Toughie 2536 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2536

Toughie No 2536 by Firefly

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

A most enjoyable themed crossword that could really only appear today. Mind you, in recent years the fireworks don’t just seem to be saved for the 5th of November, our neighbours lit up the village with some beautiful, and extremely noisy, fireworks last night, presumably to get a ‘permitted gathering’ in before the start of Lockdown 2

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Alight mid-evening within bay, in time to see 13s, 16/24s, 18dns and 22/8s (7,5)
BONFIRE NIGHT An adjective meaning lit up (alight) and the mid letter of eveNing inserted into (within) a wide bay

9a & 25d Guy’s first captive in lower croft to reveal unsuccessful coup (9,4)
GUNPOWDER PLOT The first letter of Guy and a synonym for lower (which joined with ‘croft’ gives us the crypt or vault under the House of Lords used for the ‘unsuccessful coup’) into which is inserted an abbreviated captive

10a    Thin material? Change the ending and there you are! (5)
VOILA Change the final letter of some thin transparent material and there you are!

11a    Net result of parent’s fiddling (6)
ENTRAP A verb meaning to catch (net) is a result of an anagram (fiddling) of PARENT

12a    Short piece valued and rehearsed (8)
ITERATED A truncated (short)  piece followed by a verb meaning valued

13a    Convulse alien’s spacecraft (6)
ROCKET A verb meaning to convulse and Mr Spielberg’s (and Crosswordland’s) favourite alien

15a    I carpet squadron leader when failing to exercise (8)
PRACTISE An anagram (when failing) of I CARPET S (the ‘leader’ of Squadron)

18a    Strip for the audience in black headgear? (8)
BEARSKIN A homophone (for the audience) of what you do when you strip off your clothes

19a    Boombox‘s austere orchestral extract (6)
STEREO Found in an extract of auSTERE Orchestral

21a    Legal types — so maybe Pisces or Taurus then? (8)
NOTARIES If you split these legal officials 3,5, you get a reference to a sign of the Zodiac which will make the second half of the clue make sense

23a    Hunt the bandleader, perhaps, to discover Scottish songbird? (6)
PEEWEE The Scottish name for a lapwing is also the nickname of an American bandleader, jazz trombonist and vocalist from the late 1920s to the 1940s I knew the bird and helpfully Mr CS knew the bandleader

26a    Ineffectual app crashed, marooning James centrally in town of Derby (5)
EPSOM The central letters of ineffEctual aPp craShed maroOning jaMes

27a    Splints from twisting badly during escapades (9)
CALLIPERS A reversal (twisting) of another word for badly inserted into some escapades

28a    Oral has Bill succeeding with ‘Custom and Practice’ (9,3)
UNWRITTEN LAW Oral as opposed to being put down on paper and a successful Parliamentary Bill


1d    Blemish on shoulder’s a nightmare (7)
BUGBEAR A defect or blemish and a verb meaning to shoulder

2d    Music has joint whirling (5)
NONET A reversal (whirling) of part of a joint used in woodwork

3d    With unsettling editorials I lost admirers (9)
IDOLATERS Lose one of the Is (I lost) from EDiTORIALS and an anagram (unsettling) of the remaining letters will produce some admirers

4d    Bishop in Ely left out — one going against the flow (4)
EDDY A current running against the main stream is obtained by inserting the abbreviation for a Doctor of Divinity (bishop) into ElY without the L (left out)

5d    ‘Measure for Measure’ on-stage again? (2,6)
IN RETURN The abbreviation for inch (2) (measure for measure), the two-letter preposition meaning on the subject of, and a stage act

6d    Hesitate to take youngster’s hat off (5)
HAVER Remove the hat or first letter from an informal term for a youngster

7d    Victory over judge is more chilling (8)
WINTRIER A victory goes over (in a Down clue) someone who judges

8d    Torch made from deal shavings wrapped in rattan (6)
CANDLE The ‘shavings’ or bits removed from the outside of DeaL inserted (wrapped) in some rattan

14d    Charlie is in rush to censure (8)
CHASTISE The letter represented by Charlie in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and IS (from the clue) inserted into a verb meaning to rush

16d    Article penned by Racine upset empress (9)
CATHERINE Insert the definite article into (penned by) an anagram (upset) of RACINE

17d    Mr Goodman, interrupting, cries out for muffler (8)
SILENCER The diminutive form of Mr (Strictly) Goodman’s Christian name inserted into an anagram (out) of CRIES

18d    Heap of strong emotion in support of black (6)
BANGER This particular heap is a car ready for the scrapyard – some strong emotion goes after (in support of) the abbreviation for Black

20d    Kept an eye on forgotten has-been, possibly getting comeuppance (7)
OVERSAW An adjective meaning at an end (forgotten) and a reversal (getting comeuppance) of a simple way of saying has been

22d    Novel adornment designed to shake off depression (5)
ROMAN A type of novel is obtained from an anagram (designed) of AdORNMent once you have ‘shaken off’ the depression

24d    Revolution with bank? (5)
WHEEL The abbreviation for With and a verb meaning to bank or lean to one side

25d    See 9

11 comments on “Toughie 2536

  1. I really enjoyed this, especially the November 5th theme. I had to check that 23a was the Scottish version of the lapwing. I really liked 21a.
    Now to look at the hints for today’s cryptic which I’m finding so much harder than this.

  2. An appropriate and enjoyable theme though it does make some of the answers very obvious once it’s been twigged. Thanks to Firefly and CS.

    I’d never heard of the 23a bandleader so that needed Google assistance.

    My ticks went to 10a, 21a, 18d and 20d.

    I took the definition of 5d to be the first 3 words in the sense of ‘as compensation’ or ‘in retaliation’.

  3. Helped a lot with some of my ‘well, I suppose so’ answers when the theme materialised although I still didn’t know the bandleader – fortunately Mr Google was familiar with him. This setter invariably uses some definitions with which I’m slightly uncomfortable but I guess all’s fair in love and crosswords!
    Top two for me were 10&21a.

    Thanks to Firefly and to CS for the review.

  4. Loved this. I was prepared for it by John Halpern’s Zoom last week when Chris Lancaster alerted us to the Bonfire thematic coming up. As a Lewes Bonfire Boy, with all our celebrations cancelled this year, it was great to have something to enjoy today.

  5. This was looking very difficult until I spotted the theme. I doubt that I’d have solved it at all otherwise. I didn’t much care for 5d. 23a is neither particularly Scottish, nor a songbird. But 26a, using centrally (rather than initially, or ultimately) to reference several words was a new device for me, and very clever I thought. It was my pick of the day – notwithstanding that it was the only one that I had to look to the blog to parse.

    21a and 28a raised a smile too. Thanks to Firefly and Cripticsue

  6. I did not find this as easy as the blog’s official rating but it was certainly a clever and very entertaining puzzle. Some of the constructions were new to me, but they all made sense once the dust settled. 21a was my COTD.

    Many thanks to Firefly for the challenge and to CS.

  7. Quite a mild, but thoroughly entertaining, Toughie. Took a while to get 26a having put ‘chastens’ in for 14a to start with. Didn’t know the bandleader but fortunately knew the bird. 6d had to be what it was, but a new term for me. My joint favourites were 10 and 18a. Thank you firefly and CS.

  8. It all became much more accessible once we spotted the theme and could fill in several answers and then do a bit of ‘post-parsing’. 23a was a challenge as we knew neither the bird name nor the bandleader. Needed to use BRB to help us justify the definition for 22d.
    Thanks Firefly and CS.

  9. Guessed the theme with my first answer in which helped enormously. Knew neither the bandleader nor the bird & 23a was therefore my last in. I had however heard of Pee Wee Ellis, the great sax player who played with James Brown & has worked with Van which prompted me to ask the question of Mr G. Think I marginally preferred the back pager of the two today but still enjoyed this. 26a was my favourite by some way.
    Thanks Firefly & to CS.
    PS is 27a not the American spelling?

  10. Much easier than the back pager once the (fairly obvious) theme emerged (which was almost straight away), and very enjoyable. Thanks to Firefly for the light relief!

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