Toughie 2963 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2963

Toughie No 2963 by Firefly
Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Thanks to Firefly for brightening up a horribly dark squally day in North Devon. He has given us an enjoyable puzzle with an ursine theme.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a Bear with racket in house and tip in garden, not being around (10)
PADDINGTON: insert a word for a loud racket among an informal word for a house, the first letter of garden and the reversal of NOT.

6a Blubber when some verbal flak’s about (4)
FLAB: hidden in reverse.

9a Short flight for American duck (5)
STOOP: double definition, the first a porch with steps in the USA, the second a verb.

10a Craftsman‘s erratic if disturbed (9)
ARTIFICER: an anagram (disturbed) of ERRATIC IF.

12a Select arm for security team (7,6)
SPECIAL BRANCH: an adjective meaning select or superior and an arm or subdivision make a police department in the UK.

14a Woman up against Martian man? (8)
VENUSIAN: I think that this is just a cryptic definition based on the title of a book by John Gray “Men are from Mars, Women are from *****”.

15a Prince perhaps can get through amidst daily grind? (6)
RUPERT: this Prince was a nephew of King Charles I and commanded the royalist cavalry during the English Civil War. Insert a preposition meaning through into a word for the daily grind.

17a Cause betrayal — lose head (6)
REASON: remove the first letter from a word for betrayal.

19a He performs on the side at stadium, using content from Osman in material (8)
LINESMAN: insert the middle letters of Osman into a type of woven cloth. In both football and rugby this person has been upgraded to a more prestigious title but the term may still be used in tennis or other sports.

21a Both on a roll in a spanking (but not a new) light aircraft? (3-3,7)
HOT-AIR BALLOON: an anagram (spanking) of BOTH O[n] A ROLL IN A after one instance of the abbreviation for new has been removed.

24a She and Mike engage in match warmly (9)
THERMALLY: insert a feminine pronoun and what Mike represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet into a verb to match or agree.

25a Destiny is more assured, they say (5)
KARMA: this is supposed to be a homophone (he said through gritted teeth!) of a comparative meaning more assured or unperturbed.

26a When band does Go West, it stinks! (4)
POOH: reverse a circular band.

27a From keg, Lee — a pro — loosened stopper (10)
GOALKEEPER: an anagram (loosened) of KEG LEE A PRO.

Down Clues

1d Parading outstandingly stylish habits starts like this? (4)
POSH: first letters of four words.

2d Calls to give up greed, say? (5,2)
DROPS IN: if you split your answer 4,3 it could mean to give up what greed is an example of.

3d Artistic approach shown by setter’s papers — one in most timeless configuring (13)
IMPRESSIONISM: assemble the contracted form of ‘the setter is’ from his viewpoint, a word for newspapers and an anagram (configuring) of IN MOS[t] containing the Roman numeral for one.

4d Seriousness of life once besieged by almost complete apprehension (8)
GRAVITAS: the Latin word for life (most often seen these days in the expanded form of CV) goes inside a synonym of apprehension or understanding without its final P.

5d It’s about 8, and the writer’s absent from production of Camelot (5)
OCTAL: remove the objective first person pronoun from CAMELOT and make an anagram (configuration) of what remains.

7d Certify fluid cleans step evenly (7)
LICENSE: regular letters of words in the clue.

8d Delivery note claiming son is “Gem of the Month” (10)
BIRTHSTONE: charade of synonyms for delivery and note bracketing the genealogical abbreviation for son.

11d It gets broken after Chinese person holds up packet (7,6)
FORTUNE COOKIE: a word for a person (especially in the phrase ‘a tough ******’) follows a packet (as in ‘that new car will cost you a packet’).

13d In public, shirt ambassador’s put on is immoderate (4-3-3)
OVER-THE-TOP: start with an adjective meaning ‘in public’ and add what a shirt is an example of preceded by the abbreviated title of an ambassador.

16d False idols put up, showing a lack of faith (8)
DISLOYAL: an anagram (false) of IDOLS is followed by the reversal of a verb to put.

18d Style for which undercoat’s spread without preliminaries (3,4)
ART DECO: an anagram (spread) of [un]DERCOAT without its two preliminary letters.

20d In Hindu mystical music, quietly vamp (7)
MANTRAP: a word chanted in Hindu meditation and the musical abbreviation for quietly.

22d Old lullaby reducing disturbance by half (5)
BALOO: remove the first half of a word meaning disturbance or fuss. The BRB has seemingly not heard of this meaning of the answer but Collins has.

23d Barnet breeze through finally? Quite the reverse! (4)
HAIR: a breeze or bit of wind follows the last letter of ‘through’.

For my podium today I’ve selected 9a, 12a and 2d. Which ones did you find bearable?

16 comments on “Toughie 2963
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  1. I echo our blogger’s preamble, just substituting Shropshire for Devon. Enjoyable, not too tricky and with an easy enough theme running through to help with a couple of answers. 12a was my favourite.

    My thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  2. A nice themed Toughie on a day that started sunny and not too chilly, just right for a coastal walk with two old work colleagues. The weather is now going rapidly downhill :(

    Thanks to Firefly for the enjoyable crossword and to Gazza for the blog and the bear illustrations

  3. After my comments on the Backpager delighted to report I really enjoyed this! Seemed to be multiple themes – Football, Cartoon characters, Asian influences, but none the worse for that. Setter must be my age, as 19a has I believe been replaced by Asst Ref for some while! 1a a popular fave . Ironically the only help I needed was with 15a – my son’s name – how embarrassing!

  4. I made harder work of this than I should have done, as when going through it to justify the parsings it all seemed so simple (with the exception of 3&4d).
    The clues that produced the broadest smiles were 1&26a (where I think there is a reference to the band “Go West” in there hence the setter using “does Go West”) plus 2&13d. Homophones are funny things as 25a worked perfectly for me!
    Many thanks to Firefly and Gazza for the fun.

    1. Thanks, Stephen. Go West is one of the many bands I’ve never heard of. However, the surface makes me think that ‘Go West’ is a song rather than a band and some investigoogling has now informed me that ‘Go West’ is the name of a record by Village People.

  5. Can’t say I found this substantially easier than yesterday but am struggling with Picaroon over in the Graun so maybe just not feeling it today. I’ll claim an unaided finish though did glance at Gazza’s rating & saw ursine theme which helped with 15a, my last in. Was the cookie monster a bear & seem to recall the hair bear bunch. No real favourite but enjoyed the puzzle.
    Thanks to Firefly & Gazza – couldn’t parse 4d as undone by Latin yet again.

  6. A straightforward puzzle, without Firefly’s usual compound anagrams, enlivened by the clever 15a, the use of “spanking” as an anagram indicator, and what I also took to be a reference, at 26a, to the wonderful Village People. You’re not a fan of disco then Gazza?
    Baffled by the definition at 22d tho the wordplay was clear enough – must get myself a Collins.
    Thanks to Firefly [does anyone else remember Travis Wammack?] and Gazza for the blog.

  7. I worked right through this one quite blissfully and even blithely not recognising the ursine theme! On this side of the Pond, those allusions are, except for the Milne, mostly lost upon us (though Her Majesty did help us get to know 1a) — well, at least lost upon some of us of an older generation. Nonetheless, I did finish the puzzle without seeking any aids and was quite chuffed to do so. I think 2d is my favourite, but I also liked 4d,5d, 13d, & 12a. Thanks to Gazza and Firefly.

  8. I also missed the clever ghost theme. Top clue for me was 2d. Thanks to Firefly for the entertaining challenge and to Gazza for the hints and pics, especially the one illustrating 11d.

  9. Needed the hints to parse 14a and 15a and never heard of the old lullaby so they were all bung ins. Apart from those most were reasonably straightforward. Favourite was 11d. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  10. Very pleased to have managed 18 holes at the lovely West Sussex GC today, the rain started 5 mins after we finished. Also pleased to have completed this toughie in good time, and all parsed. 17a my favourite, 15a LOI.
    Thanks to Firefly, and to Gazza, whose blog I’ll read later.

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