Toughie 2646 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2646

Toughie No 2646 by Django

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Thank you to Django for a nicely-pitched early/midweek Toughie with lots to make the solver smile

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Sophisticated know Telegraph should provide material that’s often on the edge (7,4)
CHICKEN WIRE A synonym for sophisticated and elegant, a (chiefly Scottish) word meaning to know and a type of message (telegraph – the capital T being there both for the surface reading and, mostly, to mislead) We have had to surround our large veg patch and many of our favourite plants with this material, in order to protect them from a large colony of rampaging rabbits

10a    Rod Hull initially restitched Emu’s tears (5)
RHEUM The initial letters of Rod Hull and an anagram (restitched) of EMU produce some poetic tears

11a    Correspondent and prison priest dine out (3,6)
PEN FRIEND An informal term for a prison, an abbreviated priest and an anagram (out) of DINE

12a    Locate right page in stomach churning online forums (4,5)
CHAT ROOMS The abbreviation for the right-hand page of an open book inserted (located) in an anagram (churning) of STOMACH

13a    Oddly, boat lost a raft (5)
BALSA The odd letters of BoAt LoSt plus A (from the clue)

14a    Draws crowd at last — starts to erupt, ‘Come on you Spurs’ (6)
DECOYS Draws into a trap – the last letter of crowD and the ‘starts’ to Erupt Come On You Spurs

16a    Bugs found in hair etc — a bride’s revolting (8)
BACTERIA Hidden (found) in a reversal (revolting) of hAIR ETC A Bride

18a    Secure Wahlberg, say, for feature (8)
LANDMARK A verb meaning to secure and the Christian name of Mr Wahlberg, the American actor, producer, restaurateur and rapper

20a    Hooligan caught by CCTV and alarm (6)
VANDAL Hidden in (caught by) cctV AND ALarm

23a    Scare companion sick (5)
CHILL A verb meaning to fill with dread (scare) – the abbreviation for a Companion of Honour and a synonym for sick

24a    Wee Willie Winkie’s bedtime habit (9)
NIGHTGOWN Providing you know your nursery rhymes; you should have no problem with identifying Wee Willie Winkie’s bedtime attire

26a    Drug high involved bonfire outside (9)
IBUPROFEN An anagram (involved) of BONFIRE goes outside an adverb meaning on high

27a    Instruction to reader to preserve drained excess sauce (5)
PESTO An abbreviated instruction to a reader ‘preserves’ the outside (drained) letters of ExcesS

28a    Polish conjuror finally involved in perfect disappearance (4,7)
NAIL VARNISH The final letter of conjureR involved into a way of saying [to] perfect [a] disappearance


2d    Shy men lose their heads over a catlike creature (5)
HYENA Remove the first letters (lose their heads) from sHY mEN and add A (from the clue). Apparently, these creatures aren’t dogs or cats but a unique family of mammals, more closely related to cats than dogs. Every day’s an education in Crosswordland!

3d    Doctor of mercy to get medicinal herb (7)
COMFREY An anagram (doctor) of OF MERCY

4d    Scheme, extreme elements of Euroscepticism are first to take on (6)
EMPLOY The ‘extreme’ elements of EuroscepticisM are first or precede a scheme used to achieve a particular result

5d    Maybe Stork’s spread? (8)
WINGSPAN Another misleading capital, the solution being the distance from tip to tip of a stork’s (or any other bird’s) arm-like limbs

6d    Witter on about replacing a British dish (7)
RAREBIT Replace one of the Bs (a British) in an informal verb meaning to witter on

7d    Crooks half escaping — CID and police baffled about law to begin with — one is on a lead? (9,4)
CROCODILE CLIP The first half (the second half escaping) of CROoks and an anagram (baffled) of CID and POLICE ‘about’ the L that is the beginning of Law

8d    Disapproved of a Lego product making uniform base colour (8)
DEPLORED Replace the U in a Lego product made for younger children with the letter that is the base of the natural system of logarithms, and add a colour

9d    Poet raged about everything with article and detailed verse (5,5,3)
EDGAR ALLAN POE An anagram (about) of RAGED, a synonym for everything, an indefinite article and the first three letters (detailed) of a four-letter synonym for verse

15d    Last hint to describe where you’ll find Blue coats put together with no frills (8)
CONTINUE A hint goes round (to describe) the place you’ll find Bluecoats (put together telling you to combine blue and coats) minus the outside letters (with no frills). Here it helps if you know your holiday camp uniforms – Butlins’ entertainment staff wear red coats

17d    Something you shouldn’t put in a car — wasting energy is unethical (8)
WRONGFUL If you want your car to work, you shouldn’t put in the xxxxx xxxx – waste or remove the E (energy)

19d    Everything inside small dark vial showing disease (7)
MALARIA All (everything) the letters found inside sMALl dARk vIAl

21d    Obey orders and carry on working (3,4)
ACT UPON To misbehave (3,2) (carry on) followed by an adverb meaning working (I do like the way the BRB defines this as ‘not off’)

22d    A male, perhaps on the radio programme (6)
AGENDA A (from the clue) and a word used to distinguish the quality of being male (or perhaps female)

25d    Every now and then locals miss a watering-hole (5)
OASIS The alternate (every now and then) letters of lOcAlS mIsS


43 comments on “Toughie 2646

  1. Loved 1A, looked to see who the setter was. Ah, that explains it! Definitely worth persevering with the rest of the crossword then.

    I needed help, but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment. Thank you Django and CrypticSue.

  2. A very satisfying puzzle to solve, good midweek fare as you say, CS, with plenty of wry smiles and quiet chuckles. It wouldn’t have been out of place on the backpage later in the week. Did not know the form of Lego but the answer could not have been anything else. 10a very amusing; 16a 28a,17d and 19d all contenders for the podium. 14a would have been my COTD but I’m a Gooner, so that would never do. The laurels have to go to 9d for being so nicely constructed.


    Many thanks to Django for a great grid, and to CS.

  3. I could only think of traditional ‘bricks’, and ridiculously expensive model sets (which get put together in 10 minutes and then stuck in a cupboard for eternity, never to be played with again ) for ‘lego products’. I failed therefore to parse 8d. A small price to pay for the pleasures of a largely child free existence. Otherwise a much easier puzzle than yesterday, but enjoyable all the same.
    Thanks to all.

    1. Ten minutes – you’ve got to be joking. Yes to putting away in a cupboard but they do fetch good money on eBay

      1. Fair play, that looks much more complex than any of the ones I’ve seen. I just looked up the price, £350.00 !!!! That’s the same as I payed for an Austin All Agro in 1982, mind you it did have 90,000 miles on the clock. You would definitely want more than 10 mins entertainment at that price.

        1. 1982 if the edit didn’t work, otherwise it would have to have been a De Lorean

        2. You know you are getting old when a tank full of petrol costs more than your first car

  4. Lego reference and the blue coats were both off my radar but the whole thing was most enjoyable.
    Thanks to Django and CS. (I hope you’ve buried your chicken wire edges or the blighters will dig their way in.)

  5. A fairly gentle Toughie – thanks to Django and CS.
    I had to reverse engineer 8d to find the name of the Lego product which I’d never heard of.
    I liked 10a for its clever surface but my favourite clue was 17d.

    1. Not as gentle as yesterday’s Dada but gentler (for me anyway) than today’s back pager

      We have lots of the Lego product kept for when little children come to visit (back in the old days). My best memory is of No 2 son (when he was 27) telling his then one-year-old nephew that he couldn’t play with the Duplo because it was his and he’d say who could or couldn’t play with it!

  6. A lovely way to start the day. Lots of fun pitched perfectly for a midweek Toughie slot. Lots to enjoy from the poultry dinner at 1 across to the band at 25 down. Thanks to Django (keep em coming) and to CS who knows more about holiday camp uniforms than I do

  7. I love this setter’s often whacky and humorous surfaces, which actually add to, rather than detract from the pleasure of the puzzle. Quite a few were filled in from checkers and a stab at the definition but great fun.
    I loved 10a (I’m sure BD will too), thought 28a&17d very clever but top spot goes to the “raging poet” at 9d.
    Many thanks to Django and CS for the entertainment.

    Ps…I wonder if the setter’s pseudonym is a tribute to the guitarist Django Reinhardt or anything to do with the rather good art rock band Django Django?

    1. As our setter said in an article in the DT just before his first Toughie was published, “In The Telegraph I will be Django. (My given names are David, James ’n’ Gorman)”

      1. Thanks CS, I can’t recall seeing that particular article, not surprising as I generally only read the business section, editorial and letters.

  8. I enjoyed this nicely challenging but not too tough with some interesting wordplay.

    As seems to be the norm with this setter, although some of the surface readings are fine, some are rather strange, and I couldn’t see anything remotely cryptic about 24a.

    I particularly liked 1a, 10a, 28a & 19d, and my favourite was 17d.

    Thanks to Django and to CS.

    1. Must we do this dance, every time, Rabbit? I don’t think I’ve written a single crossword where you haven’t said you think some of the surfaces are odd… and I’ve explained often enough that it isn’t a very helpful comment if you’re not going to explain which surfaces you find odd. Yours, in bafflement, Django

      1. Django, since the last time I provided you with such a list nothing has changed. Hence I assume that you and I have rather different ideas of what constitutes a smooth surface and I couldn’t see the point of doing the dance again, as you put it.

        A lot of your surfaces are fine, but, particularly with some of your longer clues, I find the meaning can be quite opaque. It’s obviously fine for the wordplay to be as cryptic as you want, but I like the surface to be crystal clear and not have to imagine a convoluted scenario in order to get it to make sense.

        In terms of surface, 10a, 11a & 28a, inter alia, are perfect but I struggle when reading clues like 4d & 7d, for example.

        I guess it’s a personal thing and you and I will probably have to agree to differ, but I did enjoy the puzzle.

        1. Thanks. And yes, it appears we will just have to agree to disagree. What seems convoluted to you about some extreme eurosceptics being first to take on a particular scheme is beyond me. And while 7D is long, all of the elements of the wordplay are – in the surface reading – all in the same world, that of criminality and policing. It tells a cogent story – some crooks have got away, some police are baffled but one of them is on a lead. But you knew that.

  9. Pretty straightforward although I needed help to parse 12a as I was unaware of the abbreviation, 8d as I’d never heard of the Lego product and 29d as I never saw what should have obvious. Oh well! Despite failing to parse it I’m making 29a COTD, very clever. Thanks to Django and CS.

    1. The Duplo bricks are good fun but my favourite of all the sets is the circus – elephants and horses with moving heads, a ringmaster on a horse, and a ‘human’ cannonball

  10. Like others, 8 and 15d were unparsed bung-ins but otherwise plain sailing with lots to enjoy. 17d was my top clue this afternoon. Thoroughly enjoyable and a real delight to solve.

    My thanks to both Django and CS.

  11. Another thoroughly enjoyable solve – many thanks Django and as Miffypops says, keep ’em coming

  12. After looking up 2d down in the dictionary I realized it should be a pig of a clue!🤭

    1. I shared Cryptic Sue’s surprise that they aren’t part of the dog world, but are actually feliform. I hadn’t noticed the Greek origin of the word which seems to reveal that nobody’s ever felt very sure what they actually are!

  13. I was going to shout “foul” and “dog” on 2d until I read the review. Just shows you how educational this site can be.
    What a pity 13a couldn’t be Kon Tiki!
    Odd how one thinks of 9d as a thriller writer rather than a poet despite “Quoth the Raven……”.

  14. I always look forward to solve a puzzle from this setter and wasn’t disappointing.
    A lovely charade in 1a to begin with and finished with the cryptic 5d.
    Thought 9d was great and 21d was very smooth.
    Bunged in 15d as I still can’t see the holiday camp but I know it’s not a tontine.
    Thanks to Django and to CS.

  15. COTD was 9d and hats off to those who got if first from the detailed verse, raged was my entry point. Gave up with 2 to go namely 15d and 26a. Big thumbs down for 26a. Not sure what the drug is but in a world where there are loads of obscure words for drugs, I hope that use of obscure drug names are left off the compilers list, even if it may be deducible from the clue. In my case I was missing the “U” checker. Loads of great clues and so on balance with the above caveat an enjoyable solve. Cheers CS and Django

    1. I agree that obscure drug names are best avoided. I don’t consider 26a to be obscure in the slightest. I don’t know if that perception is different here in the UK but it’s definitely a commonly used word.

      1. You know you’re not on your game when it takes you an age to spot the very things I have to pop like smarties before doing anything remotely energetic.

  16. We got 15d mainly from the definition and checkers but the allusion to Bluecoats was a total mystery to us.
    Lots of chuckles and good fun to solve.
    Thanks Django and CS.

  17. Toughie solving a bit like my golf game at the moment but at least I negotiated the penalty areas with no lost balls & ground out an unaided finish albeit taking an age to see the obvious. Never heard of the Lego piece & couldn’t parse 15d. It was my last one & a bung in as couldn’t think of another word that would fit with the checkers – very annoying as a great clue. I’d have put good money on 2d being more closely related to Rex rather than Lola but you live & learn. Loads of big ticks – 1,11,26&28a plus 6,7,9,15&17d were stand outs for me.
    Thanks Django & CS.
    Ps There’s an error on the digital newspaper version. I completed & didn’t get the puzzle correct message & couldn’t be bothered to look through it so pressed reveal mistakes & they’re spelling Allan at 9d with an E.

    1. I don’t know how the 26a is affecting your golf game, but maybe taking some before a solve might help. If only with 26a.

  18. What a fascinating Toughie blog today–42 posts so far!–and how interesting. There are even lovely, colourful Lego shots. And our compiler has joined the discussion throughout. It’s rather like interactive theatre, where the playwright, the cast, and the audience participate in the drama. I intended to comment much earlier but lost my way here and ending up sleeping through the afternoon. I’ve been rather ill this week, but the beauty and allure of Jay’s Cryptic and Django’s Toughie today have been like nostrums to the soul. So thanks to Django for the joy, and to CS for the review, which I’ll now read. Yes, I did finish the puzzle last night, but I needed a bit of electronic help here and there, and thought that 17d, my LOI, was not only the COTD but also the COTWeek.

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