DT 26465 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26465

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26465

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I had the great pleasure to meet Jay last Saturday. I hope he will let us all out of our agony and tell us whether he finally managed to catch a train home after narrowly missing the first one! By the way there are a couple of pictures of our Wednesday Wizard on the blog’s facebook page (see link in the side panel).

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    Bribe gambler to accept help (4-6)
{BACK-HANDER} – this type of bribe is created by putting a gambler around some manual help

6a    Under a strain to retain head of state (4)
{TSAR} – hidden and reversed (is retain sufficient indication for both of these actions?) inside the first three words of the clue is a former Russian head of state – update: I had looked at retain as keep, but if interpreted as hold back or keep back then it works much better

9a    Precious little weight — a ton attached to vehicle (5)
{CARAT} – a unit of weight, about 200mg, used for gems is derived by putting A T(on) after a vehicle

10a    A couple of Mary’s rhymes are a bit vague (4-5)
{AIRY-FAIRY} – two words that rhyme with Mary combine to give a word meaning a bit vague

12a    Spell ‘Assuage’ (7)
{RELIEVE} – a double definition – to spell or take the place of at work (a usage with which I was not familiar) and to assuage

13a    Lights not working inside of hall (5)
{OFFAL} – a definition by example as lights are an example of this along with heart, liver, kidney, tongue, etc. – start with a word meaning not working and follow it with the inside letters of HALL

15a    Actors follow school production for internet transmission (7)
{PODCAST} – put a list of actors after a school of whales or seals to get a production of audio files for internet transmission

17a    Clock put back by star (7)
{SUNDIAL} – this device for telling the time by a shadow cast by the gnomon on a graduated flat surface is derived by reversing (back) a synonym for put after our nearest star

19a    Style of hair men ignore (4,3)
{CREW CUT} – this style of hair is a charade of men (on a ship) and to ignore

21a    Cheeky lads pinch the woman’s little darlings (7)
{CHERUBS} – put some cheeky lads around (pinch) the female possessive pronoun to get some little darlings

22a    Island seized by fat landowner (5)
{LAIRD} – put I(sland) inside a type of fat to get a Scottish landowner

24a    Put down question and answer (Slough) (7)
{QUASHED} – a verb meaning put down or crushed is built up from QU(estion), A(nswer) and a word meaning to slough or cast off

27a    Brushing up language, one never gets to start (9)
{POLISHING} – a word meaning brushing up or improving is constructed by stringing together a European language, I (one) and the initial letters (start) of Never Gets

28a    An urge for a letter (5)
{AITCH} – combine A and an urge to get a letter of the alphabet

29a    Love affair so ends at last, finding God (4)
{EROS} – the final letters (at last) of the first four words of the clue spell out the Greek god of love

30a    Prison officers struggle with shifts (10)
{WARDRESSES} – these female prison officers are a charade of a struggle of fight with some shifts, as in women’s clothes


1d           A young man’s responsibility (4)
{BUCK} – a double definition – a young man and the responsibility that should stop here!

2d           Mistakenly credit rag for article in magazine (9)
{CARTRIDGE} – when you resolve the anagram (mistakenly) of CREDIT RAG you realise that this article is not in printed magazine but in an automatic firearm

3d           Shop lacking cover has rent put up, accommodating supplier (5)
{HOTEL} – take the middle letters (lacking cover) of sHOp and add a word meaning to rent a property reversed (put up as this is a down clue) to get a supplier of accommodation

4d           Geordie gets a break, being the most close (7)
{NEAREST} – the part of England where Geordies are found is followed by A and a break or pause to get a word meaning most close

5d           Profitable jobs for students with no Latin (7)
{EARNERS} – these profitable jobs are derived by taking a synonym for students and removing the initial L (with no Latin)

7d           Second minor argument is awkward (5)
{STIFF} – a charade of S(econd) and a minor argument gives a word meaning awkward or difficult

8d           A good deal of embarrassment shown by the king (5,5)
{ROYAL FLUSH} – a good hand to be dealt in poker could be an embarrassment shown by the king

11d         Amount of water required for walk (7)
{FLOUNCE} – split this answer as (2,5) and you have an avoirdupois measure of liquids equal to 1/20th of a pint – the whole word means to move abruptly, impatiently or disgustedly

14d         The end of the world means papacy lose ground (10)
{APOCALYPSE} – the end of the world is an anagram (ground) of PAPACY LOSE

16d         What may follow shopping scared a revolutionary (7)
{ARCADES} – a word that may follow shopping is an anagram (revolutionary) of SCARED A

18d         Sisters welcome assignation to support island from floods (9)
{INUNDATES} – put these religious sisters around (welcome) an assignation and under (to support) I(sland) to get a verb meaning floods

20d         Around the third of July arrange a quiet drink (7)
{TEQUILA} – around L (the third letter of JuLy) place an anagram (arrange) of A QUIET to get a Mexican drink

21d         Converted, caught and executed (7)
{CHANGED} – a word meaning converted is a charade of C(aught) and executed as a punishment

23d         Building where soldier’s put up ladies (5)
{IGLOO} – this arctic building is constructed by reversing (put up) some American soldiers followed by a slang word for a toilet (ladies)

25d         Pull hard, not quite attaining paradise (5)
{HEAVE} – a verb meaning to pull hard is most of (not quite attaining) a synonym for paradise

26d         Perfect husband described in this way (4)
{THUS} – hidden inside (described) the first two words of the clue is a word meaning in this way

The usual mix of excellent clues from Jay.

133 comments on “DT 26465

  1. After a quick canter through the across clues yielded little fruit, I thought that this was going to be a tricky puzzle but the down clues fell in very quickly, I hit my stride and the puzzle was done in well under two stops.

    As usual, very smooth cluing and a joy to solve. Many thanks to Jay for the crossword and to BD for the review.

    Favourite clues were 1a, 13a and 20d

  2. Agree, at first glance, the across clues gave very little. Managed to get going after the first pass through the down clues. Loved 10a and 30a

  3. Ditto the above two comments – the across clues gave up bugger all until I had some checking letters from the Downs.
    All in all a typical Jay puzzle that was over a bit too quickly given the enjoyment his puzzles regularly offer.
    Thanks to him and to BD for the review.

  4. Lovely time solving today’s offering. Last to fall was 11d which I found a hard nut to crack. I basically found it from the checked lettersand only then understood the clue.

    BD, 6a: I assume that “restrain” is a typo for “retain” in your decoding.
    “Retain” can mean “hold back” which parses into “hold” (contain the letters) and “back” (in reverse order).
    Whether it is legit to make an indication as cryptic as that, I honestly don’t know.

    These four-letter words can be d*** difficult. This one had me staring for a while.

    Favourite was 8d: I just stand in awe of smooth surfaces.

    Thanks J & BD!

  5. I agree with the above comments. On my first read through the across clues I managed only 29a. Somehow, the down clues went in more easily and gave me a way into solving the across clues. My favourites today were 11d and 28a. Thanks to setter and BD for the review

  6. A very enjoyable challenge. Agree that 11d was tricky -a back-to-front solve, only worked out after getting the answer.

    Wonder what illustration BD will find for 1a in to-day’s toughie??

  7. disappointed with 24a – thought my answer of despond more apt!! though tricky to fit in with everything else . . . .

    1. Only those undertaking a pilgrim(age) would progress on those lines! That is as long as they do not develop bunyans.

  8. The usual Wednesday morning Jay experience for me today – as Gnomey says it was all over a bit too quickly. His puzzles are definitely those where starting with the downs is the best way forward.

    Now as for the Toughie…. its Tough – well I found it so, anyway.

    1. Agree with you re toughie – not sure whether i’m having an off day or if it is harder than usual for a Wednesday?

  9. I like Wednesday’s. I think Jay is probably my favourite of the DT setters. Fair clueing, enough to make you think without being too easy and rarely obscure. Well I like him this week, next week who knows!

    Didn’t find the across clues trickier than the downs, but then I don’t read the clues in a set order.. i find a way in and build from it.

      1. thanks gazza, have posted once or twice before a while back but am a regular viewer… usually get to the crossword too late in the day to comment

        1. Milky/Mikey

          I’ve just checked and your previous postings were as mikeyboy. If you change name and/or email address then you go through moderation again! You can now use either.

  10. Hi everyone,

    I discovered this site a few months ago and it’s just great. I’ve been doing the Telegraph crosswords for years and, while I’m not bad at getting the ‘what’, I now know the ‘why’ – what a relief! :o)

    I probably won’t be a regular contributor as I print the crosswords out in the evening to do on the train the following morning (don’t get up early enough to print on the day!) so I’m always a day behind the rest of you, but I started the Quick early today and was wondering if anyone had got the pun – just can’t see it.

    Big Dave, would you consider printing the pun somewhere on this site? I know strictly speaking you’re all about cryptics, but it would be really helpful for those occasional days when it just won’t come! I’ve asked the Telegraph to put it on their site so many times over the years, but it just seems beyond them…


    1. Welcome Alison. Its Carey Street which is where the bankruptcy courts were so people in financial difficulties were said to be in Carey Street.

    2. Thanks Gazza and Sue – that’s a phrase that has obviously passed me by (for which I should probably be thankful given it’s meaning!).

  11. Some great surface readings and misdirections always make Jays wednesday puzzles a delight.Particularly enjoyed 13a and 3d. 22a even raised a smile :-) Thanks to all.

  12. Ok, I give in. All finished except for 11d been looking at it for ages. Am sure all checking letters are right so have to accept defeat !! No problem, a bit of humility is good for one.

    1. It’s a type of walk and if you split it as (2,5) it’s an abbreviated way of specifying an amount of liquid (for a recipe, say).

      1. Oh my god!!!!!!! Had looked at that word for an absolute age but couldn’t see the relevance to the water element in the clue. Clear now.Thanx gazza.

    2. Was the last one for me also… Very enjoyable crossword today, especially 23d – thanks to Jay and thanks BD for the review…

  13. Agree with the above comments – should have started with the down clues – only managed two of the acrosses on first read through.
    Needed the hint for 6a and STILL need a hint for 26d – not that I’m being impatient!!
    Probably more of a 3* for me today.
    Favourites include 1,19 and 30a and 1, and 8d – best of all 11d. I think that was in a fairly recent crossword with a totally different clue that I now can’t remember!!
    I think I might not even look at the toughie today but I’m consumed with curiosity about 1a and 2d and why the picture clues could be so interesting!!

      1. Thanks Gazza – the number of times that I miss the ‘hidden in the middle’ kind of clues is becoming boring – one day I’ll learn!

  14. Nice one from Jay as usual. Hope he managed to get a train OK.
    Too many good clues to pick out a favourite but 23d raised a smile.
    Thanks for the review BD.

  15. I am stunned that this should have been awarded a 2 star for difficulty, it was at least a 3 bordering on a 4!! Parts were really tricky esp the SE corner which I have still to complete.

    1. Barrie

      Why don’t you just double my ratings to get your own personal target?

      For me it was relatively easy and I reserve four and five star ratings for really difficult puzzles. I use my personal time from the online solving site as a starting point, and to get four stars it would have needed to take me twice as long as this one did.

      1. Interesting system but many times I do agree with your rating, it’s just that I thought todays far too tricky for a 2 star rating, but I suppose difficulty rating are a bit like quiz questions, easy if you know the answer!!

        1. And also subjective to the blogger…. I would have given this at least three stars myself.

          1. Agree that its all subjective. When doing the weekend puzzle reviews, I do quite often check how other, especially Barrie, found the puzzle when making my final star decisions.

  16. Setter here – many thanks to Big Dave for the review and to all for your comments. For those at the Sloggers and Betters on Saturday, I eventually crawled home at midnight, having managed to get on the last train!

  17. Sorry really didn’t like todays apart from 2d which was clever. Most of the rest were just plain irritating. Not my favourite puzzle. Does anyone know if tomorrow will be a Ray T? If so I’ll try the Indy.

    1. I think you should persevere with Ray T, Barrie. I spent many weeks finding him impossible, but am now occasionally on his wavelength, and it gives me *such* a sense of accomplishment!

  18. I still dont understand why people who can do this crossword easily, wish everyone to know about it. It smacks of bragging. I found this crossword very difficult and only completed about 3/4s. I only look at this site when I have given up. The number of clues I dislike would take too long to bore you with. If I have time I may expand. Lets just say its galling to to read some of the self congratulatory comments.

    1. Precisely why I use a star rating rather than giving solving times. I don’t regard such comments as self-congratulatory and I’m sure the setters watch carefully to see if they are getting their intended level of difficulty.

      1. BD The above was I’m sure not meant as a criticism of your good self or the other reviewers who do a splendid job but there is no doubt a high degree of self-congratulatory comments which can be a deep irritant if you happened to be one of those struggling that day. All our minds work in a different manner and what is obvious to one may be profoundly obscure to another. There do seem to a number of ‘experts’ who use the blog as a platform to boast about their prowess. However, to others of us it provides an excellent mechanism for learning and improving in what is not a user-friendly field of interest.

        1. Agree with Barrie on this. I have found this and previous days this week very hard…but I am learning. It does not help to hear that people found the puzzle a stroll in the park and I agree it merits more than a 2 star for difficulty…a 3 I think judging from the recent past.
          Having said that I love the blog and find it extremely useful for learning.

          1. The difficulty of a puzzle is a subjective matter, and what’s easy to one will seem impossible to another. The main reason for the differences, though, is experience. The more puzzles you try, the easier they’ll become.

            Compared to learning simply by doing the puzzles, this blog provides analysis and explanation of the clues, and should allow people to gain experience and knowledge more quickly. The reason that that is possible is that there are experienced solvers who are prepared to write the explanations and to clarify problems for others.

            If I were new to cryptic crosswords, I think that I would be encouraged to hear that others, who’d been at it for longer, had no trouble with a puzzle that I’d found difficult. It would, l think, give me hope that I would be able to improve if I stuck with it.

            Are experienced solvers just supposed to say nothing, or to say that they found a puzzle tough when they didn’t?

            1. Absolutely! I don’t usually look at the blogger’s difficulty rating because I have been known to struggle on a 1 or 2* puzzle and have found 4* a breeze on occasion.
              It’s all in the mind which is what makes xwords so fascinating.

              1. I too despair when I see comments like Bob’s. It takes all sorts to make a world and to be honest, most of the Telegraph daily puzzles do not satisfy my puzzle thirst as they are not pitched at my solving skills.

                The Toughies are more my cup of tea, but even some of those fail to tantalise me. But I have been solving for almost 40 years. However, it doesn’t stop me appreciating the wit and ingenuity of the setters and I love to see a good clever clue.

                The people who review all these puzzles do so to help newer and less inexperienced solvers understand the paths of cryptics. If Bob and Barrie are feeling bewildered, then perhaps getting hold of Tim Moorey’s excellent book about solving cryptics will help.

                Alternatively, the former DT crossword editor Val Gilbert’s book on the same topic.

                Or attending Don Manley’s excellent course.

                However if Bob or Barrie happen to be a way away from Oxford and nearer my neck of the woods. I’ll organise and run a local day session for their benefit.

                The ball is in your court gentlemen.

                1. I can certainly endorse the sentiments and the parcticality from Tilsit’s comment. Although I have been solving for about 20 years I have taken various sabatticals in tht time and only really returned religiously in the last two years – in the main because of this blog. At about that time I picked up a copy of Tim Moorey’s book and found it an excellent resource; primarily to understand the ‘why/how’ and then secondarily to allow me to spot the indicators for various clue types.

                  Failing that, a good review of the puzzle with notes such as those above by gazza have helped enormously.

                2. Thats an interesting proposal Tilsit which I note others haven’t responded to. And your neck of the woods is where?

                3. This blog is great. Without it I would have given up ages ago. I’m at the “Can finish most days stage” but quite often with a struggle
                  I would love to come to a teach-in. But this task is by way of displacement activity when I should be engaged in trying to sort out the Glos CC Web site
                  I live in Gloucestershire and my shortcomings are too many to mention, here are a few, lack of general knowledge, can’t spell, and on this sort of puzzle cannot read the clues. Oh and lack of patience.
                  Ps Ive asked this several times before but have not had a straight answer: How do you know who sets the clues? is there list somewhere. I cannot recognise one setter from another (even if I knew who they were.) The answer seems to be you get to know who they are. Sounds a bit like a nintendo game to me.

                  1. Hi Bob, There are regular setters most days and yes you do get to know them, not sure if Dave has put a link somewhere on the blog, have a look around,because its a question that gets asked regularly, my favourite setter is Rufus, on a Monday :)

                  2. Hello Bod
                    Copied and pasted from last Sunday’s blog when someone else aked the same question Tis is BD’s reply:

                    It’s about time I added this to the FAQ as it’s the most frequently asked question!

                    Our info comes from the setters themselves.

                    Sunday – always Brian Greer (Virgilius)
                    Monday – nearly always Roger Squires (Rufus) – if it’s not he tells us
                    Tuesday – Shamus or a mystery setter
                    Wednesday – Jeremy Mutch (Jay)
                    Thursday – Ray T or a mystery setter, one of which is Anthony Plumb
                    Friday – Don Manley (Giovanni)
                    Saturday – Peter Chamberlain alternates with a mystery setter

    2. Hi Bob I don’t think anyone on this site is given to ‘bragging’ there are a few levels of solvers on the site, personally I have been doing these just over eighteen months and have only prigressed because of all the help I have had from everyone, particularly the more experienced solvers who have always found the time, even though sometimes my queries must sound stupid to them, they never belittle, always take time to explain and are only giving their opinions on their own level, as BD says we all find our own levels, on the site we have the muthical clubs, CC for clueless club, which I have just managed to leave, JOCC – just out of clueless club, which I am in (though I often think I should be back in the CC ) and the ACC – advanced clueless club, which I don’t think I’ll ever reach!! It’s all good fun and banter and we learn hopefully along the way :)

      1. Calm down everyone, it’s only a crossword!
        This is the BEST website for cruciverbalists to exchange not only hints & suggestions but also to engage in a little badinage & persiflage. Can we all lighten up a bit? And Bob, as far as the crossword went – “Ezy Pezy, Lemon Sqezy” as they used to say at my primary school back in the 60s…

      2. If you managed todays Mary then you are def heading for the ACC. Personally I am still firmly rooted in the CC and to be honest can’t ever see me getting out. Just when I think I am on my way, something like todays comes along and kicks me square in the teeth! I must admit it annoys and depresses me a little when I see the rating as 2 star and see all the smug comments for a puzzle that leaves me scratching my head. I am glad to see that others also struggled with todays. Won’t be doing tomorrows as it is bound to be a Ray T horror. I intensely dislike his crosswords mainly for their total lack of phrases which are usually my way in. See you Friday! And good luck with the implants, I decided to stick with my plate :-)

        1. I think I will stick with mine too Barrie, for two implants we are talking over £4000! How can they justify that?? You are already in the JOCC Barrie, can’t go back, you told me that! Now todays, (Thurs) so far I am really struggling, have done 7 after an hour! I still need all the help I can get from books, machines etc most days, inc yesterday (Weds) so just got to keep perservating :) To date I have done three without any help at all, I think you have done a few too?

  19. Well, an assortment of comments today. Personally enjoyed the clues, though I did need B.D’s hints to finish 6a. I find it fascinating to learn so many people do ALL across clues first, if I solve an across clue I go to the down clues to check any letters that cross it{ i.e. can 10a start with a “k”} and continue with acrosses and downs virtually alternately
    Liked 8 18d. 13 and 19a. Had never heard of 15a and didn’t understand 12a till I read B.D.’s review
    Thank you Jay for the enjoyment and B.D. for the explanation

    1. My mother, in the days when she could do the crossword, always used to work on it as you describe. I always do a quick read through of all the clues and put in the ones that I can do immediately – that may be as few as one or two or, sometimes, up to about a quarter of them all. Maybe it’s time to have a change!

    1. No not still there Kath but still in shock at the amount they want to charge me for two implants, don’t think I can stand to go to accountant tomorrow, been to cinema today to get over shock :) did crossword before I went but blog wasn’t up when I left

      1. Oh good – thought that you must be still in the dentist’s chair. Don’t even want to think about implants – whatever kind (see below!!)

  20. I found the left-side fell in more easily than the right and, strangely, it was the across clues for me that were more straightforward. Needed a few hints for the right and completed several more from checking letters. 8/20d were tops for me, 26a caught me out AGAIN!

    Thanks to Jay and BD.

  21. I found this rather tough today — one of those puzzles where I think, “I can’t do this” and then words start dropping in. First clue in was 10a which I thought was great fun, but then I was left with a blank grid until I had more luck with the downs. Several times I found the word without understanding why. I’d never have got 4d from the clue as explained by BD and I wasn’t sure about 15a either. I needed the Crossword Solver to finish, but on the whole I did enjoy it. There were lots of excellent clues and I particularly liked 10a, 21d and 26d. :-)

    1. With regard to 4d – it does get very difficult sometimes to provide a hint without using some or all of the answer. When that happens, by all means ask in the comments.

  22. I enjoyed todays crossword, though I still needed my books etc. it was a crossword IMHO where the definition was fairly obvious, my only doubt was with 6a but I wasn’t thinking of ‘retain’ as hold back! also the other hidden clue at 26d, I didn’t realise ‘described’ could mean contained or hidden inside? fav clues 10a, I was often called this! & 13a, in 8d why King more than any other royal?

    1. No reason that I can see, the clue would work with any Royal rank, but Jay had to use one of them and chose King.

  23. Another quickly solved puzzle from Jay with a lot of nice clues.
    I liked 9a, 13a, 17a, 19a, 28a, 8d & 23d.

    Had a good laugh at 28a & 8d – used to play pontoon a lot many years ago!

    Grilled fillet of salmon with string beans tonight washed down with Menetou-Salon rosé then a bit of Christmas Pudding with hard sauce. It is one that I brought back from California some years ago – I found it in the cupboard. It was labelled “Best Before JAN 2007” but the first half went down very well – I doused it in Asbach Uralt to make sure!

      1. Chicken casserole with dumplings (bean for Mr CS) and jacket potatoes. Just right after a freezing walk on the marshes.

  24. Good puzzle. Made me think hard without being too contrived or arcane – just about right for a back-pager. As it should be, otherwise why have a Toughie? Thanks all.

  25. Enjoyed this very much and finished it off quite quickly (daren’t mention how long it took me in light of some of the previous comments!) I don’t see a problem with people saying how long it takes to finich if they wish to – some days are better than others for me anyway! I liked 11d best. Last in was 30a (DOH!).


  26. Enjoyed this much more than yesterday’s – just needed help on 6a. I feel very lonely on this blog – occasionally get a response or reply but I think most are done and dusted by 8pm. As a result of this I would like to officially open the 8pm Club for those early evening solvers like me. I look forward to the flood of replies! Thanks Jay and as always BD

          1. Gnomethang – that is a much better name! I think I may have to adopt this as the new moniker. Thanks for your input!

              1. I have had mine since Christmas but am a lapsed guitarist (for the last couple of years at least – I have played for 24 years) so possibly have a head start on some.
                I played a friends Mahalo – nice and fun but a bit smaller than my Concert and a bit harder to keep in tune – I have sealed gear tuners.
                Currently working on ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’ and ‘King of the Swingers’. If you need any good online resources and so indicate I can email you some very good links.
                Keep Strummin’!

                1. I have found lots of free music on line -including King of the Swingers which is one of my favourites and one I can play by heart thanks to the relatively easy chords. I also have a guitar which I plan on graduating to soon.

            1. I very rarely eat chocolate but would like to join the ‘After Eight Club’! Definitely not a morning person!

              Any advice on which sort of Ukulele to play: soprano, concert, tenor, or baritone?

              gnomethang, How many instruments do you own?

              1. Franco,
                The one Uke, An old Marlin 6 string electric (first guitar), an electric that my brother built for me (29 fret slim necked metal monster with Floyd Rose Trem) and a very serviceable Sigma Acoustic.
                Unfortunately, UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome) is beginning to hit………
                If you like I will shoot you a mail on the Uke choice – I am aware that this is a crossword forum and I don’t want to hijack it!

                1. I would be grateful for info on Uke choice. Other people have hijacked this site before on all manner of subjects!

                  Anyway, this is the ‘After Eight Club’.

                  But, as this a crossword forum – Quite enjoyed today’s Cryptic, but the Toughie was not my “cup of tea” – too contrived and over complicated for me – lots of the 4-letter solutions (wee stinkers) unsolved. But, no complaints – just not to my liking!

            1. Oh I see. I only use my iPhone to access this and the comments aren’t numbered so I did wonder what the reference to no27 was

    1. Hi Ainsley
      I’m a morning solver, because I can be – lucky me!
      I do look at the hints and the comments as soon as I have finished, or, more often, need help!
      Depending on what I have to do for the rest of the day I look a few times – sometimes several times if there is anything contentious or funny going on.
      Quite often look just before we go to bed – ie about now so definitely NOT asleep by 8.00pm!
      I’d like to join the “After Eight Club” if there are any spaces left!

      1. Yeh come on Ainsley man, as the president of the After 8 Club you got to show us newcomers how to really do the biz ! 9.53pm, I didn’t go to bed that early when I was a babe in arms.

        1. I am still awake (just!). Just checking the latest entries. Seems we have a number of members now. See you all tomorrow after 8 of course

  27. Wow! What a blog. Just read it through. Took us hours today, but glad to brag when it takes no time at all. Had scampi and chips for tea -magnificent. And has anyone ever watched Midsomer Murders? First time for me. Jim Bergerac has put some weight on hasn’t he.

    1. I have never watched Midsomer Murders – do all the murders take place in the same village? Does the hefty Jim Bergerac ever brag about his ability to solve these mysteries?

      1. Think that we have to leave that to the most wonderful Morse! I was SO sad when he died – both in “Morse” and in real life.

        1. “The Remorseful Day”

          Have you ever read any of the Morse books by Colin Dexter?

          There is sometimes a crossword theme – I think that Endeavour Morse was bragging – no-one could finish the Times Crossword so quickly every day!

  28. You got to learn the dance routine. Full of Double Definitions; Reversals(exciting); Hidden Backwards (???); Combinations (Yeh !!) and most importantly, WD40. Still at the club folks, where are you all???

  29. Sorry guys from the tip of Africa always 9 days behind. Lovely puzzle from Jay, I think Big D has it spot on with 2* for difficulty but I would give 4* for enjoyment. Particularly liked 24a and 21d and 13a was a nice ‘put you off the scent’ clue.

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