DT Cryptic No 25900 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25900 – Review

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

I found this a bit easier than last week’s, but based on recent goes at some old DT puzzles, there may be even easier ones out there (or I’m gaining from experience), so not worthy of one-star difficulty. The grid is mostly very sound, but spoiled a bit by some under-checking at the edges. On the placenames that the Saturday setter seems fond of, I don’t mind having them as answers, but would prefer not to have quite such difficult geographical wordplay as used today. I have a vague notion that I’ve seen a more approachable {town+town = town} clue before, but I can’t think of the places – maybe Sometown+Bury or Sometown+Chester?

Across
1 Leg, small gift at the present time (8,6)
STOCKING FILLER – two cryptic defs – “at the present time” is quite nicely deceptive, but the idea of a leg as a present is a big hole in the surface meaning.
9 Those sick and tired of work might need this treatment (4-4)
REST CURE – mild but good CD punning on “sick” and “tired” – if you see both puns, you can be very confident of having the right answer.
10 A feature about some mountains (5)
CH(A)IN – the chin being a facial feature, not the newspaper story of the surface meaning.
12 One you, say, can turn (4)
U=”you”,NIT = reversal of tin = can.
13 Accent around wire (10)
CIRCUM,FLEX. “circum” is “around” when it’s the prefix in words like circumnavigation. A circumflex accent is the “hat” one on French O’s, indicating the dropping of an S, as in hôpital. When the Czechs borrow it and turn it upside down it turns into the self-referential háček.
15 Record here in France one expert ( 8 )
LOG=record (noun or verb),ICI= “here in France”,AN=one. Good surface too, though “expert” is maybe a weak def.
16 Symbol of prestige? (6)
STATUS – CD punning on “status symbol”, but solvable if read as a plain def., so not terribly cryptic.
18 Copper most upset at practice (6)
CU,STOM=anag. of most. Good surface, though “at” is padding that does nothing in the cryptic reading.
20 One with Violet caught inside cell removing bone ( 8 )
CLAVICLE – (A=one,VI=violet,C=caught) all inside anag. of cell.
23 Put on too much weight (10)
OVERLOADED – another not terribly cryptic – it’s pretty much 50/50 whether the clue reads as “grew fat through over-eating” or as “overloaded”
24 Just over four weeks almost having brandy (4)
MARC(h) – rough Franch brandy.
26 Steal most of the bad beer (5)
SWIPE(s) – last answer for me – had to rely on the def., not knowing that swipes is bad/weak beer. No particular objection though – I don’t mind being taught a new word or two by a puzzle, as long as I can still finish it. An old friend who’s no great expert as a solver once told me he liked former setter Spurius’s puzzles in the Independent “because I know I’m going to learn something”.
27 Be lingering initially with one at all times, a Christian perhaps (8)
BE,L,I,EVER
28 Two places in London, one with a market, or one in Northamptonshire (14)
WELLING,BOROUGH – a tricky geography poser. I’d heard of Wellingborough – at pop. 47,000-odd it seems big enough to be a candidate for an answer. Also remembered London’s Borough and its market. But despite being a Londoner much of my life, Welling didn’t ring any bells.
Down
2 Opportunity to see this performance on first night (7)
OPENING – 2 defs
3 One’s friends and acquaintances coming before one’s kin? (4)
KITH – as in “kith and kin” – according to Collins, at least. The Concise Oxford reckons kith and kin are both relations.
4 Marine is coming from Saint Lucia at sea ( 8 )
NAUTICAL – anag. of (Saint Lucia) without “is”.
5 Polish language (6)
FRENCH – a pun on French Polish which must have been discovered very early on in the life of the cryptic crossword. Immediate Pavlovian write-in for me, and many others I should think.
6 Crazy reason for pulling train (10)
LOCO=crazy, MOTIVE=reason. “for pulling train” is what you might call a “definition by description”.
7 Man held up by golf supporter on the shoulder (7)
EPAULET – PAUL=man in reversal of TEE=golf supporter. But if “A held up by B” can logically be interpreted as “A held by B going up”, there’s something I don’t understand about the English language. All the right words are there, but like Eric Morecambe’s version of Grieg, “not necessarily in the right order”.
8 Nice with sixteen riotously living (2,9)
IN EXISTENCE – anag. of (Nice, sixteen) – easy for old hands because “sixteen” is sore thumb anag fodder – why not fifteen or seventeen? “Nice” seems much more convincing though I guess you could also ask “Why not lovely?” or “Why not Marseille?”
11 Inn where everyone’s at home? (6,5)
PUBLIC HOUSE – maybe mild CD or maybe charade of PUBLIC=everyone,HOUSE=home
14 Artists sharing same approach with ringer, it marks end of period (6-4)
SCHOOL=Artists sharing same approach,BELL
17 Joy beat choir (4,4)
GLEE=joy,CLUB=beat. A “glee club” is a choir, mostly found in American universities – Harvard’s one is maybe the best-known. Puzzling surface on reflection – are we supposed to think of a termagant choir mistress or a happy kind of pop music chorus?
19 Part of cluster I left infertile (7)
STERILE – hidden word
21 Hat, cheap sort finished with gold (7)
CHAPEAU – anag. of peach, plus Au=gold to go with the previous Cu=copper. Why the French word for hat is included in Collins English dictionary, I can’t guess. Mostly good surface, though if a cheap hat has gold on it, that might merit a ? at the end, or “Hat, cheap sort but finished with gold!”
22 Copy element (6)
CARBON – 2 defs., one of which – “carbon copy” – includes both answer and one def., so makes the clue work as a gentle allusive CD too.
25 At a high cost, polite form of address (4)
DEAR – 2 defs. The cryptic reading is fine but “Good manners cost nothing” as they say, so the surface meaning has no real story to it and the clue gives away both its type and the break between defs.

3 Comments

  1. Jane
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the explanation for 17d. Had got the solution but didn’t know what a ‘glee club’ is. Also didn’t know that ‘swipes’ is bad beer so that now fully explains the solution to 26a.

  2. Kram
    Posted April 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Peter, many thanks for the analysis of one of my hated placenames clues, 28a. If you an ex Londoner can’t recollect a place called Welling, what hope do I a Midlander have apart from scrambling for what is now rapidly becoming a rather tattered Road Atlas of GB!

  3. Posted April 16, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Welling always brings back bad memories for me. When I lived in Bexleyheath I only ever went to Welling to go to the dentist!

    Although technically part of Greater London, the residents of Welling probably regard themselves as living in Kent. So who, other than this setter, would think of it as part of London?

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