Toughie 2694 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2694

Toughie No 2694 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Giovanni’s turn to provide the Wednesday Toughie

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Across

1a    A girl, last character coming forward to hold small dances (6)
SALSAS A (from the clue) and a girl, the last letter moving to the front (coming forward) and the abbreviation for Small inserted (to hold)

4a    Outer layer of disintegrating comet flipping hot inside? (8)
ECTODERM An anagram (disintegrating) of COMET into which is inserted (inside) a reversal of the colour associated with something hot

9a    Agreement to have nothing charged for instrument (6)
ACCORD Remove the electrically-charged particle from a musical instrument

10a    Son in jest out of control? (8)
SKIDDING The abbreviation for Son and a word meaning in jest

11a    Aspirations to accommodate sailors with very good instruments (9)
HORNPIPES Some aspirations ‘accommodate’ the abbreviation for the part of the armed forces where sailors serve and the ‘usual’ two-letter informal term meaning very good

13a    Behave badly in aerobatic display? (3,2)
ACT UP An aerobatic display could be described as this

14a    Latin masters’d let fly — if Cicero’s passage were this? (13)
MISTRANSLATED An anagram (let fly) of LATIN MASTERSD

17a    Superior group of islands, UK, maybe getting prior access? Delusion! (13)
HALLUCINATION The entrance to a building (access) goes before (prior) the letter indicating a superior class, the abbreviation for a group of islands and a state (UK perhaps)

21a    Notice one organisation we have left getting the last word (5)
ADIEU An abbreviated notice, the letter representing one and the abbreviation for the organisation the UK left back in January 2020

23a    Reported claim of captain destroying enemy ship — something giving sailors security? (3,6)
ICE ANCHOR A homophone (reported) of a claim a captain might make if he’d destroyed an enemy ship – it helps here to remember that ships are considered to be female

24a    Country name given to an inhabitant of the Midwest (8)
INDIANAN A country, the abbreviation for name and AN (from the clue)

25a    Soldiers shouting possibly when receiving a command (6)
ORDAIN The abbreviation for other ranks of soldiers and a noise such as shouting, into which is inserted (when receiving) A (from the clue)

26a    Iron is one of those heat-emitters in the home? (8)
ELEMENTS The heat-emitters are resistance wires in electric heaters and cookers

27a    A leak in which litres may come out (6)
ASLEEP A (from the clue) and a verb meaning to leak into which is inserted the abbreviation for Litres

Down

1d    Bandage the fellow after sharp blow (6)
SWATHE The masculine form of the third person pronoun (the fellow) goes after a sharp blow

2d    All may cry, endlessly troubled? Hard to keep ‘teary‘ (9)
LACHRYMAL An anagram (troubled) of ALL MAY CRy (endlessly telling you to ignore the final Y) into which is inserted (to keep) the abbreviation for Hard

3d    Dealing with a seaman, providing internal support (7)
APROPOS A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for an ordinary seaman, into which is inserted (providing internal) a [rigid] support

5d    Novel combination available in pub-restaurant? (5,3,3)
CAKES AND ALE The subjects of this novel by Somerset Maugham may well be available in a pub-restaurant

6d    Eccentric theologian entertained by old boy meeting everyone (7)
ODDBALL An abbreviated theologian is inserted between (entertained by) the abbreviation for Old Boy and a synonym for everyone

7d    Writer and priest and where to find him (5)
ELIOT A Biblical priest and the part of the Bible where he can be found

8d    Big bird, say, that has upset old man, getting in way (8)
MEGAPODE A type of big bird, its name coming from its large feet – The abbreviation meaning for example (say) and a reversed (upset) father (old man) inserted into (getting in) a way

12d    Joiner-in given role here in Paris with quartet starting Christmas show (11)
PARTICIPANT A role, the French word (as used in Paris) meaning here and the first four letters (quartet starting) of a show usually seen at Christmas

15d    Special treat, then, is very poor (5-4)
TENTH-RATE An anagram (special) of TREAT THEN

16d    Article about one old African leader providing health supplement (8)
THIAMINE The definite article goes ‘about’ the letter representing one and an old African leader

18d    Wail of female singer rising at start of event (7)
ULULATE A reversal (rising) of a [Scottish] female singer followed by AT (from the clue) and the ‘start’ of Event

19d    Is oblivious to Italian ladies first to last (7)
IGNORES Move the first letter of some Italian ladies to the end of the word

20d    Dress up, as you might say — a requirement before the wedding? (6)
PRENUP A homophone (as you might say) of a verb meaning to groom oneself, especially with vanity, and UP (from the clue)

22d    What’s not mainstream — popular before getting to fade away (5)
INDIE The usual ‘popular’ goes before a verb meaning to fade away

 

19 comments on “Toughie 2694
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  1. I’m always a happy bunny if I complete a Toughie unaided, but when it’s a Giovanni, and after having been dragged around the Cheshire countryside by a 7 month old Labrador for two hours, then today is special.

    All complete in *** time, with no assistance other than to check 8d, a word new to me.

    12d gets my vote for COTD. Many thanks to the compiler and CS.

  2. A fairly gentle test today, which I found more straightforward than the other one I get on my iPad. That could be why I enjoyed it. Thank you to the Don and CS.

  3. Just what one expects from Giovanni; precise, fair clues, a cleric or two, something classical and something a bit obscure. This one was good fun and I particularly enjoyed 9a and 12d.
    Thanks to The Don and to CS for the blog.

  4. 19d shouldn’t it be Italian man! Excuse my ignorance and 20d is a bit of a synonym streeeeetch. All the rest was a good test and well clued👍

  5. A joyful completion, all on my own, of a Giovanni Toughie! The big-footed crittur was my LOI, and one of my top choices, but I liked just about every single clue. It’s a rare thing for me to find myself on G’s wavelength, but I especially cottoned to the 5d Maugham book (a quasi-Hardy thing, as I recall); the Prufrock author at 7d; and 2d. Thanks to CS for the review, which I’ll read now, and Giovanni.

  6. Very precise wordplay, as always with Giovanni, but with fewer obscurities than we’ve come to expect. Thanks to him and CS.
    My favourite clue was 10a.

  7. SW was the hardest for me despite 8d being a new word for me. I was unaware of the plural for the Italian ladies in 19d but put it anyway so needed the hint to parse it and the rest came as the checkers narrowed the options. Favourite was 18d as I remembered the word from a previous crossword. Thanks to Giovanni and CS.

  8. Really didn’t enjoy this unrewarding slog of a puzzle, sorry Giovanni, but thank you for the challenge. With such obscurities as a 90-year old novel, a big-footed chicken, and the fair if ghastly 24a, completing it (with the aid on two clues of this blog, thank you CS) brought no satisfaction and even the groan that would usually be elicited by 23a was not forthcoming. “Tenth-rate” was new to me and seems superfluous when one already has recourse to “third rate”: to go seven further levels below that seems to be over-egging it!

    1. Obscurity (def.) — an over-used and sometimes unfairly used word for something that a solver hasn’t heard of which annoys him or her but which gives a modicum of delight to some who are interested to learn about new realms of vocabulary and knowledge.

      1. I’m sorry I’m unable to lavish obsequious praise upon quite all your puzzles, Giovanni – I do tend to enjoy them, just not this one.

        1. Mercifully I get litte obsequiousness in any of its manifestations and I am not the type to look for it, so no apology is needed.

  9. The obscure geezer at 5 down wrote this rather delightful tale of a poorly schooled lad

    The Verger
    By Somerset Maugham
    There had been a christening that afternoon at St Peter’s, Neville Square, and Albert Edward Foreman still wore his verger’s gown. He kept his new one, its folds as full and stiff as though it were made not of alpaca but of perennial bronze, for funerals and weddings (St Peter’s, Neville Square, was a church much favoured by the fashionable for these ceremonies) and now he wore only his second-best. He wore it with complacence, for it was the dignified symbol of his office, and without it (when he took it off to go home) he had the disconcerting sensation of being somewhat insufficiently clad. He took pains with it; he pressed it and ironed it himself. During the sixteen years he had been verger of this church he had had a succession of such gowns, but he had never been able to throw them away when they were worn out and the complete series, neatly wrapped up in brown paper, lay in the bottom drawers of the wardrobe in his bedroom.
    The verger busied himself quietly, replacing the painted wooden cover on the marble font, taking away a chair that had been brought for an infirm old lady, and waited for the vicar to have finished in the vestry so that he could tidy up in there and go home. Presently he saw him walk across the chancel, genuflect in front of the high altar, and come down the aisle; but he still wore his cassock.
    `What’s he ‘anging about for?’ the verger said to himself. `Don’t’e know I want my tea?
    The vicar had been but recently appointed, a red-faced energetic man in the early forties, and Albert Edward still regretted his predecessor, a clergyman of the old school who preached leisurely sermons in a silvery voice and dined out a great deal with his more aristocratic parishioners. He liked things in church to be just so, but he never fussed; he was not like this new man who wanted to have his finger in every pie. But Albert Edward was tolerant. St Peter’s was in a very good neighbourhood and the parishioners were a very nice class of people. The new vicar had come from the East End and he couldn’t be expected to fall in all at once with the discreet ways of his fashionable congregation.
    `All this ‘ustle; said Albert Edward. `But give ‘im time, he’ll learn.’
    When the vicar had walked down the aisle so far that he could address the verger without raising his voice more than was becoming in a place of worship he stopped.
    `Foreman, will you come into the vestry for a minute. I have something to say to you.’ ‘Very good, sir:
    The vicar waited for him to come up and they walked up the church together.
    `A very nice christening, I thought, sir. Funny ‘ow the baby stopped cryin’ the moment you took him.’

    `I’ve noticed they very often do,’ said the vicar, with a little smile. ‘After all I’ve had a good deal of practice with them.’
    It was a source of subdued pride to him that he could nearly always quiet a whimpering infant by the manner in which he held it and he was not unconscious of the amused admiration with which mothers and nurses watched him settle the baby in the crook of his surpliced arm. The verger knew that it pleased him to be complimented on his talent. The vicar preceded Albert Edward into the vestry. Albert Edward was a trifle surprised to find the two churchwardens there. He had not seen them come in. They gave him pleasant nods.
    `Good afternoon, my lord. Good afternoon, sir,’ he said to one after the other.
    They were elderly men, both of them, and they had been churchwardens almost as long as Albert Edward had been verger. They were sitting now at a handsome refectory table that the old vicar had brought many years before from Italy and the vicar sat down in the vacant chair between them. Albert Edward faced them, the table between him and them, and wondered with slight uneasiness what was the matter. He remembered still the occasion on which the organist had got into trouble and the bother they had all had to hush things up. In a church like St Peter’s, Neville Square, they couldn’t afford a scandal. On the vicar’s red face was a look of resolute benignity, but the others bore an expression that was slightly troubled.
    `He’s been naggin’ them, he ‘as,’ said the verger to himself. `He’s jockeyed them into doin’ something, but they don’t ‘alf like it. That’s what it is, you mark my words.’
    But his thoughts did not appear on Albert Edward’s clean-cut and distinguished features. He stood in a respectful but not obsequious attitude. He had been in service before he was appointed to his ecclesiastical office, but only in very good houses, and his deportment was irreproachable. Starting as a page-boy in the household of a merchant prince, he had risen by due degrees from the position of fourth to first footman, for a year he had been single-handed butler to a widowed peeress, and, till the vacancy occurred at St Peter’s, butler with two men under him in the house of a retired ambassador. He was tall, spare, grave, and dignified. He looked, if not like a duke, at least like an actor of the old school who specialized in dukes’ parts. He had tact, firmness,-and self-assurance. His character was unimpeachable.
    The vicar began briskly.
    `Foreman, we’ve got something rather unpleasant to say to you. You’ve been here a great many years and I think his lordship and the general agree with me that you’ve fulfilled the duties of your office to the satisfaction of everybody concerned.’
    The two churchwardens nodded.
    `But a most extraordinary circumstance came to my knowledge the other day and I felt it my duty to impart it to the churchwardens. I discovered to my astonishment that you could neither read nor write.’
    The verger’s face betrayed no sign of embarrassment.

    `The last vicar knew that, sir,’ he replied. ‘He said it didn’t make no difference. He always said there was a great deal too much education in the world for ‘is taste.’
    `It’s the most amazing thing I ever heard,’ cried the general. `Do you mean to say that you’ve been verger of this church for sixteen years and never learned to read or write.’
    `I went into service when I was twelve, sir. The cook in the first place tried to teach me once, but I didn’t seem to ‘ave the knack for it, and then what with one thing and another I never seemed to’ave the time. I’ve never really found the want of it. I think a lot of these young fellows waste a rare lot of time readin’ when they might be doin’ something useful.’
    ‘But don’t you want to know the news? said the other churchwarden. ‘Don’t you ever want to write a letter?’
    ‘No, me lord, I seem to manage very well without. And of late years now they’ve all these pictures in the papers I get to know what’s goin’ on pretty well. Me wife’s quite a scholar and if I want to write a letter she writes it for me. It’s not as if I was a bettin’ man: The two churchwardens gave the vicar a troubled glance and then looked down at the table.
    ‘Well, Foreman, I’ve talked the matter over with these gentlemen and they quite agree with me that the situation is impossible. At a church like St Peter’s, Neville Square, we cannot have a verger who can neither read nor write.’
    Albert Edward’s thin, sallow face reddened and he moved uneasily on his feet, but he made no reply.
    ‘Understand me, Foreman, I have no complaint to make against you. You do your work quite satisfactorily; I have the highest opinion both of your character and of your capacity; but we haven’t the right to take the risk of some accident that might happen owing to your lamentable ignorance. It’s a matter of prudence as well as of principle.’
    ‘But couldn’t you learn, Foreman? asked the general.
    `No, sir, I’m afraid I couldn’t, not now. You see, I’m not as young as I was and if I couldn’t seem able to get the letters in me ‘ead when I was a nipper I don’t think there’s much chance of it now.’
    ‘We don’t want to be harsh with you, Foreman,’ said the vicar. `But the churchwardens and I have quite made up our minds. We’ll give you three months and if at the end of that time you cannot read and write I’m afraid you’ll have to go.’
    Albert Edward had never liked the new vicar. He’d said from the beginning that they’d made a mistake when they gave him St Peter’s. He wasn’t the type of man they wanted with a classy congregation like that. And now he straightened himself a little. He knew his value and he wasn’t going to allow himself to be put upon. `I’m very sorry, sir, I’m afraid it’s no good. I’m too old a dog to learn new tricks. I’ve lived a good many years without knowin’ ‘ow to read and write, and without wishin’ to praise myself, self praise

    is no recommendation, I don’t mind sayin’ I’ve done my duty in that state of life in which it ‘as pleased a merciful providence to place me, and if I could learn now I don’t know as I’d want to.’
    ‘In that case, Foreman, I’m afraid you must go.’
    `Yes, sir, I quite understand. I shall be ‘appy to ‘and in my resignation as soon as you’ve found somebody to take my place.’
    But when Albert Edward with his usual politeness had closed the church door behind the vicar and the two churchwardens he could not sustain the air of unruffled dignity with which he had borne the blow inflicted upon him and his lips quivered. He walked slowly back to the vestry and hung up on its proper peg his verger’s gown. He sighed as he thought of all the grand funerals and smart weddings it had seen. He tidied everything up, put on his coat, and hat in hand walked down the aisle. He locked the church door behind him. He strolled across the square, but deep in his sad thoughts he did not take the street that led him home, where a nice strong cup of tea awaited him; he took the wrong turning. He walked slowly along. His heart was heavy. He did not know what he should do with himself. He did not fancy the notion of going back to domestic service; after being his own master for so many years, for the vicar and churchwardens could say what they liked, it was he that had run St Peter’s, Neville Square, he could scarcely demean himself by accepting a situation. He had saved a tidy sum, but not enough to live on without doing something, and life seemed to cost more every year. He had never thought to be troubled with such questions. The vergers of St Peter’s, like the popes of Rome, were there for life. He had often thought of the pleasant reference the vicar would make in his sermon at evensong the first Sunday after his death to the long and faithful service, and the exemplary character of their late verger, Albert Edward Foreman. He sighed deeply. Albert Edward was a non-smoker and a total abstainer, but with a certain latitude; that is to say he liked a glass of beer with his dinner and when he was tired he enjoyed a cigarette. It occurred to him now that one would comfort him and since he did not carry them he looked about him for a shop where he could buy a packet of Gold Flake. He did not at once see one and walked on a little. It was a long street, with all sorts of shops in it, but there was not a single one where you could buy cigarettes.
    ‘That’s strange,’ said Albert Edward.
    To make sure he walked right up the street again. No, there was no doubt about it. He stopped and looked reflectively up and down.
    `I can’t be the only man as walks along this street and wants a fag,’ he said. `I shouldn’t wonder but what a fellow might do very well with a little shop here. Tobacco and sweets, you know.’
    He gave a sudden start.
    `That’s an idea,’ he said. `Strange ‘ow things come to you when you least expect it.’
    He turned, walked home, and had his tea.

    `You’re very silent this afternoon, Albert,’ his wife remarked. `I’m thinkin’,’ he said.
    He considered the matter from every point of view and next day he went along the street and by good luck found a little shop to let that looked as though it would exactly suit him. Twenty-four hours later he had taken it, and when a month after that he left St Peter’s, Neville Square, for ever, Albert Edward Foreman set up in business as a tobacconist and newsagent. His wife said it was a dreadful come-down after being verger of St Peter’s, but he answered that you had to move with the times, the church wasn’t what it was, and ‘enceforward he was going to render unto Caesar what was Caesar’s. Albert Edward did very well. He did so well that in a year or so it struck him that he might take a second shop and put a manager in. He looked for another long street that hadn’t got a tobacconist in it and when he found it, and a shop to let, took it and stocked it. This was a success too. Then it occurred to him that if he could run two he could run half a dozen, so he began walking about London, and whenever he found a long street that had no tobacconist and a shop to let he took it. In the course of ten years he had acquired no less than ten shops and he was making money hand over fist. He went round to all of them himself every Monday, collected the week’s takings, and took them to the bank.
    One morning when he was there paying in a bundle of notes and a heavy bag of silver the cashier told him that the manager would like to see him. He was shown into an office and the manager shook hands with him.
    ‘Mr Foreman, I wanted to have a talk to you about the money you’ve got on deposit with us. D’you know exactly how much it is?’
    ‘Not within a pound or two, sir; but I’ve got a pretty rough idea.’
    `Apart from what you paid in this morning it’s a little over thirty thousand pounds. That’s a very large sum to have on deposit and I should have thought you’d do better to invest it.’
    ‘I wouldn’t want to take no risk, sir. I know it’s safe in the bank.’
    ‘You needn’t have the least anxiety. We’ll make you out a list of absolutely giltedged securities. They’ll bring you in a better rate of interest than we can possibly afford to give you.’
    A troubled look settled on Mr Foreman’s distinguished face. ‘I’ve never ‘ad anything to do with stocks and shares and I’d ‘ave to leave it all in your ‘ands,’ he said.
    The manager smiled. ‘We’ll do everything. All you’ll have to do next time you come in is just to sign the transfers:
    ‘I could do that all right,’ said Albert uncertainly. ‘But ‘ow should I know what I was signin’?
    `I suppose you can read,’ said the manager a trifle sharply.

    Mr Foreman gave him a disarming smile.
    ‘Well, sir, that’s just it. I can’t. I know it sounds funny-like, but there it is, I can’t read or write, only me name, an’ I only learnt to do that when I went into business.’
    The manager was so surprised that he jumped up from his chair. ‘That’s the most extraordinary thing I ever heard.’
    ‘You see, it’s like this, sir, I never ‘ad the opportunity until it was too late and then some’ow I wouldn’t. I got obstinate-like.’
    The manager stared at him as though he were a prehistoric monster.
    ‘And do you mean to say that you’ve built up this important business and amassed a fortune of thirty thousand pounds without being able to read or write? Good God, man, what would you be now if you had been able to?’
    ‘I can tell you that, sir,’ said Mr Foreman, a little smile on his still aristocratic features. ‘I’d be verger of St Peter’s, Neville Square.’

    1. Well, my goodness gracious, MP! A Maugham I haven’t read but which I look forward to, as soon as I’ve caught my breath. Also, I’ve just ordered a copy of Cakes and Ale, which I may have read two lifetimes ago but can’t seem to remember. Maugham always was a great storyteller.

    2. An enjoyable short story, MP, and thank you for posting it – although it may be worth bearing in mind SM’s works are still within copyright.

  10. Must stop doing Toughies so late at night when the eyes are drooping. No unaided finish for me as 3 in the SE held out until I revealed the 20d/27a checker enabling a finish. The first bit of 5d was a bung in & had never heard of the bird. 7d was my favourite with 23a runner up.
    Thanks to Giovanni & CS – too tired to read the review after that chunk of Maugham but will do so the morrow.

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