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Toughie 2487

Toughie No 2487 by Hudson

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This is a very enjoyable puzzle with lots of laughs – thanks Hudson. There are several UK-specific references involved so I hope that there’s not too much hair-tearing from solvers beyond these shores.

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

Across Clues

1a Read out clue for ‘men’s accessory’ — how many letters does it have? (7)
MAILBAG: this sounds like a men’s accessory. In the old joke a person when asked for help with such a clue enquires ‘How many letters?’ – to which the traditional reply is ‘hundreds!’.

9a Problem in seeing a locum trained in Georgia (8)
GLAUCOMA: an anagram (trained) of A LOCUM goes inside the standard abbreviation for Georgia (the US state, not the European country).

10a Irritating smoker I chewed up (7)
IRKSOME: an anagram (chewed up) of SMOKER I.

11a Civil question posed by former party leader following a 26 on the 12? (8)
AMICABLE: split the answer 2,1,5 to get the question a former political party leader might ask following such a blow.

12a Kissing naked head (6)
NOGGIN: an informal synonym for kissing without its outer letters.

13a More Indian cooking that’s responsible for stabbing pains? (4,6)
IRON MAIDEN: an anagram (cooking) of MORE INDIAN. The answer probably relates to a spiky mediaeval torture device (but it might also refer to a headache resulting from listening to the English heavy metal band!).

15a Greek characters reportedly ‘stable, improved‘ (4)
MEWS: this sounds like more than one occurrence of the twelfth letter of the Greek alphabet.

16a Gift from dad: £25 with a haircut thrown in (9)
PATRIMONY: an informal word for £25 contains A and the sort of haircut some of us needed badly by the end of lockdown.

21a Neighbour‘s instrument returned (4)
ABUT: reverse a wind instrument.

22a Maybe Stevie boy grappling with knight in fantasy world (10)
WONDERLAND: assemble the surname of Stevie (once, though no longer, preceded by ‘Little’) and a synonym for boy containing the chess abbreviation for knight.

24a Quietly probing French philosopher in university setting (6)
CAMPUS: insert the musical abbreviation meaning quietly into the surname of a French philosopher, author, Nobel prize winner – and one-time goalkeeper (as all good quiz enthusiasts know).

25a Angry tirade, involving Idlib getting evacuated? (8)
DIATRIBE: I wasn’t really sure what to underline here. We need an anagram (angry) of TIRADE containing the outer letters of I[dli]B but does the clue really work as an all-in-one?

27a Spicy article dismissing English character of Nelson? (7)
PIQUANT: this Nelson is an old Brazilian racing driver – start with his surname and replace the single-character abbreviation of English with one of our indefinite articles.

28a Apparently out of date filling to spoil one’s omelette (8)
LONESOME: hidden in the clue. Lovely definition!

29a Spooner’s Chinese sleeper agent that goes deep under cover? (7)
MANHOLE: Spooner might have mangled this into a Chinese dynasty and an embedded spy.

Down Clues

2d Tornado perhaps separating husband from toupee (3-5)
AIR-COVER: start with what a toupee could be described as (4,5) and take away the genealogical abbreviation for husband.

3d At the eleventh hour, when one has run out of pants? (4-4)
LAST-GASP: cryptically when one can pant no more. LOL

4d Dispense revolting Greek wine, collecting one mark (10)
ADMINISTER: reverse (revolting) a Greek wine and insert what the written form of one German mark (eine Deutsche Mark) looks like.

5d Downhearted atomic company, American, kicked out of 9 (4)
GLUM: remove the relevant three abbreviations from the 9a answer.

6d US agents supporting unusual uprising in Spanish city (6)
MURCIA: our usual US spy agency follows the reversal of an adjective meaning unusual or odd.

7d Banned advertisement placed in business magazine down south (7)
FORBADE: insert an abbreviated advertisement into the name of an American business magazine (probably best known in the UK for its annual ‘Rich List’) without the abbreviation for South.

8d Show message to TV presenter (7)
PAGEANT: split the answer 4,3 for a verb to message and one of an apparently conjoined pair of TV presenters. Am I the only person in the country who’s never watched a single programme featuring the pair?

11d Feel repelled by report of a fortune in eight (9)
ABOMINATE: this sounds like a charade of A, an informal word for a fortune or lot of money, IN and eight.

14d Where to see Hudson’s grey goatee? Answer, mate! (2,3,5)
MY OLD CHINA: where Hudson’s grey goatee might be found (2,3,4) followed by an abbreviation for answer. I’m a bit surprised that ‘Hudson’ in the clue wasn’t replaced in the online version of the puzzle by ‘compiler’ or ‘setter’ (as has been done with similar clues in the past) to compensate for the fact that the setter’s identity is absent from the online puzzle.

17d Teenager packing gun in holiday resort (8)
YARMOUTH: another word for teenager includes another word for gun.

18d Plan mutual lifts without constraints after the season (8)
AUTUMNAL: remove the outer letters from ‘plan mutual’ and reverse what’s left. ‘after’ here means ‘in the style of’.

19d Toon’s foremost winger? Rubbish! (7)
TWADDLE: the first letter of Toon followed by the surname of an English football winger from the last century. Toon is the local name of Newcastle United and the footballer did actually play for this club (among others).

20d Not clever, but weird (7)
UNCANNY: cryptically the answer could mean not clever or not smart.

23d Going out, Essex girl initially put on topless gown (6)
EGRESS: the initial letters of Essex and girl precede a gown minus its top letter.

26d Hit British referee, losing temper (4)
BUMP: join together an abbreviation for British and another word for referee without the synonym of temper.

My candidates for the podium today are 13a, 28a, 2d and 3d. Which one(s) made your shortlist?


40 comments on “Toughie 2487

  1. I’ve lost my piece of paper so I can’t check back but I do remember it took me a proper Toughie time and, as usual with any of the crosswords produced by this setter whichever alias he is using) I did enjoy the experience greatly

    Thanks to Hudson and Gazza – I think my favourites matched yours

  2. Two sittings needed to complete this – breakfast and coffee, tougher than yesterday. Lots to like in this crossword. We assumed the setter was Hudson from 14 (wonder what can be preventing the DT from being able to display the setter in the online version?). LOI was 1 – we were bamboozled for a while and used the “let’s speculate on what could work” technique for letter 3 … and it soon gave way to a reverse engineered answer! Not so keen on the popular culture references in 8, 19 and 27. Bit of a bung in for 15. But lots of lovely clues, thank you Hudson. Favourites 24 and 28. Our rating: 2.5* / 4*

  3. No Gazza, you are not alone in never wittingly watched that particular duo.I think they’re banned now or something.
    My top picks are 2d , 3d and 22a .
    I loathe spoonerisms.
    Thanks to Gazza and Hudson.

  4. Some rather idiosyncratic clueing here [eg 1a, 25a] but some crackers as well. I loved 16a, having been conned by the initial P into thinking “that’s pa for “dad” so the definition is probably just “gift”. 28a is just great; I laughed [or was it a groan?] at 29a; and “down south” in 7d is clever. I had a vague memory of the player in 19d and couldn’t find a bird called a waddle but it may be pushing things a bit for some.
    I confess to being in the “never seen Ant & Dec club”. Gazza, Una – they’re just not “for us”.

  5. Somewhere around ***/*** for me today. struggled with the NW corner!
    Initially had Beta ( better ) for the solution to 15a, eventually I twigged the ‘stable improvement’ last in but an iffy clue for me.
    Thanks to Gazza for parsing of 27a, i remember the driver but the majority of bloggers would not, so a little unfair.
    Apart from these two an enjoyable solve in the sun

    1. My second attempt at a toughie went much better than the first. Only needed one hint and one reveal 15a. Still don understand it. Thanks to Gazza and Hudson.
      I’ll keep trying.

      1. The “stables” referred to are so-named for the place(s) falcons were kept while moulting; from the French “muer” – to moult.

  6. So much better than yesterday. I have one quibble – I do not understand how saying “muse” gives me “improved”. “stable” yes but….?
    For the rest it was fine except for that *****Spooner! Please, someone, put him out of my misery!
    COTD? Probably 16a.

    1. When a stable has been upgraded to the status of Mews , you could say the stable was improved.

      1. I read it that the word had 2 meanings. e.g 1) Stable 2) Improved. If the words had been the other way round I would have realised my mistake, mews being upmarket stables. “Stable improved” is a bit Yodaish I think.
        Storm in a tea cup!

    2. If I can help, you are actually saying “mu’s”, i.e. the Greek letter twice for an “improved stable” as mews were originally stables.

      Apart from that I agree with Jane below. I don’t gel with the setter but I’m sure it’s my problem.

      Thanks for the help Gazza and Hudson for the challenge.

      1. “Mews” were originally the place(s) where falcons were kept while moulting; from the French “muer” – to moult.

  7. I just don’t seem to gel with this setter and I struggled today with both the racing driver and the winger. I’m also not a fan of inter-related clues.
    Not to worry, variety is the spice etc.

    Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza – you’re certainly not alone, I’d go out of my way to avoid anything fronted by that particular twosome!

    1. I don’t like inter-related clues either.I also never heard of the racing driver nor the winger .

  8. For the most part I enjoyed this very much, but (as Gazza suspected), there were a good many references that I did not know which added to the challenge, but that did not add to the enjoyment. I have no idea what is going on in the second part of 8d for instance. I had the second part of 2d penciled in very lightly not knowing the Tornado reference. I had heard of the Brazilian racing driver, but didn’t know his first name. However, I surprised myself in knowing the Stevie Boy reference! My standout favourite is 28a – lovely definition indeed, and so cleverly hidden. Many thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

    1. Tony, the second part of 8dn is Ant of “Ant and Dec” fame. I’ve heard of them, never seen them, don’t want to see them and cannot understand why setter’s use them in cryptic crosswords. In my view the answer should be achievable from the clue and not from UK-based TV personalities.

      1. Thank you very much, Stone Waller. The duo hasn’t made it, to my knowledge, to my part of the world. I did get the right entry, but it was mainly from the definition and checkers.

        1. Apologies, I should really have spelled out the names of the deadly duo more explicitly in the hint. Their names do crop up in crosswords from time to time so it’s worth remembering the names even if you never watch them.

          1. Apology not needed, but thank you for the explanation. I’ll put the duo in the back of my mind – but it’s full to overflowing at present with my study of Cockney rhyming slang and how to recognize it in crossword clues!!

  9. “Show message to soldier?”

    Hope this doesn’t get me in the naughty corner😎

  10. Halfway through this, well perhaps more than half way, lying in the garden in impossible heat – for me! I decided to resort to underlining the definition I am looking for in the sticky ones, which is a great help. May or may not finish it who knows, but thanks to Hudson and Gaza if I don’t make it! 28a my favourite so far and agree with everyone about the dire duo.

  11. I found this about the same as yesterday’s for difficulty. Not sure about 2d. Toupees cover baldness not hair. The best I came up with was air force so at least I was on the right track. Should have got mu’ s. I recited the alphabet twice but didn’t twig it. Other than that I enjoyed it.
    Thanks setter and hinter.

    1. It is not that it covers hair …. you need to think of something that goes on the head and remove the “(h)usband”.

      1. So hair cover doesn’t cover hair?
        Toupees cover baldness. Wigs cover hair (and baldness). Having been completely bald since I was 14, over 50 years ago, I feel quite knowledgeable about hairpieces etc. It’s not the hair bit less h, rather what it’s covering. Just didn’t like definition a lot. That’s all. Nuff said

        1. Jules, if you’re still following, the definition is “Tornado perhaps” referring to the fighter aircraft that provides cover from the (h)air. A toupee is a cover made of “hair” and does not refer to what it is covering.

          Hope that helps … no fun being bald that early. I have been baldish for years with all the problems it brings … no protection for the scalp and very little from the sun!

  12. My best go at a Toughie so far.
    Got down to 4 missing answers before I had to look at the hints…..then had to reveal 15a… knowledge of the Greek alphabet being limited to alpha, beta, gamma, delta, something, something, something omega. OK I may know psi and iota as well.
    Anyway, I am quite pleased with myself and am going to award myself a cup of tea now.

    Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza for the hints.

  13. Well, far from tearing out my hair as an outlander over here in S Carolina, I found this wonderful puzzle an absolute hoot! There was, of course, a great deal of GK (UK, etc. allusiveness) I simply did not know, but in most cases, the clues themselves offered enough fodder for me to flesh out the answers (as in 11a and 19d, though I did know of the politician there). I laughed out loud a number of times–not many laughs these days, I regret to say–and found 14d and 11a just delightful. (I don’t mind interactive clueing at all.) I also learned a few things, but my favourites are those that didn’t really require me to know who or what various personages were: 16a, 13a, and 14d. 1a was my LOI. I did “finish” the puzzle but needed considerable electronic and Googled assistance. Thanks to Gazza for the very helpful hints and to Hudson, who seems to be a new compiler for me. ***** / ****

    1. Hudson is reasonably new but he has given us about 15 Toughies. His most recent, before today, was Toughie 2467 on 8th July when a certain Robert Clark thanked him for a lovely puzzle. I hope that wasn’t someone else masquerading as you! :D

      1. Oh my. Senioritis? No, just sheer forgetfulness. Mea culpa. I guess I should start keeping a log.

        1. Well, I did say, “seems to be a new compiler to me”. Hamlet: ‘Seems? … nay it is, I know not seems”!

  14. Bit of a mixed bag for me since I ‘m not a fan of cross-referenced clues or names in puzzles and there are also some rather strange surfaces 15a,10a, 25a
    All that mixed in with some other great clues and I don’t know what to think, so I’ll just say thanks to Hudson and Gazza

  15. Similar to LbR, I found this a mixed bag and not as enjoyable overall as previous Hudson Toughies although there were some really good clues.

    Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza.

  16. Struggled with a few here where our location probably put us at a disadvantage. Searched several places for a bird that walked like a duck for example.
    Thanks Hudson and Gazza.

  17. Well I finished it but not without having to reveal the spoonerism and the hair piece which just foxed me. Thanks everyone.

  18. Can’t sleep in the intolerable heat so a late dip into this one. I really enjoyed it but needed Gazza’s help with both 8d & 15a to get me over the line. Found it considerably easier than yesterday with 28a the pick of the clues for me.
    Thanks Hudson & Gazza for the review.

  19. Managed most of it. Some fun clues. Favourite was 28a. Still don’t know what word for referee is in 26d. Can anybody help?

      1. Thanks Jane. I was trying to use t for temper which didn’t fit with bump, bash or bang!!

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