DT 26615 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26615

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26615

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ****

Hello all, the man from the Vega Baja is back after a couple of  weeks off while the ‘other job’ intervened. I do wish clients wouldn’t want to travel on Wednesdays – I missed Jay’s 500th because of them!

Maybe it’s just me being a bit thick in the early hours of this morning but I thought this was way above Jay’s normal difficulty level and it came as a bit of a surprise to me on a Wednesday! Only 2 across clues done on first pass but the downs yielded enough to get going. Jay seems to be making a trademark of making his across clues the hard ones!
However, once all the pennies had dropped I realised I had really quite relished the challenge so definitely 4* for enjoyment. You can all disagree with my difficulty rating if you like but, based on my solving time compared with normal, 4* is what it is! (I reserve 5* for if I have to email other bloggers for help, not had to do that yet but this one came close on one clue!). As I said, maybe it’s just me . . .

As usual favourites are in blue and the answer can be seen by highlighting the space between the curly brackets. 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.   Ashamed to opt for stewing such food (6,6)
{MASHED POTATO} – This food (one of my favourites with onion gravy) is an anagram (for stewing) of ASHAMED TO OPT.  An easy anagram to start but this puzzle gets a bit harder!

8a.   Centre of fashion also known as a dance (4)
{HAKA} – A Maori dance (?) performed by the New Zealand rugby team, to intimidate the opposition at the start of a match, is made up from the centre letter of fasHion followed by a term meaning ‘also known as’ (as in alias). Took me ages to spot this as the dance in question isn’t that obvious – I was thinking Latin American or Tess Daly etc! Not sure the rugby players would be pleased by by this clue!

9a.   They may help mountaineers with choices of water (3,5)
{ICE PICKS} – Things mountaineers use in the higher altitudes. The second word is a synonym for choices and the first is frozen water. Not sure this clue really works, unless I’m missing something.

10a.   Pretend bullets regularly going missing from mess (8)
{SHAMBLES} – The definition is MESS. Take a word for pretend and follow with the alternate letters (regularly going missing) of BuLlEtS.

11a.   Book is first-class — a source of hope (6)
{ISAIAH} – A book of the Old Testament is a charade of IS (from the clue), AI (first class), A (from the clue) and source of H(ope).   The term A1 for excellence apparently derives from Lloyds Register of Shipping from 1764 (according to pommette) when ship’s hulls were rated for seaworthiness – one lives and learns!

12a.   Frontmen feel bitter surrounded by heartless looks (10)
{PRESENTERS} – These guys (or girls) are the frontmen on a TV programme. Take a word meaning ‘feel bitter’ and surround it with a word meaning ‘looks’ or stares without its middle letter (heartless). The picture’s for Gazza!

13a.   Left nothing for time in unoccupied use (6)
{EMPLOY} – A substitution clue. The definition is USE. Take a word for unoccupied or vacant and replace the T with LO ( Left O(nothing) for Time). Not sure I’ve explained that very well but it’s the best I can think of!

16a.   Expressions of disapproval surrounding socially acceptable skirts (5)
{TUTUS} – These skirts worn by ballerinas are made up of some expressions of disapproval (not boo but the other one that my mother uses a lot) around the usual crosswordland letter for socially acceptable.

17a.  Back providing new seat for the party (6)
{FIESTA} – This party, a regular event in Spain, is a word meaning ‘providing’ reversed (back) followed by an anagram (new) of SEAT (which coincidently is a Spanish car manufacturer).  Anyone following my posts will know we had ours in the village last week with the disco until 0400 in the square, about 70m from my bedroom window!

18a.   The bosses phrased lie deceptively (10)
{LEADERSHIP} – The answer is a generic term for those in charge. It’s an anagram (deceptively) of PHRASED LIE.  Nice surface.

21a.   She starts to fish from promenade (6)
{STROLL} – Definition is promenade, as in a gentle walk. Take the first letter (start) of S(he) and follow with a word meaning to fish (by trailing a line from the back of a boat). Used to do this type of fishing for mackerel off the back of ‘Firenze’ but never caught anything worthwhile! Once I got scared witless by a pilot whale blowing about 50m off our stern when I was having a small snooze on the way back from the I-o-M. Thought ‘If I’ve hooked that I’m in deep . . .’

23a.   Popular scene played out with daughter getting angry (8)
{INCENSED} – A word meaning angry is a charade of the usual crosswordland word for popular (2), an anagram (played out) of SCENE and D(aughter).

24a.   Tot covered in ice-cream finally panics and eats (8)
{CONSUMES} – Take the sort of ice-cream which you can easily eat while walking around and insert (covered by) a word for tot or add up, then add S (panicS finally) to get a word meaning eats.

25a.   Source of genuinely ancient metal (4)
{GOLD} – This valuable metal is G (source of Genuinely) followed by a word meaning ancient or passed its sell-by date. Bit like me really! The last 3 letters I mean, not the whole thing!

26a.   One without roots lets no girl on if dressed (7,5)
{ROLLING STONE} – Someone without roots, a wanderer, is an anagram (if dressed) of LETS NO GIRL ON.  After a few tricky ones in the middle we have another easy anagram to finish the acrosses!


1d.   Get to assemble (6)
{GATHER} – This is a double definition. ‘Get’, as in understand or twig and ‘to assemble’ as in get together. This was the one I struggled with the wordplay and nearly shouted for help! Blind or what? Not a good start to the downs for me.

2d.   Second group found in ruins can be little monkeys (9)
{MARMOSETS} – These guys are small members of the monkey family. Take a word for ruins, or spoils (4), and insert (found in) a short amount of time (2) and a word for group or collection (3). Hope that made sense, it’s another of those that’s easier to solve than to hint!

3d.   Hot — moved quietly North (6)
{STOLEN} – A word for ‘moved quietly’ or sneaked followed by N(orth) gives a word meaning hot, in the sense of nicked or pinched. How many of you spent time looking for word where you could move P (quietly) upwards?

4d.  Such philosophers exalt sin — it is set to explode (15)
{EXISTENTIALISTS} – These philosophers are an anagram (to explode) of EXALT SIN IT IS SET.

5d.   Building society’s first to support proposition (8)
{PREMISES} – Take a proposition and add S (Society’s first) to give the building where a business may be located.

6d.   Identification mark keeping one inside a Russian forest (5)
{TAIGA} – Take an identification mark or label (3), insert I (one inside) and then add A (from the clue). String that lot together and you get a forest area in Russia or Canada located between the steppes and the tundra. Never heard of this before but it’s gettable from the wordplay and the checkers, needed a bit of dictionary to confirm though!

7d.   Pick up a weapon and receive the applause (4,1,3)
{TAKE A BOW} – A phrase meaning to take the applause after a stage performance could also mean to pick up a weapon, one used to good effect at Agincourt.

14d.   Crime confined to attendant’s residence (9)
{PARSONAGE} – The crime of lighting fires inserted in (confined to) an attendant gives a residence, of a cleric usually.

15d.   Skilled but very worried suitor has nothing (8)
{VIRTUOSO} – V (Very) followed by an anagram (worried) of SUITOR and O (nothing) will give a person who is extremely skilled at something – often used to describe excellent musicians.

16d.   Count on chap who sells on credit (8)
{TALLYMAN} – Slang word for a man who sells things on credit. A word meaning count, or add up (5), followed by a chap (3).  I think there may be some discussion about whether this is a local dialect word but it’s well known in the north west of England at least.

19d.   EU money once key to unionist party (6)
{ESCUDO} – This is a tricky one IMHO! It’s a currency of the EU that has been replaced by the Euro. Take a key (not musical but the top left on your keyboard), U(nionist) and the usual crosswordland party and you get the old currency of Portugal.

20d.   One’s covering trade standards (6)
{IDEALS} – These standards, to which we should all aspire, are IS (ones) around (covering) a trade or business transaction. I like this clue but if anyone can explain it better I’m open to suggestions! If I had time I’d trawl through previous blogs to see how others have explained ONE’S as IS as it comes up regularly.

22d.   Bird finding use for one in oil (5)
{OUSEL} – Another substitution clue! Take the word ‘OIL’ (from the clue) and replace the I with USE (use for one) and you’ll get a bird of the thrush family. I always thought this bird was spelled with a Z but perhaps Chambers has it different.

Lots of good clues here so not really fair to pick one out, but if pushed, I’d have to go for 16d for its fine surface and simplicity. It’s almost an all in one as far as I’m concerned because many people where I come from did ‘count on the chap who sold on credit’ just to get by untill the end of the week and payday!
Oh, and apologies for the rather contrived excuse for the racing car but Tess Daly is a bit of alright!.

The Quick crossword pun: {injure} + {dishes} = {injudicious}

69 comments on “DT 26615

  1. I reserve 5* for if I have to email other bloggers for help, not had to do that yet but this one came close on one clue!

    In the middle of the night, when you solved this one, I don’t think you would have received much of a response!

  2. Funny, I thought it fairly easy, but I must just have been on the right wavelength. I liked 8a (made easy for me because of previous occupation, enjoyment of RU and time spent in NZ), 13a, 1d (which did give me pause for thought) and 22d, but agree that 16d was best best of an enjoyable bunch today. Thanks to Jay for the Xword and to Pommers for the review.

    An iPad2 is on the cards next week and spells of hour-long commuting by train, so maybe I’ll join the online crowd (not that there seems to be much pleasure to be had among the frustration).

      1. Hi and Welcome escapedcomputer
        The iPhone and iPad will show the answers in the curly brackets if you perform the copy/paste function into e.g. notes or another application. It is just that we place the answers in the brackets as ‘nearly white on white’ such that a mouse selecting the answer shows it as white on blue. The preference of this site is not to give away the answers as soon as you open the page.

    1. Me too Gazza, very fond of little monkeys :-) Thanks Pommers and Jay lots of good clues

    2. Having looked at the picture of TD I was forced to lie down in a darkened room while being rubbed down with a damp copy of the DT. For a man of my age & delicate disposition this blog may well do for me eventually…

  3. Totally agree with today’s difficulty rating, def a Toughie standard today, far too tough for the back page in my opinion. Difficult to enjoy a puzzle that one can’t unpick!

  4. Just a little quibble withe the explanation of 19d, the top left key on the keyboard is Q not C:-) sorry Pommers! However I take my hat off to you for completing this one, the explanation alone for 13a left me speechless!

    1. It’s all right for you – I have a French keyboard. Let’s start an unfair to expat. solvers group! Mine is an AZERTY but in fairness the top l/h key is échap.
      Thoroughly enjoyed this. Ouzel took me a while until I found that my Ouzel could be spelt with an S and TAIGA held me back until I Googled it. Funny but ESCUDO didn’t bother me at all. Thoroughly enjoyable and I wouldn’t criticise the hints for 20D (IDEALS) at all.

  5. I loved this one – maybe because it was the first back page puzzle I have solved for a while where the answers required some thought.
    For me, this was definitely trickier than normal, (esp the bottom left corner), but most enjoyable.
    Thanks to Jay, and to Pommers.

    1. Strange – it was the top left corner that gave me most pause for thought. 8a and 1d were last in. It was getting 10a that unlocked it.

  6. Pommers
    Re 24a, you left out the explanation for the last ‘S’ – finally panic(S).

  7. I found a few clues that required a fair bit of thought but the solving time would give me *** personally. Still a lovely puzzle and much fun. Thanks to Pommers for the review and Jay for number 501.

  8. Online on time today for a change. Quite enjoyable today, took a fair bit of thinking about but not overly hard. Favourite today was 15D.

    Now, off to work then back to sort out these pesky ants, grrrrrr.

  9. A very enjoyable puzzle today.

    Maybe I find Jay easier than other compilers, I seem to be on his wavelength. I wouldn’t complete a 4* from any other

    Whilst having the correct answer I was grateful to Pommers for explaining ESC for key – I really ought to look at my
    keyboard more closely!

  10. Morning all.
    Now I’ve looked at the puzzle again maybe 4* is a little OTT but it did take me about twice as long as normal with no particular clue causing a problem so 4* it is.
    I’m with Spindrift about the piccy of TD, didn’t know she did that sort of thing – nice though!

    1. Typos are what you get when you write the blog in the middle of the night!
      I’ll sort it – thanks for pointing it out Moose.

    1. Agree about 9a as I said in the blog but, apart from my typing error, I think 6d is fine.

  11. Such a relief to see four stars for difficulty after hours of struggle with this x-word! I also only had two words after the first pass across, and one of them was ‘fado’ for 8a which didn’t do me any good at all. It took me a while to find the correct anagrams and once I’d got 2a and 4d the solving got a bit easier — but I needed every bit of help, electronic and otherwise, that I could muster in order to finish it. I don’t enjoy puzzles which are this difficult so don’t have any favourite clues. But thanks anyway to Jay, and to Pommers for his explanations and the cute monkey photo.

    1. Hi Franny!

      Just butting in to inform you that the weather forecast for the Var today was absolutely correct – vioplent thunderstorm all day.
      Trust it will be better next week when you come down to département 83!

      1. Hi Derek!
        Thanks for that. We’ve been promised better weather next week here in Geneva, so I’m hoping that will hold true for the Var also.

  12. Thanks for the welcome. Been a long time follower and admirer of the excellent work that goes into the site but this was my first contribution! My mate Andy in Lancashire put me on to the site and I’ve not looked back since. We are always in competition to see who can complete the fastest but he was far better than me today though I got there in the end.
    It was a thoroughly enjoyable Crossy today

    1. Hi Moose and welcome, this blog has been invaluable to me since I started doing cryptics 2 years ago, everyone is very friendly and helpful and only occasionaly are we reprimanded and sent to the naughty corner!

  13. My solving time would indicate 2.5* difficulty – I always know with a Jay that I won’t get many acrosses but that the downs will come to my rescue. Thanks to Jay for the mind-awakening start to Wednesday, to Pommers for the hints and picture of the monkey. I should think the picture of Tess comes from her modelling days before she became a TV personality.

    The Toughie took a while to get into too – as BD said yesterday – we knew things would get tougher.

  14. Hi Pommers, welcome back to Wednesday, I ‘m with you for the difficulty rating, some worthy of a toughie I thought so thanks for the hints I needed at least half a dozen of them today :-( , I’m also with you on the mash and onion gravy, particularly with sausage and peas :-) Mmmm lovely, another beautiful day, done the crossword, shopping, gardening, time to sit and read my kindle in the sunshine :-)

    1. Now Mary, you have had the sun a couple of days now, I really think it’s time you sent it back to us as we are getting fed up of all the grey cloud and slightly chilly wind.

    2. Thanks Mary, and glad to have been of service. I’m suddenly feeling rather peckish! Sausage and mash Mmmmmm!

      1. I am saving myself for this evening where I hope to have something a lot better than sausage and mash. The ‘girls’ in our office are going out for a hen evening (nothing too riotous just a nice meal really) with our youngest member who is getting married in August. I am hoping for a good evening but am not sure how good my cryptic solving powers will be in the morning :D

        1. This is sounding a bit like premeditation!
          Because of pommette’s diet were having some sort of cauliflower/brocolli bake tonight! Oh well, a bottle of Rioja may liven it up a bit!
          Have a great evening Sue!

          1. Poor Pommers – I shall think of you as I enjoy every mouthful of all three courses :D

            1. Now you’re making me jealous! I may have to go down the local for some tapas.

            2. Just sent the sun back to you Sue for an hour or two :-) hope you enjoy your night out, sorry about the brocolli bake pommers :-) tonight we are having chicken, mushroom and leek pasta but personally sausage, mash, peas and onion gravy is my favourite meal of all

              1. Don’t get sausages much nowadys because of pommette’s dieting. It’s worth it though, she’s lost 2 stone since Xmas and 4 since we moved to Spain 5 years ago – she’s a shadow of her former self!

    3. Now Mary – this is really not fair of you. Bangers & Mash with peas (preferably mushy peas) and onion gravy has to be one of my all time favourite meals. Not had this in MONTHS!!!! Hum – as I’ve nearly lost all the weight I want to then maybe a little treat is in order. That is if I can get some English sausages!

      1. Hello! – long time no read!. Well done on the regime thus far but remember – ‘A bit of what you fancy does you good’!
        Oxfords, Cumberlands and Lincs for preference!

      2. Yes pommette has to be British sausages, not the same otherwise, good luck and enjoy, well done with the weight loss I am stuck on 17lbs!

  15. Surprised to see 4*, as managed to complete over lunch and only had to check what a russian forest was on google. Purred with delight over 25a, so simple and with a surface reading that makes sense. Thanks to all as usual.

  16. Welcome back, Pommers. I’ve missed you! Your comments always make me smile or go ‘Yeah, I did that!’. I agree that 9a doesn’t really work that well and, yes, I did that for 3d too. Could you have found a cuter picture for 2d? It’s gorgeous!! :-D Overall, I would have to go for 3* though, as I completed in reasonable time with no help (unless you count looking things up for confirmation).
    And thanks Jay for a very enjoyable crossword. Favourites were 8, 24 and 25a.

  17. Needed 3 or 4 hints to finish this in sensible time. Can see it was a good puzzle though. Liked 2d and 15d. Thanks to Jay and to Pommers for a helpful review.

  18. I was, for no explicable reason, completely stumped by 15d so, thanks for the hint Pommers. Other than that not too bad. I do like a Jay puzzle. It certainly helped that 2a was a giveaway and that there were enough other relatively simple clues to give plenty of checking letters to pick the others apart.
    Lovely to see the delightful Miss D in full fighting tackle.
    I’m not sure how I would have clued 9a. I remember thinking at the time that it was somewhat ‘iffy’.
    I too think that 4* is a bit harsh. A good solid 3* in my opinion.
    Thanks Pommers for an entertaining review and Jay for an excellent puzzle.

  19. The usual Jay niceness. Although this felt trickier than usual, I completed it within a normal Jay time. Almost too many good clues to chose a favourite today. Thanks to setter and to Pommers for the review.

  20. Hi Pommers – it’s great that you post the blog so quickly and catch the early worms. Thanks for that. In this case your middle of the night exertions might have compounded the difficulty level, which I just about shaded as 3*. But most enjoyable – VMT Jay.

  21. Slow solve for me today but got there in the end. Did not think it was Jay, maybe we should stop saying we solved his puzzles easily and only giving them two stars. I enjoyed it though.
    Thanks to Jay and Pommers.

  22. Much harder than last two days – very enjoyable too. Nice picture above. Not the Mick Jagger one

  23. The cauliflower/brocolli bake turned out OK, in fact v tasty and surprisingly filling! Did need a couple of glasses of the red stuff though!

  24. Thanks to jay for an enjoyable, though tough solve, and to Pommers for the review and hints.
    Thought this was well constructed, and on the difficult side, took me quite a long time, spent ages on 5down, had to look up proposition in a Thesaurus to eventually get the answer, then 11across was the last one in.
    Favourites were 8across,14down & 19down. I liked the use of key in 19down, wouldn’t have worked in the typewriter era :-)
    Hoping for some sun in North West London tomorrow.

  25. Finished todays by 08.00 which is almost a record for me. The sad thing is that there may be an expectation, in other quarters, that I now undertake some outstanding household chores. Perhaps I’m better off struggling as usual until at least mid afternoon!!!

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