DT 26137 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26137

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26137

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

Well its Thursday again, and after I had finished this, I thought I would be be repeating my views of last week. But after I had written the blog I thought it was not as bad as I originally thought. Mind you that doesn’t make it particularly good. One problem I had was the lack of variety, how many rats, steamships, first letters, last letters etc. did you find? Ho hum.

As usual please leave a comment if you feel that you want to contribute to the discussion about todays crossword.


1. Having no certain course, Ernie’s partner crossing desert (7)
{ERRATIC} – No prizes for guessing who Ernie’s partner is. However you do need a bit of lateral thinking to work out the desert reference. Put ERIC (Eric Morecambe) around (crossing?) RAT (desert).

5. Runs on a track in relentless struggle (3,4)
{RAT RACE} – Talking of rats…. R (runs) from cricket, plus A and then TRACE (track) is a continual round of hectic and futile activity symptomatic of the way we live nowadays.

9. Offence holding it, a protest (3-2)
{SIT-IN} – An offence is a SIN. Put IT inside (holding) and you have a term for the occupation of a building for example as an organised protest.

10. Mistaken about revolutionary duplicating machine, American (9)
{ERRONEOUS} – RE (about – in reference to) turned around (revolutionary) followed by RONEO (an old rotary duplicator that uses a stencil through which ink is pressed) and the US (American) gives us another term for mistaken. (Phew!)

11. A cheese in Roget (clue’s cryptic) (10)
{GLOUCESTER} – An anagram (cryptic) of ROGET and CLUES is also a type of English cheese.

12. Check second Scottish river (4)
{STAY} – A restraint or check can be found by putting together S (second) and TAY (a central Scottish river).

14. Steaks in beer supplied by pubs (12)
{PORTERHOUSES} – PORTER (a dark-brown malt beer) followed by HOUSES (public houses – pubs) is also a a choice cut of beefsteak next to the sirloin.

18. Pompous ass with money dithers dreadfully (7,5)
{STUFFED SHIRT} – Take STUFF (another word for money according to Chambers) and then add an anagram (dreadfully) of DITHERS and you have term that describes a pompous, unbendingly correct person.

21. Fabric left with expert (4)
{LACE} – L (left) and ACE (expert).

22. Teams initially argue before game in Wiltshire town (10)
{TROWBRIDGE} – Aaaargh! The return of a dreaded placename. Thankfully the wordplay is relatively simple. The first (initially) letter of T(eams) then ROW (argue) and finally BRIDGE (game) is the county town of Wiltshire.

25. Entrance for goods vehicles? (9)
{TRANSPORT} – Think about another less obvious meaning of entrance and you also have another word for the carriage or conveyance of goods or people from one place to another.

26. Finished last of pizza, Italian food (5)
{PASTA} – Since pizza is in the clue, it has to be the other Italian staple. PAST (finished) and the last letter of (pizz)A.

27. Merit extremely desirable present (7)
{DESERVE} – Another term for merit, or to be worthy of, comes from the outside (extreme) letters of D(esirabl)E and SERVE (present).

28. One held captive in house by arena (7)
{HOSTAGE} – HO (house) and STAGE (arena).


1. Flag officer in the US navy (6)
{ENSIGN} – Double definitition.

2. Despicable person, one on allotment (6)
{RATION} – RAT (despicable person), I (one) and ON.

3. Method of teaching music — difficult solo, in fact (5,3,2)
{TONIC SOL FA} – An anagram (difficult) of SOLO IN FACT is according to Chambers “a system of notation and teaching devised by Sarah Glover (1785–1867) and developed by John Curwen (1816–80), using modified sol-fa syllables and their initial letters for the notes of the scale with doh as the keynote for the major keys and lah for the minor, and dividing the bar by colons, dots and inverted commas”. So now you know.

4. Garnish in chef’s starter on vessel (5)
{CRESS} – You are looking for a type of garnish. To find it you need the first letter (starter) of C(hef) then RE (on – relating to) and SS (steamship – vessel).

5. Oxide, uncommon on our planet (4,5)
{RARE EARTH} – Originally an oxide of an element, now more usually the element itself, refers to another name for any element of the lanthanide series (atomic numbers 57 to 71) and is made up of a synonym for uncommon, and this planet.

6. Very small container by end of quay (4)
{TINY} – TIN (container) and the last letter (end of) (qua)Y.

7. Abandonment of a principle in a job, say, unfortunately (8)
{APOSTASY} – Another term for abandonment of one’s religion, principles or party is A POST (job) and a simple anagram (unfortunately) of SAY.

8. Lamb, for example, is set free outside (8)
{ESSAYIST} – Put SAY (for example) inside an anagram of IS SET and you should end up with a word that describes Charles Lamb (Elia).

13 .Our Greek primate on board pretended disdain (4,6)
{SOUR GRAPES} – Put OUR GR (greek) APE (primate) inside SS (steamship – on board?) for a phrase used to describe the denial of the desirability of something after you have found out that you can’t have it.

15. Symbol of royalty, in heart of Surrey, stood out (5,4)
{TUDOR ROSE} – An anagram of the letters inside (heart of) s(URRE)y and STOOD is a red and white symbol adopted by Henry VII.

16. One censured about duck put in quarantine (8)
{ISOLATED} – If you put something on its own , it would be I (one) plus SLATED (censured) around O (duck) .

17. Get the better of when not in form (8)
{OUTCLASS} – If you are not in a class?

19. Poems about Sweden’s capital, a port (6)
{ODESSA} – Not Stockholm. You need ODES (poems) around (about) the first letter (capital) of S(weden) and then A and you get the name of a major port located on the shore of the Black Sea .

20. Ancient Roman assembly depicted in a tense novel (6)
{SENATE} – A simple anagram (novel) of A TENSE is the governing body of ancient Rome.

23. Sabrina, perhaps, in comic put before small child (5)
{WITCH} – Sabrina is an example of a WIT (comic) plus CH (an abbreviation for child).

24. Emperor’s son taken aboard by sailor (4)
{TSAR} – Put S (son) inside TAR (sailor) for a Russian Emperor.

53 comments on “DT 26137

  1. This to me felt like going through the motions… not totally sure why, but derived no enjoyment from this today. I am sure plenty will disagree with me, but I found it bland,

  2. Although I completed it, I didn’t enjoy it much. Too many questionable clues.

    1a. Desert is not a synonym for rat.

    10a. Who’s ever heard of a Roneo?? Had to work it out from “er”, “us” and checked letters.

    18a. Can anybody tell me who might use “stuff” as a term for money?

    I could go on!!!!

    1. I used to go to college via Roneo Corner in Romford. That’s where Roneo duplicators were made. There is a Tesco’s there now. Apostasy was the impossible one for me.

    2. I thought you youngsters might whinge at ‘Roneo’! The joys of getting purple ink on your hands when at school in 1960 and being trusted with producing the song-sheets for the Christmas concert! The American version was a Gestetner, I think .

      Actually there were a lot of archaic words in this puzzle – I rather think it was done on purpose. ‘Stuff’ was a Victorian term, for money, as was ‘tin’. Probably upper-class slang. ‘Porterhouse’ is not used much nowadays – it is synonymous with fillet. Most people will only know the word from Tom Sharpe’s novel. ‘Porter’ is also only found on ancient pub signs. The Eagle in Wandsworth advertises ‘Ales and Porter’ .

      As for ‘Tonic sol-fa’, well my 89 year old Dad who is losing his marbles got that straight away! I lookerd it up, and realised that it was a complicated way of saying ‘doh, ray, mi, so etc’ Crosswords often use those syllables, so perhaps we should know the correct name for the scale.

      1. It seems I am wrong about Porterhouse, it is the fillet PLUS a piece off the loin, complete with bone. Probably weighs a minimum of 12 ounces, I would guess.

  3. I’m still at the bottom of the learning curve here, but I found that dull.

    Is duck (O), 16d, a cricket word?

      1. that’s good to know, i’ll have to look out for the golden duck in future crosswords, don’t think i’ve encountered one yet :)

      2. As Andrew Strauss was this morning in the test match against South Africa. I think we will probably here that expression quite a lot in the next few days!

            1. Indeed, Rishi, and two golden ducks in a match is a King Pair. I wonder if someone could work that in, it would upset lots of people!

  4. Great puzzle, really enjoyed finishing this one. Even learned something Tonic Sol Fa, new to me but with a bit of help from Google and the anagram I got it. Best clue 22a. Obviously a reward for the CC for the tough ones earlier in the week, much appreciated, thank you.

  5. I don’t know if the new Thursday regime has a regular setter or whether we have a rota. Either way, this was much better than last week’s Thursday crossword. I did not think it was too bad but it did not have the same smile factor as, say, Jay’s puzzle yesterday. Favourite clues were 3d and 15d.

  6. I agree with Barrie although i didn’t find it all plain sailing, never heard of Roneo? also never heard of the answer to 7d and had to have help off the blog for that, although i am studying the flute i have never heard of 3d either! but worked it out with checking letters and anagram, also never heard of money being called ‘stuff’, a nice one as Barrie says for cc members but not all plain sailing i thought

    1. Roneo was the brand name of a duplicating machine, as was Gestetner. The brand name came into common usage in the same way that Hoover did.

  7. Have to agree that this was an only OK puzzle but never heard of ***** being a word meaning money in 18a. Another for the learning curve.

  8. Quite enjoyable though agree there were a couple of strange clues.
    Mary re 3d remember the Sound of Music doh a deer…… it`s actually a method for teaching singing and not just music teaching ( I only know as my wife is a singing teacher )

  9. Many Indians would instantly recognise Roneo as the registered trade mark for a duplicating machine.

      1. What I meant to say was that the multinational company had operations in India and so it was a recognisable product in this country.

        Sorry, I didn’t express it quite properly.

  10. OK to solve but as others I didn’t find it particularly engaging (or even interesting ;-) ).
    15d ‘stood out’ for me.

  11. Nothing to add, but in fact I enjoyed today’s offering.

    Can’t wait for the toughie comments – we often have quibbles but not so often a blatant error to complain about!

      1. Not really Gazza – but my wife is! Solved it then rang her to confirm my suspicion – heaven help anyone who tried to find the answer in a list of Verdi’s works!!

    1. I guess no-one at the Telegraph can tell their Verdi from their Puccini!

      I don’t think that telling people is advance is spoiling it – quite the reverse.

      1. Dave, I quite agree – and perhaps I should have been more explicit in my original post – anyone who was trying to solve the puzzle but hadn’t spotted the error would have been left wondering where it was.

          1. Ladeeez’n’ Gennlemeeen!
            They’re here all week!.
            I give you:
            Prolixic and the Wermster!

            Nice one chaps! – Made me laugh, anyway!

  12. I found this very unsatisfactory, and now having read your explanations I really disliked many of the clues. Can’t go into much detail at present, but for instance 18a where you have to find a synonym for one of the words in the clue and attach it to the anagram of another.

    Probably I’m just not on the right wavelength today as I’m about to set off for a month in Australia to visit my aged mother. I’ll rejoin you when I get back. :-)

  13. It was all right. I think we sometimes get into a state of mass hysteria about these puzzles, I know I used to go on about foreign words and phrases all the time until I realised I was actually being educated and so I shut up. I think Big Dave and the other contributors should be complimented on their emotional control. I think there is a thin line between constructive criticism and wingeing, a line I have crossed many times. mea culpa mea culpa
    Anyway today’s was enjoyable for all the right reasons and I learnt some new words….I thank you !

  14. Love it.
    Your comments i mean.. Helps me enormously.
    I think ‘What the hell does that clue mean’ and the find I’m not the only one..
    Managed to get 3/4’s of the way through before resorting to you guys (& gals) today.
    3 & 7d completely foxed me but then again, you learn something new everyday.
    Keep up the good work.

  15. Found this one really difficult. Lots of “crosswordese” in the clues, so got a lot of valuable experience (ahem..). Not much humour in this one – a couple of well hidden puns makes the puzzle for me.

  16. Tough today compounded by England toiling in J.burg. Was out in Cape Town last week – distant memory already! Also a LOT colder here.
    Out first ball in both innings is a king pair.

    1. How was it LD? – I guess we got a good result with a bit of a frisson at the end!.
      Text from my mate suggested that we were dead in the water as soon as Collie got out – Oh Ye of Little Faith!

  17. I wonder if knowledge of the answer to 3d is age related. I am in my sixtieth year – and yet there is a thirty something thriving wonderfully within – and was taught music at school using the tonic sol-fa, although I didn’t remember the “L” being in it!

    1. Kev, I seem to recall that ‘Tonic Sol-Fa’ was introduced circa 1930 as a teaching method.
      Regarding the age thing, I am 39 and am well aware of the names of tonic notes so got the answer this way (I was taught that so/sol were both acceptable given the elision between so/la or sol/lah).
      I’ve said it before that a good aid to solving cryptic crosswords is to be ‘a bit of an All-Rounder’, including Cricket (!), languages, incorrect opera works and hopefully some science and stuff!

      Getting back to your original musing you are probably correct – kids nowadays (Tch!) are probably hitting each other over the head with Xylophone keys! You get a gold star for that if you can pitch the resulting “Ow!”

  18. Very late comment – been fully occupied the last few days.
    Quite a bit of food in this one!
    Best clues for me were 22a 15d and 19d.

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