Sunday Toughie 15 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 15

Sunday Toughie No 15 by proXimal

Review by Sloop John Bee

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This puzzle was published on the 8th of May 2022


1a    Dirty spots in part of plane, craft beset by bacteria (11)
FINGERMARKS:    A biblical craft (ARK) is surrounded by bacteria (GERMS) instead of the flood and preceded by part of an aeroplane (FIN)[GERM{ARK}S]

7a    Warned of alcoholic drink, wine containing Tango (7)
ALERTED:    Two alcoholic drinks, beer or ALE and RED wine, the latter contains T for Tango (ALE)[R{T}ED]

8a    Open shed damaged here from leprechaun’s larking (7)
UNCLASP:    This is one of those tricky little subtraction anagrams, we have to shed some letters from LEPRECHAUNS. Shed damaged tells us that the letters we need to extract (HERE) are not in order, and larking tells us to reorder what remains for open one’s fist perhaps.

10a    Locks might contain these vessels (8)
TUMBLERS:    An all in one I think. Locks usually makes me think of hairstyles but not here (the hairdo today is in 17d) The answer we seek is a feature of some locks particularly safes, also a vessel I may drink from.

11a    Auditor’s appointed by assistant (6)
JUNIOR:    A couple of very dodgy homophones, as Gazza said; “The homophones used in 11a would possibly be acceptable in the Quickie pun but, in my view, they’re very poor as part of a cryptic puzzle. They are due (appointed) and near (by). DUE NEAR = JUNIOR? I agree with Gazza.

13a    Pens around this figure? You’d find a range (4)
NINE:        A reasonably rare middle definition, If the letters PENS surround the answer we get a range of hills (penNINEs). I have walked the Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm twice, but I think I would take a lot longer these days.

14a    Company partner occupied by deficit hugely (10)
COLOSSALLY:    Some Lego here, Two letters suggested by company (CO) and a partner (ALLY) surround a large financial deficit.(LOSS) (CO)[LOSS](ALLY)

16a    Our tea ordered with nice salesperson (10)
AUCTIONEER:     An anagram of OUR TEA and NICE. create a salesperson with a gavel.

18a    Greek character going back in swimmer’s headwear (4)
KEPI:        Some cycling here, we start with a large freshwater swimmer or fish PIKE, and cycle the Greek character PI from the front to the back for some headwear.

Charles de Gaulle in a rather elaborate KEPI

21a    Rant hearing attack from Asian person? (6)
TIRADE:        Another double homophone but only the first gave me pause. THAI is our Asian person and RAID is our attack. I think that some might prefer a cup of TEA for the first syllable but not as hard to swallow as 11a. TIRADE a speech or rant of violent denunciation.

22a    Examining an urban settlement in California to the west (8)
ANALYTIC:    proXimal has given us two free letters, start with a general meaning of urban (CITY)and add a specific Californian large urban settlement (LA) around the two letters given to us, (AN) then reverse the lot (to the west in an across clue) I am not sure if I have done that quite right, do the two given letters go in the settlement and then reversed or do they start the clue and have appended the reversal? ANALYTIC examining with a methodical approach.

24a    Training time, jog back alongside river (7)
NURTURE:    Jog back gives us a reversal of RUN, T for time, and the second most northerly of the Yorkshire Dales rivers, URE. NURTURE the training to develop and grow

25a    Underwear designers (7)
DRAWERS:    Another double def. A colloquial noun for one’s underwear and the skill of designers that helps them sketch plans or actors and their cars perhaps.

26a    Retired woman tucked into fish and green cheese (11)
WENSLEYDALE:    More reversals here. A woman (LADY) goes inside some slippery fish (EELS)and a synonym of green (NEW), all reversed. (WEN) [SLE {YDAL} E] What comes from that is a delightful cheese much admired by Wallace and Gromit, and coincidentally the only one of the Yorkshire Dales that doesn’t take its name from the river that runs through it. (That river is the one we need for 24a)


1d    One unenthralled following about upset celebrity (7)
FREEMAN:    The person we are looking for is one no longer held in bondage or slavery, a noun for a celebrity (NAME) is reversed after an abbreviation for following (F) and one of the usual crosswordy abouts (RE). I notice that the answer is also the surname of a celebrity actor whose forename is in 7d. Is proXimal a fan of this Hobbit actor?

2d    Annoy rest after leader’s changed direction (6)
NETTLE:    To rest or SETTLE changes its initial compass direction S for south, to N for North. NETTLE Cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations.

3d    Festival dislikes including Queen covers (10)
EIDERDOWNS:    These covers keep us warm at night, A Muslim festival (EID), the Queens’ regnal cypher (ER)and some dislikes (DOWNS) create the feathery comforters that cover us to keep us warm at night.

4d    Woman for all to see filling potty (4)
MAUD:        Cluing generic names cause consternation with some, but this was easy enough to decipher. A synonym of potty (MAD) contains the film classification for a film suitable for all to see U (for universal)

5d    Access content of free channel (8)
RECOURSE:    The content of f RE e and a channel or COURSE, leaves Access as the definition, probably not dodgy but certainly new to me.

6d    Altercation oddly is all about environment (7)
SPATIAL:         An altercation or SPAT and the odd letters of I_s_A_l_L SPATIAL Pertaining to, involving or having the nature of space or environment.

7d    Car a rock clipped with damage on metal (5,6)
ASTON MARTIN:    A small rock loses its last letter A STONe, a synonym of damage MAR, and a silvery-white malleable metallic element TIN. A_STON_MAR_TIN is the car that is associated with James Bond.
Before I discovered crosswords, as a PARTY PIECE I used to dabble in pencil drawing. I should have paid more attention to using graphite fixatives, as this has become quite faded now.

9d    Mean sorts keeping silence regularly for entertaining acts (5,6)
PARTY PIECES:    An average score at golf (PAR), and a synonym of sorts (TYPES) surround the even letters of s_I_l_E_n_C_e.

12d    Successfully finished in TT? (4,3,3)
HOME AND DRY:    A synonym of in (HOME) and the noun for A teetotal or TT reformer who opposes the use of intoxicating beverages. (DRY) HOME AND DRY, In a position to reach or have reached a goal without much further effort or difficulty.

15d    Roll and roll around beginning to remedy skin inflammation (8)
WINDBURN:    Two synonyms of roll, to turn or WIND and a bakery item (BUN), surround the first letter of remedy (R) WIND(BU{R}N ) Redness and irritation of the skin caused by exposure to high-velocity wind

17d    Do show contempt for losing first argument (7)
CORNROW:    This Do is a Hairdo – Show contempt or sCORN loses its first letter and adds an argument or ROW. CORNROW A hairstyle, of African origin, having rows of tightly braided hair close to the scalp

19d    Harsh part of text remembered (7)
EXTREME: Today’s lurker (part of) the rest of the clue.

20d    Aluminium lid over a source of fibre (6)
ALPACA:    How Aluminium appears on the Periodic Table (AL), a reversal of a lid (CAP becomes PAC) and A from the clue. A fine silky fibre sourced from a member of the Llama family.

23d    Chamber orchestra players half-cut (4)
CELL:        This chamber is half of some members of an orchestra.(CELL ists).