NTSPP – 519 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 519

NTSPP – 519

A Puzzle by Jaffa

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.


1 I called around for Mark in Besançon (7)
CEDILLA – An anagram (around) of I CALLED.

5 Most intent to eke out retreat (7)
KEENEST – An anagram (out) of EKE followed by a four letter word for a retreat or comfy place.

9 Unsolicited advisers promote Spanish car clubs (4-4,7)
BACK-SEAT DRIVERS – A four letter word meaning promote followed by a four letter word for a Spanish car makers and another word for some golf clubs.

10 Let out centimetre, lose middle, then cutback (4)
EMIT – The inner four letters (lose middle) of centimetre reversed (the cutback).  Just me, or does the clue tell you to exclude the middle and reverse the remaining letters?

11 Charbonnier’s possible delivery method allowing freedom of choice? (1,2,5)
A LA CARTE – How a French charcoal maker might deliver charcoal – on the cart?

14 Charbonnier’s possible  delivery method, some would say, leads nowhere (3-2-3)
CUL DE SAC – How a French charcoal maker might deliver charcoal – coal in sack?  I think that the homophone here does not work, even allowing for regional variations in pronunciation.  With this and the previous clue perhaps requiring solvers to know the French derivation of Chabonnier (now used mainly as a surname) is a bit of a stretch.

16 Six grand belonging to us generates pizzazz (6)
VIGOUR – The Roman numerals for six followed by the abbreviation for grand and a three letter word meaning belonging to us.

18 SI Unit redefined by northeners (6)
INUITS – An anagram (redefined) of SI UNIT.

19 Marine recruitment employing 5d in China? (8)
SHANGHAI – Double definition, the first being a term for involuntary recruitment into the Royal Navy and the second a port in China.

21 Tipsters on the telephone, make gains (8)
PROPHETS – A homophone (on the telephone) of profits (gains).

22 Changeable internet idea displaying egotism? (4)
MEME – Split 2,2 this would be an egotistical phrase.

25 Home Counties’ loyalists reserve initial scorn for tabloid editors (15)
SENSATIONALISTS -The abbreviation for Southeast (Home Counties) followed by a 12 letter word for loyalists containing (reserve) the first letter (initial) of scorn.

26 Different synonym for Anglesey (4,3)
YNYS MON – An anagram (different) of SYNONYM.

27 Ethers can regularly overcome classes of flies (7)
TSETSES – The odd letters (regularly) in ETHERS around (can overcome) a four letter word for classes.


1 Latin American source of two symbolic metals (4)
CUBA – The chemical symbols for copper and barium.

2 Cancel my curried stew – this will pay for it! (7,8)

3 Musician – reportedly one of two drunk (5)
LISZT – The musician who completed the Cockney phrase for being drunks – Brahms and ….

4 Middle-class potboilers read twice? (3,5)
AGA SAGAS – A type of middle class cooker (in the plural) repeated (read twice).

5 Snatch sleep in the nursery? (6)
KIDNAP – Split 3,3, this might loosely describe sleep in the nursery.

6 Perhaps waxing with joy about Greek character (9)
EPILATION – A seven letter word meaning joy around a two letter character in the Greek alphabet.

7 Scientists capable of producing chrome testicles (15)
ELECTROCHEMIST – An anagram solution (capable of producing) would be CHROME TESTICLES.

8 Oddly raise kiss up to man who required a backstop! (4)
TUSK – The odd letters in “kiss up to” all reversed (oddly).

12 River with low pH environment is pungent (5)
ACRID – The abbreviation for river with a description of a substance with a low Ph around it.

13 Played enthralling game for old 26a resident (5)
DRUID – A there letter word meaning performed or played around (enthralling) the abbreviation for rugby union (game).

15 Medium emanation from disturbed camel spot (9)
ECTOPLASM – An anagram (disturbed) of CAMEL SPOT.

17 Over enthusiastic body-builder with big pecs? Possibly old (8)
CHESTNUT – Someone obsessed with building his or her pecs might be described 5,3.

20 Renew contract or leave (6)
RESIGN – Double definition, the first with a notional 2-4 phrasing when pronounced.

22 Undressed G-Men take shelter from ruckus (5)
MELEE – The inner letters (undressed) of G-MEN followed by a three letter word for shelter.

23 Game beginning with one of twenty-six (1-3)
I SPY – The children’s game where you have to guess something seen by the questioner having been given only the initial letter.

24 Aussies consistently employ Status Quo (2,2)
AS IS – The odd letters (consistently) of the first word of the clue.  

29 comments on “NTSPP – 519

  1. There are some lovely and amusing touches here – many thanks to Jaffa.
    The 11a/14a combination is clever (though I’m not convinced that 14a really works). I can’t parse 23d.
    My ticks went to 9a, 21a and 26a with my favourite being 4d for the brilliant ‘potboilers’.

  2. Nicely challenging, 4d & 8d held out and 26a is an outrageous grid-filler!
    Good fun with some smiles to be had, liked the over zealous body builder.
    Thanks for the entertainment Jaffa

      1. Scout’s honour and all that, I can honestly say that 26a is there by choice rather than just because the “computer says yes”. My last NTSPP offering was criticised, by some, for containing too much GK and I felt Jane’s comments at the time, were quite supportive so I had her very much in mind when I included it. I just hope she sees it! 😂

        1. Oh I did and it really made me smile. LbR may be interested to know that the Anglesey 13d’s are still very much alive and well. They celebrate the arrival of the summer solstice at an ancient site about 10mns away from where I live – Bryn Celli Ddu – a site that is much older than either Stonehenge or the Pyramids.

          1. I did think of you @26a, Jane
            Ddu is hill isn’t it, or is it black? I only think that because I was in Cornwall recently and there is an ale called Menha Ddu which I was told meant ‘black hill’ – very nice beer it is, too. Maybe the menha is the hill as in the Mendips?
            English, French, Italian, Spanish and a bit of Greek are fine, but Welsh is beyond me
            13d – Before the Pyramids? Blimey. I’ll look up Bryn Celli Ddu

            1. The literal English translation is ‘black cell hill’ but the Celtic is rather more poetic – ‘the mound in the dark grove’. Either way, it’s a decidedly creepy place to walk through!

  3. Just the ticket for an NTSPP – challenging but not too difficult, good fun and plenty of humour.

    I agree with Gazza about 11a/14a. My favourite was the brilliant 1d. Also on my podium are 9a, 21a (wonderful definition) & 1d.

    Many thanks to Jaffa.

    1. Just spotted a typo. 1d was my favourite, and the others on the podium were 9a, 21a & 4d.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I!
    Have to admit that I didn’t know there was such a person as a 7d and also that 1d was little more than a lucky guess.
    Podium places went to 9&26a plus the glorious 4d & 17d.

    Many thanks, Jaffa, good to see you back on parade.

  5. I thought this was great, quite cryptic and very clever.
    I liked the two long anagrams with their amusing surfaces and a host of others too, including 1a, 21a (where I was convinced the homophone referred to the first word of the clue), 22a and 26a (both very clever) along with the amusing 3d and 17d, one of the best clues I’ve seen in ages. Not keen on the cluing for 27a and 8d though.
    Many thanks to Jaffa and in advance to the reviewer.

    1. Yes, guilty as charged with regard to 21a. I meant to ask BD to move the homophone indicator to the end of the clue but I forgot to do so – sorry! 8d does, I agree, look horribly clunky and also strangely dated. I believe it was Harold Wilson who said “a week is a long time in politics” and this clue is now about fourteen weeks old. I guess something about an elephant’s tooth would have stood the test of time better 😂

      1. Hi Jaffa.
        Thanks for your reply, particularly re my concerns over 8d. Didn’t affect the overall enjoyment of your puzzle though, and I look forward to the next.

  6. We struggled with 8d. Eventually worked out a possible answer from the wordplay and Mr Google confirmed it for us. Think we have met 26a before, probably in a Kate Mepham GGK puzzle, so no hold up there.
    Lots of fun. Much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Jaffa.

  7. Thank you for your encouraging comments and I’m glad I managed to make you smile. I think I knew that with 14a I was perhaps pushing my luck but my puerile humour won the day. I think a few of my Yorkshire friends might pronounce “coal” and “cul” in the same way but perhaps “some would say” doesn’t really cover this possibility.
    Now for the Judgement of Prolixic 🤔😂

  8. As RD says, “Just the ticket for an NTSPP – challenging but not too difficult, good fun and plenty of humour.” My only complaint is that it was over too quickly. Thanks, Jaffa.

  9. Thanks to Prolixic for the review.
    I think that the ‘middle’ that has to be lost in 10a is CENTRE, i.e. CEN[time]TRE.

    1. That was my intention Gazza. I was quite pleased with myself when I worked it out but it possibly falls into the category of “too clever by half” 😂

  10. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for the reasoning behind the 11/14 combo – my research only brought up the surname you mentioned. I interpreted 10a as Gazza did although it took a while to spot it.

    Thanks again to Jaffa for an enjoyable NTSPP.

  11. With regard to the 11a/14a combination it was driven by my desire to get a couple of schoolboy howlers into the crossword and I realised it was a path with hidden pitfalls. My O-Level French is very rusty and the online translator that I used translated charbonnier as coalman, which is what I expected. I wanted to use charbonnier to point people in the direction of the two French phrases.
    My knowledge of the word charbonnier stems from ’70’s student parties where you turned up with a Watney’s Party 7 or 2 litres(?) of Hirondelle or Charbonnier wine. I think Charbonnier wine was imported by Coleman’s of Norwich, later to be taken over by Colman’s of Norwich, the mustard people (it’s complicated). It was clever(?) branding from the company that gave the world Wincarnis Tonic Wine. I may not have achieved all of my ambitions in life but my tastes in beer and wine have improved immeasurably!
    Thank you for all the comments and to Prolixic for the review and of course to BD for this wonderful site.

    1. Thanks for the crossword, Jaffa, and the interesting information on 70s student parties and Norwich food importers. I got the two charbonnier clues without understanding them (I presumed it was an artist I hadn’t heard of; maybe starting “A charbonnier’s …”, thereby avoiding the initial capital, would’ve been fairer?) — but I enjoyed the explanations so much that more than made up for it.

      I particularly liked 4d, 8d, and 17d, with 6d being my favourite.

      I managed to finish the crossword myself (unusually), but there were quite a few I didn’t know why, so thank you to Prolixic (and Gazza) for explaining those.

      What’s “changeable” doing in 22a? Richard Dawkins coined ‘meme’ to be the information equivalent of ‘gene’: a small bit of information which gets conveyed between people. Obviously it can be phrased in different ways, and combined with other information to create new messages (analogous to genes being combined in offspring), but that isn’t the meme itself changing. Thanks.

      Oh, and thank you to the early commenters whose remarks made this puzzle seem worth attempting — I’m glad I did.

      1. Thank you Smylers for your detailed analysis. I find it quite fascinating when people select their favourite clues and the selections have some commonalities but also differences. One man’s meat etc.etc. I guess. From a compilers point of view I suppose I want to see as many favourites as possible.
        In one of my earliest crosswords I was criticised for having too many unnecessary articles in the clues so now I tend to use them only when needed, hence no “A charbonnier etc.”. I don’t think it improves the surface reading necessarily and my wife, a retired English teacher, will often say, somewhat distainfully “that doesn’t make sense”. “Well, it does in CrosswordLand” is my reply.
        The BRB definition of MEME is “An idea or question that is disseminated via the Internet and changes in form during the course of being passed on”. This is why the word changeable is there. You clearly understand its meaning much better than I do and possibly also the dictionary compilers! If I’m using a word which I’m not that familiar with I tend to stick very closely to the BRB to try and avoid controversy.
        Thank you once again for the comments. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s a payback for your delightful clerihews 😂

        1. Thank you for the reply, Jaffa.

          It could be that Chambers definition matches how ‘meme’ is used in practice, rather than how its coiner intended it. Aside from any changeability, I’m pretty sure that “disseminated via the internet” wasn’t a crucial part of its meaning when Richard Dawkins suggested it in 1976!

          1. I’m sure it wasn’t! I guess someone more knowledgeable than myself would tell us that language evolves..

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