Toughie 307 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 307

Toughie No 307 by Petitjean

Just the recipe!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley and thanks to Big Dave and the others for covering for me during my short stay in hospital. Normally Big Dave and I play a guessing game just after midnight each Toughie Day trying to work out who the setter is. (Sad people that we are!) I looked at today’s just after the witching hour and came up with two suspects, but neither felt quite right. It therefore came as a pleasant surprise to find out that we were in the hands of a new setter today.

So welcome Petitjean, and judging by today’s encouraging start, I would think that we may be in for some entertaining puzzles. A couple of tiny gripes about one or two clues, but this is a most welcome addition to the Toughie panel with a puzzle much more worthy of the title than several recent ones. I look forward to the next one. Many of today’s Across clues or answers each had a food bent, although on occasion it was a little farci, as they say in France

As usual, your comments are welcomed. There is a delay for first-time posters having their posts published as they are moderated to remove spammers. You can also grade the puzzle yourself using the star system just below. Click in the star that represents how you felt about the puzzle.


1a    Away from her usual environment, Delia cooked all over France (6)
{AFIELD} An anagram (indicated by “cooked”) of DELIA With an F (for France) inside leads you to a word meaning out of your usual location. And here’s the great lady herself…..

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4a    Bouquet is a parting purchase (6)
{PRAISE} Here you have A “parting”, i.e. inside a word meaning “purchase”.

8a    Jumble? It’s cheap rubbish (8)
{PASTICHE} An anagram (indicated by “rubbish”) of IT’S CHEAP.

10a    Renowned vegetarian tucked into black pudding and hickory ham (6)
{GANDHI} One of the weaker clues for me. Firstly, it contains a surplus redundant word (ham) and the whole idea is somewhat forced. Have never personally heard of ‘hickory ham’. I have heard of hickory-smoked ham, but the whole clue looks a little bit too contrived for my liking.

11a    Porridge mix (4)
{STIR} The porridge referred to here is more associated wih Ronnie Barker than breakfast. The word sought is a slang word for prison, like porridge. It’s a double definition clue with the same word also meaning to mix. A nice concise clue.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

12a    Score draw reported after easy-going encounter (4-3-3)
{FREE-FOR-ALL} Time to suck those teeth. A homophone of a soccer score draw

13a    Old Spice — out beyond doubt — produce once sold by Henry Cooper (8,4)
{VICTORIA PLUM} A bit of a problem with this clue, I think.  Mrs B is an old (as in former, rather than age) Spice Girl.  If you are out beyond any doubt, then you are PLUMB out, as far as I am aware.  The remainder of the clue provides a definition, which is quite a clever one.  I think there should have either been a homophone indicator, or some way of removing the surplus “B”.

16a         Workplace bribes including £500 in ones and even fifties (8,4)
{BUILDING SITE}  Probably one of the last clues I worked out, as I was thinking of BUSINESS something.  It’s made up of  BUNGS (Bribes) with  I LD I  (a clever way of saying £500 in(side a pair of) ONES.  Add to this I T E, the even letters of FIFTIES.

20a         In theory doctor’s posh, yet embodying extremes of hoi polloi (10)
{HYPOTHESIS}  Here, Petitjean is either being very clever, or skating on thin ice.  “In theory” is the definition.   The remainder of the clue is an anagram indicated by DOCTOR of ‘S POSH YET and HI (extremes of hoi polloi”)  You have to start with the apostrophe S to make it work.  I like it a lot, but some may not.

21a         Pinch top off mop (4)
{WIPE}  Pinch = SWIPE, minus its first letter.

22a         Starter of blue cheese left in confusion (6)
{BEDLAM}   B (starter of blue) + EDAM (Cheese) with L (left) inside.  BEDLAM was an old psychiatric hospital and a synonym for chaos.

from The Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth

23a         Early asparagus tips recipe misled listener (8)
{EARPIECE}  EA (tips of Early asparagus) + an anagram (misled) of RECIPE

24a         Available digitally (2,4)
{ON HAND}  A double definition with part cryptic.

25a         With no concern for right or wrong, Marple’s all but last following up scent (6)
{AMORAL}  Got the answer to this right away, but then wondered how I arrived at it.  Eventually the penny dropped.    L  (all but last letter of Marple) goes after a reversal (indicated by “up”) of AROMA.  I think the crossword purists may have a bit of a grumble about using “up” to indicate reversal in an across clue.


1d           Nothing offloaded from a boat on Thames heading upriver to ultimate destination (8)
{ABATTOIR}  Another bit of a clunky clue.    Take O from A BOAT and add T (Thames heading) and then OIR =  reversal of RIO (upriver).  I could write an essay aboutthe habit of stitching together definitions and indicators.  Perhaps if Giovanni is looking in, he could offer some definitive thoughts.  The “ultimate destination” is of course where animals are slaughtered.  One of those clues that just seems a bit too clever for its own good.

2d           Orphaned artist in Bury (5)
{INTER}  This is about the fourth time I have seen this device within a month, the last was a week last Saturday in Araucaria’s Guardian Prize Puzzle.   Basically you need a word for an artist, PAINTER and because it is “orphaned”, it has no PA.  Geddit?  Take it away and you are left with a word meaning to bury someone.

3d           Capricious, if cruel match (7)
{LUCIFER}  An anagram (indicated by capricious) of IF CRUEL, gives an old name for a match.

5d           Blazing row over spilled fuel (7)
{RAGEFUL}  Here ROW =  RAG (as in “to lose one’s….”) + an anagram (spilled) of FUEL.  The whole is a word meaning blazing (with anger)

6d           He knows nothing of smog (untreated) and air pollution (9)
{IGNORAMUS}  Another usage of combining elements of a device, here you are looking for an anagram of SMOG and AIR, plus, to get the word required, UN which our setter has stitched on to  TREATED (the anagram indicator)  in order to mislead you.  I personally feel that this is a step too far, and while a setter is trying to decieve and mislead, this is a little too much.  Again, if Giovanni is around, some comments would be appreciated.

7d           Send out old weather report (6)
{EXHALE}   A nice clever clue.   An old weather report may be EX (for OLD) and HAIL which becomes HALE with the addition of “report” to indicate the homophone.  Send out is of course the definition, and any mention of a weather report gives me an excuse to bring this out.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

9d           Is a quarter of Leinster green before the surrounding country? (7,4)
{EMERALD ISLE}   Green = EMERALD which goes before IS + LE (A quarter of Leinster), with a definition referring to the land surrounding Leinster.  All in all, a nice clue.

14d         Bath fashioned with inlaid marquetry, plated in Middle East (9)
{TABBOULEH}  BOULE (Marquetry) inside an anagram (indicated by fashioned) of BATH gives a Middle Eastern dish.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

15d         A dreadful pity about the French revolutionary being deviant (8)
{ATYPICAL} An anagram (dreadful) of PITY follows A and add C (about / circa) and AL (the French revolutionary, i.e. reversed).  This leads to a word meaning deviant.

17d         Animal purring by a fenced-in watering hole (7)
{INHUMAN) HUM (purring) + A inside INN (watering hole).  Animal is the definition.

18d         Solution doesn’t strike a chord (7)
{NOSTRUM}  A double definition where one is cryptic.  The main definition is an old name for a solution or remedy.  The other, unless I am mistaken, is a cryptic definition for not striking a chord NO STRUM, but it’s a bit weak to me.

19d         Somewhat jazzy, deconstructionist music (6)
{ZYDECO}  An unusual word, clued nicely as a hidden answer  “jazzy, deconstructionist”, which almost sums up the music genre it refers to.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

21d         Sound of revolution in West greeting holy man (5)
{WHIRR}  A word sum.   W (west) + HI (greeting) + RR (a holy man – Right Reverend)  – the definition refers to the revolution of a fan or suchlike.

Thanks to Petitjean for a lovely debut and here’s to more of them.

39 comments on “Toughie 307

  1. I agree with your comments above.
    I haven’t yet worked out why 25 ac is what it is and 17d is another which waits your explanation…but the answers were accessible anyway and 14d and 19d were both new to me.
    Nevertheless a toughie worth the effort.

          1. No – it’s nearly (all but) last, i.e penultimate, so you want the penultimate letter of Marple after a reversal (up) of scent.

  2. 13a. I presume that plum in 13a is supposed to be “out beyond doubt” as in cricket, but isn’t that spelt plumb?

  3. If your explanation for 13ac includes the cricketing term for ‘out beyond doubt’ viv plumb, how do you jettison ‘b’?

      1. The point is that there shouldn’t be a “B” – PLUMB means out beyond all doubt.

        The remainder will be along shortly. Apologies for the hiatus today.

  4. I had a few problems with this, and had to use some electronic help and all the letter hints. Whenever I do this, I am usually mortified to find that the answer becomes plain – but not in this case; there are just too many that are either totally unknown to me or are too abstruse for me to puzzle.

    13a – Old Spice = Victoria, OK, but out beyond doubt? Where does that fit in? And was our ‘enry once a purveyor of plums?

    4a – prise for purchase? Not a usage familiar to me – does Chambers concur?

    12a – no problems with this – but I don’t understand your review comment about teeth sucking. I presume you mean to indicate that the “Free” is a lisped version of “three” – but the solution doesn’t seem to need this for me – “score draw” – fo(u)r all, and “easy going” – free?

    25a – don’t get this at all!

    14d – well – words fail me. A Levantine (apparently) dish I’ve never heard of (and I like food!) containing what I can only assume is a synonym for marquetry (boule) again not known to me. Too obscure by far, I’m afraid. I don’t like recourse to word finders and such, but I could not have solved this without. I would challenge the setter to look me in the eye and tell me both these words are in his vocabulary – and if they aren’t, I’ll cry foul, I’m afraid.

    1. 14 down is BOULE in an anagram of BATH. I think this started life as either a Food-themed Toughie or a puzzle destined for elsewhere that couldn’t fully come together as being food-based.

      13a Indeed Enery was a barrow boy.

      12a My teeth sucking referred to the “four all / for all” homophone. There wll be places where the pronunciation is quite distinct. I am always very wary of Homophone clues.

      25a is a reversal of AROMA with L (all but last = penultimate). However most setters would cringe at using “up” as a reversal indicator in an across clue.

    2. I agree with Mike. I didn’t enjoy this one at all and felt quite unsatisfied even when I had for the answer. A cryptic should make you feel smug when you have worked out the answer. This didn’t do it for me at all.

  5. Quite a challenge from our new setter. Got there in the end with the exception of 14d. Spotted the anagram of BATH but the reference to marquetry and the resulting dish were new to me. There were a few I had to check on clued-up to make sure I had the right answers.

    Many thanks to Petitjean and thanks for the notes Tilsit.

    If we are getting some new Toughie setters, let’s hope that Anax will not be too far behind entering the Toughie Hall Of Fame!

    1. Just got the second last in – not got 14d unless I am missing something on 20a.
      Nice and tricky – still a few where I haven’t worked out the wordplay but a fine start from Ti’Jean.
      19d was nice – saved by my memory of a certain Cajun band (and helped by the z!)

  6. Hello, I’m the Telegraph Puzzles Editor. The discussion of PLUMB is quite correct, of course. There should be a homophone indicator, and our new setter tells me there was one in an earlier version of the clue. Setters can sometimes chuck out the meat when trimming the fat, and in this case I failed to spot it. Many apologies.
    The Levantine dish, by the way, can’t be obscure if it appears in a best-selling book by the lady in 1 across.
    Best wishes

    1. “The Levantine dish, by the way, can’t be obscure if it appears in a best-selling book by the lady in 1 across.”

      OK Phil I’ve give you that!! Thanks for your response.

      Don’t want to engage in long-winded and tortuous discussion, but shouldn’t “Boule” in fact be “Boulle” – the name of the French craftsman known for his work in this medium? (How easily the internet enables one to leap from a state of ignorance to being a pedantic know-it-all!)

  7. Ref 13a – thought it was most amusing since our ‘Enry also used to splash the Brut all over (not the Old Spice). Well done the setter for picking that one up.

  8. Again, thanks to this blog, I’ve just managed to complete the correct Toughie for today. First off, ScrewedUp loaded a cryptic or toughie puzzle which I didn’t recognise from the clues, but with the right grid for that clue set (1a had something to do with Salvation Army). Second go loaded up a Sudoku, then third time lucky with over 5 mins already on the clock (I don’t care too much about that, but always like to complete within the bonus points time and vaguely compare times with other regular online users)
    Anyway, I still actually finished in around the same time as today’s cryptic. I’ve given it 4 stars, as there were some brilliant clues from this Toughie debutant. But, 3 or 4 shockers (subjective, as ever) – didn’t like 4a, 13a maybe trying to be a bit too clever with Old Spice and Brut once advertised by H. Cooper but I had no idea he might have one sold fruit & veg. Plus is it plum or plumb for out beyond doubt lbw ?? Etc etc – pretty much agree with regulars above.
    It was an enjoyable crossword, and had I not been able to verify here, I would have been doing a different one altogether….

  9. The DT Puzzle Editor’s mea culpa is much appreciated together with the appearance of a new Setter. Would 7d clue be improved with ‘blow’ instead of ‘send’?

  10. I maintain that, if you learn a new word every day for the rest of your life, then doing crosswords is good for you. My last entry today, 19d, ticks that box – and I have been to Louisiana!

    1. Funnily enough that particular word also appeared in the GK 901 on Sun 21 Feb :-) Bring on “Buckwheat”! Seriously good music if you like that sort of thing. I started listening to this after watching the The Big Easy a number of years ago (and its still one of my favourite films).

      1. Thanks for the tip, Libellule. Perhaps you, and other Bloggers, might enjoy this:

        I certainly did!

      1. This was them – a bit plastic but the Landlord in a a pub I used to work in swore by this lot:

  11. I agree with somehow removing the surplus ‘b’ in 13a. However, on the whole, I liked this crossword.

  12. Great first crossword from petitjean, more of the same please. I still prefer Hank Williams with Hey Good Lookin.

  13. Very satisfying puzzle – great to be able to check out the ‘whys’ thanks to the blog. Look forward to more of the same from Petitjean

  14. A very good toughie. The only one I didn’t get was 19d – a new word for me.
    Agree that some of the clues were somewhat dubious.
    My favourites were 13a & 9d.

    BD – when i switch on to your blog I get cryptic 25885 at the top of the page with Google English : why? With Google Nederland it disappears. Weird.

    1. DT 25885 was Libellule’s first blog and someone, probably him, has set it up as a bookmark as this puzzle gets a few hits every single day!

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