DT 26131 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26131

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26131

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

I am not sure what to make of this. Some of you will love it and some of you will dislike it. Personally I am in the I disliked it camp. I found the cryptic definitions to be poor (except perhaps 6d), and except for a couple of clues found nothing particularly inventive. By the time I had finished it I wondered why I had bothered. Usually blogging the crossword is an enjoyable exercise, this was more like a chore.

Anyway, feel free to leave comments regarding your thoughts on today’s crossword. As usual if you want to reveal the answers directly, highlight the space between the curly brackets.

1. Believes barrier to be around pigs? On the contrary (8)
{SWALLOWS} – Barrier is WALL and pigs are SOWS, initially the instruction is to put barrier around pigs, but the secondary instruction suggests you do the opposite. When done you have a word that can be used for believing something credulously.

5. Initially stuffy wife has urge to change (6)
{SWITCH} – A word used for exchange is made up from the first (initially) letters of S(tuffy) and W(ife) and then add ITCH (urge).

9. Learner driver with the Stig could become most graceful (8)
{LIGHTEST} – I am not 100% sure that the answer here is an exact synonym of graceful, but I will give the setter the benefit of the doubt. The answer is constructed from an anagram (could become) of L (learner driver) and THE STIG.

10. Open United Nations’ customary function to listeners (6)
{UNROLL} – UN (United Nations) and a word that sounds like (to listeners) ROLE (customary function) is a word used to describe opening a roll.

12. Dr’s nicely massaged with roller-shaped objects (9)
{CYLINDERS} – An anagram (massaged) of DRS NICELY is indeed a roller shaped object.

13. First of mild beers for half of us (5)
{MALES} – A word used to describe approximately half of the worlds population is made up from the first letter of M(ild) and ALES (beers).

14. Frank has nothing to write (4)
{OPEN} – O (nothing) PEN (to write).

16. Amateur entered activity late (7)
{DELAYED} – Put LAY (amateur as in the laity) into (entered) DEED (activity) and you have another word for being late.

19. They hang around the garden when it’s freezing (7)
{ICICLES} – Cryptic definition for a hanging, tapering piece of ice formed by the freezing of dropping water.

21. To boot into goal, softly (4)
{ALSO} – Another word for to boot (in addition) can be found hidden in the words (go)AL SO(ftly).

24. One who writes jokes that may be read by children (5)
{COMIC} – A double definition.

25. Elementary school subject? (9)
{CHEMISTRY} – Cryptic definition about the study of substances that cannot be resolved by chemical means into simpler substances.

27. Fall for American (6)
{AUTUMN} – Another cryptic definition, this time the American term for autumn.

28. Tear mail apart to get fabric (8)
{MATERIAL} – An anagram (apart) of TEAR MAIL is another word for fabric.

29. Grin — it’s shattering, shattering! (6)
{TIRING} – Another term for “exhausting” is made from an anagram (shattering) of GRIN IT (one assumes you are meant to expand the it’s to it is).

30. Wise man in dining room gives you news (8)
{MESSAGES} – SAGE (a wise man) is placed inside (in) MESS (dining room) for the sort of communications that are typically sent from one person to another.


1. First-rate pick (6)
{SELECT} – Double definition, exclusive and to pick out from a number by preference.

2. Financial backers’ good spirits? (6)
{ANGELS} – Another mildly cryptic double definition. A financial backer or adviser or alternatively a divine messenger .

3. Money to support the French language (5)
{LATIN} – LA (feminine the in French) followed by TIN (a slang term for money) is the language of ancient Rome.

4. You and I put on grim movie (7)
{WESTERN} – WE (you and I) plus (put on) STERN.

6. Their turn to help make the bread? (9)
{WINDMILLS} – Cryptic definition for a building that grinds grain using only the power of the wind.

7. Carriers given the push in supermarkets? (8)
{TROLLEYS} – Another mild cryptic definition of a baskets, trays or tables usually on castors or wheels that can be found outside supermarkets or in rivers or ponds.

8. You might take a picnic here to see team supporting F1 driver (8)
{HILLSIDE} – Graham or Damon, followed by SIDE (team) is also the slope of a hill where you might have a picnic (or you might not). Ugh! Can anybody think of a better clue?

11. Employed in refuse disposal (4)
{USED} – A hidden word that can be used for employed can be found in (ref)USE D(isposal).

15. They’re in the heat in America (9)
{POLICEMEN} – A second clue that uses an Americanism. Heat is a slang term for the cops in America.

17. How Branson got his business off the ground? (8)
{AIRCRAFT} – Is this meant to be cryptic? I suppose it just about makes it. If you think Virgin Atlantic, you will get the answer immediately. We assume this is meant to be a reference to the fact that when the beardie started his first Virgin business it was the production of records. See comment by Droopyh below. If thats the case this is a better clue than I originally thought.

18. With team, ride wildly the distance across (8)
{DIAMETER} – An anagram (wildly) of TEAM and RIDE is according to Chambers – “a straight line passing through the centre of a circle or other figure, terminated at both ends by the circumference”.

20. Wine container (4)
{SACK} – If you have seen this one before it’s a straightforward double definition. Its an old name for various dry white wines from Spain and is also the name used for a large bag.

21. Mean to affirm how old you are (7)
{AVERAGE} – The Definition is mean. AVER (affirm) AGE (how old you are).

22. Might it tie terrorist to ringleaders? (6)
{STRING} – Hmm I assume this is meant to be a “sort of” hidden word clue. The fact that you have to think about this a bit more is signified by the ? at the end of the clue. If you look carefully at the last letters of terrorist and the first few letters of ringleaders you have the answer. (terrori)ST and RING(leaders).

23. Rides for ages (6)
{CYCLES} – Double definition, a word that describes riding a two or three wheeled vehicle is also a period of time (an age).

26. Strange times for pieces of news (5)
{ITEMS} – An anagram (strange) of TIMES is the plural for a piece of news or other matter found in a newspaper for example.

48 comments on “DT 26131

  1. I echo your sentiment, Libellule. I think 2 stars for difficulty is generous. I did not enjoy this, nor find it taxing.

  2. Excellent puzzle today, really enjoyed it :-)
    Favourite clue 25a, took me ages (!) to get 23d. Obviously one for the CC today, after what we have had this week, its must be our turn! I would like to apologise for some of my comments yesterday, I was very grumpy having just received my tax bill!!!

  3. Hello Libellulle, happy new year to you, what is the weather like in your part of the world? My sister-in-law who lives in France has cancelled two visits in the last few weeks because of the snow here!! Sorry you didn’t enjpy the crossword today Libellulle but thank you lovely setter whoever you are………. the first crossword in 2010 i have been able to complete……..my confidence is slightly restored :) come on Barrie, hope you got your paper today, this is one for all us CC members…….Yeeeeees!!

    1. Mary,
      A slight spattering of snow, but not enough to cause any problems. However the thermometer has not risen above 0 for a few days, and is not expected to in the near future. So basically its very cold and frosty. :-)

  4. Must agree with Libellule and Jezza here. Rattled off and thought ‘Oh, I’ve finished. Hmm!’.
    1a might just be favourite.
    I don’t have too much trouble with 9a as the answer can be ‘on your feet’ and it is a synonym in my Thesaurus.
    7d was a bit duff in my opinion as the surface reading was not smooth enough to disguise a very straightforward clue.

    Re: 8d – do you feel another competition coming on?

    1. I am not sure about a competition, but based on the quality of entries for the last “competition” I am sure there are readers of the blog that can come up with a better clue than the existing one.

  5. I thought I was doing the Sun crossword for a moment.
    6d just does not seem to scan no matter how many times I read it. Lots of old chestnuts lying around 13a 14a 24a 30a 26d
    General knowledge clues 19a 25a 27a 7d 15d 17d.
    Have they opened a new box of setters for the new year ?
    Libelleule I feel your pain !

    1. 27a must be the Double Def example in most ‘How to solve a Cryptic Crossword’ books, shirley!

    2. As one of the Clueless, I felt quite pleased with myself for being able to complete this so quickly. though I agree that the clues were uninspiring, and it would be a great bore if all the puzzles were like this. My only complaint was with 6d, which certainly should have started with “They”, but I also had a problem with 8d, not knowing any racing drivers, just worked it out.

  6. I was wondering and you can tell me to get lost if you wish, if it is possible to publish the results of the daily star ratings ( Not The Daily Star newspaper) maybe the next day to see what the general opinion was of the previous days puzzle. Purely as a matter of interest.
    What do you think Big Dave and fellow contributors ?

    1. Nubian

      The star ratings at the bottom of the blog are a WordPress feature. At the moment it is all on or all off, so they could change after they have been published. You can always go back and look at the previous blog.

      BTW the same is true of the ratings on CluedUp – they are a moving target.

  7. For everyone who thought todays puzzle too easy, maybe you could appreciate we are not all at the same level and some of us are relatively new to these puzzles in comparison to yourselves, now and again a puzzle like todays is just what we need to boost morale, there is always the toughie after all :)

    1. Mary,
      My main issue with this crossword was not that it was easy or hard, but the fact that it was just awful. I got more entertainment from doing the Quick. I personally don’t mind an “easy” crossword so long as the clues are inventive, cleverly constructed and even witty. In nearly all of those cases (except for a couple of minor exceptions) this puzzle failed to deliver.

    2. Mary, I’m halfway through it and sweating!.
      I would echo Libellule on this – not the ease but the lack of amusement. Also Nubian listed a bunch of clues that I/he has seen many times in a VERY similar form (bear in mind I have been doing this for years). After a couple of years you’ll be in the same boat!

        1. I agree with Mary. I nearly finished this but not quite.

          I have never heard of angels being financial backers, nor tin a term for money.

  8. I agree with most of your comments, Libellule.

    I alsoagree with Nubian re 6d. Either there should be “helps” between “turn” and “to”, or the first word should be “They”.

    1. Vince
      6d. If you change the clue in any of the ways suggested, it loses the misdirection which the setter is trying to achieve, i.e. “their turn” as in “they are next in line”.

      1. Gazza,

        I understand what you mean, and I got the answer, anyway, but it just doesn’t read right for me, for that answer. But, I suppose setters always have the option, if the surface reading is a bit iffy, to stick a ? at the end and that somehow justifies it!!

        As for misdirection, there’s not much of that in 7d or 17d is there?

        1. Well, 7d looks like an attempt to make you think of supermarkets withdrawing (sacking, giving the push to) plastic bags.

  9. This was a real mixed bag of a puzzle. I don’t think that it as dire as some have suggested but it was very badly let down by some weak as water cryptic definitions. 7d might just have easily been in the Quick Crossword.

  10. Liked this crossword and got through it once I had put ‘trolleys’ instead of ‘trollies’
    19a What is the value of ‘the garden’ in the clue?
    17d I assume ‘air craft’ refers to ‘music trade’ i.e the Virgin music business that preceded Virgin Atlantic

    1. i like the thinking on17d droopyh, i think garden is padding for the clue maybe but don’t take my word for it, i’m no expert as you’ll probably find out if you visit regularly !! :) welcome, this is a great blog

      1. Agrred with the padding! – you might as well said ‘the house’ or indeed nothing.

    2. Re. 19a Looks like padding to me, just to make it read a bit better
      17d – I did consider that, some of the first records I bought were on the Virgin record label, but that seemed to be stretching the interpretation a bit far. Anyway who knows, unless the setter confirms or denies.

      1. droopyh,
        Re your comment on 17d its growing on me, if thats the case this is a better clue than I thought. In fact it may be the best one in the whole crossword. I think I will amend the blog to acommodate the suggestion.

  11. Quite easy, but I made it more difficult for myself by starting with 1d and putting “choice” which I think is equally valid as the correct answer, and it fitted with 12a.

    I liked 25a and 6d. I guessed 15d as I had so many letters but I was unaware of the expression even though I am a fan of US crime movies.

  12. I was very pleased that I managed it,waiting for the wife in outpatients,now having realised that most of you thought it well below standard I feel deflated, I also finnished the codewords and made inroads with the Toughie.

  13. Didn’t do anything for me, either. The NE corner took a little time, but in general I thought the construction of the clues was pretty obvious.

    Harry Shipley

  14. Moved to post for the first time, i didn’t enjoy it at all – very different to the last few days. I agree with Libellule that it was a chore to complete (and wit-less).
    The best part of the crossword was of my own making as I entered “choice” for 1d.
    15d – I think using american slang in the clue is just plain lazy when you consider the huge amount of native synonyms we have for the boys from Rossendale.

  15. Not my day today, though quite pleased with my effort, I was down to my last 8 clues before I sought BD help.
    Remember I’m a novice…!
    My suggestion for 8d (which I didn’t get) is:
    I’ll slope into one shed.
    (Think perhaps I’ll stick to trying to solve them first !)

    Thank you for your kind comments yesterday x

    1. Your clue does not read quite right IMHO. How about: I’ll shed one mixture on the slope. Maybe that’s too easy.

  16. I’ve not commented on here for a while though i have used the blog for a bit of help most days. Since the New Year this is the first crossword i have completed without using the blog at all. Some of the crosswords i have struggled with and got little more than half completed. I still consider myself a novice to be honest. even though i finished todays relatively early and without help I felt disappointed and cheated. Not because it was easy I just thought a lot of it was rubbish and not what i expect from the DT. I have to say i enjoyed the one that i really strggled with from earlier in the week far more than this one.

  17. Very quickly finished this time.
    Liked 1a & 25a; 3d, 6d &15d.
    Did the slang for cops originate from the book/film/TV “In the Heat of the Night”??

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