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DT 26165

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26165

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

It’s a Ray T puzzle with the usual good variety of clues. Leave us a comment with your criticisms, queries, plaudits or brickbats; we’re especially keen to get comments from first-timers, so if you’ve been lurking a while and not introduced yourself (or even if today is your first visit) now is the ideal time to take the plunge.
As usual, if you want to see an answer drag your cursor through the white space between the curly brackets under the relevant clue.

Across Clues

1a  Suspicious or dubious about religious education (12)
{DISREPUTABLE} – the definition is suspicious, in the sense of untrustworthy. Put a word meaning dubious or open to question around (about) the abbreviation for religious education.

8a  Reverence in bishop is more natural (5)
{RAWER} – place a synonym for reverence inside RR (Right Reverend, bishop) to get a comparative meaning in a more natural, unrefined state.

9a  Revolutionary is outside, revolting (9)
{SEDITIOUS} – an anagram (revolting) of IS OUTSIDE produces an adjective meaning revolutionary or promoting rebellion. There’s a nice bit of misdirection here with “outside” tempting you to think it’s an insertion type clue.

11a  Paramilitary guerrilla organisation, right replacing left (9)
{IRREGULAR} – replace one L in guerrilla with an R (right replacing left) then make an anagram (organisation) of it to get a member of an unofficial fighting force (paramilitary).

12a  Fit plug to the point (5)
{ADAPT} – a verb meaning to adjust or fit is put together from a short abbreviation for advertisement (plug) and an adjective meaning appropriate or suitable (to the point).

13a  Break fiancée’s heart with merciless exterior (9)
{SEVERANCE} – a synonym for a break is made by putting the middle three letters (heart) of fiancée inside another word for merciless.

16a  Desperate man’s eating last of cow’s lights (5)
{DAWNS} – the surface reading paints a pitiful picture of a man reduced to eating the lungs (lights) of a cow. Put the name of the desperate comic character from the Dandy (not forgetting the ‘s) around the last letter of coW to get a verb meaning grows light.

18a  Lesser gods holding monsters back (5)
{OGRES} – hidden (holding) and reversed (back) in the clue are monsters.

19a  She may be winning on points! (9)
{BALLERINA} – cryptic definition of a female dancer. I’ve never understood why they all have to perform on tiptoes – why don’t the producers just employ taller dancers? :D

20a  Criminal gang shoot back, winging one (5)
{TRIAD} – the definition is criminal gang, normally Chinese. Reverse (back) a verb meaning move rapidly (shoot) and insert (winging) I (one).

22a  Most skilful at concealing steroid misuse (9)
{ADROITEST} – put AT around (concealing) an anagram (misuse) of STEROID. The surface reading is excellent.

25a  Grabbed someone’s booty! (9)
{RANSACKED} – cryptic definition of a verb meaning plundered. This is a double-entendre because booty in North America is a slang term for someone’s bottom.

26a  Old dancer missing first and last steps (5)
{STAIR} – remove the first and last letters of old dancer Fred’s surname. I doubted that the singular answer could mean steps, in the plural, but Chambers implies that it does so in Scotland. Presumably the plural is intended in William Hughes Mearns’ well-known verse:

Yesterday upon the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

27a  Ready to embrace New Age foreboding (12)
{PRESENTIMENT} – the definition is foreboding. Put an adjective meaning ready at hand around (to embrace) N(ew) and TIME (age).

Down Clues

1d  He steers, taking hold, towards the sea (9)
{DOWNRIVER} – the person who controls a vehicle (he steers) surrounds (taking) a verb meaning to hold or possess to get a direction leading to the sea.

2d  Kid appearing in children’s programme (5)
{SPROG} – this child (kid) is hidden (appearing) in the clue.

3d  Stand for lesson (5)
{EASEL} – cryptic description of a frame for supporting a blackboard or flipchart.

4d  Beetle’s protective covering? (9)
{UNDERSEAL} – cryptic description of the coating applied to the bottom of your VW to stop it rusting away.

5d  A seat keeping ends of their legs apart (9)
{ASTRADDLE} – put the two end letters (ends) of TheiR inside a seat (the sort you might have on a horse or a bicycle) to get an adverb meaning with legs stretched on each side.

6d  Sponge from a sucker turning up (5)
{LOOFA} – a word (more often spelt with a final H) for a bath sponge is constructed by reversing a fool (a sucker).

7d  Anorak time with showers on stroll (12)
{TRAINSPOTTER} – a hobbyist who has become the subject of much derision (for example, being called an anorak) and who spends a lot of time hanging around railway stations and goods yards is formed from T(ime) followed by showers from the sky and a verb meaning to walk in a casual, unhurried way (stroll).

10d  Put one’s business in order (12)
{SATISFACTORY} – the definition is in order or conforming to requirements. Start with SAT (put something in position) and add I’S (one’s) and your place of business (assuming that your business involves manufacturing).

14d  Harry Lauder is receiving small royalties (9)
{RESIDUALS} – an anagram (harry) of LAUDER IS surrounds (receiving) S(mall) to get a word for payments to actors, for example, for repeat screenings of their work (royalties). Harry can mean to ravage or destroy so seems to fit the bill as an anagram indicator – what do you think?

15d  American bankers destroyed by article (9)
{NEBRASKAN} – a native of an American state is an anagram (destroyed) of BANKERS followed by the indefinite article.

17d  Delay getting strike and returning live fish (9)
{WHITEBAIT} – start with WAIT (delay) and inside (getting) put a synonym for strike and the verb to live or exist reversed (returning) to get young herring.

21d  Trespasser losing head close to bull (5)
{INNER} – remove the initial S (losing head) from a word meaning trespasser to get the part of the target next to the bull’s-eye in archery or darts shooting.

23d  Bones rot and decay in interment, initially (5)
{RADII} – we want the first letters (initially) of the middle five words.

24d  Publish topless paper (5)
{ISSUE} – this is nothing to do with Rupert Murdoch. We want a verb meaning to publish and we get it by removing the initial letter (topless) from a type of paper used for wrapping fragile objects.

The clues I liked included 1a, 16a, 4d and 14d, but my favourite today is 22a. Let us know what you think – please leave a comment!

74 comments on “DT 26165

  1. Did anybody else get scared to death at the start of this puzzle?. I thought I was on my way to an Epic Fail until I got a couple of the big’uns.
    15d and 26a were my favourites in a very rewarding puzzle.

    1. I was surprised to see only 3 stars for this one! One of the hardest I’ve seen for a while, but immensely pleasurable and rewarding to complete. For me, harder than today’s Toughie.

    2. Gnomethang,
      Not scared to death, but I had to read it through a couple of times, before I started entering any answers. Then it took me a while longer to tease it out than it usually takes. I also see Ray has managed to put in another risque clue at 25a.

  2. Ditto gnomethang.
    Can`t say I really enjoyed it that much.Favourites 16a ( only as I remembered the character reference from a previous puzzle ) and15d

  3. I struggled badly to get going. Even then when I did it was third gear. No overdrive today.

    Was it enjoyable? Well I cannot say it was but then sometimes Ray T is on diff, wavelength.

    Words such as rawer and adroitest I just feel are crossword fodder, and as such I dislike their usage.

    1. I would agree with that description – we had a similar word recently that is technically OK but not really used in normal conversation.

    2. Those were the two I got first, but I agree with the comments above – they may be technically correct (?) but I’ve never heard them used! I much prefer the answers to be words that I might use in normal converstaion – even if they’re new to me. Good job it’s half term – I’d have given up if I started this in the evening as I usually do….. as it is I’ve still a fair way to go. Resisting the answers above for now but finding it much trickier than yesterday :-(

  4. I thought I was going to score this as “poor”, whilst doing it. As others seem to have done, I found it extremely difficult to get started. I didn’t think I was enjoying it, but got a great deal of satisfaction from completing it! There are some good clues, but also a number where I had to get the answer, then work out how they fit the clues, e.g. 27a.

    I agree with Yoshik re “rawer” and “adroitest”.

    16a. Didn’t like “lights” as a definition for “dawns”.

    Took me a long time to get 1a & 8a, as I had “moral” for 3d. That seemed to fit the clue better. When were easels last used for lessons? They use interactive boards now!!

    1. Vince

      Lights & dawns is I think Ok.

      In the south we happily say “Ah the lights have come on” when the truth of a statement dawns upon somebody.

      1. Yoshik,

        Yes, but in your example, you’re using light as a noun and dawn as a verb. You might say that something dawns on you, but you wouldn’t say that it lights on you.

  5. Splendid site – found it by accident yesterday when googling for a CluedUp users group or forum, since the site annoys me immensely. After almost 18 months now, none of the bugs have been fixed, it gets slower to load the puzzle ready to play – I could go on for several paragraphs…..
    Good puzzle today, one of the harder cryptics – took me half an hour, but I was irritated by 21d. The bull itself is the inner, and the next division ‘close to the bull’ is the outer. Well that’s how I’ve always known it, although my darting days are considerably in the past. I’m sure someone will tell me I’m wrong.
    In the previous incarnation of the DT Crossword online they quickly shut down the comment facility, since too many people were complaining, not so much about clues but general sloppiness and bugs on the site itself. So no chance of any decent feedback to the DT or its subcontractor for CluedUp from the folk who are paying for it…..
    Anyway, I’m glad my discontent led me to this site, since I’ve been doing the Cryptic for 30 years now. The Toughie was easier than the Cryptic today, and a better crossword, apart from one clue. I’ll wait to see your take on it.

    1. A welcome to the blog Mr Chairman

      I’m glad that you found us at last. The inner reference is to the archery target, not the dartboard!

      From Chambers: inner noun (archery) – (a hit on) that part of a target next to the bull’s-eye

    2. Mr Chairman – welcome. Now that you know where we are, I hope that we’ll get many comments from you in future. Your frustrations with Clued Up are shared by many people here.
      On “inner” (as BD says), the definition required by the clue applies to archery and, apparently, to shooting, but not to darts. So, I should not have mentioned darts in the hint – mea culpa!

      1. Thanks for the welcome, gentlemen. Be assured I will be a regular on here now. the_chairman, by the way, is my user id on ScrewedUp, and comes from an interest in antique furniture rather than an exalted position in an organisation. If you plan on doing another ‘ScrewedUp Special’ in the not-too-distant future, please give me a nudge so I can fully let rip.
        I’m fully on board with the inner thing – hadn’t considered archery. Even though I consider myself well-versed in contemporary American slang, 25across today left me rather nonplussed. More clarification needed for me on this one.
        It was 23a , all of 3 letters, in today’s not-so-Toughie where I obviously got the answer, but was left stranded many miles away from understanding the clue.

  6. This came into the difficult-but-doable category for me. Took a long time to get started until a few started to slot into place.

    Got everything except 25a – which just reads like a straight def to me so I missed it entirely (obviously I don’t watch enough American stuff), and I’m not convinced that this is what the word means anyway.

    Very satisfying to get that close, though.

  7. Way, way beyond me today. Managed 6 before the blog and only 7 more from the hints and checking letters, although I didn’t make the connection of INNER to BULL’s eye.

    HARRY as an anagram indicator would never have occurred to me after putting the name into google! TRIAD as a gang was new one. Completely missed the hidden clue in 2d. I had guessed 7d, but it took a long while to work out why.

  8. I agree with the general tenet of opinion on this puzzle but unlike the last several Tuesdays I think I am at last getting to grips with the setters thinking, I know it has took a while for me to get there ( todays took me over an hour and fifty minutes to complete) but the sense of achievement has been very fullfilling.
    I felt so smug I went and got my haircut so that I could look at myself for half an hour. How narcissistic is that ?

    1. …you’re lucky you have enough hair to warrant half an hour in the chair. With my receding hairline, i’m lucky if the wife takes more than 5 minutes with the electric clippers!

  9. Certainly more of an obstacle course than yesterday’s stroll in the park!!

    Personally I enjoyed this very much – about on a par for difficulty with the toughie; but much harder to get into. 22a was the first to go in, because of the obvious anagram indicator, 14d one of the last for the opposite reason! Quite happy with harry as an indicator – in fact I saw this then got the answer rather than the (more usual for me) other way round.

    A minor quibble – “winning” in 19a seems a little contrived, though it gives a nice surface reading.

    Thanks for the excellent review.

    1. Mike,

      I agree with you re “winning”. Perhaps somebiody out there can tell us why a ballerina may be winning???

        1. Yes – but are ballerinas all necessarily “winning” in this sense? Beautiful, graceful, poised, yes certainly – but not winning!!

  10. Once again I’m “pseudo-solving” this one – just reading through the clues/answers without the crozzer itself.

    For me this is a 5-star puzzle; pretty much faultless wordplay and the surface readings are beautiful. Especially noteworthy are 12a, 22a, 1d, 5d, 7d, 10d and 14d. For this last one, if you take “harry” to mean to harass/worry it’s close enough to suggest an anagram – and, you have to say, it’s worth the minor quibble for such an excellent surface reading.

  11. Took two of us all morning to crack this (in between work that is). My photocopy is a sea of tippex and crossed out letters.

  12. ouch 5 star for me today! I found it really difficult (once again) to see what the setter was getting at, one of these puzzles where i got 23d immediately then came to a grinding halt! It was hard work for me today and after finishing, was it worth it i’m not sure? I don’t know if i really learnt anything from todays, except puzzles like this which i appreciate are a good work out for ‘cleverer people than I’ are the reason i will still need to complete a long apprenticeship in the CC, completed all but 2 without the blog but still needed loads of help from my other sources :) Now off to read the blog and hopefully learn something

    1. You do yourself a disservice!
      What may have made this puzzle hard for some is the smoothness of the clues and that can make it hard to break them down into wordplay components. There certainly is something to learn; with some crosswords you can cut your teeth on obvious shout-out-loud bits of wordplay – once you’ve got the hang of that, it’s good to try puzzles where the clues are just as fair (and arguably just as easy in principle) but where the setter has made more of an attempt to hide the obvious in broad daylight.
      Believe me, you’ll get there!

  13. Most enjoyable crossword today without being too taxing. Better than the so called toughie today, this would be a good one for the beginners to cut their teeth on.

  14. Ray T gave us a real workout this morning – I agree with the comments above about the level of difficulty. Personally, I think this is one of the toughest back page puzzles we have had in a long time but it was enjoyable after the intiial shock of staring at a grid with only 5 or 6 answers filled in subsided! Ray’s clues are getting more fiendish whilst still being fair (if delightfully misleading) with great surface readings.

    Many thanks to Ray T and thanks for the blog Gazza and for a long awaited photo of your good self (7d?)

    1. Hah!. I seem to recall that during ‘Fresher’s Week’ there was a society of be-band-aided-bespectacled young men in similar attire complete with Thermos flasks.
      The Society that they wanted you to join was the


  15. I too enjoyed the toughie more than this , but am bamboozled by 26a in the toughie( I don`t think I`ve got any wrong letters in ) Even used the old electronic cheats and still can`t get it.Any clues please ?

    1. LB,
      An Italian violinist and composer of Baroque music but the name is probably best associated with a Captain and a mandolin.

  16. I thought the grid was a very good one today; space for a lot of long words and no four mini-puzzles. Clue were very good too. It took time to get into but solved well in the end.

    Harry Shipley

    1. My schoolboy Latin wasn’t up to the four letter part, but the three letter bird is fairly standard crossword fodder and enabled me to “guess” the right answer.

  17. Thanks gentlemen.The problem was I`d heard of the mandolin chappy but discounted the fact that it was the name of a composer as well.

  18. I a usually pretty good at this crossword, but I was struggling today. Thank goodness I found this site, it is brilliant!!

  19. I thought I was making progress until today. Got the anagrams out , got radii out (though are radii bones or are supposed to think that radius in the plural look like bones?) got ogres ,sprog, easel and inner and that was it. Thought 1a was disbelieving so that didn’t help.

    Having seen the answers, I’m not surprised I didn’t get further. Why not save crosswords like this for toughies. I’m staggered that this was awarded only 3 stars.

    Do we know which day Ray T appears? I’ll buy another paper that day.

  20. My first blog and first time on this site ….so pleased to have found my way here ….. on holiday with time to spare and googling idly due to my struggle with today’s cryptic ….chanced upon Big Dave and very glad I did.
    Hopefully not going to give away my stupidity but how do you guys know who has set the puzzle? More than one person has mentioned Ray T. I always thought that for some reason Tel. setters didnt use names as for instance the Guardian setters do.

    1. Welcome to the blog Sarah

      We have answered this question a few times before, as you might have guessed. We don’t know from the puzzles, but most of the setters keep us informed. Ray T has been in close correspondence with the blog since soon after its inception and he told us that to spot his puzzles look at that day’s Quick crossword – if all the clues and all the answers are single words then it is probably one of his. After a while you can recognise the styles – Tilsit guessed at 12.15am from a single clue that today’s Toughie was by Busman, before we had it confirmed from the newspaper.

  21. Like a lot of us I struggled to start this morning – came home and managed to complete it. Having lived in Canada for most of my life the Anorak connection with trainspotters was a complete mystery to me! I’m afraid I used the electronic cheat!

    1. You might be getting me into bad habits I suppose elcid, but what would the electonic cheat be?? Have to admit to be just a tad curious!

      1. Not really cheating Sarah, its an electronic hand held thesaurus, can be bought in any good bookshop, i wouldn’t be without mine and reccommend them to anyone in the CC who may be struggling, not that i’m saying you are in the CC :)

        1. Now you’ll have to explain CC for me, Mary. I’m guessing Crossword Community but I suppose Confused Corner could also be a possibility?

          1. Confused Corner sounds good Sarah but it stands for Clueless Club, which started off as a joke some months back, where we not so clever members thought we belonged! Big Dave did actually set up our own link but not many use that, we like to be among the top set to see whats going on but can always take refuge in the CC you will see after a while on the blog there are quite a few of us but we all mix very amicably and everyone on the site is brilliant and very helpful, all good fun :)

  22. Probably just in my case but I wonder…… did this (26165) seem that bit harder because all the answers were one word only? I wonder?

    1. Ray does not promise to always have single word answers, but I can’t ever remember one that wasn’t. I think you are right that sometimes (but not always) phrases are easier to get.

  23. We did get thru’ this one – but very slowly. Certainly a four star job, I’d say. Being a Scot, I especially enjoyed the Harry Lauder reference!

  24. Setter here,

    Thanks to Gazza for his usual fine dissection, and to all you other solvers for your comments.

    Ray T

    1. Don’t give up Peter, I managed one straight away and then just stared at it for about an hour before I could see anything else

  25. A clear case of ‘pride cometh’ today. Really struggled to begin with and had to walk away…. Wretched husband who almost never does the crossword did it easily! Back in the box for me. :(

    1. Not a good day for CC today Chablis, I have a brother like your husband, fortunately he doesn’t live with me, but he did ring me at 9.15 am to say he had finished both the toughie and the cryptic! He reckons I went to the wrong school :)

  26. 6d last to go in as I know that a loofa is from a plant and a sponge is from a sea creature. pleased to fiish this one

    1. Blame Chambers

      loofah (also loofa or luffa)
      * a tropical plant (genus Luffa) of the gourd family
      * the fibrous network of its fruit, used as a hard, rough sponge

  27. Finished at last but still don’t understand 18a. An ogre is a monster I guess but where are the lesser Gods etc? Thanks for the blog today Gazza, really struggled to understand some of the clues even when I’d got the answer.

      1. Thanks you two – so easy when you know! Hopefully most people aren’t as clueless and don’t need it spelled out ;-)

        1. Claire
          Don’t do yourself down. Based on the comments here a lot of people found it very difficult, so to finish it shows that you are far from clueless!

  28. Really difficult, I wasn’t on the right wavelength for today’s at all and ground to a complete halt after only 7 answers. Such a contrast to yesterdays really easy one which I finished in record time. Hoping for something between the two tomorrow to regain some confidence in my addled brain!

  29. Regarding:
    “No chance of any decent feedback to the DT or its subcontractor for CluedUp from the folk who are paying for it.”
    All you have to do is press the little button marked “Contact us” and hey presto there are three ways to contact the CluedUp Customer Relations team and tell them what’s bothering you. They are very nice, helpful people but mind-reading is not part of the job description.
    Best wishes
    Phil McNeill
    Telegraph Puzzles Editor

    1. There is a difference between being nice, helpful people and getting something done. I requested that all my allegedly saved puzzles be released several months ago. The person I spoke to was very nice and very helpful but the saved puzzles are still there. I have written to you about performance on the site and after a slight improvement it is getting back to being as bad as it ever was. The online puzzles drop all accented characters and some of the apostrophes. Apart from the useful-to-some addition of online sudokos there have been no improvements in all the time I have been using the site.

      1. Thanks, BD – when the CluedUp site had just started up, I attempted contact firstly by e-mail, to which I got merely an automated reply acknowledging that I had sent an e-mail. No follow up. Second effort a little later was by phone, my number was noted and an answer promised from someone on the ‘CluedUp Team’. Can you guess whether an answer came? Mmm, Mr Phil McNeill, Puzzles Editor, maybe it wasn’t on your watch, but needless to say I haven’t bothered since.
        To cap it all, the CluedUp site this morning is operating at slower than crawl speed and not opening up properly on my browser. So I’m going out all day now having had no Crossword with my coffee. If I was paranoid, I’d think I was being punished………..

  30. Very late comment from me – have been occupied with medical checkup and some treatment – more next week (ODTAA).
    Difficult to get going but eventually solvable.
    Best for me was 26a.

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