Toughie 2531 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2531

Toughie No 2531 by Hudson

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I found this fairly straightforward with little to disturb the thoroughbreds. Thanks to Hudson.

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

Across Clues

1a British socialist party metro hub spread gossip (12)
BLABBERMOUTH: abbreviations for British and a socialist party are followed by an anagram (spread) of METRO HUB.

8a First American receiving The Queen in Panama, perhaps (7)
ISTHMUS: a shorthand way of writing first and an abbreviation for American contain a 2-letter way of identifying The Queen.

9a Quick to suppress anger, most like blondes? (7)
FAIREST: a synonym of quick contains a synonym of anger.

11a I sit back, absorbing reactionary liberal Georgian city (7)
TBILISI: reverse ‘I sit’ and insert the abbreviation for Liberal (also reversed). I can never spell this place without checking.

12a Online buddy nursing an issue (7)
EMANATE: what could be an online buddy (1-4) contains AN.

13a Mischievous bishop slipping off shoe (5)
ROGUE: remove the chess abbreviation for bishop from a sturdy shoe.

14a Mantel novel introducing set plot (9)
ALLOTMENT: an anagram (novel) of MANTEL contains an area around a film studio where filming takes place.

16a One is quite short; extending just over a foot (5,4)
ANKLE SOCK: cryptic definition of a hosiery item.

19a Header from Yaya going right in the middle! Fantastic! (5)
OUTRÉ: start with the surname of the footballer from Côte d’Ivoire with forename Yaya who once played for Manchester City and move the first letter to the middle.

21a Passionate subaltern keeping you and me satisfied, mostly (7)
LUSTFUL: put the abbreviation for a junior army officer round the pronoun identifying ‘you and me’ and append an adjective meaning satisfied or sated without its last letter.

23a Ant having a change of heart with his partner over style (3,4)
ART DECO: the deadly duo are back again. Change the middle letter of Ant and add his partner and the cricket abbreviation for over.

24a Mother, drained, spoke incoherently (7)
MUMBLED: charade of an affectionate term for one’s mother and a verb meaning drained or sucked dry.

25a Afternoon refreshment for those who have been at the pot? (4,3)
HIGH TEA: cryptic definition of a meal for those who may have been taking illegal substances.

26a Spin doctor shocking Tennessee (about time!) in part of speech (7,5)
PRESENT TENSE: start with the abbreviation for a spin doctor (or more accurately what a spin doctor does) and add an anagram (shocking) of TENNESSEE containing the abbreviation for time.

Down Clues

1d In Crosby, drinking skimmed latte (7)
BATTING: Crosby here is not the town in Merseyside but an old crooner. His forename contains ‘latte’ without its outer letters.

2d Totally upsetting period exposed Mr Attlee’s first cabinet (7)
ARMOIRE: stick together the word ‘period’ shorn of its outer letters, MR and the first letter of Attlee. Now reverse the lot.

3d Bully Sinbad to a beating (9)
BASTINADO: an anagram (bully) of SINBAD TO A produces a punishment involving caning the soles of the feet.

4d Half-heartedly flick through article in magazine (5)
RIFLE: remove one of the double letters at the centre of a verb to flick through. The answer can be, according to the BRB, ‘a groove on the inside bore of a gun’ but ‘article in magazine’ (though good for the surface reading) seems rather woolly for this. Any better ideas?
Thanks to Senf for suggesting that a magazine could be a place for holding military stores, i.e. a place where the answer might be kept.

5d Botox? I’d anticipated getting an injection of chemical compound (7)
OXIDANT: hidden in the clue.

6d Somewhat immature, put shirt on horse going over last from Aintree (7)
TEENAGE: bring together a type of shirt, an old horse and the last letter of Aintree.

7d Fruit crumble (apricot) — six left crust, expressing hesitation (8,4)
VICTORIA PLUM: make an anagram (crumble) of APRICOT, the Roman numeral for six and the top letter (crust) of L(eft). Append an exclamation expressing hesitation.

10d Demolishing holy retreat — a West End landmark (7,5)
THEATRE ROYAL: an anagram (demolishing) of HOLY RETREAT A.

15d Enthusiastically sell Ikea’s hottest curtains (4,1,4)
LIKE A SHOT: the clue conceals (curtains) the answer.

17d Area of conflict to crush Starmer, according to Spooner (7)
KASHMIR: a territory disputed by two nations in Asia could be rendered by the ubiquitous Reverend as to crush or pulp and the Labour leader’s forename.

18d Nurse makes hospital corners, tucks in (7)
ENFOLDS: an old abbreviation for a nurse (now called, I believe, a ‘level 2 nurse’) is followed by a verb which could mean ‘makes hospital corners’. There seems to be quite a lot of overlap between the wordplay and the definition.

19d ‘Old Tory’ label; boring figure (7)
OCTAGON: abbreviations for old and Tory with a label being inserted.

20d Support very French atelier every now and again (7)
TRESTLE: combine the French word meaning very and alternate letters from ‘atelier’.

22d Light working encouraged (3,2)
LED ON: a type of electric light and an adverb meaning working.

The clues which made my podium were 1d, 15d and 22d. Which one(s) appealed to you?

Joe passed away. His will provided £30,000 for an elaborate funeral.
As the last guests departed, his widow, Helen, turned to her oldest friend Jody and said, “Well, I’m sure Joe would be pleased.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” replied Jody, who lowered her voice and leaned in close, “How much did this really cost?”
“All of it,” said Helen. “Thirty thousand.”
“No!” Jody exclaimed. “I mean, it was very nice, but £30,000?”
Helen answered. “The funeral was £6,500, I donated £500 to the church, and the wake, food and drinks were another £500. The rest went for the memorial stone.”
Jody computed quickly. “£22,500 for a memorial stone. My God, how big is it?”
“Two and a half carats,” came the reply.


22 comments on “Toughie 2531

  1. I struggle with the definition in 4d and had never heard of Yaya in 19a so missed the parse. Otherwise found this pretty plain sailing with 15d being my favourite. Thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

  2. I thought this was a gentle but enjoyable puzzle with no real hold-ups. A knowledge of Manchester City footballers would have helped but there was no other word I could think of. 1d made it to the top of my podium along with 12a and 22d.

    Many thanks to Hudson for the fun and to Gazza, particularly for the parsing of 19a.

  3. A suitable increase in Toughness from yesterday’s Silvanus, completed at a Toughie gallop – 2.5*/3.5*.
    Definitely a Hmm on 4d. In the end I decided that the BRB definition for magazine of ‘a place for military stores’ applied although, from my service with HM, 4ds were stored in an armoury.
    Another Hmm for 19a which was a ‘bung-in’ based on the three checkers.
    Candidates for favourite – 8a, 16a, 7d, and 22d – and the winner is 16a.
    Thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

    1. Thanks, Senf. I think a magazine as ‘a place for military stores’ makes more sense than my poor idea of it being part of a weapon.

  4. Don’t know a great deal about football so 19a was a case of waiting for the checkers and then ‘guess and look up’ for the Yaya reference.
    Rather liked 24&25a plus 22d but my favourite (with apologies to our setter) was Gazza’s joke about the memorial stone!

    Thanks to Hudson and to our ebullient Wednesday reviewer – I can neither spell nor pronounce 11a without asking Mr Google’s friend, Emma!

  5. Very enjoyable. Struggled to parse 2d and in the end assumed (incorrectly) that ’10 Mr’ was a cryptic way of referring to a PM put inside era before reversing the lot. Favourite was 17d but I have a weak spot for Spoonerisms.

    1. Not up to Hudson’s usual standard as my favourite setter but one or two made me smile. Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza

  6. This is probably my first proper toughie solve. **/**** However, spoilt by 4d which was the only possible solution but the parsing isnt as smooth as for the rest of the puzzle and I don’t think any of us our convinced. If you weren’t into football I think 19a is a bit tricky and virtually impossible in the days before Google. All the clues were good. For political balance after 17d will Boris be making an appearance soon?

  7. Thought 19a and 17d were pretty dire. I don’t need to know obscure footballers and my hatred of Dr Spooner remains!
    4d presented no problems as I’d thought it through like Senf.
    I really liked the humour of 25a and that’s my COTD.

  8. Although I finished the puzzle and had a correct answer for every clue, I needed Gazza’s (and Senf’s) parsings for 19a and 4d. Thoroughly enjoyed this, with favourites: 16, 8, 11a; 7, 15, 17d. Thanks to Gazza and to Hudson.

  9. This was very light for a Toughie but I did enjoy it (apart from 4d, which is decidedly dodgy even with Senf’s undoubtedly correct interpretation).

    I can’t do better for my podium selection than Gazza’s choice of 1d, 15d & 22d.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to Gazza.

  10. A little bit harder than yesterdays toughie but as Senf suggests that is as it should be. I knew of the footballer but couldn’t spell his name in the first place so I needed a hint and a google before I could solve that. Similar investigoogle to check the spelling of the Georgia capital. Hopefully, this clue will stick as an aide-mémoire should I ever need to spell it again.
    Thanks to Hudson and Gazza
    Do Biggles or Lola ever try a paw at setting?

  11. Struggled with 19a. Had never heard of the footballer of course and assumed that we were supposed to do something with Y as the header for Yaya. Eventually a Google search sorted it out.
    Thanks Hudson and Gazza.

  12. Unlike Senf, I thought this was a decrease in toughness from yesterday but on the whole relatively enjoyable.
    My biggest problem was of my own making, putting the i before the b in 11a which fouled up 1d for quite a while. It’s all been said about 6d and I consided the Spoonerism not the best ( thought we may have had a bit of Led Zeppelin there) but there were plenty of good ones to compensate, 1& 25a plus 1d in particular.
    Thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

  13. A rare sunny day so spent most of it on the 14a until rain stopped play. A good midweek toughie here with some nicely constructed clues with good surfaces. 25a was perhaps a rather feeble cliche but it was more than made up for by the terrific 1d which I pored over for ages trying to think of synonyms for latte! No complaints about 4d – Chambers defines magazine well enough [tho I defer to Senf’s experience] but if you ain’t a footie fan 19a is going to be tricky.

    Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza for the blog.

  14. Oh well, that’s put me back where I belong!
    My mission until we’re allowed to do what we want to do and when we want to do it – ie as long as we have lots of spare time to fill – is to get the hang of Toughies.
    Today was the starting point – I was dead proud of myself because I had answers for everything and then just needed a few of Gazza’s very clear explanations to find out why.
    2* difficulty and everyone saying it was pretty simple for a Toughie has dented the confidence – I don’t care – I’ll carry on.
    I was pleased with myself not just for getting the answer but understanding the ‘crickety’ 1d.
    I can’t spell 11a.
    The nurse in 18d is the abbreviation for E[nrolled] N[urse] as opposed to the old S[tate] E[nrolled] N[urse] – I’ve never heard of a ‘level 2 nurse’ but I’m donkey’s years out of date.
    Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza.

  15. Think I agree with SL in that I felt this was marginally easier than yesterday’s Silvanus though every bit as enjoyable. Unlike yesterday it was however back to a struggle with Spooner despite having all the checkers & a big groan when I twigged it. My last 2 in were 2&4d & with the latter I went with Senf’s thinking but didn’t get the other bit as riffle is a new word to me. Other than those a reasonably brisk solve for me with no parsing issues which is a rare plus. Thought 1a&d were lovely clues to kick the crossword off.
    Many thanks to Hudson & to Gazza

  16. I, too, managed to complete this without really troubling the horses. The full parse of 26a was beyond me, but the schoolboy humour of 25a made my COTD.

    Thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

  17. I thought 19a made for a nice surface read – but like others I did not know the reference, and had to rely on the checkers and definition alone (and a bit of luck) to get the right entry. I’m hoping that tomorrow’s puzzle is Spoonerism-free! Otherwise no real headaches – just an enjoyable solve. Thanks to Hudson and Gazza.

  18. Thanks to Hudson and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, just a bit cheesed off that I failed to complete it. Totally beaten by 2d, didn’t have an idea if the definition was “totally” or “cabinet”, couldn’t get the wordplay, and had never heard of the answer. Favourite was 16a. Was 2* /4* for me.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Susan.
      Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope that you and your useful husband will become regular commenters.

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