Toughie 2458 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2458

Toughie No 2458 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by Violet Elizabeth Bott

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

Good afternoon from the heart of rural Warwickshire where life in lockdown is pure bliss and great practice for our forthcoming retirement.

Today we have Donnybrook on a mission. If you like things stretched you will enjoy this puzzle. I have to confess to needing assistance with a couple of clues and struggled with the anagram at 25 across. That won’t happen when we get The Toughies with the newspaper subscription. I will be able to read my typing which I cannot do with my handwriting

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    This person’s two ducks causing damage (6)
IMPAIR: Begin with the contraction of I am. Add two of anything but for this clue add the term used when a batsman is out for a duck in both innings of a match

9a    Mark turning to Nick for school folder? (4,6)
ETON COLLAR: A mark as in “mark my words” is reversed and followed by an informal verb meaning to seize or apprehend someone. Did I mention the word stretched?

10a    Bundle of nerves totalled old car on short trip (6,4)
SPINAL CORD: Begin with a short trip made in a car. Add an anagram (totalled) of OLD CAR

11a    Nothing uses present tense (4)
NOWT: A word meaning at the present time is followed by the abbreviation for tense

Ahr Mary’s Bonnet. To be read with a Yorkshire accent

Es ta seen ahr Mary’s bonnet
It’s a stunner an’ nooa mistak!
Yeller ribbons, yeller rooases
An’ a gurt big feather dahn t’back
Ah Mary went ter chu’ch last Sunda’
T’congregation did nowt but stare
T’parson says “This is not a flahr show,
but a house of prayer.”
Ahr Mary says: “Thy eead’s bald,
nowt in it, ner nowt on it:
Would ta like a feather aht o’ t’ back o’ mi bonnet?

12a    Revolutionary band on road in ancient port (4)
TYRE: You have four of these revolutionary bands. One on each corner of your car

14a    Older man spooning sweetly? (5,5)
SUGAR DADDY: A cryptic definition of a rich older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman in return for her company or sexual favours.

17a    Credit cards to hold out in photo (7)
PLASTIC: A word meaning to hold out sits inside a short word for a photograph to give a generic name for credit cards

18a    Coming from spaceship to LEM you see stargazer (7)
PTOLEMY: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue. The words coming from suggest this

20a    Two dozen for we nutty cooks (6-4)
TWENTY FOUR: Anagram (cooks) of FOR WE NUTTY

21a    Pull from Asian beast carrying unspecified number (4)
YANK: A mathematical unknown sits comfortably in a large domesticated wild ox with shaggy hair, humped shoulders, and large horns, used in Tibet as a pack animal and for its milk, meat, and hide.

22a    Go without nookie? (4)
EXIT: A two-letter word meaning without is followed by a short word for the sexual act

23a    Where traders are quick to catch morning boat (4,6)
FLEA MARKET: A word meaning quick or rapid contains the abbreviation for morning and a boat built in antediluvian times (but only just)

25a    Greek lost in Antioch beginning to revive within (10)
CORINTHIAN: Anagram (lost) of IN ANTIOCH plus the leading letter of Revive

26a    Feisty female Doctor Who at last seen in play (6)
TOMBOY: A French abbreviation for a doctor together with the last letter of the word who sit together in a verb meaning to trifle or play with someone or something


2d    Why things go wrong with potato salad? (7,3)
MURPHYS LAW: A slang term for potato is followed by a type of salad to make a short phrase used to explain why things go wrong. Round our way we call it Sods law

3d    Bath’s water has Virginia lifting leg (4)
AVON: The abbreviation for the state of Virginia is reversed and followed by the name given to the leg side of a cricket pitch. The answer refers to the river that the city of bath sits upon

4d    Materialize, retaining form, and change category (10)
RECLASSIFY: A five-letter verb meaning to take shape (No. I’ve never heard of it either) has a word for a school form inserted

5d    Unwell after stench from pit comes to town (7)
BOROUGH: A word loosely used when someone feels unwell follows the initials of a personal smell that might come from one’s armpit

6d    Beginning to climb in French south, sweep across sky (4)
SCUD: The French word for south contains the initial letter of the word climb

7d    Led in by Duff, everyone entering cul-de-sac (5,5)
BLIND ALLEY: An anagram (Duff) of LED IN BY contains a word meaning everyone

8d    Rather small-minded Republican brought in (6)
PRETTY: A word meaning small minded contains the abbreviation for Republican

13d    Director of great intellect capturing scene after evacuation (10)
EISENSTEIN: The external letters of the word scene sit inside the name of a person of great intellect famous for his theory of relativity

15d    Pulling back or turning in (10)
RETIREMENT: A double definition. The second referring to going to bed

16d    Faint suggestion for audience becoming less loud (10)
DIMINUENDO: A word meaning faint or lacking light is followed by a homophone (for audience) of a word used as an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one.

19d    Circle lake bed first (7)
COTERIE: Another term for a bed (usually a child’s bed) is followed by one of the Great Lakes

20d    Channel swimmer crossing river (6)
TRENCH: A fresh water fish surrounds the abbreviation of the word river

23d    Lot having eaten all the pies finally replete? (4)
FATE: A term describing someone who overeats is followed by the last letter of the word replete

24d    Low resistance up in space (4)
ROOM: To low as a cow might is followed by the abbreviation for resistance and reversed as suggested by the word up


57 comments on “Toughie 2458

  1. While I definitely agree with the enjoyment rating, I was somewhat surprised at the difficulty rating. I was definitely on the Donnybrook wavelength for this one. I have marked so many clues I really liked, Kath would have a proper conniption were I to list them all as favourites.

    Thanks to Donnybrook – I really loved every minute this crossword lasted – and to VEB for the hints

    1. I couldn’t agree more – such a lovely satisfying puzzle to do and quite gentle for a toughie. I particularly liked 5d and 2d

  2. I do enjoy Donnybrook’s puzzles and this was no exception – even the simple 24d is so nicely done
    Thanks Donnybrook and thanks to MP for the review, enjoy the bliss while it lasts

  3. I decided to take up yesterday’s invitation to try this puzzle and make comment. Most enjoyable I thought. I did the crossword in various sessions in between doing some boring domestics. I used my Chambers Crossword Dictionary for inspiration along the way but managed to finish without recourse to the hints and was able to justify my answers, with the exception of 1a and 2d (not familiar with the word for 2 ducks or salad). Hadn’t heard of the answer to 13d but the clue took me there. My favourite clue is 12a. Thanks to Donnybrook and to Miss Bott for her review. The poem at 11a made me smile – can be summarized as “don’t mess with ahr Mary”.

  4. It’s a really bad day today so am lying in the garden distracting myself – so far so good. I am halfway there and particularly liked 9a and 18a both of which jumped out at me! I may have to come back and plunder the hints but at the moment what I am really hoping to do is go to sleep! Hope to come back later.

  5. I attempted this and managed about half of it! Having checked the answers, I could have spent the rest of the day on it with no better result. I don’t know what it is about the toughie but my brain does not engage. Thanks Violet Elizabeth.

  6. I absolutely loved this Toughie. Like crypticsue, I’d be hard put to narrow down a trio of podium-worthy winners. For the last few times I’ve worked a Donnybrook, I’ve managed to finish rather speedily and without any hints or electronic help–always a good feeling. My first one in–mirabile dictu!–was the great director of Potemkin, and I couldn’t imagine how any of the following clues could top it. But some came close to matching it, like 26a (doesn’t ‘gambol’ also work there, despite checking letters), 10a and 2d (both brilliant), and just for comic relief, 11a. Thanks to VEB for the poem especially and to Donnybrook for this delicious creation. ** (Toughie time) / *****

    1. Hi Robert,
      Limoger comes from Marechal Joffre who assigned to residence, in the very same town, some generals he had just dismissed. Dates back to 1914.

      1. Aha! Thank you, jean-luc, for answering my query. That clears it up, but poor Limoges…how it has suffered, I’ll bet. But in my mind, she (the city) is a ‘shining city on the Vienne’ and my memories of her are golden. I wouldn’t mind–were I still capable of travel–being sent to Limoges.

  7. Unusually for me I found this a straightforward toughie. Only 19d caused me to pause and scratch my head. Some very devious but well laid out red herrings .

  8. I found lots to like here and 1,10,14 20,23 across as well as 2,3 and 7 down, no real COTD as they were all good, as always thank you to Donnybrook and Violet Elizabeth Bott.

    Stay safe everyone

  9. I, too, enjoyed this puzzle. 23a took a bit of thought. My COTD is 18a.
    Sorry to read you are suffering Daisygirl. The Victorians thought pain was good for the soul. How wrong they were!

    1. Hmmm and raised eyebrows! Thank you for your concern and sorry to winge but it gets all consuming!

  10. I’m trying, VEB, really, truly, but not doing at all well. I’m going to the other side first and then I’ll be back!

      1. No, I’ve come to a full stop! I can’t spend any more time on this, must get some exercise now and accomplish a few chores, I’ve been sitting all morning solving, or trying to solve, crosswords. I tried VEB, I’m just not toughie material!

        1. But thank you for trying Merusa. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

        2. Hi Merusa,

          Stick with the Toughie. I used to think it was beyond me but, after many months, it is starting to gel with me. When I first started I would get a few clues but I would check the blog to see how the others worked. I haven’t finished one unaided yet but I am starting to look forward to the Toughie almost as much as the back pager.

          Give it time.

  11. I managed about 70% before needing to resort to the hints. I enjoyed this immensely and managing to solve a few of the longer ones gave me quite a few checkers to be able to solve others. I thought 18a was a great lurker because I went in totally the wrong direction until I remembered the maxim “if all else fails ….”. My favourite clue among many good clues is 2d.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and, of course, to Mith Violet Elithabeth for the great hints.

    1. Yes, yes, to that lurker, which I neglected to list above. A really cracking ‘hide’, isn’t it?

      1. It has to be the best I have personally have come across, Robert. It would have been truly great had it been a reverse one but a tricky name to fit backwards into a clue!

  12. For some reason I found this puzzle very difficult to start with but it eventually came together and I finished at ramming speed!
    The cluing was fine ,just took ages to tune in, anyway a ***/**** eventually-as per Miss Bott.
    Liked 2d and my D’oh moment when the salad revealed itself.
    Favourites were 13d and 23a for its surface, an enjoyable solve ,thanks all.

  13. I enjoyed this very much – just the perfect level of difficulty for me. 20a was my first in, and it was sufficient, along with the helpful checkers it gave, to get me established and eventually finish. Many thanks to Donnybrook and Violet Elizabeth Bott.

    1. Why so Chris? Whilst I am enjoying the lockdown it really got to me when we couldn’t see John off. That would have been one awesome afternoon at The Weavers.

        1. Oh Jan. The girl of my dreams. Hopefully we will have a beer together soon

  14. Definitely at the 5* end of 4* difficulty, if you get my drift. Several bungins but plenty of clever headscratchers too. Clean forgot the other nickname for spuds so thank you Miss Bott for that, & of course thank you Donnybrook for the 4* entertainment.

  15. I found that a little tougher than some Donnybrook’s of recent times but if you follow the instructions they usually reveal themselves.
    13d I knew his films but not the name but relatively easy to build out of the constituent parts.
    I agree 18a is a cracking lurker but 24d gets the award for such a clever clue. I needed ALL the checkers for 25a before it fell but still pretty happy with this first foray into toughie corner this week.
    Thanks to Violet and Domhnach Broc

  16. I usually struggle with ‘toffees’ but seemed to be on the right wave length with this one. Of course I usually don’t tackle them until I am in the bath and it is quite late but today I sat in the garden underneath the pergola and worked on it throughout the afternoon. I put Fish market, being distracted by the boat so of course I couldn’t get the circle so I needed some help. But all in all felt quite pleased with myself. We always say Sod’s Law instead of Murphy – it’s the falling butter side down thing. Thank you everyone.

  17. Violet Elizabeth Bott, one question.

    My friend, William, has never heard of the French abbreviation for doctor before. (26a)

    Is it just William? Or other people as well?

    Where’s my coat?

  18. Went down the Gambol line also in 26a thinking a G at the end of 15d was quite reassuring.
    Needed the blog to finish with these two.
    Remembered the Access card in 17a. A real blast from the past.
    2d made me laugh.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and to VEB for the review.

  19. Thanks to Donnybrook and to VEB for the review and hints. Most enjoyable, I was on the right wavelength straight away. I liked so many clues, but a special mention for 14a, and for 2d which was my favourite. Lots of humour, great surfaces, really good puzzle. Last in was 13d. Was 2*/4* for me.

  20. Hello. Thank you all for doing the puzzle, and for all your comments: glad you liked it! Extra thanks to VEB for the great blog.

    I see some people are having a bit of trouble making the transition to the Toughie. If it helps, I can advise that there’s quite a difference in difficulty between this sort of thing and anything I do for the back page (entertainment level hopefully remains much the same). Toughies are pretty tough, using some harder-to-spot constructions, so please don’t be put off.

    1. It’s after midnight in America, but since I often read over comments long after I’ve posted, I was delighted to see your presence. I do find your toughies exhilarating and classy, among the most elegant I’ve ever encountered. Thank you for the pleasure.

    2. Many thanks for popping in, Donnybrook. I really enjoyed this puzzle, it was nicely challenging and a lot of fun.

      I’ve always been a big Doctor Who fan, and 26a was my favourite.

      Many thanks for the entertainment.

      1. Thanks RD. I’m a Who freak too. Scared half to death by Cybermen in my formative years. Could this have had some effect or other?

  21. Good of you to pop in, Donnybrook, many thanks for a most enjoyable puzzle. Think my favourite was the revolutionary band but plenty of others came into contention.

    1. Thanks Jane, it’s so nice for we setters to get your feedback. I always like to know what people think, for better or for worse!

  22. Just finished this one a day late & glad that I bothered as I thought it a cracker. Not too challenging so doable for those of us still slowly improving in the world of Toughiedom.
    Got to within 12a of a hint free finish albeit with revealing 2 letters but had never heard of the port & was nowhere near twigging the answer from the wordplay.
    Thanks to Donnybrook & MP

  23. Like Huntsman, I’m a day late in sitting down to this one and needed to check the port in 12a. Quite gentle I thought but with some well crafted clues. 20a was my favourite. Thanks to Donnybrook and MP.

  24. Largely enjoyable, but putting fish market in for 23a (having failed to satisfy myself that free market worked) stopped me finishing. Shame, but these ambiguous definitions, when precision is required elsewhere are annoying.

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