ST 2515

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2515

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

Not too surprisingly, this puzzle has a seasonal greeting and many seasonal answers and clues – only five clue/answer combinations have nothing to do with Christmas or midwinter, by my reckoning. I went slightly astray by guessing a wrong continuation of the greeting in 28A, but this didn’t hold me up for long. There’s a fair number of very easy clues and a bit of repetition (one = I occurs at least three times) but the entertainment and theme is worth it. The message is repeated from me, especially if you should be reading this on the day when it’s scheduled to appear, with the addition of “, bloggers, setters and editors”. Now go back to your family and/or friends!

[As usual, I wrote this before reading the comments on Sunday – pleased to see that Brian has abandoned whatever anonymity he’d managed to keep. I hope my reports on his puzzles don’t sound too creepy – he’s one of my favourite setters and that’s hard to disguise. If there is anything to criticise, I’ll be on to it, but he doesn’t slip up very often!]

Across
1 & 28 Seasonal message to the faithful (1,5,9)
A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR SOLVERS – clued by a gentle cryptic definition. I slipped by thinking the ending would be “to you ??? ???????”, but 25D disproved the checking U.
9 Enjoy welcoming one born at Christmas (7)
SAVIOUR – I = one, in SAVOUR = enjoy
10 It cuts what one eats — one is cutting corn, possibly (7)
INCISOR – I = one, (IS in anag. of CORN) – incisors are of course your cutting teeth, and “cutting” can be used as an insertion indicator
11 Congregated with English in special mass bishop conducted (9)
ASSEMBLED – (E = English, in anag. of MASS,B=bishop), LED = conducted
12 Choir member included in seasonal toast (4)
ALTO – hidden word
13 Fine detail of temperature following freeze in US city (6)
NICETY – (ICE = freeze (both are “become blocked with ice” in the Concise Oxford), T = temperature), in N.Y.
15 Anagram for ‘pear tree’ as wordplay (8 )
REPARTEE – anag. of the seasonal “pear tree”. Surface readings relating to crossword solving are an old favourite
18 Old maids some lads disturbed (8 )
DAMOSELS – old version of damsel = archaic word for maid, and anag. of (some lads). Surprisingly, the Oxford Dictionary of English doesn’t include “damosel”
19 Milkmaids in song and Santa’s 5, for example (6)
OCTETS – 2 (indicated) defs by example – “eight maids a milking” and a cheeky indication of reindeer by “5” – though Doctor Who’s reindeer, seen every half an hour on telly at present, only number six.
22 Christmas back home for some Spanish citizens (4)
LEON – reverse of Noel = Christmas, and a Spanish city. The clue can be read as leading to both NOEL and LEON, a bit of unfairness which Brian can be relied on not to use, so there must be something else to help us decide. It’s the fact that answers are not repeated in the grid, and NOEL appears at 25D
23 Sudden development that makes Santa toil frantically (9)
SALTATION – anag. of (Santa toil) – saltation (“jumping”) is abrupt evolutionary change in plants
26 Pope making journey runs into horse (7)
GREGORY – (GO = journey (vb.), R = runs) in GREY = horse
27 One who’s not satisfied where Father Christmas comes down? (7)
INGRATE – 2 defs, one for “in grate”, representing Santa’s landing place
Down
1 A bishop and saint oddly have no Christmas spirit? (7)
ABSTAIN – A, B = bishop, anag. of saint – and “Christmas spirit” here is your port or ginger wine.
2 They help prepare presents left in days before (5)
ELVES – L = left in EVES
3 What inn lacked at Christmas leading to final moves for fellow lodgers (9)
ROOMMATES – ROOM = “what inn lacked at Christmas”, MATES = “final moves”
4 Seasonal numbers in parts of trains going round Circle Line (6)
CAROLS – (O = circle, L = line) in CARS = parts of trains
5 Team of high-fliers drawing at Christmas (8 )
REINDEER – who draw Santa’s sleigh through the sky
6 Present container for wine (4)
SACK – 2 defs, one Falstaff’s tipple, the other resembling my mother’s replacement for the Christmas “stocking” (a spare pillowcase)
7 In troubled times, allow love to be shown – this helps (9)
MISTLETOE – (LET, O = love) in anag. of times – surface meaning suggesting “goodwill to all men” rather than kissing under the mistletoe
8 The spirit of Christmas present, amongst others, disturbed him (7)
SCROOGE – CD, or maybe just a quiz question
14 Ordinary person with article that dates from first Christmas (6,3)
COMMON ERA – COMMONER = ordinary person, A = article
16 Michael, say, making a difference between sides (9)
ARCHANGEL – A = a, (CHANGE = difference, between R and L = “sides”). Michael is probably the second-best-known archangel after Gabriel. Brewer records another five in Christian tradition, or two in the Koran – M & G are common to both. Raphael and Uriel are the only others you’re likely to see in xwds.
17 Some jobless youth getting benediction after involuntary expulsion (5,3)
BLESS YOU – a hidden word you can harldy miss, as the space is in the same place
18 What one kind of sky or angels brought to shepherds (7)
DELIGHT – CD linking the story of the shepherds with “red sky at night, shepherds’ delight”
20 Waits at Christmas, for example, for some birds (7)
SINGERS – 2 defs, on referring to the waits who used to sing 4D
21 Friends with everyone — that is what’s central to Christmas (6)
ALLIES – ALL = everyone, i.e. = that is, S = “what’s central to ChriStmas”
24 Picture of one wise man (5)
IMAGE – I = one, MAGE = wise man
25 Name often on cards for Christmas (4)
NOEL – another gentle CD
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One Comment

  1. gnomethang
    Posted December 25, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Peter!
    I share your sentiments and also, I suspect, your error on 28a!!
    Merry Christmas and thanks for your Sunday’s