Toughie 2770 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2770

Toughie No 2770 by Django

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

Django returns with an enjoyable Toughie –  one of those crosswords where the top was friendlier than the bottom – I added half a star to the difficulty rating to allow for time I took to parse 8d

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1a    Comic character from TV series in busy pub-theatre run (6,3,4)
RUPERT THE BEAR An American medical TV series inserted into an anagram (busy) of PUB THEATRE R (run)

10a    Please make grass look right — leading to praise (7)
GLORIFY Take a synonym for please and change the grass (informer) into an archaic interjection meaning look and the abbreviation for Right

11a    Fantastic Santa Claus regularly gives fruit (7)
SULTANA An anagram (fantastic) of SANTA and the regular letters of cLaUs

12a    Some boots I biked over for winger (4)
IBIS Hidden in reverse (over) in some bootS I BIked

13a    Jerk outside leg, increasing strength (5)
TONIC An adjective meaning giving or increasing strength is obtained by putting an involuntary reaction (jerk) outside a cricket ‘leg’

14a    In ancient Rome, this goes on Caesar’s head to be stylish (4)
CHIC The Latin word used in ancient Rome to mean this goes on or after the ‘head’ of Caesar

17a    Ant not yet rejecting terms — Dec’s beginning to get upset (7)
ANNOYED Reject the terms or ends of ANt NOt YEt and add the beginning of Dec

18a    Tool to gain unauthorised access was returned (7)
HACKSAW To gain unauthorised access, perhaps to a computer, and a reversal (returned) of WAS

19a    Group of narcs stop most expensive … (7)
DEAREST Most people know that ‘narcs’ is a US slang word for narcotics agents and the group (organisation) they work for is abbreviated to start the solution and then followed by a synonym for stop

22a    … sort of car without, say, drawing rifle (7)
MARTINI A sort of car into which is inserted (without) the works of creative imagination of which drawing is, say, an example

24a    Dress to boast about (4)
GARB An old friend of the solver – we either get a verb meaning to boast being a reversal of dress to get boast, or in this case a reversal (about) of boast to get dress

25a    Plant unknown on stage (5)
DAISY A mathematical unknown goes on or after a raised platform

26a    Man could be somewhat travel-sick, facing the wrong way (4)
ISLE Hidden in reverse (facing the wrong way) in travELl-SIck

29a    Flipside‘s hot against tongue (7)
INVERSE Hot or fashionable, the letter used to indicate versus (against) and a language of the people of the West Highlands, sometimes used for Irish Gaelic

30a    Works a way into hotels (7)
INNARDS The internal parts of something (works) – insert A (from the clue) and an abbreviated way into some hotels

31a    Blond Tory woke up those with friends in high places? (3,3,7)


2d    Ideal university will prepare one for student (7)
UTOPIAN The abbreviation for University and a way of saying will prepare, where I (one) replaces the ‘usual’ abbreviated student

3d    Base vote on case for independent withdrawal (4)
EXIT The letter that is the base of the natural system of logarithms, the letter used when you vote and the ‘case’ for IndependenT

4d    Teach your extremely old papers — you’ve got some neck? (7)
THYROID The extreme letters of TeacH YouR, the abbreviation for Old and some identity papers

5d    It’s in joints like the man’s hands gripping (7)
HASHISH The two-letter abbreviation for hands (the measurement of the height of a horse) gripping a way of saying like the man’s

6d    Blow fly (4)
BELT Double definition – either a sharp blow or a slang verb meaning to move very fast

7d    Embarrasses adult son taking party drug (7)
ABASHES The abbreviations for Adult and Son into which is inserted (taking) an informal party and the abbreviation for a particular drug

8d    Heart essentially clear after plug controls unstable angina repeatedly (5,3,5)
AGAIN AND AGAIN The essential letter of heArt, another word for profit (clear), and an abbreviated advertisement (plug) ‘controls’ or goes round part of the result of an anagram (unstable) of ANGINA

9d    Beastly complaint diocese saw? (3,3,7)
MAD COW DISEASE This beastly complaint is formed by an anagram indicator and an anagram of DIOCESE SAW

15d    Dorothy Perkins’s marketing executive? (5)
HYPER Hidden in dorotHY PERkins

16d    Where you stand to face the board after pocketing Republican money (5)
OCHRE A slang term for money, especially gold – the line where you stand to face a dartboard into which is inserted (pocketing) the abbreviation for Republican

20d    Dawn Basra raid viable, every now and then (7)
ARRIVAL The even (every now and then) letters of bAsRa RaId ViAbLe

21d    Decorative pattern in salver describing church minister’s end (7)
TRACERY A salver going round (describing) the abbreviation for the Church of England and the ‘end’ of minister

22d    Great writing about opening for Abbott and Costello — perhaps recalled forgetting line (7)
MASSIVE An abbreviated manuscript (writing) goes ‘about’ the opening for Abbott followed by a reversal (recalled) the stage name of Mr Costello the singer/songwriter, perhaps indicating that there are other singers with this name 😉

23d    Churchill’s one to strengthen, holding small cigar butt (7)
INSURER A verb meaning to strengthen ‘holding’ the abbreviation for Small, the result finished wit the ‘butt’ of cigar I expect our overseas correspondents will have been confused by the link between Churchill and the solution, and even more so by my chosen illustration!

27d    Discovered writer’s home (4)
CRIB A slang term for a home is found in the inside letters (dis-covered) of a writer Yes I know I’m not illustrating the solution but it is Christmas

28d    Understand speaker’s vote against (4)
KNOW A homophone (speaker’s) of a vote against

Looking out of the window this morning while I type the blog, the sun is shining and there’s been quite a heavy frost, which means that everything is bright and twinkly – as I said to Mr CS ‘it looks just like a Christmas card’.

Merry Christmas to Django, and all the other setters, bloggers and commenters

42 comments on “Toughie 2770

  1. Ditto on time taken to parse 8d, 2d also required a scratch of the head. Some of the anagram indicators gave me pause for thought (1a, 31a).

    The solve itself was enjoyable and about right for a mid week toughie. I liked 22d, very clever.

    Thanks to Django and CS.

  2. 1 ac. The character’s “middle” name is not “the”.
    It’s just his first and last name.
    Unlike A.A. Milne’s character (There’s a joke about that).

    1. I, too, was going to post an irate note about that. It made the down clues more difficult than they should have been,

      1. Well, how would you like to be called “Miffy the Pops”…..don’t answer that!!
        Happy Christmas and many, many thanks for all you posts.

  3. I found this one strange. I put seven answers in more or less straight away from the definition alone, but could parse none of them fully. Obviously pleased to finish, though felt uncomfortably inadequate because of my parsing failures.

    1. I used to say that the difference between a back pager and a toughie was that after solving both I would understand the why’s and wherefores of a back pager but would struggle to see sense in a lot of the Toughie answers. After several years of blogging puzzles that is rarely the case. Today was an exception. I do like DJango’s puzzles though. A breath of fresh air from an accomplished wordsmith

  4. Very enjoyable and I thought slightly tougher than this setter’s recent offerings. I did end up with a full grid but failed to fully parse 10a and 22d, the former I wouldn’t have done if I’d looked at it all day. I can’t recall seeing “up” as an anagram indicator previously though it was pretty obvious where the clue was going.
    Top three for me were 2&5d plus 17a. Good stuff.
    Many thanks to Django and CS for a top puzzle and blog.

    1. ‘up’ (in the sense of ‘in an excited state’) is reasonably common as an anagram indicator, though Mr Lancaster has said in the past (in response to a clue of mine in the Newsletter competition) that the Telegraph doesn’t allow it. I assume that rule has now changed.

      1. Thanks Gazza. Probably over ninety percent of puzzles that I do are in the Telegraph (though I like The Indy at the weekend) which probably accounts for it being new to me.

        1. It’s not completely new to you, Stephen…

          There are a couple of definitions for ‘up’ that suffice, I think – ‘in an excited state’ or ‘amiss’.

          It’s not the easiest term to search for in context, but here’s a Toughie that used back in 2016 – so I don’t know that it’s ever been strictly disallowed!

          1. Just for information Chris Lancaster wrote in the Puzzles Newsletter on 08/03/21:
            we generally don’t accept ‘up’ as an anagram indicator“.

          2. Your memory is obviously considerably better than mine sir! No guarantees but I think I’ll remember it from here on in.

  5. Well I didn’t find it particularly easy but then rarely do with DG’s puzzles. Still a few to properly parse so will look at the review later but as usual thoroughly enjoyable & great fun to complete. I thought the 4 peripheral long ‘uns all very good – 9d was my clear favourite, yet to parse 8d satisfactorily & the 1a anagram took me an embarrassingly longtime to twig. 4,5 & 16d other ticks for me.
    Thanks Django (loved your Fed puzzle in the Graun yesterday) & to CS.

    1. Nearly but not quite parsing 8d. Nowhere close with 22d & missed out on 10a despite having initially bunged in gratify.
      Thanks for explaining Sue.

  6. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Django and CS.
    The answers to a couple of clues (1a and 8d) leapt out from the definition and checkers but some thought was required to parse them before I could write them in.
    My ticks went 10a, 17a, 9d and 15d.

  7. Very enjoyable tho’ I also had problems parsing 8d, stupidly trying to use “angina” repeatedly for the anagram fodder, despite “repeatedly” being the obvious definition. 10a was particularly fiendish and I loved 22d and the possessive in 15d. Not convinced about the article in 1a but hey-ho, it’s Christmas.
    Thanks to Django and to CS for the blog.

  8. I have enjoyed Django’s recent puzzles and so was disappointed not to like this one, which, despite some good parts, had far too many American references and convoluted clues for my taste. I expect it’s just me as I see others seem to have enjoyed it, so I’m hoping this one is just a blip from my point of view and I’ll look forward in hope to the next one.

    Thanks anyway Django and thanks to to CS.

    1. I’m struggling to see where all these American references are. I can see that Narcs/DEA agents is an American reference – albeit, to my mind one that’s been in enough mainstream films and TV shows that most of us will be familiar with it. You can’t mean reference to Abbott & Costello?

      I think ‘crib’ as a slang term might have seen a resurgence in use because of American pop culture but I don’t think it started there and it certainly isn’t an an exclusively American term.

  9. CS is right: this overseas solver had no idea at all what was going on with 23d, but the checking letters gave me enough for a bung-in. Quite pleased to solve 1a, a pleasure lacking in these benighted lands. Very much liked and solved all four long ones early on, but still needed a bit of electronic assistance elsewhere. Podium stars: 10a, 22d, & 25a because of its terseness and cuteness. Thanks to CS and Merry Christmas to her; many thanks to Django for the pleasures his puzzles give me, and Merry Christmas to him.

    1. A further comment: Thought I’d parsed 8d correctly until I just read CS’s explanation; guess I leapt to satisfaction too soon. I also failed to mention above that I’d never seen ‘up’ as an anagrind before today, but I concluded it had to be that. And on third thought, I’ll change my podium to include 9d instead of 25a.

  10. Needed the hint to parse 22d and didn’t get 16d as I was unaware of the slang term for money, the best I could come up with was score as in a £20 note which obviously I couldn’t parse. So dnf. Apart from those difficult but doable. Favourite was 10a. Thanks to Django and CS.

  11. I really liked this. Sufficiently challenging, but not so challenging as to become a chore.
    I bunged in 8d and thought I’ll parse that one later and then, of course, forgot.
    Clue of the day to 9d. Loved it!
    Thanks to Django and CS.

  12. I agree with Shabbo that 9d was the COTD. Very inventive and clever. The whole grid felt fresh, and although 8d remained unparsed (and still would be were it not for the excellent explanation from Sue), this was a most enjoyable puzzle to complete as the rain lashes down outside.

    My thanks to Django for the challenge and to CS.

  13. Seemed harder than CS rated it.
    Otherwise I agree with everyone else’s comments.
    Thanks to Django and CS.

  14. An enjoyable, relatively mild Toughie. I, like some others, struggled parse 8d – got there in the end! 16d was my favourite today.

  15. I made heavier weather of this than I should have – but then, I had a booster yesterday and had a very bad night’s sleep, so I’ve been making heavy weather of everything today. I too had never seen ‘up’ as in 31a, and … well, I can see some reasonableness in the previous editorial policy. But it was obvious enough what it had to be. I needed CS’s help to parse 10a (which I now think is my favourite), and had ‘bolt’ for 6d, which I don’t think is completely unjustifiable, though the correct answer is certainly better.

    The answer to 1a – I’m sure the objectors are correct, but the theme music from the TV show certainly gave him the definite article, so I’ve always thought of him as having a middle name. Here is a link for anyone who fancies a blast from the past – it’s a great tune, sung by Jackie Lee (no, me neither, but her Wikipedia page actually refers to the controversial ‘the’!) I’m going to have it stuck in my head all day now.

  16. I’ve made my point at comment 3 above. Thanks to the 2Ks for a years worth of reviews and the insights into your life that you throw in every week. Thanks also to DJango who never disappoints. I never doubted that you would succeed. Your way with words had been practiced for years. I do look forward to your puzzles

    1. Thanks Miffy. Much appreciated.

      Setting has been a source of great enjoyment for me – and continues to be so. It’s also kept me sane during these particularly trying times.

  17. Thank you, Cryptic Sue. Needed you for 22d!!! Just to say that the click-on answer to 5d in your hints is accidentally missing 5 letters… Happy Christmas!

    1. When I was checking the hints before scheduling them for 2pm, I noticed that the first H wasn’t hidden by the click here! thingy. In my efforts to cover it up, I appear to have removed the rest of the word. I hope it is working now

  18. Like Friar Richard above we had BOLT for 6d. Think we might have heard of 23d somewhere so that was not a problem.
    Lots to enjoy and a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Django and CS.

  19. Enjoyed this a lot – I do like Django (though more familiar with his Bluth / Fed alter egos) and this was typically devious good fun.
    Re 8d, I think the parsing is perhaps a little simpler than in the blog, ie the AD ‘controls’ (contains, fully) an anagram of ANGINA for the first two words – the “heart essentially clear” then comes “after”.

  20. Late to the party today- after a trip to buy some Christmas essentials (Cheese, Port and two very nice looking Malts)
    I haven’t had a chance to look at the back pager yet but if it is harder than this I may not be able too. I needed a few nudges from CS to help me on the way. I liked 9d when I found the correct anagram indicator to add to the fodder. but confess to writing the alternate letters of 20d many many times before I found the right A to start on.
    Still a fun way to spend a while as I cracked open the bottle of Bunnahabhain Stiùireadair (pronounced ‘stew-rahdur’ and means ‘helmsman’ in Scots Gaelic) Saying it is easier on the throat after a drink of same.
    Thanks to Django and CS I will try the (inside) backpager before the whisky pickles any more brain cells.

  21. Thanks for the blog, Cryptic Sue and for all the comments.

    My intended parsing for 8D was as Fez suggests above ( A + GAIN after AD containing ANGINA*) although I can see that the abundance of As in general and repetition of words in particular allows for some different interpretations.

    Happy Christmas, all!

    1. 8d is one of those clues where, if I hadn’t had to blog it, I’d have left it for someone else to tell me how it worked!

  22. Never come across 16d meaning “money” and it isn’t in my edition of Chambers, though easy enough to work out from the wordplay. Otherwise lovely…

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