Toughie 340 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 340

Toughie No 340 by Micawber

Sounds Like a Cracker

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

For me this was a joy from start to finish, and it’s an object lesson in how to compose a Toughie without resorting to very obscure words. It does have no less than three homophones, at least one of which is a bit dodgy, but they all made me chuckle when I got them.
As always we’d love to hear what you thought of it in a comment.

Across Clues

1a  Put off, wearing back-to-front kilt for Irish wedding (8 )
{NUPTIALS} – it took me some time to see the wordplay here and when the penny dropped it was a laugh-out-loud moment. Kilt is not a garment, Irish or otherwise, but the past participle of the verb to kill, as used by the Irish. So we want another word for killed which has to be reversed (back-to-front) and placed around (wearing) an anagram (off) of PUT to get a synonym for wedding.

5a  Chirpy creature’s sound of perverted passion (6)
{CICADA} – this chirpy creature sounds (a bit) like “sick ardour”. Go on, admit that you smiled and/or groaned when you got this!

10a  Centres of global cuisine? (9,6)
{ARTICHOKE HEARTS} – cryptic definition of the middles (the edible bits) of a plant, one variety of which is called globe.

11a  Endless rinse and spin works (7)
{INNARDS} – works is the definition and here it means the mechanism or operating parts. We want an informal word for these and it’s an anagram (spin) of RINS(e) (endless) and AND.

12a  Device for feeding patients mostly, and where it goes — meals-on-wheels centre? (5-2)
{DRIVE-IN} – a device for feeding patients is a DRI(p) (mostly) and what it’s plugged into (where it goes) is a VEIN. Put them together to get a description of a facility which you can enjoy without leaving your vehicle. One example of this (hence the question mark in the clue) is a food outlet where they economise on the need for tables by serving you in your car. I love “meals-on-wheels” centre.

13a  Lie with sugar heiress? (8 )
{MISSTATE} – double definition, the second (4,4) a cryptic way of describing a daughter of the sugar magnate.

15a  Enter talked-of dockside hotel (3,2)
{KEY IN} – a phrasal verb meaning to enter (at a computer terminal) sounds like (talked-of) Quay Inn.

18a  Suppose grass is turned in (5)
{POSIT} – a verb meaning to put forward as a basis for argument (suppose) is formed from a synonym for grass (cannabis) with IS reversed (turned) inside.

20a  Satellite Iran is attaching to tail of rocket, one sending up others (8 )
{SATIRIST} – a humorist who pokes fun at the follies and absurdities of the great and the not-so-good (one sending up others) is formed by stringing together the abbreviation for satellite, the IVR code for Iran, IS and the last letter (tail) of rockeT.

23a  Slander poor love-lorn educator (7)
{TRADUCE} – remove the O from educator (lovelorn, which should not really be hyphenated) and make an anagram (poor) of what remains to get a verb meaning to slander.

25a  Something to chew over with more than one filly in clubs (7)
{CUDGELS} – the definition is clubs. Put together what is chewed more than once by ruminants and another term that those who call girls “fillies” might use for them.

26a  Take a trip, getting high and het-up, then manage to lose it (3,3,3,6)
{FLY OFF THE HANDLE} – the definition is lose it. Start with a phrasal verb meaning to take a trip, getting high (which you haven’t been able to do for the past few days) and add an anagram (up) of THE and a verb meaning to manage.

27a  Take stock and switch sides for glory (6)
{LUSTRE} – start with a verb meaning to steal stock and swap the L and the R (switch sides).

28a  Outstanding characters in Braveheart, perhaps (4,4)
{BOLD TYPE} – what you use in printing to highlight characters and make them stand out is a description, for example, of William Wallace.

Down Clues

1d  Vitamin said to be practically a bad thing (6)
{NIACIN} – practically a bad thing is nigh a sin.

2d  What pretentious DJ might do? (3,2,4)
{PUT ON AIRS} – this is what someone who is pretentious does (pretentious? – qui, moi?) and is cryptic way of saying play tunes.

3d  I would maybe pack personal papers (2,5)
{ID CARDS} – condense I would and add what you might find in a pack to get personal papers which you may have to produce on demand in some countries.

4d  Divers in pool surfacing, losing heads and beginning to splash (5)
{LOONS} – the definition is divers and they are northern diving birds. Reverse (surfacing, i.e. bringing up, which only works in a down clue) (i)N (p)OOL (losing heads, without initial letters) and add S (first letter of Splash).

6d  Tool for penetrating dessert cream (3,4)
{ICE PICK} – we want a tool for penetrating (often stated, incorrectly, to be the weapon which did for Trotsky). Put a type of dessert in front of a synonym for cream or elite.

7d  Get on, get on — about to get in (5)
{AGREE} – the definition is get on or be in harmony. Take another verb meaning to get on (get old, this time) and inside (to get in) put a preposition meaning about or concerning.

8d  Using vocal harmony in unwise arrangement for Bremen-style musicians? (8 )
{ASSONANT} – we want an adjective meaning corresponding in sound (using vocal harmony) which relates to the resemblance of sound between syllables in nearby words (an example being the Hoover advertisement “It beats as it sweeps as it cleans”). The Musicians of Bremen is a children’s story by the Brothers Grimm, in which four animals (donkey, dog, cat and rooster) climb on each other’s backs (biggest at the bottom, smallest at the top). The clue indicates how unwise it would be for a donkey to perch on top of a small insect, which is what the answer suggests (3,2,3).

9d  Very warm tie (4,4)
{DEAD HEAT} – put together another word for very (as in very gorgeous, for example) and a verb meaning to warm to get a tie, in the sporting sense.

14d  Get called egghead, sworn at rudely (6,2)
{ANSWER TO} – an anagram (rudely) of E(gghead) SWORN AT.

16d  Roving eye endlessly strayed back then (9)
{YESTERDAY} – a time in the past (back then) is an anagram (roving) of EY(e) and STRAYED.

17d  Vicious puts life in turmoil (8 )
{SPITEFUL} – in the surface reading Vicious refers to the late Sid, but what we need is a synonym for vicious or cruel. It’s an anagram (in turmoil) of PUTS LIFE.

19d  Hitherto shut off and remote (4,3)
{THUS FAR} – a phrase meaning hitherto is made from an anagram (off) of SHUT followed by a synonym for remote.

21d  Punishment for member of Hearts, say? (3,4)
{RED CARD} – double definition, the second cryptic. The signal for a sending-off of a football player (from Heart of Midlothian FC, for example) is also how a member of the hearts suit may be described.

22d  Ascetic cut down, eschewing pounds and pence (6)
{ESSENE} – remove the L and the D (eschewing pounds and pence) from a verb meaning cut down or reduced to leave a member of an ancient Jewish ascetic sect.

24d  Uppity sassy babe’s hidden depths (5)
{ABYSS} – hidden and reversed (uppity – it is a down clue!) is a word meaning depths.

25d  Pacifist holding left-wing beliefs (5)
{CREDO} – the abbreviation for a conscientious objector (pacifist) surrounds (holding) a description of someone on the far left in politics to make a set of beliefs.

I liked nearly all the clues today, but best were 12a, 25a, 1d, 8d, 19d and 21d. My absolute favourite is 1a for its brilliant misdirection. We’d love to hear your thoughts – leave us a comment!

16 comments on “Toughie 340

    1. Ditto Gnomethang, I did not get 22d either, but loved the puzzle and the blog, agree with Gazza re 1a.

  1. Sadly I don’t have time to solve the puzzle today but I do like to bob in and see the clooz and revooz.

    I’m with Gazza on 1a – absolutely stunning!

  2. Well done Micawber. A joy to complete. Some to make you smile, some to make you groan. Loved 10a.

  3. Great fun 6a made me groan….Stuck on 22d as well…needed a few hints…which you glady supplied. Very enjoyable puzzle. 10a had me stuck for over an hour then it just came to me.

  4. Great fun and highly enjoyable. Yes, I groaned at 5a. 8d was the last to go in – I go this from the checking letters and definition but the indirect reference went over my head. Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the notes.

  5. Lots of positives, that have already been roundly endorsed by the Blog Crew. Slight quibble with 3d – should it be 1,1,5 ?

    1. Digby
      ID is an abbreviation of a single word (rather than the first letters of two separate words) so I think that 2,5 is right.

  6. I managed to do about 3/4 of the puzzle but had to resort to you for the rest of the clues. ! across-absolute stunner!!

  7. Thanks for the v kind blog and comments. I thought ‘kilt’ for killed might be a Scottish usage, which would have been still neater, but Chambers has it as Irish.
    Not sure about ID cards, Digby may be right. I think of ID as a two-letter word, but would that make them ‘id cards’? What would one of them look like?

    1. Micawber, we do use the expression up here in Scotland, perhaps it’s because the two countries are very interconnected. Great crossword!

  8. Excellent puzzle! we got a bit hung up on 3d – thought it might be something Latin!! Although we got the answer to 22d it was more good luck than anything. My favourite clue, because it made me really smile was 5a

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