Toughie 2308 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2308

Toughie No 2308 by Petitjean

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

All good things must come to an end and, very sadly, this is the last ever Petitjean Toughie, but what a magnificent series it has been – one that the Crossword Editor has been kind enough to schedule mostly on Wednesdays so that I have had the pleasure of blogging the majority of them.

There is a message in the paper as follows: “This is the 104th and final Toughie, of which 30 have been published posthumously, by John Pidgeon (Petitjean) who passed away on 19th July 2016. You can read more about John and his puzzles at”.

This is a typical Petitjean puzzle with both food and music mentioned (do the clues at 17a and 8d reflect his musical tastes?). It’s not tremendously tough but I loved it.

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

Across Clues

1a Portion of macaroni cheese special (5)
NICHE: we start with a lurker.

4a KFC cooking Ramadan menu? (4,4)
FAST FOOD: two definitions, the second one cryptic.

10a Triumph perhaps to have made clean getaway from here (3-4)
CAR-WASH: cryptic definition, Triumph being a vehicle marque (which hasn’t been manufactured since 1984).

11a One in the know heard how chorizo or moules Normandes may be cooked (7)
INSIDER: split 2,5 this sounds like how these two dishes (in Spain and France respectively) may be cooked.

12a Top blokes regularly blow this (4)
OBOE: I decided that this was meant as a semi-all-in-one. Use regular letters from the first two words.

13a Wind up eccentric (5)
CRANK: double definition, the first a verb for what drivers had to do in the old days to get a car started.

14a Yours truly hiding sex appeal? There’s not much to this (4)
MITE: the objective pronoun for the writer holds one of the abbreviations for sex appeal.

17a Remixed Neutrinos album impossible to get over (14)
INSURMOUNTABLE: an anagram (remixed) of NEUTRINOS ALBUM. Neutrinos are (I’ve found out) a ‘maverick’ rock band from Norfolk (which I listened to a whole five seconds of but won’t inflict on you here!).

19a The very best TV cook bar one filling cold troops on both sides (5,2,2,5)
CRÈME DE LA CRÈME: remove the Roman numeral for one from the forename of our most famous TV cook then place the abbreviation for cold and the acronym for an army corps of engineers on both sides of that.

22a/23a Difficult dilemma of lanky sisters? (4,5)
TALL ORDER: stick together a synonym for lanky and a word for a society of holy sisters.

23a See 22a

24a One may be sore seeing money transfer rejected (4)
SCAB: reverse the acronym for the UK system used to manage money transfers such as direct debits.

27a Ill-mannered, with no right to get stuck into goody-goody (7)
PIGGISH: start with an adjective meaning goody-goody or self-righteous and remove the abbreviation for right.

28a Tacks stitches (7)
ZIGZAGS: double definition, the first a verb used in sailing to mean ‘makes a series of changes of course’.

29a Praise case for odourless Botox to cleanse the system (8)
DETOXIFY: a verb to praise or worship goes around (i.e. forms the case for) the word Botox without the personal odour.

30a Old lech taking mickey initially out of smarty-pants? (5)
SATYR: remove the initial letter of mickey from S[m]ARTY and make an anagram (pants) of what you have left.

Down Clues

1d Cell death scenario’s not a novel (8)
NECROSIS: an anagram (novel) of SCEN[a]RIO’S without the A.

2d Questioning former Northern Irish police’s mounting debts (7)
CURIOUS: reverse the abbreviation for the former (and misnamed, because Ulster is not coterminous with Northern Ireland) police force in the province and add our usual abbreviation for debts.

3d English crazy about continental cheese (4)
EDAM: bring together an abbreviation for English and the reversal of an adjective meaning crazy.

5d Viral infection contracted during flight? (5,9)
AVIAN INFLUENZA: cryptic definition of a disease that can affect both wild and domestic birds.

6d Foul shot? Rubbish (4)
TOSH: an anagram (foul) of SHOT.

7d Elderly beak summoning the police (3,4)
OLD BILL: charade of synonyms for elderly and beak or snout.

8d Released during nadir, Genesis’s dreary tune (5)
DIRGE: our second lurker.

9d Small religious community cook 4 worker? (5-5,4)
SHORT-ORDER CHEF: string together an adjective meaning small or squat, the same religious community that we had at 23a and a professional cook.

15d Using club, say, beat tense suspect facing pressure (5)
TRUMP: weld together the abbreviation for tense, an adjective meaning suspect or strange and the abbreviation for pressure. The definition relates to card games. Petitjean died before the current US President was elected – I wonder if he would have clued this differently now?

16d Showy breed (5)
FANCY: double definition, the verb to breed relating, say, to pigeons.

18d New edition of Observer is more long-winded (8)
VERBOSER: an anagram (new edition) of OBSERVER. Not a very elegant comparative.

20d Joy’s Democrat going for Republican to fan the flames? (7)
RELIGHT: start with a noun meaning joy or elation and change the initial letter from the abbreviation of Democrat to that of Republican.

21d Soft spot without parking for transport (7)
ENCHANT: remove the abbreviation for parking from the start of a word meaning soft spot or partiality.

22d Cool ’50s character is entertaining private eye … (5)
TEPID: a fashionable young man of the 1950s contains one of the abbreviations for a private eye. I can save Google searching time by reproducing last week’s image of the young man

25d … with the odds of jail next? Bad luck (4)
JINX: just the odd letters of two words in the clue.

26d No cap on pay for some considerable time (4)
AGES: a word for (normally weekly) pay without its first letter.

I’ll list the following clues as deserving of promotion to the podium: 4a, 10a, 13a, 22/23a, 29a, 30a, 5d and 15d. Which one(s) had you applauding?


34 comments on “Toughie 2308

  1. Brilliantly excellent or excellently brilliant – I can’t decide – **/*****
    Favourite – the 4a/9d combo.
    Many many thanks to the keepers of the Petitjean legacy and thanks to Gazza.

  2. This is the first time I’ve ever finished a Toughie early and been waiting for the blog, although I did need my wife’s input for 23a which for some reason I couldn’t see at first.

    Too many excellent clues to give a favourite, but 15d and 23d were especially nice as was 29a.

    A really great puzzle from Petitjean and thanks to Gazza for the blog.

  3. A lovely typical Petitjean – far too many clues I really liked to list individually – thanks to the keepers of the legacy for letting us enjoy all the treats and to Gazza for the review

    Gnomethang, eXternal, Colin (Colmce) and I had the great pleasure several years ago now of spending a morning with John while he gave us his thoughts and instructions on crossword clues. It was a wonderful session and I will just pass on once again his thoughts on the internet and crossword grumpies. As he said, in the ‘olden’ days if people didn’t like a clue, they wrote to the paper and by the time the letter had made its way passed various offices, it would arrive with the setter about six weeks’ later, by which time the complainer had forgotten all about the clue and the problem with it. With the internet, a solver’s thoughts on a puzzle are immediately available and this encourages more and more, possibly negative, thoughts on a clue/puzzle. I think he (and I to a certain extent) sort of preferred the old days, because as he said ‘after all, its only a crossword’.

    I’d like to think that John is passing on his crossword setting hints and tips to a new audience, although of course, this time he won’t be wearing his slightly mad hat, more a slightly mad halo.

  4. What a brilliant puzzle!! Thoroughly enjoyable so 2*/5* for me with 24A, 29A, 30A & 21D being the favourites.

  5. I’ve only just seen that this is the very last PJ puzzle: such a sad situation but what a great legacy.

  6. What a fitting finale. With his unique style, Petitjean has delivered 104 gems for our enjoyment. His puzzles will be much missed.
    In answer to Gazza’s question, all the clues had me applauding.
    Many thanks to the keepers of the PJ legacy and to Gazza.

  7. Don’t often comment on Toughies, because rarely attempt or complete, but managed this. Loved 19a when I understood it. After slotting in a z, j, x and v, was confidently looking for a pangram, but it never materialised. Elegant clueing. Thanks everyone.

  8. How desperately sad, the final compilation from a setter who was, without doubt, the 19a. Lucky Gazza to get the honour of the final Petitjean blog.
    I may be imagining things, but perhaps he intentionally included his blog pet name in 3&26d?

    It seems ingenuous to play favourites today but my biggest ticks went to 10,13 & 22/27a plus 5d.

    Farewell, PJ, we’ve been spoilt by the legacy you left but the time has come to let you rest in peace.

  9. This was, indeed, a magnificent puzzle. As our esteemed reviewer noted, not as difficult as some of Petitjean’s but dazzling nonetheless. My favourite, amongst many outstanding clues, was16d where, I think, we have an allusion to a play on pigeon and Pidgeon

  10. Despite having the alternate letters I made a mistake with 16d. I dismissed the correct answer and settled for “hatch” . It met the first criteria and hatching can be decorative or showy. Just got too biological with “breed”.

    A lovely Petitjean puzzle. A pity there are no more of them.

  11. A very enjoyable puzzle that was not particularly demanding. So sad it is his final one. I did not look at the setter list when I printed it off this morning but it was soon obvious who compiled it.
    16d is an excellent example of a fairly obscure use of a word but with a great deal of thought one can recall the pigeon aspect. I had never given much thought to the fairly well known term “pigeon *******” but it is an strange term if one assumes another meaning of the answer to 16d. Lovely clue

    With thanks to the setter for all 104 toughies and Gazza for the blog

    1. Petitjean’s clues were never spelt out in “pidgin” English … always in Pidgeon English.

  12. It has been a great day in crosswordland, with plenty of excellent puzzles to be found
    This was also excellent, though I admit I filled it in rather slowly and with a touch of sadness, because I didn’t want to accept that this really is the last from PJ

    Thank you for the review Gazza and farewell Petitjean

  13. I thought, what a lovely puzzle but didn’t realize it as a Petitjean until someone mentioned it on the Backpager blog. I should have known!! I’m not going to pick a favourite clue: they were all excellent. So sad, that this is the last of the great man’s work. I suspect he’s sill amusing, baffling and tormenting an audience somewhere–I hope so, anyway. RIP.

  14. A sad day, but like everyone else here I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to enjoy these wonderful puzzles for so long.

    My only falter was 24A, which I’d never heard of but Mr. Google verified. 4A was my top pick of a great field of contenders. Thank you for the review, Gazza.

  15. What an excellent puzzle. Sad that there will be no more. 15d in particular made me smile and I hadn’t realised that PJ had died so long ago. How very prophetic. Thanks for a great review.

    1. You’ve used a different email address from before so this needed moderation. Both addresses should be ok now.

  16. Determined to do this when I saw Chris Lancaster’s tweet. What a delightful legacy Petitjean has left us. I wonder if his collected puzzles might be published in a book – I’d certainly buy it.

    A bittersweet solve

    Gazza’s comment that Petitjean died before the election of 15d made me realise just how long we have been enjoying his posthumous puzzles – many thanks to all those who have made that possible.

    I’ve met Petitjean only once, a great pleasure. For those who haven’t yet, do read the wikipedia article on him (John Pidgeon) – an amazing person.

    16d was my last one in today – i finally realised i should be thinking “pigeon”.

  17. I think I’ll just echo what’s already been said.
    All of it brilliant so thanks to the keepers of PJ’s legacy – maybe a sad day for them too – and to Gazza.

  18. Fantastic. Many thanks to Petitjean and the keepers of the legacy who have kept us amused for such an unexpectedly long time. And now the cupboard is bare, which is sad, indeed.

  19. We will really miss the regular appearance of these special puzzles.
    Feel so grateful that we have had this three year continuum as a reminder of what an exceptional setter Petitjean was.

  20. Thank you, all of you, for your lovely comments. We as a family have really enjoyed reading the posts on Big Dave over the years. John would have been absolutely delighted to think his puzzles still have you laughing and grimacing and donning your mad hats all this time later. Best wishes, the Pidgeon family.

    1. Thank you and very best wishes to yourself and all of the Pidgeon family – John was, and always be, an inspiration

    2. Hi Julia & Family,
      Thanks so much for looking in. As you undoubtedly know John’s puzzles have given lots of people an enormous amount of pleasure over the years so many thanks for making them available to us.

  21. Ah the brilliant Genesis and equally brilliant ‘Cinema Show’ definitely not a dirge! Thanks to Petitjean for this final puzzle and Gazza for the Genesis link, a real Trick of the Tail maybe? 😁

  22. For some reason I have never tackled the Toughie before. Not sure why – maybe the word “Toughie” put me off. Tonight, though, sitting at 12.30 nursing a painful foot I decided to have a go. Half of it was solved in fairly short order and a quarter of the remaining clues fell into place after a spot of thought and parsing. For the rest I used the excellent hints – thank you Gazza.

    I thought some of the clues excellent especially 4a, 19a and 9d. For me this was far more satisfying than today’s inside the back page.

    I will be returning to the Toughie now that the ice is broken. :grin:

  23. I see from other comments that this is the last contribution from the setter. Thank you, Petitjean for giving me a lovely introduction to the Toughie.

  24. I finished this, enjoying it enormously on the way, but not realizing who the setter was or the sad occasion that it represents. Thank you Petitjean for so much enjoyment over so many puzzles, and thank you Gazza for the review.

  25. I loved this puzzle! I have just discovered to my sadness that it is the last of the wonderful Petitjean legacy. Like others, I have enjoyed it immensely.

    My warmest and most appreciative thanks to the Petitjean family and all who so kindly and generously made these brilliant and most entertaining crosswords available to us.

    And warmest thanks, too, to Gazza for the review.

  26. A truly wonderful puzzle, I didn’t know Petitjean’s real name until I read the comments. So I think it was quite apt that I was beaten by 16d, I also thought the answer was “hatch”. So many good clues, I particularly liked 5d and 19a, but my favourite was 29a. Thanks to the Pidgeon family for making these wonderful puzzles available. Thanks to Gazza for the hints.

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