NTSPP – 518 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 518

NTSPP – 518

From 25 to 26 by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


From 25 to 26

The unchecked central section of 19 across completes the puzzle.

What a splendid 4d crossword to mark the 60th anniversary of a very well-known group. They went from appearing in 25d to a final public performance on a London 26a


1a Check out militia that’s retained to stop feud (8)
VENDETTA Insert another word for stop into a verb meaning to check out and then follow with the abbreviation for the old ‘retained militia’

6a Confront heads of Apple Corps with loss (6)
ACCOST The ‘heads’ of Apple and Corps with a synonym for loss

9a Current compiler bored by long communication (10)
NEWSLETTER A way of saying ‘very recently made’ (current) and a compiler into which is inserted (bored by) the abbreviation for Long

10a Swallows wasp I spotted going round cans (4)
SIPS ‘Cans’ indicates the presence of a lurker, this one reversed (going round) in waSP I Spotted

11a Liking government after leader’s shifted to centre (5)
TASTE Move the first letter of another word for government to the centre of that word

13a Tight, so reversed into plastic bollard (7)
CONCISE A reversal of a Latin word meaning so or thus inserted into a plastic bollard

14a Commercial case for dangerous supplements (4)
ADDS An abbreviated commercial and the ‘case’ or outside letters of DangerouS

15a Receive odd letters from gardener with suggestion of ‘Tête-a-tête’ (5)
GREET The odd letters from GaRdEnEr and a ‘suggestion’ (one letter) from ‘Tête-a-tête

17a Considered Brahms and Liszt half-hearted (5)
RATED If you are said to be Brahms and Liszt you may have had too much alcoholic refreshment. Take another informal way of describing this condition and remove one of the letters in the middle of the word

19a See preamble (6,3)
STRING OUT Once you have solved the crossword apart from this clue, if you look carefully you’ll see the names of three of the Fab Four hidden in the grid – the missing group member is to be found in the solution here

20a Delighted after dumping husband to get closer to John Terry? (5)
NAPPY ‘Dump’ the H for Husband from a synonym for delighted and replace with the ‘closer’ to JohN

22a Minimal disruption to Beatles with departure of two original members (5)
LEAST An anagram (disruption) to beATLES after you have removed (departure of) the first two letters

24a Harrison celebrated penning All Those Years Ago (4)
ONCE Lurking (penning) in HarrisON CElebrated

26a Elevated position for Topol curtailed fiddling (7)
ROOFTOP An anagram (fiddling) of FOR TOPOl (curtailed indicating the need to ignore the L) – nice musical-related surface reading


28a New slip road westbound regularly singled out as issue (5)
ARISE The even letters (regularly singled out) found in reverse (westbound in an Across clue) in nEw SlIp RoAd

30a The first nine letters of the alphabet, twisted about a bit (4)
IOTA Another reversal) twisted), this time a way of listing the first nine letters of the alphabet

31a What desperate witch brings in Eastern sorcerers for? (5,5)
WHITE MAGIC An anagram (desperate) of WITCH into which are inserted the abbreviation for Eastern and some sorcerers or wise men

32a Try again to practise cutting skin from sausage (6)
REHEAR Remove the letters that form the ‘skin’ of SausagE from a verb meaning to practise

33a In Paris, no end of chefs seen cooking tripe (8)
NONSENSE The French word for no, the letter at the end of chefS and an anagram (cooking) of SEEN


2d Person that throws out crazy Joe King receives shocking treatment (7)
EJECTOR An anagram (crazy) of Joe and the Latin abbreviation for King ‘receives’ the abbreviation for electroconvulsive therapy (shocking treatment)

3d Windows predecessor initially enclosed, stopping draughts (5)
DOSES Draughts of medicine – the Disk Operating System that preceded Windows and the initial letters of Enclosed and Stopping

4d Like this puzzle? A little donation will support the setter! (6)
THEMED The first letter (a little) of Donation supports (in a Down clue) THE (from the clue) and how Phibs would refer to himself

5d Larks about, interrupting opponents (6)
ANTICS The Latin abbreviation meaning about ‘interrupting’ some people opposed to anything

6d Pinafore: father backtracks over love in Royal Navy (5)
APRON A reversal (backtracks) of an informal name for father goes over the letter representing love inserted into the abbreviation for Royal Navy

7d Improvised version of Get Back essentially it’s a blast (9)
CASTIGATE An anagram (improvised) of GET bACk (essentially telling you only to use the middle letters) IT’S A

8d Pre-eminent as Ross formerly was? (7)
SUPREME I did smile when I realised that the Ross in question was Diana!

12d Abstainer enters lodge son’s departed the worse for wear (5)
TATTY An abbreviated abstainer enters a verb meaning to lodge once the S has been removed (son’s departed)

15d Heater that is a source of happiness when warm? (3)
GUN This took a while to parse but I think that we aren’t looking for a weapon but more a DIY aid – the two words that precede the solution to give the name of the tool might be a source of happiness when warm?  [The setter’s explanation is that heater is another word for the answer, and Happiness is a Warm *** is a track on The White Alnum by The Beatles]

16d Got at Epstein, each time falling out about use of agents (9)
ESPIONAGE Each time falling out indicates the need to remove all the Ts from GOt At EPStEIN and an anagram (about) will produce the solution

17d Governor cross after driving off motorway in expensive car (5)
RULER Remove the M (driving off motorway) from a cross between a male horse and a female donkey and insert the remaining letters into an abbreviated expensive car

18d Perform finale of Sergeant Pepper (3)
DOT Pepper here is a verb. A way of saying perform and the final letter of SergeanT

21d Bitter, possibly tackling Band Aid organiser over gold disc (7)
AUREOLE Another word for beer (bitter possibly) tackling or going round the surname of one of the organisers of Band Aid and the cricket abbreviation for over

23d Type that is seen wearing glasses (7)
SPECIES The abbreviation for that is inserted into ‘wearing’ some informal glasses

24d Right to choose surgical procedure that conceals age (6)
OPTION Conceal or remove a long period of time (age) from a surgical procedure

25d Vehicle hugging middle of driveway note massive pothole (6)
CAVERN A motor vehicle ‘hugging’ the letters in the middle of driVEway, the result finished with the abbreviation for note

27d Keep to rear (5)
TOWER Double definition

29d Hit single from Lennon lacking in vision (5)
IMAGE Remove the IN (lacking in) from the title of a John Lennon song – this picture was released when the two remaining Beatles announced a 2020 reunion tour to mark the 60th Anniversary

I was delighted to get another splendid Phibs crossword to solve and review – so much so, I’ll forgive him, once again, for the clue type repetitions but as for the ear worm induced by 26a, the least said about that the better!

31 comments on “NTSPP – 518

  1. There’s no preamble solving online, had to check the PDF.
    Thanks Phibs, nice one. Don’t understand the 25 to 26 bit but happy to wait for enlightenment.

    1. I think (after a bit of Googling) that 25d is where the theme started and 26a was the location of their final public performance.

          1. So do I :wink: Chambers didn’t have many words/phrases to offer containing an odd number of letters with those particular five in the middle…three, in fact, and one of them was an alternative spelling of the name of the owl-parrot genus…

            1. .. but it’s happily apt, as it could be defined as ‘sequence of characters missing’.
              Thanks Gazza

  2. A steady solve though 15d I don’t understand at all, nor 19a and the preamble/title (?)
    Spotted a few references that could be linked but way before my time I’m afraid so I’m missing something
    Thanks for the challenge Phibs, it’ll be interesting to see what everyone else thinks

    1. The preamble was missing when I solved, so I didn’t stand much chance, though I saw the 19a bit
      Not a fan, they were suing each-other by the time I was born and the music is mostly tacky pop
      In my opinion they were distinctly average musicians propelled by the birth of the mass music industry, that’s all
      Still not at all impressed with 15d, sorry Phibs
      Thanks for the review CS
      I’ll go out now before the bricks start coming through the window…

      1. “Mostly tacky pop”…. with respect, that’s laughable. Probably the most influential and revered band of all time.

        1. They were a cash cow of commercialised American Rock ‘n Roll, (which was pinched from black American blues players of slave descent), introduced to the UK for money with all the hype that went with it. First, third, fifth chord structures with the occasional minor sixth and seventh.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree Stephen, which I’m happy with as we’re all friends here

          1. More than happy to do so Roy, whilst standing by my comment.
            Anyway, I thought you’d gone out! 😉

  3. Some lovely clues here and I did eventually see the theme and the Nina so could complete 19a although I’m sure some of the many references in the puzzle passed me by. Thanks to Phibs.
    Top clues for me were 20a, 26a and 17d.

  4. The penny finally dropped over 19a – thanks in no small part to having just read Gazza’s comment!
    The surface read of 15a amused me but my favourite was 20a.

    Thanks to Phibbs for a bit of something different and the reminders of the Fab Four.

  5. I got everything sorted successfully apart from 19a. I eventually revealed letters to give me that and am now disappointed that I did that instead of looking more closely at the grid to find the Nina.
    A very clever puzzle with lots of well thought out wordplay.
    Thanks Phibs and apologies for all those things I was muttering about you while I was trying to understand 19a. :smile:

  6. Lots to like; I had ticks for 10A, 20A, 26A, 30A,33A, 4D, 12D &25D.

    I was helped by the NINA, so 19A was no problem.

    Nicely themed, thanks Phibs.

  7. My thanks to CS for the very generous review :good:

    The intended reference in 15d was to the Beatles song from the ‘white’ album, Happiness is a Warm Gun, with ‘heater’ being a slang term for a gun, but I was hopeful that the answer could be found without knowledge of the song.

    For the benefit of any non-gardeners out there who might have been wondering about 15a, Tête-a-tête is a type of daffodil as well as a private conversation.

    1. I should have investigated more – I’m more of an early Beatles fan – the first record I ever bought was She Loves You

      Our Tête-a-tête are just coming up in the garden, along with lots of other bulbs – I just hope a Beast from the East doesn’t come along and spoil what promises to be a great display of spring flowers

      1. Me too, I love the early stuff. Not my first record (or first Beatles record), but when I had to have stitches in my head after running slap-bang into a lamppost (don’t ask!) my mum bought me Day Tripper to cheer me up. It worked a treat!

        Fingers crossed for those spring bulbs…at the moment I think the greatest threat facing ours here in Lincs is drowning :sad:

  8. Many thanks to CS for the review and to Phibs for the explanation of 15d. Like our reviewer, I was more of a fan during the group’s early days – think it was the Sergeant Pepper album that persuaded me to place my affections elsewhere!
    By the way, CS, what was your thinking on 15d – I couldn’t think of the DIY aid.

        1. A Phibs crossword takes longer to parse and explain satisfactorily in plain English than quite a few other setters and by the time I’d got to 15d, I was clutching at straws just a bit

  9. I enjoyed this but have to admit biffing a few and needed a couple of reveals too. I particularly liked the themed clues sprinkled “Here, there and (if not) everywhere” as I’m a massive fan of the band especially the albums Help, Rubber Soul and Revolver, so in what I consider to be their transition period.
    My favourite was 29d but I liked the “from 25 to 26” reference which of course brought to mind their iconic performance of the brilliant “Don’t let me down” .
    Thanks to Phibs and to CS for the enlightenment where needed.

  10. As I was out all most of today and yesterday I was in two minds whether or not to solve this, but, because I really like Phibs’ puzzles even though they always need quite a bit of persistence, I decided to give it a go. What a good decision that was! Great puzzle, great theme, great group and some great memories of the 60s.

    Plenty of smiles along the way, but 33a gave me the biggest laugh.

    Many thanks to Phibs and to CS.

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