnight before getting up to do the day job. Just wanted to point out that I didn’t just jump ship the moment things got difficult. On the contrary, I tried my very best up until the last.

      Such is life With a following wind perhaps I will be back before too long.

      Kitty xxx

  6. 16a is not my pronunciation either but the setter includes ‘might you say?’ I suppose you might if you’re a Liverpudlian. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a homophone which satisfies everyone!

    Reminds me of the late great PJ’s ’10a Commonplace fish ordered by posh diner? (5)’

    Thanks Donnybrook nd BD

    1. Blimey! I felt completely out of plaice when I dined with such posh diners.


  7. Crikey, it’s only Tuesday – lord help us for the rest of the week!

    16a made me laugh which must mean that my regional accent is close enough to what our setter had in mind, I also (obviously) enjoyed the birdy clues although have to agree that those in 8a have become something of old chestnuts.

    Top two for me were 19a & down.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to BD for manning the fort. Forgive me, but I do hope our lovely Girl Tuesday comes back to us ‘ere long – her partnership with Mr K made this the best day of the week for me on the blog.

  8. A first encounter with a Donnybrook puzzle for me – and very enjoyable it was. It was a puzzle where I happened to know the GK and rare words which is most unusual! The only word I had not met before was the “near” in the clue for 23a but it was not too difficult to guess the answer once the checking letters were in place.

    I did have to use the dictionary to look up “ailurophobia” but that was not Donnybrook’s fault! It always strikes me as odd the way in which “phobia” seems to have evolved from meaning a “serious medical fear of” into “dislike of” to the current case of a meaning that is closer to “not quite totally adoring”.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook for the puzzle and to Big Dave

  9. Surprised to see the difficulty stars for this one. We must have been right on wavelength as it went together without significant delays for us. Really enjoyed 16a as it was so groan-worthy despite being a bit dodgy as a homophone. Good fun.
    Thanks Donnybrook and BD.

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