Sunday Toughie 121 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 121 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 121

by proXimal


Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

I managed to find this puzzle a little bit earlier than normal, it appeared in the puzzle archive at about 11:30 last night. Although the early start was welcome, at the time of solving this was uncredited. I didn’t need to know that it was a proXimal™ as he has as good as signed this with an opening Spoonerism and a smattering of eXtraction anagrams. A glance at the paper and a revision to the website version confirms this.

We have 14a and 14d clues and I will hint half, as I have strayed into alternative clue territory myself (6d) I may have to be quite tight on extra hints. I hope you find the checkers needed to complete this puzzle

It is hard to pick a favourite but 5d, 6d and 28a appealed to me – which would you favour?

Here we go, Folks…

As it is a Prize puzzle I can only hint at a few and hope that will give you the checkers and inspiration to go further. I’ll return with the full review blog just after the closing date. Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in RED at the bottom of the hints!

I hope I don’t have to redact any comments but I am new at this and don’t want to rock the boat. If in doubt, I’ll rub it out! I think that sentence is a bit redundant. You have all been so helpful in sorting out prior parsing failures, and I am sure I will need similar help again.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also” Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious. Don’t forget the Mine of Useful information that Big Dave and his son Richard so meticulously prepared for us.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions. Some hints follow: Remember the site rules and play nicely.      


8a           Driving hazards inflamed Europeans according to Spooner (8)
Trademark proXimal™– straight in with a Spoonerism. Temperamental Eastern Europeans become the bane of motorists, The Roman Road at Wheeldale was in better condition than many of the roads that took us there!
View of part of the visible section of Wheeldale Roman Road

11a        Acrobat rider with arm on a bike’s front reversing (8)
A from the clue and the front of bike are reversed, followed by someone carrying a medieval cavalry weapon
Simone Biles Will Compete in the Balance Beam Olympic Event Tokyo 2020

12a        Wood, say, the Spanish pilgrim turned around (6)
The Spanish article and a reversal of a Muslim pilgrim who has been to Mecca fulfil the definition by example (say) of the actor Mr Wood
Elijah Wood on 'The Lord of the Rings' at 20 - The New York Times

15a        Secure stuff with company, following being robbed (7)
It took me rather too long to parse the company part of this, company is the collective noun for a “group” of Widgeon, a more general term for such groups of birds is robbed of its following abbreviation and that follows the synonym of stuff

21a        Stale pieces of bread in institution for vets (3,8,4)
A synonym of stale, the pieces of bread you may dip in a soft-boiled egg, and a usual in, an institution for retired veterans
Boiled eggs and soldiers

25a        Refusal to enter car, this writer’s free will (8)
The shortened form of a formal term for a car, a refusal and a possessive adjective of or belonging to this writer

28a        Test, perhaps, involving sheep on counter for judge (8)
Rather clever to put a palindromic sheep into a reversal. Start with a watercourse of which The Test is a Hampshire example, find a spot to involve the sheep and reverse the whole to find the judge
My sweet taste of freedom: James Martin, 48, | Daily Mail Online


1d          Instrumental being very short of delivery (6)
An instrumental composition, A synonym of “very” and a shortened version of an adjective connected with birth or delivery (Thanks to the resident midwife Mama Bee)

3d          Device keeping kippers warm (8,7)
I hope the warmer weather has persuaded you to forego this bedtime comfort – Mama Bee is welded to the use of hers 365 days a year, but at nearly 88 years of age she is entitled to be a bit nesh!

5d          Parisian article about monster clouds, very cool (15)
You have to pick the right Parisian article here, it goes about a monster, the plural noun for extensive low cloud and the abbreviation for very
Stratus Images – Browse 27,078 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video | Adobe Stock

6d          Killing rodents, gathering one died beneath house (8)
I picked the wrong end of the clue to seek the definition here, forming a house from an informal killing of rodents around the letter that looks like one but was left with an unexplained L, I should have started with an abbreviated house, the same rodents around the letter that looks like one and an abbreviation of died

16d        Regeneration of this league club could be incalculable (8)
It took a while but eventually, we have the proXimal™ extraction, Incalculable is an anagram (regeneration of) a league and club, therefore remove the club from incalculable and find the “league” in what remains

20d        Strange Med island bar I blunder around (7)
A Mediterranean Island bar its initial I, followed by a reversal (around) of a blunder  How Strange
Visit Es Portixol beach, an incredible cove in the north of Ibiza

23d        We’d have recalled hiding this limb in reed (6)
This limb when inserted in reed would be synonymous with We’d have recalled


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As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.
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I am going to see Bruce and the E Street Band in Sunderland on Wednesday, I doubt he will be playing this so I am reminding myself of this now – I particularly like the late Clarence Clemons and Nils Lofgren contributions but they are all great IMO

That’s All Folks!

17 comments on “Sunday Toughie 121 (Hints)
Leave your own comment 

  1. I thought proXimal was being relatively gentle with this enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to him and SJB.
    I took the last six letters of 11a to be a ‘rider with arm’.
    Top clues for me were 21a, 17d and 22d.

    1. You are probably right but I was wondering what is reversing doing if not providing the R on a gearstick?

  2. I do enjoy proXimal’s Sunday Toughies; I find them pitched just right for some head-scratchers but gettable and clever clues.

    I parsed 11a differently – I had the ‘r’ added to the weapon to give the rider with an arm following ‘a’ and bike’s front reversed.

    Thanks proXimal and SJB, enjoy The Boss!

  3. For what it is worth, I also had the ‘rider with arm’ (as in the 17th regiment at the Battle of Balaclava) on ‘a’ and ‘bike’s front’ reversed. And perhaps you don’t need to look as far as widgeons, SJB – sheep, or better still, members of a parish would also do the job!
    Another fine puzzle from proXimal. Took me a while to get going as I was perhaps on a different wavelength, having solved Silvanus’ NTSPP earlier today. Or maybe it was the effect of the middsay sun that I was enjoying in the garden! I finished up with more than enough ticks for both across and down podiums, and have opted for 13, 21 & 28 and 4, 7 & 16 respectively. I know 7d is a bit of an ‘old chestnut’ but, for me, it was the best version I have seen to date. I am not sure about my notion for ‘rising vocal’ so will look forward to any comments others may have, or SJB’s definitive review in a few days time.
    Many thanks to both proXimal and SJB.

  4. Sheep or the parish congregation would indeed provide the “group” but Widgeon provided both the group and the collective noun of a company
    The rising is military in nature and vocal is a homophone indicator

  5. I invariably have trouble with this setter’s compilations and this was no exception although fortunately I avoided any issue with the acrobatic rider. That party leader does seem to be drinking quite often in recent puzzles but I guess that’s what electioneering does for you! Favourite here was the Spoonerism, which doesn’t often happen.

    Thanks to proXimal and to SJB for the hints – I was glad of the nudge on 19d.

    1. I have always thought of him as a bit of a Champagne Socialist, it seems he likes a dash of crème de cassis in it too

  6. Golly, you are all so clever! I’ve done exactly half of the clues so far but will struggle on! My father served in the 17th but not at Balaclava! I was known as a daughter of the …….. (worried about the naughty step)

    1. Those tricky little three letter clues are a devil to hint but I will try to do more, 19d and 26a both took far more time than two checked and one unchecked letter should have

  7. A day late to this as per. I found it jolly difficult (whatever happened to definitions at the beginning or end of the clue) but soldiered on & got there eventually albeit with 19d a final bung in (get it now thanks) & I’m not sure I fully understand 15a either. Pleased to clock the subtraction anagram though. 4d was my favourite.
    Thanks to proXimal for the challenge & to John for the review – enjoy Bruce. Have you heard this cover ?

    1. New to me but I like it, BITUSA is probably Bruce’s most misunderstood song especially when politicians use it as a rallying cry
      It took me a while to realise (investigoogle) company as a collective noun rather than the usual two letter abbreviation

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