DT 26394 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26394

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26394

Hints and tips by Falcon

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

If you enjoy charades, you’ll love this puzzle. At least 17 of the 28 clues involve this type of clue. I must say that it was far more enjoyable to solve than it was to create hints for. After all, there are only so many ways to describe a charade.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a Stern head of state deceived in speech (6)
{STRICT} – We start with a charade in which a word meaning severe is composed from the first (head) letter of State followed by a word fragment that sounds like (in speech) a synonym for cheated.

9a Characteristic of a man to slip very quietly into a horse auction (5,5)
{ADAM’S APPLE} – Does this clue bring a lump to your throat? The musical notation for a very quiet passage (PP, pianissimo) is inserted into a charade of A plus a female horse plus a commercial transaction to arrive at this physical characteristic that Is more prominent in men than in women.

10a Brass cutter is a handy utensil (5,5)
{BREAD KNIFE} – You might use this sharp kitchen implement when making a sandwich. Brass refers not to penny (as was my first guess) but to another slang term for money.

11a Horse managed to eat nothing (4)
{ROAN} – Insert O in a word meaning directed to get a horse having a coat thickly flecked with grey or white hairs.

12a Level match before ref started (4)
{TIER} – A synonym for draw even (as when one side scores the equaliser in a game) followed by the first letter of Ref becomes a row of seats in a stadium.

14a Western drops lead character for a chance (10)
{ACCIDENTAL} – Drop the first letter from an adjective referring primarily to countries of Europe and America and replace it with an A to get another adjective meaning ‘not planned’.

17a Back up leader of squad in former beat (7)
{PULSATE} – A word meaning throb is produced by reversing (back) UP and following it by a synonym for deceased into which the first letter (leader) of Squad has been inserted.

18a Thirsts for a change of apparel (1-6)
{T-SHIRTS} – An anagram (for a change) of THIRSTS gives us a type of short-sleeved, collarless garment often emblazoned with slogans.

20a Prison cooking? (4-6)
{STIR-FRYING} – To cook in hot oil or fat while serving time might cryptically be described as this.

21a Miss reverse gear, and fail to finish (4)
{GIRL} – Reverse some oil-drilling equipment and follow it by the final letter of faiL to find this lass.

22a Headed back to independent shop (4)
{DELI} – A short name for a shop selling prepared foods, especially cheeses, cooked meats and unusual or imported foods is created by reversing (back) a word meaning directed to which an abbreviation for independent is appended.

23a Cross the Royal Mail must bear (6,4)
{POSTAL VOTE} – A cryptic definition for a type of election that in North America would be conducted by mail-in ballot.

25a Entertainer’s need once I’m settled (10)
{COMEDIENNE} – An anagram (settled) of NEED ONCE I’M produces a female who tickles our funnybone.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

26a Bold design begins with a call (6)
{DARING} – Follow the first letter (begins) of Design by A and another word for call to get an adjective meaning brave.


2d The sort of dressing required for trip North? Quite outrageous! (10)
{TOURNIQUET} – This medical dressing is a charade of a word meaning ‘an extended journey with stops at various places of interest along the route’ plus North plus an anagram (outrageous) of QUIET.

3d Article supporting island state (4)
{IOWA} – An acronym for England’s largest island plus a one letter indefinite article combine to give us the Hawkeye State.

4d One responsible for placing work burden on teacher (10)
{TASKMASTER} – Place a term meaning chore before (on in a down clue) another name for a teacher and we get ‘someone who sets and supervises the work of others, especially strictly or severely’.

5d Crew is accepting bill — they’re mad! (7)
{MANIACS} – Insert the abbreviation for account into IS and append the result to a verb meaning ‘to provide with workers’ to get a somewhat outdated term for lunatics or madmen.

6d Man perhaps lives life on the outside (4)
{ISLE} – A charade of IS (lives) and the outside letters of LifE produces a type of landmass, the site of the famous motorcycle race being but one example (perhaps). Another example was seen in 3d.

7d Raise origin of beliefs surrounding nurture (10)
{UPBRINGING} – Yet another charade. A word meaning raise (or at university) followed by the first letter (origin) of Beliefs which in turn is followed by a synonym for surrounding to give the “care, nourishment and encouragement given to a growing child, animal or plant”.

8d The heart of a military officer, say (6)
{KERNEL} – A word meaning core sounds like a military rank (a homophone clue that works on both sides of the Atlantic).

13d Soldiers tried hard, but were held back (10)
{RESTRAINED} – The soldiers are the nearly ubiquitous and abbreviated Royal Engineers. Follow them by a word meaning made great efforts or sustained injury through over-exertion to get a term meaning to be prevented from doing something.

15d Marked out edges — and it shifted (10)
{DESIGNATED} – An anagram (shifted) of EDGES AND IT produces a word meaning indicated.

16d Change allowance after late adjustment (10)
{ALTERATION} – A synonym for modification is formed from an anagram (adjustment) of LATE followed by a term meaning ‘a fixed allowance of food or other goods during a time of shortage’.

19d One’s ecstatic after daughter’s protest (7)
{DISSENT} – A charade of Daughter plus IS (one’s) plus a term meaning ‘thrilled or roused into a state of ecstasy’ produces a word meaning to differ in opinion.

20d Lure tailless mandarin into view (6)
{SEDUCE} – Remove the last letter (cut the tail off) this bird and place the result in a word meaning to look at or observe to get a word meaning to lure, usually in the sense of enticing someone into having sexual intercourse.

23d One accommodated in flat gets compensated (4)
{PAID} – Put I (one) in a term for accommodation that I always associate with hippies from the 1960s to get a word meaning settled (as a bill).

24d Cumulative errors surrounding shift (4)
{VEER} – A word meaning ‘to move abruptly in another direction’ is hidden in (indicated by “surrounding”) the phrase ‘cumulative errors’.

My favourite clue was 23a – perhaps not surprising, since I’m partial to cryptic definitions. I also rather liked 20a and 20d.

{Please don’t blame Falcon for the “embellishments” – they’re down to me.  BD]

46 comments on “DT 26394

  1. I have to say that I was glad when solving this puzzle that it wasn’t me that had to write the review – as you say easier to solve than to explain! Slightly over average solving time for a Jay puzzle, probably because of having to work out all those charades. I liked 20a the best. Thanks to Jay and Falcon.

    The Toughie is great again today so do have a go.

  2. Great puzzle today with too many good clues to mention them all. No ‘sugary’ moments. Stuck on 17 for a while but I did not let it beat me!

  3. I am really starting to get fed up with clues that are the ‘sounds like’ variety ie 1a and 8d. It seems an easy way to explain an answer rather than come up with a good clue.
    My Fav was 2d but overall I found the puzzle slightly irritating as I said of a puzzle a short while ago. I wonder if it is the same Compiler.
    Anyway, thanks to Jay for the workout and Falcon for the explanations, two birds for the price of one.
    Going for a nice long bike ride, weather perfect but only for today, back to Winter tomorrow.

    1. Surely ‘sounds like’ clues are part of the setter’s armoury, provide we don’t get too many. I find clues that use christian names far more annoying.

  4. Hi Falcon thanks for review, will read it through later, I’m not sure if I like this puzzle or not I can’t quite decide, I am glad to have finished it so that I can go tidy the garden while the sun is still shining, nice day here today, my favourite clue is 23a followed by 20a and 10a, I didn’t help myself by putting restricted in at 13d at first! I have decided overall I did enjoy it, agree with the 3* rating, not sure about the illustration for 18a though I’m sure all the men will like it :)

    1. I rhink the 18a illustration is what is technically known as a ‘picture for gazza’. Still the gentleman duck is very nice! We have lovely sun here in Kent too, just wish I wasn’t stuck in the office.

      1. still lovely here Sue, have tidied up in the garden, it needs pressure washing now, but I’ll leave that for someone else! re 18a, no way am i a prude and Gazzas illustrations are usually ‘tasteful’ maybe but this one to me is just tacky!!

        1. Still lovely here too. We are promised storms again tonight/tomorrow but hopefully nice on Friday. Pic is on the tacky side but perhaps its the only T shirt BD could find! When I was a lot lot younger, I had a T shirt which had a kite mark and ‘approved to British Standard’ on it but I stick to plain ones now :D

          1. I sometimes buy tshirts with slogans cos I like the colour style etc. only to be reprimanded by my grandsons ” Nan, you can’t wear that!”

            1. I noticed that it is only the ladies who found the “t. shirt” picture tacky. I have just returned from a lovely walk along the esplanade in wonderful sunny but cool weather and the picture warmed me up, On a serious note however, I found the crossword thoroughly enjoyable if a trifle on the easy side. Liked 20a and 14a best. Thanks Jay and thanks Falcon.

              1. Would we have found the picture so tacky had it been a gentleman with a slogan on his T shirt??

                    1. To complement the T-shirt, the ladies might enjoy examining a pair of boxer shorts that I found to be prominently displayed at virtually every souvenir stand in Italy during my recent visit there. They display an image of a particular portion of Michaelangelo’s statue David and are available in several designs, including one featuring the Italian flag, as can be seen here (should you choose to take a peek).


                    2. As a point of order, I think the picture at 18a (which made me smile) may have been gratuitous as the young ladies apparel does not meet the Chambers definition of a t-shirt. I believe it is known as a vest top (not in Chambers) ;-)

  5. Have had a look at the toughie and cannot answer one single clue! Roll on Friday. Will try and find previous Micawbers to see how answers arrived at, at the moment I am completely confounded.

  6. I liked this one. Based on the last few months, I think if I had to pick one weekday puzzle that continually gives me the most pleasure to solve, I would vote for Wednesday. Well done Jay, please keep up the good work!

  7. I agree with the 3* rating, if only because, having done most of the puzzle fairly quickly, I got completely stuck on three clues – the first word of 10a (complete mental block) 17a and 7d – needed the hints for all of them. Particularly liked 14, 20 and 23a and 2 and 20d. Thank you Jay and Falcon. Can someone remind me which days of the week ‘belong’ to the various setters – just out of interest, not because it’s going to help me to get any better at this game!

    1. The operative word is “belong”!

      Monday – Rufus
      Tuesday – Shamus + other(s)
      Wednesday – Jay
      Thursday – Ray T + other(s)
      Friday – Giovanni
      Saturday – Cephas
      Sunday – Virgilius (Brian Greer)

      1. Thank you BD – for some reason I had always thought that Sunday as well as Friday was Giovanni – maybe because they are the two days that I find the hardest.

        1. Kath, another way of tracking who sets the puzzle on any particular day is by using this site’s Calendar (top right-hand corner). I have recently discovered that if you click on a specific date, it shows the puzzle number(s) for that day then links you to that day’s review – thus (normally) revealing the setter.

          Always thought it was there just to tell me what day it was – also very useful!

          1. Or you can select, for example, Wednesday from the Categories widget and you can see all the Wednesday puzzles and a note about who we think is the setter.

    2. Stupidly I got stuck on 7d, despite having all the intersecting words in. I just couldn’t get parenting out of my head. Not sure whether I liked this or not, which probably means not!

  8. Largely defeated by this one – fairly normal for midweek puzzles! Needed a lot of help, so low enjoyment level. Restricted was my first thought for 13d, but couldn’t see why, then came up with the right word.

    Thanks for puzzle and review.

    1. I needed help too Geoff, lots from books and machines but no blog help, so that’s ok, just think how much you’ve improved in the short time you’ve been doing them :)

      1. A bit hard to see on days like this and now I feel as if I have wasted the morning’s sunshine, so must get out there for a bit!

  9. Excellent crossword today – thanks Jay.
    I agree with Jezza about Wednesday crosswords being the most pleasurable to solve. Not too tough but usually well clued with good surface reading.
    Thanks for the blog BD. Off to try the Toughie now.

  10. Really liked today’s first in being 24d (I always start bottom right) last in 17a. 2d very good. Great picture above. Not the duck.

  11. I never got 8 down, but really enjoyed this puzzle, although I’d never have gotten it half done without the hints! Favourite clues were 4d, 15d and 23a.

  12. Tricky today, resorted to a couple of hints (thanks) which is unusual. 2 and 7 down were about the best. All good fun, thanks jay and falcon.

  13. This was one of those days when I could only do two of the across clues and feared the whole thing would be hopeless. However I found I could solve so many of the down ones that the rest all fell into place quite happily. So, thank you, Jay, for a very enjoyable few hours. There were lots of good clues, but I suppose my favourites were 10 and 23a.
    Now I’m off to bed. :-)

  14. I enjoyed solving this puzzle – not a toughie at all! Thanks to Jay.

    Best for me : 9a & 3d – my parents finished up in the IOW! – but there were plenty of other good clues such as.14a, 17a, 23a, 2d to mention a few.

  15. Falcon – I also remember seeing those pants in markets in several towns in I taly a couple of years ago.

    Your permalink comment to Mary’s #4.

  16. Another very enjoyable puzzle from Jay. Many excellent clues, but must pick out 9a so many imbeded variations. 19d was unusual!

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