Sunday Toughie 115 (Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 115 (Review)

Sunday Toughie No 115 by proXimal

Review by Sloop John Bee

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This puzzle was published on the 7th of April 2024



1a          They criticise Spooner’s bedtime pants, perhaps (3-7)
NIT-PICKERS: proXimal is in the habit of starting things off with a Spoonerism and this was a “stinker” An informal term for a bed PIT, and a homophone of underpants usually worn by women KNICKERS, have their initial sounds reversed for petty criticism of minor details. If the Reverend Doctor (or proXimal) wants to wear women’s underwear to bed who am I to criticise

6a          Sharp pain from cracked back (4)
STAB: A reversal (back) of a synonym of cracked mentally BATS becomes STAB

9a          Couple eating starter of oysters that’s foul stinker (7)
TOUGHIE: To couple together TIE, “eating” the starter of Oysters O, and an expression of disgust at something foul UGH. This is proXimal’s 39th of 115 such Sunday Stinkers T(O)(UGH)IE

10a       One telling soldiers to retreat on plain (7)
UTTERER: I’m telling you this is a synonym of plain or outright UTTER, and a reversal of soldiers that are engineers RE becomes ER

12a       Description of Royal Mail worker following procedure (4-9)
POST-OPERATIVE: A double-definition of one who works with mail and someone who has undergone a surgical procedure

14a       Fault-finders easily rejecting duff facilities (8)
LATRINES: These facilities can be found in an anagram (easily) of what remains of Fault-finders after duff has been rejected

15a       Somewhat grotesque aliens cry in pain (6)
SQUEAL: This cry in pain is a lurker (somewhat) found in the other two words in the clue. groteSQUE ALiens

17a       Very secretive group left party (6)
SOCIAL: A synonym of very SO, a group of secret agents CIA, and L for left come together and have a party or SOCIAL

19a       Islander I see captured by Italian artist (8)
TAHITIAN: An interjection for I see AH, in an Italian artist (known for painting many red-haired characters) TITIAN, define an islander from the South Pacific A T(AH)ITIAN

21a       Lines of verse where Parisian enters mixture of trope and cliche (6,7)
HEROIC COUPLET: How a Parisian writes where OU, in an anagram (mixture) of TROPE and CLICHE give us a pair of rhyming lines of verse. Here is Alexander Pope on Coffee;

For lo! the Board with Cups and Spoons is crown’d,
The Berries crackle, and the Mill turns round.
On shining Altars of Japan they raise
The silver Lamp; the fiery Spirits blaze.
From silver Spouts the grateful Liquors glide,
And China’s Earth receives the smoaking Tyde.

Excuse me while I make another brew…

24a       Rich maiden sweet taking husband out (7)
MONEYED: M for Maiden replaces H for husband in a synonym of sweet from the produce of bees perhaps HONEYED – H + M

25a       Fortified room failing to open on one lamebrained raid (7)
ASSAULT: A raid from a lamebrained ASS, followed by a fortified room VAULT without its opening letter

26a       You get scolded using such speed in bed (4)
BERATED: This synonym of speed RATE,  when concealed in BED gives you a synonym of scolded BERATED

27a       Analyst on origins of stars embodying Sagittarius (10)
RESEARCHER: One of our usual on’s RE, the origins of Stars and Embodying SE,  and the “activity” that Sagittarius is portrayed doing ARCHER RE(SE)ARCHER


1d          Picked up equipment used in tennis final (4)
NETT: Final after all deductions – a homophone (picked up) of equipment used in all tennis games NET becomes NETT or the final amount after deductions

2d          Former national leader regularly deleted texts — blast! (7)
TRUMPET: Topical and excellent surface of a former leader who is currently facing charges that he deleted some important text messages to conceal his guilt. His surname Donald TRUMP, and regular letters of texts ET, define this heavenly TRUMPET blast

3d          Discourtesy on ward, say, shame to lose head (13)
INHOSPITALITY: Where you are if you are 12a or on a ward IN HOSPITAL, and a synonym of shame PITY, without its head letter

4d          Fall that’s scary upset other half (4,4)
KEEL OVER: A scary interjection when seeing a mouse perhaps is reversed (upset) EEK becomes KEE, and an “other half” with whom you are romantically linked LOVER. To fall or KEEL OVER

5d          Auditor’s foundation course (5)
ROUTE: A homophone of the foundation of a tree ROOT becomes ROUTE

7d          Travelling urbanite ditching a motor (7)
TURBINE: An anagram (travelling) of URBaNITE after you ditch the a

8d          Marches dull guards arrange (10)
BORDERLAND: The Marches are an imprecisely defined area between England and Wales, from a synonym of dull BLAND, that guards a particular arrangement or ORDER – B(ORDER)LAND

11d       Sped with pen in further test after turning calmer (13)
TRANQUILLISER: A synonym of sped RAN, and an old-fashioned pen QUILL, go into a reversal (after turning) of a subsequent or further test RESIT becomes T-ISER A calmer or T(RAN)(QUILL)ISER

13d       Indifferent about pub, male I’m unsure is irreverent type (10)
BLASPHEMER: The map abbreviation of a pub PH,  in a synonym of indifferent BLASE, followed by M for male and an interjection when uncertain ER. An irreverent BLAS(PH)E(M)ER

16d       Thoroughly wet part of weekend, cancelling day at race in the end (8)
SATURATE: At from the clue and the final letter of race E, follow one of the periods of 24 hours that make up the weekend SATURday, but don’t forget to cancel day. To thoroughly wet or SATUR(AT)E

18d       Crown of gold on European in court (7)
CORONET: Heraldic gold OR, ON from the clue and E for European go in an abbreviation of court CT A crown or C(OR)(ON)(E)T

20d       Eccentric this knowledgeable and assertive might be overenthusiastic (2,5)
IN TOUCH: Another proXimal signature – the extraction. Remove assertive from overenthusiastic and what remains is the fodder for an anagram (eccentric) of a synonym of this knowledgeable or IN TOUCH

22d       Group of key members Democrat put in charge (5)
CADRE: To be put in charge of CARE, contains the abbreviation of Democrat D, to give us a group of key members or CADRE

23d       Move around cast-iron brackets (4)
STIR: A lurker (brackets) a synonym of to move around. In caST IRon

That’s all Folks…

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