DT 26386 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26386

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26386

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

A strange crossword today, with a real mixed bag of clues. Some good, some average, some poor and one that don’t seem to work at all. For some reason I feel underwhelmed.

If you have trouble working out the the answer from the hint just highlight the space between the curly brackets.


1. Conservative interrupts amendment — a row results (11)
{ALTERCATION} – Put C into another word for an adjustment or a change, and end up with a heated argument.

9. Deliver an item of pottery (4)
{BOWL} – The sort of delivery that would be made in a cricket match.

10. French sea shanty the crew put together in ships sailing the trade routes (11)
{MERCHANTMEN} – The French word for sea, followed by a word for a simple song, and then an organised group of males are also cargo ships.

11. Turn crazy in shock (4)
{STUN} – Reverse NUTS (crazy). An old chestnut, if you will pardon the pun.

14. Leading off in file (7)
{ALIGNED} – An anagram (off) of LEADING.

16. Unusual hoarder of fish eggs (4,3)
{HARD ROE} – Another anagram (unusual) of HOARDER.

17. Work hard to process waste (5)
{SWEAT} – Yet another anagram (process) of WASTE.

18. Point seat out (4)
{EAST} – Fourth anagram (out) of SEAT.

19. Reluctant to have clergy beheaded (4)
{LOTH} – The definition is “reluctant”, remove the first letter from the characteristic attire of Christian ministers.

20. Priest and Old Testament poet (5)
{ELIOT} – The usual crossword biblical priest is followed by OT (Old Testament) for the poet who wrote “The Waste Land”, “Four Quartets” and “The Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”.

22. Excuse for writing a foreword perhaps (7)
{PRETEXT} – Another word for an excuse, might be the sort of word that describes an introduction to a book.

23. Take encouragement in comfort (5,2)
{CHEER UP} – To cause someone to feel happier, and to become happier. Is this cryptic?

24. Right position of course — north (4)
{LIEN} – The “position of course” is the position of a golf ball that has come to a stop. Now add N (north) for the “the right to take another’s property if an obligation is not discharged”.

28. Curate claps variety show (11)
{SPECATACULAR} – An anagram (variety) of CURATE CLAPS.

29. Hail regal leader of state (4)
{AVER} – A word meaning to affirm positively or declare is constructed from a word for hail (usually associated with the Romans) and the first letter (leader) of regal.

30. Science often met in its abbreviated form (11)
{METEOROLOGY} – As in the Met. Office. Not difficult to work out, but nicely done.


2. General’s remains (4)
{LEES} – Something that might have belonged to a Confederate General, is also the sort of sediment you might find in a bottle of red wine for example.

3. Attack the copper with acid (4)
{ETCH} – A word for cutting into the surface of something (in this case copper) using acid.

4. Takes a risk with the odds (7)
{CHANCES} – Double definition.

5. Ballet dancer may put it on for archbishop (4)
{TUTU} – A short skirt that is worn by a ballerina is also a well known South African prelate.

6. Stuff finished before tea-break (7)
{OVEREAT} – Another word for concluded or brought to an end, is followed by an anagram (break) of TEA gives you “stuff”, as in to consume too much food.

7. As worn by a master builder? (11)
{MORTARBOARD }– A cryptic attempt to describe a flat black tasselled academic cap.

8. Yet it means a fat chance (7,4)
{SLENDER HOPE} – An antonym of fat, and then a synonym of chance can mean the same as “fat chance”.

12. Provide food and support for a lover of greens (11)
{CATERPILLAR} – A word for serving food, usually associated with chefs, is then followed by another word for an upright structure. The lover of greens in this case is the larva of a butterfly or moth. My favourite clue.

13. In organised events rifle club’s best side is seen (5,6)
{FIRST ELEVEN} – An anagram of EVENTS RIFLE could be the best of a group of several teams of footballers or cricketers that play for a school or club.

15. Lived in the past (5)
{DWELT} – The past tense of dwell. Not sure if this works either.

16. There’s chaos when one plays this (5)
{HAVOC} – A word usually associated with an idiom that means to cause someone to have trouble doing something.

20. An illustration no longer large enough (7)
{EXAMPLE} – EX (no longer, e.g. a partner), followed by a word meaning more than sufficient, is also item of information that is typical.

21. It’s said one may disappear into it at the top of Everest for example (4,3)
{THIN AIR} – The sort of stuff that you might be running out of if you reached 29,029 feet.

25. One covering end of chin in spots (4)
{ACNE} – ACE (one) around the last letter (end) of chin.

26. Expected to end in mortal combat (4)
{DUEL} – DUE (expected) and the last letter (end) of mortal.

27. Report a fringe fashion (4)
{BANG} – Double definition, a sudden loud noise (report) and a fringe of hair cut short and straight across the forehead.

93 comments on “DT 26386

  1. Not a typical Rufus – in my opinion – as you say a strange mix of clues. I did lilke 30a and 12d but remain slightly confused about 7d – I can see why it is why it is but it did take me a few moments thought. Thanks to Libellule for the review and Rufus for the crossword.

  2. As you say, a bit of a mixed bag, but on the whole, quite enjoyable. At the time of solving, I put a couple of big ticks next to 12d, which was by far my favourite clue!
    Thanks to Rufus, and to Libellule.

      1. You do now, because I edited it when you weren’t looking!! Yet another exciting morning here in East Kent :D

        1. Thanks Sue. I think I have spent too long noticing other people’s typos, I am starting to make too many of my own :)

          1. We have had lovely sun all morning so far – apparently its going to get warmer here this week, but with some rain. Very confusing, the hour changes, the weather is unseasonably warm, what is going on? I remember when Novembers were really really frosty.

  3. Morning Libelulle, I think once again this didn’t seem like Rufus, but I have thought that for the last 3 weeks, this one even more, I loved 12d, there were some other ‘oks’ and others like you say didn’t seem to work, as for 30a, is this really correct? because Met as in Met Office stands for Meteorological not meteorology? Having said all that, I appreciate what a difficult grid to work on todays grid is, with all those four letter clues again, and the brilliance of the mind that sets the crossword :) but is it Rufus I ask once again! :)

        1. Mary,
          abbreviation for
          1. (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) meteorological the met. office weather report
          2. (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) meteorology

  4. Libelulle in 21d isn’t the answer the sort you might be running into instead of out of? and in 16a, I have heard of roe of course but what is hard roe?

    1. Mary,
      1. 21d its just meant to be a hint – if you were stood on top of Everest you would probably need an oxygen mask, because you would not be able to breathe….
      2. 16a Hard roe – fish eggs or egg-filled ovary; having a grainy texture

  5. I gave myself a time limit this morning, and 24a had me beaten. Thanks to all concerned, and enjoy the rest of the day.

  6. 27d I have never in my 59 years heard of a hairstyle called that. bob,fringe,beatle,basin but never that. Is the English language changing so much, now that wicked means good and bad means great ? I despair, or is it I hope?
    Thanks to Rufus, and to Libellule, I am going for a bike ride to clear my head, weather here in Newcastle is perfect.

    1. This is going to make you harrumph – and I am sorry as its such a lovely day – but the Americans have always called a fringe a 27d.

        1. It is in Collins – a section of hair cut straight across the forehead. (C19 – probably short for bangtail – short tail). I knew it from my habit of reading all sorts of books, including American crime/PI novels.

          1. Umm, it just doesn’t seem like the right word for a hair style and as Mrs N has just said “Ive had a bang for the last 30 years”. Some things definitely loose a lot in translation.

            1. That’s because Mrs N is a child of the 1950s. Did she have that style where our mothers swept our hair round to the side and put in a large bow too!

              1. Didn’t we all! Then ringlets with the tongs heated up in the coal fire, it’s a wonder we had any hair left!! I used to envy my brothers going to the barbers every Sat morning! I didn’t get to a hairdresser until I was 13 when a ‘home perm’ by my mother went disastrously wrong and had to be cut out!!

              2. Indeed she did and always insisted on seven clips to keep it out of her eyes at night in case she swallowed and choked herself on it. Girls eh ?

            2. Americans add the s to it Nubian – call them bangs – why I don’t know but then they have a lot of expressions and words that are “different”.

              1. Yes, and back in the mists of time the US president’s wife, Mamie Eisenhower, had a famous set of bangs. :-)

                1. Thanks to a mis-spent youth reading and re-reading ‘The Little House on the Prairie’ books I’m pleased to say this clue caused me no problem at all :)

            3. Hi Nubian one of the styles int the 60s ( I know you’re too young to remember) was a straight blunt cut fringe with a short bob cut and the two pieces of hair each side of the face slightly like a ‘kiss curl’ were often called ‘bangs’ i.e. like a Cilla Black style, once again I know you’re too young to remember her :)

                  1. I remember crew cuts and when I went to the States in the 70’s they called it a ‘flat top’ . DA’s were slightly before my time

          2. Lovely way to pick up some strange expressions. I originally come from Canada but have lived here so long that I have to take out my American dictionary from time to time to find out what some things mean. I also read a lot of American crime novels and enjoy them very much.

  7. Well that was about the worst puzzle I have done lately. Didn’t take too long but didn’t really enjoy it. Of course 12 four letter words didn’t improve my mood but at least they were easily solved. Including 27d – Americans add an s to the end of it.

    There were several I didn’t like – 9a 23a 29a in particular butr I did like 12d – that was the only one that redeemed the puzzle for me.

    Thanks to setter and to Libellule for the excellent review.

      1. … and nearly half of them related to hairstyles! Wish it was still one o’clock here – I would have eaten my lunch by now and not be listening to my tummy rumbling :)

    1. Yes Mary – only just after 12 – the day seems so much longer. Just went out for a walk – cooler than I expected but the sun is shining so it is lovely out. The leaves have changed colour and they are lovely.

            1. Not sure – go to see the surgeon next week so will find out then. It makes popping to the shops more difficult!!!!

  8. Good evening.. Not a lot of fun in this one for me. I liked 6d, 12d and 30a. I thought a lot of other clues were, shall we say weak.My least favorite was 7d although across clues 9, 16, 23 and 28 were not far behind.

  9. Failed on some of the four letter words – usually do! Took a while to get into it and didn’t enjoy it much, alas. Thanks for puzzle and review.

    Beautiful day here in Oxford, worthy of a good walk I think.

    1. Hi Geoff, did you enjoy ‘evensnog’ yesterday :) Don’t worry about the crossword it wasn’t easy today, I think Rufus has stepped it up a bit!

      1. Jolly nearly missed it nodding off after the lunchtime drinkie excesses. Feeling a tiny bit fragile earlier, but going out for a decent walk soon.

  10. If today’s challenge really was by Rufus, then I have to agree that it wasn’t quite up to his usual impeccable standards. But surely we’re all allowed an off-day every now and again? I’m sure he will be back to his “old” self next week!

    1. Hi Digby, I usually love Rufus crosswords but have thought that the last three Mondays weren’t his usual ‘thing’

      1. Mary,
        Let me assure you, Monday is still currently Rufus, and this was indeed one of his crosswords. Although I might have a few issues with it, the style and wit, is still his.

        1. Thanks Libelulle, I love the short sharp wit of Rufus, its just lately they haven’t seemed ‘So Rufus’ :)

  11. Blimey – only just had time to look at the comments – what a lot – surely far more than there usually are for early/mid afternoon. I thought today’s crossword was good – just about what I could manage given that I have far too much else to do – can only wonder why I’m sitting here reading comments and then adding to them! Never mind – a little bit of relaxation before I get going again. The 28a anagram took me a long time – just couldn’t get it and, for some reason, 26d was the last one to go in. Perhaps the “little grey cells” are having a day off. My favourite clues were 10 and 30a and 8 and 12d. Thanks to Rufus and Libellule.

      1. Oh good – it’s nice to be missed – thanks! Out all morning running around like a scalded cat, back for an hour or so at lunchtime, did crossword, dogwalk, back here for very short time (but long enough to read the hints and comments) then off to see my Ma in hospital – just back – need to get supper. See y’all tomorrow.

      1. Mary – how far west is Carmarthen – your spelling is becoming almost transatlantic – “gray” or “grey”?.

        In answer to your question – no idea!

      2. The original ones belonged to Hercule Poirot, though they were probably spelled ‘grey’ at the time. :-)

  12. Another vote for 12d as clue of the crossword, It was pleasant enough and painless puzzle for a Monday morning. Many thanks to setter and reviewer.

  13. I join the 12d fan club today. Had trouble with 24a and also with 16d strangely enough — I spent some time wondering if there was a game called ‘Hasoc’, as I had all but one of the letters for an anagram of ‘chaos’. However I did finish with a couple of hints, for which I thank Libellule.
    I’m a bit distracted today as my daughter is producing my first grandchild almost as I write. It’s going to be a binomial baby — birthday 01.11.10 — what fun! :-)

      1. Thanks for your good wishes. Some time this evening is all I know — it’s going to be a caesarian, and so far no news.

        1. You must be such a mixture of excited and anxious – good luck to all concerned. I’m very envious – have two daughters, one is very early thirties and younger is very late twenties – neither showing any signs of breeding yet – I wish ….

          Keep us all informed.

          1. Have just had to have a quick look to see if there was an update – really HAVE to go to bed now – guess you can’t …. ? Do they live near enough to you for you to see the new baby soon? Will have to wait until tomorrow for latest news …

  14. What a dreadful Monday puzzle! Far far far too difficult to start the week. Not a single clue I could point to and say ‘that was good or clever’. HORRID!!

    1. Barrie,
      It may not have been one of Rufus’ best crosswords, but I certainly would not class it as horrid.

      1. Well we are all entitled to our opinion and I respect yours and would defend your right to express it. Not perhaps PC in this day and age but that to me is free speech.

  15. I thought tihis was a bit harder than the usual Monday puzzle, but still reasonably straightforward. Quite liked 12d but can’t say I’ve heard of 16a. Also, it took a while for the penny to drop re the derivation of 30a. Nice clue.

  16. For me, the ususl gentle start to the week.
    Best for me were : 7d, 12d & 13d although some of the short words were good e.g. 24a, 29a, 2d & 6d.

    Going to cook fish and chips for supper – for the first time in ages a fillet of cod – kabeljauw in Dutch.
    I am not sure if this is a corruption of the French cabillaud or vv.- perhaps Libellule will know?

    1. Libellule – I have eaten my cod which was Icelandic – good but absolutely tasteless fish – and since have done a bit of research on cod.
      The normal French for cod is morue and it appears that cabillaud is indeed a corruption of the Dutch kabeljauw.
      Another Dutch import into French is rigole from riool en néderlandais.

      1. Strangely, the Time’s November Club Monthly has at 21a:

        Icelander’s diet, a large obsession (7)

        Luckily I saw through the possible fish options (of which there are many!)

        Nice to see the language derivations, Derek!.

        1. I suppose the answer is Althing!! The only fish I remember starting with al is alewife.
          Very fishy clue!!

          1. Alewife is a fine crossword stalwart!
            I quite often miss ‘diet’ in this way so I was quite pleased ti spot it.

            1. I first came across alewife in Boston MA as it is a terminal station on one of the lines of the “T” over there.
              My son has lived in Boston for years – I used to buy shirts in Filenes Basement at a fraction of their cost in London. Filenes has disappeared from many US cities unfortunately.
              Happy days.

      2. Derek,
        There are as you quite rightly point out two words for cod in French. The zoological term is morue, however you are more likely to see it called cabillaud in a supermarket or restaurant, as this is the culinary variant.

  17. Oddly, for a Kenyan African, I have heard of 27d.By the way,how do you compare the DT and the Times cryptic in terms of difficulty?

    1. Chadwick,
      I tend to attempt them both most days and find the Times the more difficult of the two (excluding the Telegraph Toughie).

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