DT 26155 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26155

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26155

Hints and tips by Libellule

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Quite an enjoyable crossword today, but it does seem as if we have entered into a new genre – cryptic general knowledge crosswords. There is a nice mix of clues, not just in terms of types, but also complexity and trickery which should appeal to most of us. Once again we have a dodgy anagram indicator, but I think I can live with it.

To see the answers, highlight the space between the curly brackets. Your own thoughts on this crossword, can be entered below. I do enjoy reading them.


8. Suspicion about the Parisian’s jacket (7)
{DOUBLET} – Put another word for uncertainty around (about) LE (French masculine – the) for a type of garment a male would wear from the 14th to the 17th century.

10. Cock and duck appearing in list (7)
{ROOSTER} – Place O (duck) inside (appearing in) a list of employees and you have another word for an adult male chicken for example.

11. Spasmodic bird-watchers? (9)
{TWITCHERS} – Bill Oddie and his pals moving jerkily?

12. Change dress (5)
{SHIFT} – Double definition, the second less obvious definition is a loose dress, roughly triangular or oblong.

13. Frenchman and wife make a fresh start (5)
{RENEW} – A word meaning to begin is made from a Frenchman who could be the first name of the café owner from ‘Allo ‘Allo followed by W (wife).

14. Filth, look, seen in most of plaza (7)
{SQUALOR} – LO (look) is placed in SQUAR(e), most of indicates that you need to remove the final E. A plaza is described by Chambers as a public square or open paved, area in a city or town.

17. Artist wearing glasses frames swan and snake? (10,5)
{SPECTACLED COBRA} – A species of venomous snake from the Indian subcontinent is constructed from SPECTACLED (wearing glasses), RA (Royal Academy – artist), around (frames) COB (swan).

19. Rascal in wicked headgear? (1,3,3)
{A BAD HAT} – A cryptic definition (just) that refers to an informal phrase used to describe someone who deliberately stirs up trouble, or is an unscrupulous person.

21. Ellen Terry’s record (5)
{ENTER} – If you don’t know who Ellen Terry was, just follow the link, at least its not a made up name! Anyway, the answer to this clue is actually hidden between the words Ellen and Terry, the definition being record.

24. One won’t knock you out in your pub (5)
{LOCAL} – Double definition, a type of anaesthesia affecting only a restricted area of the body, or your nearest pub.

26. Harshly criticise drag artist’s initial role (4,5)
{PULL APART} – PULL (drag) A, the first letter (initial) of artist and PART (role).

27. Strike about infringement in game (5-2)
{KNOCK-ON} – A charade of KNOCK (strike) and ON (about) is also a term used in Rugby to describe the infringement of playing the ball forward with the hand or arm.

28. Thirty-one days, just in one part of capital (7)
{MAYFAIR} – Take your pick from January, March, May, July, August, October, or December and then add FAIR (just) for a part of London.


1. Journalist travelled up to collect it (6)
{EDITOR} – RODE (travelled) reversed (up) around (to collect) IT is a person who is usually in charge of at least a section of a newspaper.

2. A clear soup, right, should be taken in one of our warmer months? (8)
{JULIENNE} – Not content with all the months that have 31 days, we now need another one from the summer. Put LIEN (right) inside this month, and you have a clear soup with shredded vegetables.

3. Unlucky guard in regiment (5,5)
{BLACK WATCH} – A colour for unlucky, and another word for stand guard is a famous Scottish infantry regiment.

4. Girl’s drinking hot water brought over in dish (5,4)
{IRISH STEW} – IRIS’S are the girls, include within this (drinking) H (hot) and add a reversed (brought over) WET (water) for a dish of stewed mutton, onions and potatoes.

5. Stud manager (4)
{BOSS} – How many times have we seen variants of this old chestnut? It’s a double definition. Hands up if you haven’t seen it before?

6. When one chooses a woven fabric (2,4)
{AT WILL} – A TWILL (woven fabric).

7. Doctrinaire don ignored new rules (8)
{CRITERIA} – Remove the letters (ignored) DON from doctrinaire, and then anagram (new) the remainder for standards by which something can be judged or decided.

9. Row right after match (4)
{TIER} – R (right) placed after TIE (match).

15. Any clue put out about lead in play? (5,5)
{UNCLE VANYA} – An anagram (put out) of ANY CLUE about VAN (lead) is also a play by Chekhov.

16. So inspect fallen tree (5,4)
{SCOTS PINE} – Another anagram (fallen?) of SO INSPECT gives us the more common name for Pinus sylvestris. This is an improvement on the normal anagram of a “fir cone”.

17. Ballet’s second week, an excess (4,4)
{SWAN LAKE} – S (second), W (week), AN, LAKE (a reference to the European Union wine lake) is also a famous ballet by Tchaikovsky.

18. Eccentric by earl at play (8)
{BETRAYAL} – When I first looked at this I could not make head or tail of it. I knew it was an anagram and I knew what the answer was, but I didn’t know why until someone gave me a hint. The clue is an anagram (eccentric) of BY EARL AT which when unravelled refers to a partially autobiographical play by Harold Pinter.

20. Linkman’s article on reduced job (6)
{ANCHOR} – The linkman in this case is the sort of person you see on television, who is responsible for the smooth running of a news program or discussion for example, and is made from AN (article) on CHOR(e), a job that has had the E removed (reduced).

22. Sappers go then come back (6)
{RETURN} – RE (Royal Engineers) and TURN (go).

23. 50, in total, in wretched dwelling (4)
{SLUM} – L (the Roman numeral for 50, inside (in) SUM (total).

25. Enjoy corresponding (4)
{LIKE} – A simple double definition.

79 comments on “DT 26155

  1. Another nice jaunt today – possibly at yesterday’s level for difficulty although I was probably a tad quicker today..
    6d and 17a stood out for me. Agree that 5d needs roasting on an open fire!
    I can live with the anagram indicator at 16a (just), I suspect like the ‘Do’ yesterday is really comes down to surface reading.
    Thanks for the review

      1. Thanks! – and also for your reassurance on the other site!.
        Approx 20 years behind the chewed pencil and still going strong!

        1. happy birthday for yesterday gnomethang, you have your work cut out this week on COW! good luck

  2. Our setters are giving us a right royal week in terms of quality of puzzles with varying levels of difficulty. Today’s was no exception. Favourite clues were17a and 15d.

    I agree that there was strong element of plays and literature in this puzzle but they were all well clued and with the possible exception of 18d not that obscure.

    Many thanks to the setter (whoever he or she is) and to you for the notes.

  3. Didn’t like 2d, 18d or 5d but I did like 3d and 17a very much, quite an enjoyable crossword today but I struggled at first.

  4. Took quite a while to start then really enjoyed it ( thanks to the setter).I agree that 18d was rather obscure and although it was the only obvious answer it was the last I put in.Favourites were 17a,2d and 15d

  5. Most enjoyable today,we are having a good week and the setters are keeping me quiet.
    27a will get the non rugby watchers going no doubt

  6. Another dismal day for me! Must not be with it today as I found this one much harder than yesterday’s. The hints provided some help and once I had some of the checking letters in place more of the down clues became apparent.

    Can’t spell rugby, so mystified by 27a. ‘Uncle’ became obvious for 15d, but I failed on the second word, as I thought ‘put’ was part of the anagram. Can someone explain this one, please? What has VAN got to do with LEAD?

    1. Newbie,
      From Chambers:
      short for vanguard (often figurative, as in the van of fashion)
      towards the van or front

    2. Hi Newbie I think it originates from vanguard, something to with someone leading an attack i.e. in the army etc. but not sure, somene will explain i’m sure, like you i didn’t know the answer and had to look up plays in my ‘Chambers crossword dictionary’ because although i had uncle i would never have worked out the second word, if like me, you are realtively new to these crsswords, this book is an assett i wouldn’t be without, every day is different, some days like todays a certain amount knowledge re plays etc. needed, mine is not too great, so if you fail to work it out from the wordplay, this is where the book comes in handy :)

    3. Thank you. Obviously my thinking is not yet devious enough for clues like this. Maybe I’ll have to get the dictionary Mary mentions; all I use at the moment are the online helps, although I do try to avoid the anagram solvers unless I’m desperate, which is quite often!

      1. as i’ve said before, for myself, it is like learning anything new, at first you need all the books and aids to help you ‘learn’ then, as with anything, things begin to stick in your mind and you find (hopefully) that you dont need them as often, i don’t feel there is any shame or ‘cheating’ in this as it is all part of the learning curve, i think that without these and this marvellous blog i would not have progressed (dare i say) the little that i have, i still need them but maybe one day int the far off future i could possibly need them less and less :) For myself rhe ‘Chambers Crossword Dictionary’ has been an immense help, i would not be without it, because even when you can work the clue out, the word is often something you might never have heard of, so its good to be able to check it out

        1. It would be interesting to see if the dictionary worked the other way round; I sometimes find I have the right answer, but still can’t connect it with the clue!

            1. I noticed the error just after I pressed post comment. Knowing your background (mine is similar), I did wonder whether your software was really clever and it would come back with an error. That would have been most impressive!

  7. I quite enjoyed todays, though as i said above, i needed my Chambers crossword dictionary, to check the names of a couple of plays i have never heard of, also never heard a rascal called that before?, hope never to meet a 17a i’m sure i wouldn’t need mine to see one! liked 28a, 8a, 10a, now going to read through Libelulles explainations to see how many i got right the wrong way :) good luck all CC it is tough in parts but worth the effort

    1. I was fortunate a few years ago to see Sir Ian McKellen play Uncle Vanya at the RNT (Royal National Theatre). He specifically requested the Cottesloe, the smallest of the three theatres at the RNT, because of its intimate nature – the actors are only a few feet away from the audience.

    1. (pssst!, Mary! – there is a link in Libellule’s explanation – click the blue ‘link’ word)

      1. Oh yes! thank you gnomething, glad you whispered that, wouldn’t want others to think i was a bit slow :)

    2. There is a link in the explanation that you can follow to Wikipedia. Anyway Dame Ellen Terry, was an English stage actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain. Among the members of her famous family is her great nephew, John Gielgud etc etc I have repeated the link to the article here.

  8. struggled with 28a because I was trying to find a capital that started with M and ended with R. Without the help of google I’d have never have got Uncle Vanya.

  9. Yet another one from the top drawer … unable to relax this week!!
    Took a while to get going, but once out of first gear was able to gather speed.
    Like others, had the answer for 18d but not the reason behind the wordplay.
    Favourites .. 26a and 15d.
    19a never heard of “A Bad Hat”, is it a regional expression? In this neck of the woods (Wiltshire) we say “A Bad Egg”.

    1. According to a “A dictionary of slang and unconventional English: colloquialisms” it has its origins in the 1880’s and is english, The catch phrase “What a shocking bad hat” circa 1838 may well have arisen in a Southwark election where one of the candidates was a hatter. Someone else seems to think its Irish in origin. But its been around for a while by the look of it.

      1. It’s Wellington’s comment on seeing the first reformed parliament. “I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life.”

        1. According to the same book (and other sources), this was erroneously attributed to the Duke of Wellington…. however I doubt that he was the origin of the phrase… but if he did say it, it might explain why some people think its origin was in Ireland.

          1. Supposedly the origin is this:
            “on one occasion at a race at Newmarket a little man pushed himself into the Duke of York’s (Fred. Augustus) circle and offered to bet. The Duke enquired who the man was and was informed, ‘ Walpole.’ His reply, referring to the shape of Walpole’s hat, was, ‘ Then the little man wears a shocking bad hat.’

            1. Thanks for your enlightenment on this one Libellule and PJ … I must add the “Dictionary of slang and unconventional English: colloquialisms” to my wants list!

      2. As well as a bad hat, I thought it was a bad clue. Nowhere is the indefinite article mentioned or alluded to. Therefore “rascal” or “headgear” would be “bad hat”. I was originally thinking it might be a foreign phrase, with it starting with a single-letter word. I realised what the answr was through the checked letters.

  10. I learned a lot about my brain today. On the tube at 7am before the first cup of coffee kicked in – I managed a meagre 3 clues. On the return journey, one coffee later, I actually finished the rest. I definitely shouldn’t try thinking too hard before 9am! I really enjoyed this puzzle which felt fair and challenging.

  11. Another good day except for my inadequacy with regard to Chekov and getting 2d right for all the wrong reasons.
    How good is it to have this blog!

  12. 18d: I got it into my head play indicated the anagram and kept twisting and turning the answer to fit ‘eccentric’, but couldn’t, obviously.
    First DT crossword for a while. My daughter gave me a set of Daily Mail crosswords for Christmas and looked pained if I wasn’t doing them. Odd experience, asif they’re written in a slightly different dialect to DT. Some parts are very easy; some, the meanings are very cryptic.

  13. I seem to be in a minority in that I did not like it at all, although it was the easiest one this week (for me).
    There were no clues to make me smile. I got 17a and 18d from sheer number of cross letters but had heard of neither. 21a is IMHO one of the worst clues ever; surely it should be something like “It’s in Ellen Terrÿ’s record.”? For 17d I suggest inserting EU before excess.

  14. Sarted this crossword thinking it was going to be far too easy…. but gradually got more stuck! I did finish it without help, but had to look at your explanations to understand about 5 of them.. irish stew???? all seems so obvious now! ;)

    1. Hi Phil
      CC stands for ‘Clueless Club’ which is all a bit of fun really , those of us ‘not so clever’ participants refer to ourselves as a bit ‘clueless’ and so belong to the clueless club! :)
      Now COW is a site set up by Annax, which i have only recently discovered, it is good fun, a word is posted each week by the previous weeks winner and you have to make up a cryptic clue for it, as with, this site, everyone is very helpful, i’m sure Annax will post the link, if you want it, it is not only fun but by doing it, it can help you understand the wordplay and construction of clues

  15. Nice one today, some clues to get you started then some tricky ones. 3d is my favourite and I must admit I had to look up 11a. not a snake I knew and indeed also with 2d although the clue was fairly self-explanatory. So I learned two new things today and learned a bit more about crosswords with 4d for which I must admit I had ro resort to the explanation above!
    Thank you to the setter on behalf of the CC :-)

    1. glad you enjoyed it Barrie, if you only had to look up those three things then you are doing much better than me :)

  16. Only 8 for me on this one. “Bad Hat” was a new one to me – I’ve heard of “a black hat” as a reference to the baddies in old black and white westerns, but not “bad hat”. Reminded me of my Mad Auntie Florrie. “Rooster” appeared again, as well as “editor”. I quite liked 8 across.

    Going to have to use the hints now…

    1. stick at it Shrike, the hints help you to learn and understand, when i started last may/june i could only do a few too, indeed there are somedays when i am still a bit like that :)

  17. I found this a hard slog. Eventually managed all but 4, was reading the blog to see if anyone else was finding it hard and inadvertantly discovered Uncle Vanya which allowed me to complete. Needed the blog to understand the wet bit of 4d. A dumb day for me. Are you feeling better Mary? You sound perkier.

    1. Hi Chablis, not quite so tired but not brilliant but then will i ever achieve that state :) thanks for asking

  18. I enjoyed todays although 15d and 18d did for me. I could see the anagram to 18d but wasn’t aware of the Pinter play. I stared at 4d for AGES before it clicked. I got 2d quite quickly but never knew lien = right. Live and learn.

  19. I had ‘A mad hat’ for 19a ‘as in mad as a hatter’ but I guess mad is not really wicked and it doesn’t really decribe a rascal. ‘A bad hat’ is a new one on me.
    7d was my favourite

  20. I know that the Thurs crossword is no longer set by J, (he is now on Weds). But it would be nice if the Thurs. setter dropped by and introduced him/her/self sometime.

  21. Nice to finish this one without much help. 2d last to go in. I could get first word of 15d but needed google for second, 10 a was favourite.

    1. Welcome to the blog Heirpin

      The setters have never been shown in the paper within my memory – only in the Toughies. We have worked out certain patterns over the past year, with the help of most of the setters. Thursday is our “mystery day” this year and although we are sure there are at least two different setters, no-one has come forward to claim them!

      1. Your Category archive for Thursday refers to Jay as the regular setter. You may wish to update.

  22. No chance with 18 down – looked like two anagram indicators at first, then an anagram that meant “eccentric”. A bit cross about that one, to be honest.

    1. – made me feel thick, rather than tricked. Very impressed lulubelle got the play reference – as ever the blog is an education – many thanks and kudos.

      1. Lulubelle is Libellule – French for dragonfly. I think he might be upset with your alternative spelling!

        Not wishing to take anything away from Libellule, it’s a well-known play. I put in in with just two checking letters and then went back to resolve the wordplay. Admittedly easy as I own a company called Vanguard Computer Services Ltd and I chose the name because of the meaning of vanguard.

        1. Its certainly an interesting spelling. In terms of 18d I know the play well. But needed a reminder to associate it with the clue. Just because we blog – doesn’t mean we know everything!

  23. Thanks BD, I’m probably getting mixed up with the Birmingham Post, I used to fail miserably at that one a few years ago with a work colleague!
    I’m fairly new to the Telegraph and still struggle I’m afraid but I’m learning (slowly!), things like the Van and Lien just pass me by I’m afraid so I get stuck very quickly!

  24. All done save 15d and 2d. 17a was my favourite. Am I the only one who starts bottom right corner?

    1. Definitely not. John Sykes, 10-time Times Crossword Champion, used to reckon that the setters were running out of ideas by the time they got there and it was the easiest place to start.

    2. I’m a straight across, down, then recheck across then down, then ‘free-for-all’ man myself!
      I can see the value, however, per BD’s annotation.

        1. Aah! but are we falling into the trap of the cunning setter who is trying to bamboozle us?.
          Seriously – our approach is probably quite normal. As you well know, depending on the success of the Across then Down and any shuffled away ideas you can normally gauge where the sticking points might be.
          How bad is it when you are praying for an easy set of Downs! [Eeek]

      1. I didn’t say I do it that way – CluedUp works a lot better if you do it in clue number order, i.e. 1d 2d …….7d 8a 9d 10a, although if it is like tody I started at 8a.

        1. Absolutely understood! I just expressed my preference. The way I see it, when I scan for the ‘easy’ ones I find that I miss certain clues. I then made my mind up to attack the puzzle as described, not worrying TOO much if i am not filling many clues in, and then have a little review of the checking letters. I’m very interested to know how other solvers bear down on the puzzle de jour.

          1. I normally start at the first across clue if i get that i look at any clues that connect with it, if not i work my way down the accross and up the down if you know what i mean, my brother who has been doing these for years always starts in the bottom right hand corner and goes along with the idean that the setter is running out of difficult clues by the time he/she gets there
            Night everyone

  25. Excellent puzzle with a very literary flavour! A new genre as Libellule remarks.
    Many good clues. Best for me were : 10a, 14a,17a & 28a. 3d, 7d & 15d.
    Incidentally re 17a, The Chambers Dictionary at the entry “spectacled” mentions markings on an animal only whereas the 1983 20th Century edition also includes cobra!

  26. Thought this puzzle was fairly straightforward, although needed the blog for a couple of clues.

    I haven’t heard ‘bad hat’ for a very long time. It comes in Agatha Christies Ten Little Niggers (or whatever it’s called now) when one of the characters, Blore, is described as a ‘bad hat’ so must be a 1920/30s expression.

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