DT 26454 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26454

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26454

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment *

I did not enjoy this.

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.


2a    Teachers’ union? (5,7)
{STAFF MEETING} – a weak cryptic definition of a gathering of teachers

8a    Cats and dogs go back for a short walk (4)
{STEP} – reverse a name for domestic animals and you get a short walk

9a    No council tax here in Sierra Leone (8)
{FREETOWN} – another weak cryptic definition of the capital of Sierra Leone – there should really be a question mark after this clue

10a    Defrock in purest confusion (8)
{UNPRIEST} – an little used word meaning to defrock an errant minister is an anagram (confusion) of IN PUREST

11a    Fruity goddess seen in river by which Lisa resides (6)
{POMONA} – the Roman goddess of fruits is a charade of an Italian river and the word that precedes Lisa in the famous painting – words fail me!

12a    Service court review holds (4,6)
{MASS APPEAL} – a charade of a church service and an review of a court decision gives attraction for many

13a    Jeff Bowman? (6)
{ARCHER}- a pathetic double definition –the surname of an author whose first name is Jeffrey and someone who uses a bow and arrows

16a    Daily grabs one seat (5)
{CHAIR} – put a a daily cleaner around (grabs) I (one) to get a seat

17a    Nothing at end of short day somewhere in Scotland (6)
{THURSO} – put O (nothing) at end of a shortened form of a day (today, as it happens) to get somewhere in Scotland

18a    Organised date I later paid back in kind (10)
{RETALIATED} – an anagram (organised) of DATE I LATER gives a verb meaning paid back in kind

21a    Sharpness of snookered cue man (6)
{ACUMEN} – a synonym for sharpness is an anagram (snookered) of CUE MAN

23a    Witty retort concerning sound gathering (8)
{REPARTEE} – a witty retort is a charade of a word meaning concerning or about followed by a truly dreadful homophone (sound) of a social gathering

24a    Film medic has negative back-up (6,2)
{DOCTOR NO} – Oh dear! This is not the correct title of the James Bond film in question – a medic is followed by (back-up) a negative – a careless mistake as the medic is abbreviated in the film title

25a    A clear coming together is lifeless (4)
{ARID} – a charade of A and a verb meaning to clear gives a word meaning dry or lifeless

26a    Where one may sink or swim? (2,3,4,3)
{AT THE DEEP END} – a cryptic definition of part of a swimming pool


1d    Laurel goes to South African email address for some poetry (6)
{STANZA} – a charade of the first name of Oliver Hardy’s partner-in-crime and the top-level domain name for South Africa gives some poetry

2d    Ferrari’s wear mark? (6,3)
{SPORTS CAR} – the type of car made by Ferrari for use on the roads is a charade of to wear and a mark left by an earlier wound

3d    See pal slipping into the land of nod (6)
{ASLEEP} – an anagram (slipping) of SEE PAL gives a word meaning in the land of nod

4d    1315 over the pond (7,5,3)
{FIFTEEN AFTER ONE} – how the Americans are supposed to say 13:15 as a time

5d    Former ‘Marple’ crackpot is the ideal model (8)
{EXEMPLAR} – a former partner is followed by an anagram (crackpot) of MARPLE gives the ideal model

6d    Haul 1000 up the pole (5)
{TOTEM} – a word meaning to haul or carry followed by the Roman numeral for 1000 gives a pole used as an emblem

7d    It’s not surprising there isn’t a miracle (2,6)
{NO WONDER} – a part-cryptic double definition

14d    Traffic-free street! Frantically reload car (5,4)
{CLEAR ROAD} – this type of street has no traffic – an anagram (frantically) of RELOAD CAR

15d    Inspect exit from hotel (5,3)
{CHECK OUT} – a double definition – to inspect and to exit from a hotel

16d    Company taking on sailors, earl and socialist was put in a difficult position (8)
{CORNERED} – a charade of CO(mpany), the Royal Navy, E(arl) and a colour associated with socialism gives a word meaning was put in a difficult position

19d    Wolfish line-up, perhaps (6)
{LUPINE} – an adjective meaning wolf-like is an anagram (perhaps) of LINE-UP

20d    Medicine for bringing up some extreme tickling! (6)
{EMETIC} – this medicine that causes vomiting is hidden inside (some) the last two words of the clue

22d    Marriage by dull chaplain (5)
{MATCH} – a marriage is a charade of a word meaning dull or lustreless and CH(aplain)

Bring back Ray T!

98 comments on “DT 26454

  1. A very tacit overview from BD – it does not augur well for the rest of us. We have been warned…

  2. Whilst solving this, I was reminded of crosswords from many years ago as it had a very old-fashioned cluing sort of feel to it. However, I did like 13a. Thanks to the mystery setter and to BD.

    The Toughie is, IMHO, enjoyable, solveable by the majority, and will cheer up BD so he, and you, should all give it a go!

        1. I agree that the Toughie shone in comparison after doing this. Some of the surface readings (e.g. 1d, 5d and 20d) in this one just beggared belief.

    1. Sue – I’m afraid it will have to wait as I’m now collating our sales figures from 35 countries. Day job beckons…”laters” as the argot has it

    2. Sue, I´m going to give the Toughie a go because I find that your recommendations can generally be relied upon.

      Is Dave in a grumpy mood today?

  3. I think BD must be hassled by end-of-year tax returns, or something!? I didn’t think the puzzle was that bad. Maybe not up to the standard we have come to expect on a Thursday, and no real diamond moments, but solid, workmanlike clues nonetheless. Didn’t help myself by initially putting in Quarter at 4d. Thanks to our settter – and Grumpy BD too!

  4. I thought 11a and 13a were awful. There were a few that were enjoyable but on the whole it wasn’t one of my favourites.
    Thanks to BD and the setter.

  5. I agree, didn’t like this one at all. Some of the clues seem very weak and some of the answers very obscure.

  6. Completed whilst watching Murray win.

    One or two good aces, some average clues lobbed in, no smashing moments, but overall no clues that said “what the deuce is that”.

  7. I agree with Digby, I didn’t think it was that bad, admittedly I thought 13a, was awful and have never heard 10a used, 11a another unknown! but apart from that I thought some of the clues were wittly and sharp, I made the mistake of putting ‘in’ as the first word of 26a at first and also went to put ‘quarter’ in at 4d, thinking we may have another pangram with the Z in one down! I did have a favourite clue 2d :) a nice one for the CC today I think and the JOCC

    1. Mary

      I also put ‘in’ as the first word of 26a, and initially thought about ‘quarter’ for 4d! :)

      1. It’s what I wanted as well, but already had the first ‘t’ in for both answers. I think ‘quarter after’ is how it’s said in N Ireland, where my dad came from.

  8. All over very quickly – under a two stopper – so the quality somewhat passed me by! Favourite clue was 18a. Many thanks to our Mysteron and to BD for the review.

  9. As gnomethang said above, there were a few that were enjoyable, but on the whole pretty poor. The surface reading of 1d is dreadful, and as for 11a, and 13a……
    The Toughie is better than this, but even that I did not get overly excited about!

  10. I’m on the side of the grumpies. Finished quickly, but with none of those ‘made me smile’ moments that make cryptics so enjoyable.

      1. Pommette reckons I’m well on the way to being a ‘Grumpy Old Man’, apparantly all I need is time!

      1. I think that you are very lucky to have an imminent grandson – wouldn’t care what he or she called us – just wish that one of our daughters would get on with it but, unfortunately, can’t live their lives for them ….

  11. A couple of dodgy clues and the rest of it fairly straight forward doesn’t make it that bad surely? I agree that it was not as good as usual on a Thursday. 10a was obvious from the anagram but not a word I had heard of, so at least I’ve learned something.
    On to the toughie.
    Thanks to BD and setter

  12. Probably one of the poorest offerings I can recall. Any more like this and I will review my Telegraph subscription.

  13. Oh dear –I’m almost ashamed to admit ( I blush!) — that, having been so stumped so often recently, I enjoyed this. I mean I could actually solve it! It was good not to feel quite so brainless, and I’m sorry that it was so unsatisfactory for the Grumpies. So thank you to the kind compiler.
    Don’t know how to do the blushing smiley.

    1. It is good to have a crossword that we can solve now and again Franny so don’t feel ashamed to admit you enjoyed it, I thought there some really witty clues in there, no need for blushing face, well done :-)

  14. I’m with Franny – I enjoyed this and thought that some of the clues were fun. Most of the ones that I particularly liked are the ones that have been slated by the people who I always think of as “the clever chaps and chapesses” so am not sure whether or not to admit to them! Oh well – why not – I will!
    I liked 9, 13, 21 and 26a and 7, 16 and 20d.
    The paper version of 16a is different to the one in Big Dave’s hints. It is ‘Daily sits on one seat only’
    I feel sorry for the setter today – he or she must feel a bit discouraged so I would like to say ‘thank you very much’!
    Thanks also to Big Dave even if he is in the Grumpies today!

    1. Agree wholeheartedly, Kath, don’t know what it is with BD and Thursdays????? Maybe you should swap days with someone, Dave? Didn’t know the expression used in 10a

  15. I didnt mind this one, probably because I managed most of it solo (always a plus in my book) but agree with comments about the weakness of some of the clues. Particularly loathed 1a and 11a. I thought 1a should at least be a reference to a more erm, pleasant sort of union?

  16. I greatly enjoyed doing this, perhaps because the Telegraph puzzles have been so flaming difficult lately!

    a 4-stopper, completed without assistance of any sort.

    It set up the day wonderfully well.

    Thank you to the setter.


  17. A most enjoyable c/w again for me, maybe because I finished without the need for Hints and Tips again (that’s three days in a row I think).
    No complaints from me. Thanx to Compiler and BD.

  18. I didn’t mind this too much. The only problem is that it is far too easy. Pommette and I just wrote the answers in!
    No sense of achievement and no challenge.
    Thanks to the setter for pleasing Pommette and to BD for the review.

  19. I have to disagree with a lot of comments from people who didn´t like this puzzle. This is because I finished in record time, without recourse to the Thesaurus, so although it´s considered bad form to brag on the blog, I´m doing it because there´s no knowing when it will happen again!

  20. Despite some a few adverse comments about this crossword today, it is obvious from other comments that it has done a lot to encourage and lift the spirits of us lesser able solvers, so thank you setter, as they say, ‘you can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time’ or words to that effect, who said that anyway?? :-D

      1. “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

        Abraham Lincoln (American 16th US President (1861-65)

        1. Thank you Franco.
          This is something that I quote (wrongly) quite often – good to have the correct version. :smile:
          Please note continued use of return key!

          1. Kath, Don’t thank me.. thank Google.

            It may be wrong….there were quite a few alternatives….but I’m sure that Gazza and Others will correct me if it’s not right . (How do they know everything? )

            (Impressed by your use of the “Return Key” …….and also for your support of today’s setter)

              1. Smoke and mirrors! A new expression for me but ……{cut and paste}….

                ……deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description.

                Surely Not!

            1. Joseph E Levine (film producer) said:
              “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough.”

  21. I don’t think Dave is grumpy, he more than most deserves to give his opinion as we all are, after all how often do we say we don’t like a crossword for one reason or another,
    however if you are grumpy Dave I hope the sunshine will cheer you up :-) Could it possibly be Rufus today?

    1. Mary,
      I can say the following, I don’t know who wrote this crossword, but I know who did not. Rufus is certainly on that list.

      1. Oh dear, sorry Rufus, I just thought one or two of them had the ‘Rufus’ short sharp wit about them obviously my mistake :oops:

  22. I agree with PatsyAnn (not about grumpy but !Finished quickly, but with none of those ‘made me smile’ moments”) and with Mary and Franny – must be a good day for the CC. As one in the JOCC I also enjoyed it! As I said, no real smile moments, but I managed to complete this without any help (although as my geography is pants I didn’t know the cpaital of Sierra Leone but got it later from the checking letters). Will there be anyone left in the CC after this!
    Thanks to (a grumpy BD) and the Mysteron for letting us not so clever cruciverbalists complete a crossword. :)

    PS. I adopted cruciverbalist for my grumpy one as his xmas present so if anyone in the Alicante region of Spain spots someone wearing a t-shirt with cruciverbalist on it’s Pommers!

  23. Not the best for sure. 13a particularly poor. Best clue for me was 17a…but only because it’s where I am right now!

    Thanks to BD…cheer up Mr Grumpy…your blog is great.

  24. I didn’t enjoy it either. I did wonder, about halfway through, whether I might break out of the CC today, but I disliked this puzzle enough to be almost glad I didn’t …

    Thanks anyway to setter and BD.

  25. Always like puzzles that I can finish. Maybe it’s too easy for the old hands but us newbie’s need the odd easy one to keep spirits up!

  26. Yes, agree with this, this is the second day I have completed it. I did not enjoy this as much as yesterdays but it was still good compared to some IMHO

  27. I didn’t think it was that bad – so thanks to the Setter!

    Also, thanks to the Grumpiest of the Grumpies for the review.

  28. I doubt that anyone will come forward now to claim this crossword, that’s a shame , if only I could write a crossword half as good I’d be more than happy, it’s hard enough to write one clue a week!

    1. Mary, I agree! There is no way that I could ever compile a cryptic crossword. I have looked at COW a few times, but have never been able to compose a single clue.

      Hopefully, today’s compiler doesn’t read his/her reviews!!

    2. Mary and Franco – I agree – couldn’t even begin to think of a clue (and I don’t know what COW means – someone please enlighten me)

        1. Thanks Franco but not quite true I have won once :) but the best place to come is second, because if you win the prize is setting the word for the next week and doing all the judging!!

          1. Mary, I apologise! I’ve just read your winning entry.

            As the Judge said “A very worthy winner.”

            1. why don’t you have a go, I find it does help when doing these puzzles and people are mostly very friendly there too :)

              1. I have just read your judgement when you held the “Poisoned Chalice” – very entertaining – a very hard slog up that mountain!! :smile:

                There are 2 reasons why I have never had a go:-

                1. The judges’ comments can be very severe and merciless.
                2. I might win (extremely unlikely)

                PS. Is it possible to enter under the proviso that you cannot win?

  29. Not what I was hoping for today. Still such a quick solve I shall have a look at the toughie. */* for me. A shame esp because Thursday is normally so good.

      1. So that means we have a Ray T to look forward to next Thursday – whoopee! Doesn’t he sometimes do a couple of Thursdays in a row?

  30. That’s seven days on the bounce that they’ve been a bit too easy, hopefully Giovanni will amuse and possibly test us tomorrow.

    1. I’m quite sure that Giovanni will test us tomorrow – I think that the Friday crossword is always the most difficult – that’s how it seems to me anyway.

  31. Surprised to see some lukewarm comments about this crossword which I quite enjoyed save 11a which was a weak clue. 2*.

  32. After a year of trying, this was the first DT cryptic I’ve competed without using the blog so I really liked this one. Some of the “grumpy” comments have taken the shine off my feeling of success but I really enjoy both the crossword and the blog..

    1. Well done Smithy – another lurker has crawled out of the woodwork (or wherever it is that they hide) It took me several weeks of reading the blog before I dared to write a comment. Keep going! This is a very friendly and lively place! :smile:

    2. well done smithy, don’t worry about the comments, I think half of us liked this puzzle the other half didn’t so go with the first half :) and welcome to the blog

  33. Well done Smithy. I have being doing the crossword for about 18 years and still get satisfaction from completing a puzzle regardless of whether others perceive a puzzle to be easy. Savour your success!

  34. Put staff wedding for 1a so was stuck on 6d.
    Apart from this I was pleased to be able to solve without any hints for a change but no great clues.
    Not surprised that those who can solve the Toughie found this rather dull/boring.

  35. I did like this one but take BD points on board. 10a new to me & 4d bit odd but the rest very acceptable even the schoolboy error in 24a. Thanks to the setter, BD and all those comments

  36. What a smashing puzzle. Took a bit of starting then was really enjoyable, so much nicer than struggling with an impenetrable Ray T!!

  37. Like some today felt a sense of achievment in actually having finished it, then read the blog and thought, oh dear– no wonder I finshed it.
    So I read the comments and must say they put a big smile on my face, very entertaining, well done to all for your witty comments :-)
    Cheers BD,
    PS just hope the Friday setter doesn’t read this and give us a real unsolvable one tomorrow!!

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