DT 25987 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 25987

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25987

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

Even the seasoned pros amongst you will find this difficult!  A very enjoyable puzzle, but some of the clues are a bit convoluted.


1a Division’s dry approaching hill (6)
{SECTOR} – this division is a charade of SEC (dry) and TOR (hill) – a nice easy start like this does nothing to prepare you for what is to follow!

4a Your crooked mates smuggled in a gem (8)
{AMETHYST} – THY (your) is inside an anagram (crooked) of MATES to give a gem – I’m still not keen on this inverted construct which makes you look to put the anagram inside rather than outside; what do you think?

10a Employ one to apply squeeze, entering dodgily-acquired property in Little Venice? (9)
{HOUSEBOAT} – put USE (employ) and BOA (one to apply squeeze / snake) inside (entering) HOT (dodgily-acquired) for a property in Little Venice – checking letters meant that the answer was easier to get than the wordplay; note the “?” indicating that the definition part of the clue is cryptic

11a Loads thrown away by Spurs, expecting contract (5)
{PURSE} – hidden inside (loads thrown away) SPURS Expecting is a word meaning to contract one’s lips into a rounded, puckered shape, especially in order to express displeasure – thanks to Chambers for the definition

12a One Roman assassin’s head turned by something creepy in the garden (7)
{ARBUTUS} – take A and then BRUTUS (Roman assassin) with the first two letters reversed (head turned) to get something creepy in the garden – I’m not very good on garden plants, but was able to work this one out and then look it up

13a Topless, liking charm (7)
{ENCHANT} – (P)ENCHANT (liking / inclination) without the initial letter (topless) gives a word meaning to charm

14a Super-duper houses lost to view (5)
{PERDU} – hidden inside (houses) suPER-DUper is a word meaning lost to view, from the French for lost

15a Religiously one keeps newspaper (8)
{OBSERVER} – a double definition – the newspaper bit is obvious, but would you describe one who keeps to a religion as religiously one keeps?

18a Tripe from hand to mouth (8)
{CLAPTRAP} – this tripe comes from CLAP (from hand) and TRAP (mouth) – trouble in store for overseas solvers with this slang term for mouth!

20a Desert dwellers start to play after taking coke (5)
{CACTI} – this plant that lives in the desert comes from putting ACT 1 (start to play) after C(oke) – although I’ve seen this device used before, I still wasted time thinking that start to play was “P”!

23a Getting fair share, sick as a parrot? (3,4)
{PRO RATA} – this Latin phrase meaning a fair share is an anagram (sick) of A PARROT

25a Chicken Peter Oosterhuis has consumed (7)
{ROOSTER} – this chicken is hidden (has consumed) inside former golfer PeteR OOSTERhuis

26a Darling, we won’t trouble the scorers (5)
{DUCKS} – a double definition of a slang word for darling and scores of zero in cricket

27a Does it hold water, appearing to suck up to mother? (6,3)
{HOOVER DAM} – this feature of the Colorado River comes from HOOVER(E)D (appearing to suck / sounding like used a vacuum cleaner)) and MA (mother) reversed (UP) HOOVER (to suck up) and DAM (mother) – thanks for putting me right, Ranger

28a Unpleasant people right to present tale of woe (3,5)
{SOB STORY} – a charade of S.O.B.S (unpleasant people / sons of bitches) and TORY (right) to get this tale of woe

29a Attack is the custom of the people! (6)
{WAYLAY} – our final across clue is a clever charade which generates a word meaning to attack from WAY (custom) and LAY (of the people)


1d Drink breaks demanded by drunkard? (8)
{SCHNAPPS} – this drink sounds like (demanded by drunkard) snaps (breaks) – did the setter read Peter Biddlecombe’s review of a clue like this in DT 25948 when composing this clue?

I get cross with some folk who moan about dodgy homophones, but this one really is a dud. “sh” and “s” are different noises and you can surely bridge the gap with something about drunken pronunciation.”

2d Is one hitting the nightspots hard? (7)
{CLUBBER} – a double / cryptic definition of this person who visits nightclubs

3d On table, beat bottom that leaves little to the imagination! (9)
{OVERTRUMP} – to beat your opponent in a game of whist or bridge comes from OVERT (leaves little to the imagination) and RUMP (bottom)

5d Giver and taker of orders, I’m first to read Porterhouse Blue? (6,8)
{MOTHER SUPERIOR} – this person gives orders to others in a convent, but has also taken holy orders – the wordplay is an anagram (blue) of I’M R (first to Read) and PORTERHOUSE – I bet you didn’t get this one from the wordplay!

6d Subject to a bit over three hundred (5)
{TOPIC} – this subject comes from TO PI (π=3.1415926535897932384626433832795… / a bit over three) and C (a hundred in Roman numerals)

7d The elderly admitting dreadful drag covers a measured area (7)
{YARDAGE} – put YE (the elderly / old fashioned) around an anagram (dreadful) of DRAG to get a measured area

8d Upset, hear about agreement (6)
{TREATY} – EAT (upset, as in to eat away at) inside TRY (to hear, as in a court) gives this agreement

9d The other relative question for art house – why fake? (4,4,6)
{HOW’S YOUR FATHER} – three parts to this – the other as in something that you can’t remember what it is called; a question about a relative; an anagram (fake) of FOR ART HOUSE WHY

16d Suitable output for the Stones? (4,5)
{ROCK OPERA} – a cryptic definition which plays on The Rolling Stones – cue for some music with my favourite Stones track

ARVE Error: need id and provider

17d Some cards having a couple of drinks with Lord! (3,5)
{GIN RUMMY} – a card game that is a charade of GIN and RUM (a couple of drinks with MY (as an interjection similar to Lord!)

19d He’s little pride about him! (4,3)
{LION CUB} – an amusing cryptic definition of a baby LION

21d Keep one variation of dialect (7)
{CITADEL} – this keep is an anagram (one variation) of DIALECT

22d Digger’s suit (6)
{SPADES} – a cryptic definition of one of the four suits in a pack of playing cards

24d It’s worth having when ready (5)
{ASSET} – very cleverly worded, something worth having is a charade of AS (when) and SET (ready)

There are issues with this puzzle, but don’t you think it is worth putting up with the use of blue as an anagram indicator just to get the reference to the Tom Sharpe novel?

23 comments on “DT 25987

  1. Hi Dave
    I read 27a as Hoover (to suck up) and Dam (mother). I think it reads a bit better. Looking forward to reading the wordplay for 8d.

    1. Seriously, it’s EAT (upset, as in to eat away at) inside TRY (to hear, as in a court).

      I prefer your explanation of 27 across.

  2. I thought that this was brilliant (especially after a dour struggle with the Toughie!). Favourite clues 9d and 6d.

  3. I can only second Gazza’s comments. I gave up on the Toughie in the end. Had some better things to do :-)

    1. Hi John

      I recognised your style, but it was up to you to confirm it!

      If that means you are doing tomorrow’s Toughie then I will miss out as it’s Tilsit’s turn. But then I have been greedy and covered most of your recent puzzles.

      For those who don’t already know, John H is better known as Elgar and we met at Sloggers and Betters 5 a couple of months ago.

  4. 9d. I think that “the other” is a reference to “a bit of the other” which like “a bit of how’s your father” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

  5. I thought that you might find this (alleged) origin of the term “how’s your father?” amusing.

    According to Michael Kelly, a writer and historian in New Zealand, “the origin of the expression ‘how’s your father’ can be traced back to Victorian times. In those days any man with a daughter was so protective of her virtue that he would take extraordinary measures to safeguard it. Unmarried girls would be kept within the bosom of their family as much as possible, chaperoned on excursions, and on those occasions when they were let out of bounds for social events, their fathers would often accompany them discreetly by hiding underneath their voluminous skirts ready to pounce on any man who transgressed the bounds of propriety.

    However, a father with more than one daughter couldn’t be everywhere at once. Thus, a suitor having a discreet vis-a-vis with his beloved would cautiously ascertain her father’s whereabouts by asking, ‘And how is your father?’ If her father was currently under her skirts, she would glance downwards and reply, ‘My father is very well, thank you, and as alert and vigorous as ever, and maintains his interest in rusty castrating implements.’ Her beau would then say, ‘I have always had the greatest respect for your father, and of course for you. Let us hold hands and think about the Queen for a while.’ If, on the other hand, her father was elsewhere, she would reply, ‘The mad old bastard is currently stationed between my sister Constance’s thighs. Let us go into the garden and rut like stoats.’

    Hence, ‘How’s your father’ became a euphemism for you-know-what.”

  6. Hated it!! Would never have finished without your site. Even when I got the right answer i didn’t understand why! :(

  7. a bit of a curate’s egg – ranging from the pedestrian 25a – rooster to the ingenious 23a – sick as a pro-rata ! and the entertaining 27a – j edgar dam.

    i liked 1down as well – and needed a couple of glasses to crack this one.

    good fun.

  8. Yes, very difficult!! Struggled with 9d and 5d. Very entertaining and taxing at the same time. Loved 1d and 27a – brilliant

  9. Really enjoyed the first two thirds but the rest was just too difficult for a normal mortal like myself. Sorry but could the compiler ease up a bit please!

  10. I think it takes quite a stretch of the imagination to get EAT from UPSET (8d). To “eat away at” is to fret or worry. And that is with EAT as part of a phrase – not on its own.
    And No, I don’t think it’s worth putting up with BLUE as an anagram indicator (5d), unless you can explain how it is one.

    1. Vince

      The example I gave for EAT was to try and put it into context. Chambers gives the following definition:

      transitive verb
      * to take into the body by the mouth as food
      * to bite, chew or swallow
      * to include or tolerate in one’s diet
      * to consume (often with up)
      * to corrode or destroy (often with away)
      * to upset, irritate or worry (informal)
      intransitive verb
      * to take food
      * to take a meal, eg at a stated time
      * to make inroads, make a hole or gnaw (with into or through)
      * to be eatable, to taste

      Presumably this is where the setter obtained that interpretation.

      As far as BLUE is concerned, definition 2 is:

      transitive verb
      * to squander

      Is this a licence to use it? I’m still undecided.

  11. Surely when one is blue, one is sad and mixed up, perhaps I am also sad but that is the way I read it this morning. I loved 6d, and would vote it as the pick of a good difficult but enjoyable crossword, the ilk for which has been requested on a day to day basis on this site.

  12. Don’t forget, in music, ‘blue’ notes are flattened – you might say bent, or contorted. Perhaps that was the angle?

  13. Great site – I hardly ever do crosswords but had the telegraph on a long train journey yesterday and thought I’d give it a go.
    Took over an hour and a half to only get 8 of them (14a, 23a, 25a, 27a, 17d, 19d, 21d and 22d) – completely stumped on the rest. Thanks for putting my mind at ease. Some very clever people out there I must say.

    1. Welcome to the blog Wanzelbin

      From where did you get that name? No, don’t answer that!

      Some of us would say there are people out there with nothing better to do all day, but thanks for the compliment.

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