DT 26658 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26658

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26658

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

A distinctly tougher back-page puzzle which could be the handiwork of one of the Toughie setters (if it is I hope he comes to claim it!).  I found it very enjoyable and if you are struggling it is well-worth the perseverance.

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    Navel-piercing in decline? (8)
{TUMBLING} – split this adjective meaning in decline as (3-5) and you have a cryptic definition of a navel-piercing

5a    Leak comes from spy initially infiltrating peace movement (6)
{ESCAPE} – a word meaning to leak or slip out is created by putting the initial letter of Spy inside an anagram (movement) of PEACE

9a    Goalscorer does defender’s job (8)
{MARKSMAN} – split this alternative name for a goalscorer or striker as (5,3) and you get a phrase that means does the defender’s job

10a    Weak pound twice paid out (6)
{PALLID} – a word meaning weak or insipid is created by doubling the abbreviation for a pound in money and then putting PAID outside

12a    Characters making a comeback in ‘Blake’s Seven’ won erroneous fame (6)
{RENOWN} – hidden inside (characters .. in) and reversed (making a comeback) inside the clue is a synonym for fame

13a    Wretch has bad first spill (8)
{BLIGHTER} – this wretch is a charade of the initial (first) letter of Bad and a spill or thin strip of wood or paper

15a & 16a    Nothing confused Dora after tribal dance that has everyone going round in circles (7,4)
{ORBITAL ROAD} – start with O (nothing) and then put an anagram (confused) of DORA after an anagram (dance) of TRIBAL to get a route that has everyone going round in circles

16a    See 15a

20a    Geek endeared off and on (4)
{NERD} – this geek comes from the even letters (off and on) of the second word in the clue

21a         About time records reflected feature on churches (7)
{STEEPLE} – insert T(ime) inside the abbreviation of old vinyl albums spelt out and reversed gives a feature of some churches

25a         Go without sleeveless jumpers which may amount to gaudy tat (8)
{TRUMPERY} – put a go or attempt around (J)UMPER(S) (sleeveless jumpers) to get some to gaudy tat

26a         Denied kiss, sex encounter is boringly polite (6)
{SEDATE} – drop the X (denied kiss) from SE(X) and add an encounter or meeting to get a word meaning boringly polite or unexciting

28a         e + r ÷ (51 + 11) = magic formula (6)
{ELIXIR} – put E and R around (÷ / divided by) the roman numerals for 51 and 11 to get a magic  formula

29a         Counterpart of grotesque abridged Gorey tale (5,3)
{ALTER EGO} – this counterpart or second self is an anagram (grotesque) of most of (abridged) GORE(Y) TALE

30a         Give up with plaster (6)
{RENDER} – a double definition – to give up or hand over and to plaster a wall

31a         One who has lost faith in a Post Office propped up by government (8)
{APOSTATE} – someone who has lost faith – a serious crime in some religions – is a charade of A (one), the abbreviation of Post Office and the government


1d           Rice bread commercial goes for quality of sound (6)
{TIMBRE} – the first name of lyricist Rice, of Rice and Lloyd Webber fame, is followed by BRE(AD) without the AD (commercial goes) to get quality of sound

2d           Wool matinée jacket iron ruined (6)
{MERINO} – this wool from the sheep of the same name is constructed from the outside letters (jacket) of MatinéE followed by an anagram (ruined) of IRON

3d           Continue brief conversation to get final decision (4,4)
{LAST WORD} – a charade of to continue or endure and a brief conversation gives the final decision

4d           Elegant Angus? (4)
{NEAT} – a double definition – elegant or ingenious and another name for the farm animal of which Angus is an example (indicated by the question mark)

6d           Dishevelled and in need of support, husband is trapped (6)
{SHAGGY} – a word meaning dishevelled is created by putting a word meaning in need of support or droopy around (is trapped ) H(usband)

7d           Remission of sins not so cleansing (8)
{ABLUTION} – take a word meaning the remission of sins, declared officially by a priest, and remove (not) SO to get the act of cleansing or washing

8d           Party radical shortly joining Electric Light Orchestra could be a gold mine (8)
{ELDORADO} – put a two-letter word for a party and the abbreviation of RAD(ical) inside (joining) the Electric Light Orchestra to get what could be, but hardly ever is, a gold mine

11d         Less labyrinthine Le Carré novel (7)
{CLEARER} – a word meaning less labyrinthine or plainer is an anagram (novel) of LE CARRÉ

14d         Rare bird — don’t mention it in Hamburg in front of sailors (7)
{BITTERN} – a marsh bird of the heron family with a loud deep call is a German (in Hamburg) word meaning don’t mention it or thank you in front of the armed force for sailors

17d         A tinker around with broken-down Polo perhaps (8)
{KNITWEAR} – an anagram (broken-down) of A TINKER around W(ith) gives a type of garment of which a polo neck sweater is an example

18d & 27d            Clement and La Frenais’s impudence producing inadvertent bloomer (8,4)
{FREUDIAN SLIP} – the surname of Clement, the former broadcaster, Liberal MP and dog lover, is followed by the first name of writer La Frenais, not forgetting the ‘S, and a three-letter word meaning impudence to get an inadvertent bloomer

19d         Stupid? (8)
{CLUELESS} – a word meaning stupid is indicated by the lack of wordplay!

22d         Joint southern police operation’s head dismissed (6)
{SPLICE} – a joint created by intertwining the strands of two pieces of rope is derived from S(outhern) and P(O)LICE without the O (Operation’s head dismissed)

23d         Beer bores nursing last of ale — this might be a reflex (6)
{CAMERA} – put the organisation that our setter believes has members who go on and on about beer around (nursing) E (last letter of alE) to get a gadget of which reflex is an example (that’s the R in SLR)

24d         Seem appropriate to live somewhere near Brighton (6)
{BEHOVE} – a word meaning to seem appropriate is a charade of to live (2) and a place near Brighton

27d         See 18d

It’s been a hectic day here at Big Dave Towers with carpets being installed in three rooms.  The workmen have now left – thanks for your patience.

The Quick crossword pun: {Watt} + {sup} + {dock} = { What’s Up, Doc?}

92 comments on “DT 26658

  1. Just into three star territory for me based on train stops! I suspect that this might be the handiwork of Petitjean. Loved 1a and several others. Many thanks to the setter and to BD for the review.

  2. One word to describe it from me “Tuff”. To many good clues to select one as favourite.
    Thanks to Compiler and BD as always.

  3. I am really struggling with this but am not going to look at hints yet, perservation ot is then, 12a though doesn’t seem correct to me, I mean the clue not the answer so I will have a look at that explaination cos it is bugging me, mmm surely the clue suggests it’s in the whole thing? Blakes doen’t really come into it?

    1. I agree that the Blake’s is technically extraneous to the clue but the setter has enclosed ‘”Blake’s Seven” in quotes and it helps the surface reading so I think it is fair.

      1. Thanks for that Prolixic, its really been bugging me, live and learn :-), right just about halfway into this, luckily I haven’t got a busy day today, can’t say I’m enjoying it, too much like hard work!

        1. In addition to not being able to cope with continuous service, I believe the site can’t cope with quirks of punctuation like apostrophes and presumably doesn’t like italics either.

  4. Four stars for me today. I too thought this was verging on tough and very entertaining. Looking forward to the down hints as 17d defeated me in the end. I also loved 1a. Thanks to the setter and BD.

    1. 17d – ‘Polo perhaps’ is the definition, and you are looking for a type of clothing, constructed by an anagram of (broken-down) A TINKER, and W(ith).

      1. D’oh! It was even one of the hard ones! It didn’t help that I had forgotten to correct the first letter of 30a from my original mistake (T). Thanks Jezza:)

      2. thanks for that Jezza, the anagram was obvious but I just couldn’t think of the letter to go with it, kept thinkong of Polo perhaps as a car !

  5. I was in a foul mood when I eventually managed to get into the Telegraph website this morning (after an hour of trying), and at that time would probably have slated the best of crosswords.
    Having cooled down, I would agree that this was a very good puzzle; slightly harder than normal, but worth the extra effort.
    Thanks to setter, and to BD for the notes.

    1. Yup. A foul mood here at lunchtime (regular DT cryptic slot) after the usual struggle to get onto the site. When will it start to work properly? After all they’ve got our money!

    2. It does seem to be getting worse despite the now rather hollow assurances from DT that they’re working on it. I had 2 to get and then lost the link to the server – tried to refresh and lo and behold could not get back into the puzzles site – all gone. Just glad I took a screenshot of my work before refreshing. Think at least a partial refund would be a nice touch.

  6. Hard but fun. Took a while today as I had ‘Shabby’ penciled in for 6D and couldn’t get it out of my head.

    Lovely day here in Brizzle and a good game of rugby on telly this morning (don’t think the high-light show will do it justice though)

    1. I can’t even get into the site so what’s the point. I think that we should be refunded our subscriptions – it’s a disgrace

      1. I just find it incredible that the site is going from bad to worse. I wonder if they are trying to fix it, or just letting it die. It’s appalling that we just get uninformative half-hearted apologies. Most odd!

    2. I did find it reall hard Collywobs but I’m sure you will be able to do a lot of it, it takes total concentration and perservation though :-)

        1. Now, Collywobbles, we had this trouble with you and the pool the other day. It is very sunny here and 19 degrees but sadly no pool :)

  7. I must have been on the setter’s wavelength this morning because I would award it 2/3 * difficulty and probably 4/5* enjoyment. As Gazza said yesterday, one is reluctant to give a crossword 5* fun in case something even better comes along. My paper is quite spotty with dots marking clues I liked but I would particularly like to mention 1a, 28a, 18/27d, the splendid 19d and 23d. Thanks to the setter (even I thought it must be Petitjean before Gnomey confirmed that his slightly mad hat had been worn this morning :) ) and to BD for the hints so far (and post carpet fitting too).

    The Shamus Toughie is worth a go too, particularly as it’s one of those ones that Shamus is famed for.

  8. I was completely clueless staring at this first thing then the pennies started to drop. I think I needed a slightly mad hat to solve and would agree with BD’s and Prolixic’s assessment. Thanks to them and to the setter. Great fun.

  9. Definitely tougher than the average Cryptic, took me ages to get into but once in I worked my way steadily through it. Delaying clues were 17d and 25a, a cleverly constructed and very enjoyable puzzle.

  10. Now I am sorry but in MHO this was a definite toughie today at least a 6 star for difficulty for me, I think it is possibly the hardest one I have come across in the just over 2 years I have been doing these, it assumes we know German for a start, well we all know bits and pieces I suppose but I didn’t know that bit! also 21a, well now come on! I know it is in Chambers but I have never ever seen it written like this, no not a crosswrod for me today, I have eventually finished it but was it worth it? not for me, sorry setter

    1. Agree with you Mary but I take my hat off to you for solving it, I couldn’t even start it. An absolute horror for me.

  11. Great crossword and as near to toughie standard as you could hope for on the back page. Loved 1a and 18/27d. Thanks to the setter and to BD.

  12. Been trying to get on the site since 8am (UK 7am) today. The reeeeeally annoying thing is that autofill is not working on this site so I have to enter a 22 letter address and password at each attempt.

    I am in the habit of doing the Quick with my morning tea and the Cryptic over breakfast. (I leave the Toughie until the afternoon so I can refer to the master solvers on BD’s Blog when all else fails) Suddenly there is a big hole in my diurnal rhythm.

    Please, please, please DT get it fixed soon.

    1. Are you complaining regularly to CluedUp Don? I am, and I think quite a few other people are as well. My emails get more and more scathing – it takes great restraint to stop short of getting abusive!

  13. I got stuck on two. Once I got Dave’s hint for the little b——r at 13a, I got the dishevelled one at 6d. Very enjoyable.

  14. I thought quite hard until I got started. Last tto get was 19d which was somehow appropriate.

  15. Well that was interesting. Verging on 4* for difficulty. I haven’t looked at the toughie yet but, if it’s harder than this I’m in trouble. I have an answer for 4d but I’m waiting for BD’s pronouncement to be sure. Delighted to have finished this without help. I liked 1d, 28a and 19d best.

    1. The answer to 4d is a synonym for Elegant, as in orderly or tidy, and is also an example of what type of creature Angus might relate to.

      1. Thanks Jezza you just beat me to it. I’m certain that I’ve got it correct but I’m having a mental block on the ~Angus connection~.

      1. Think of the crosswordland definition of neat, which relates to a Bovine animal, of which aberdeen angus could be a variety

      2. The Aberdeen Angus is a kind of cow. An old word for a cow now only referred to in Crosswordland is neat. Another word for elegant is also neat so the clue is a double definition.

        1. Thank you andy and Prolixic. I did have it correct and now get it. A bit of a doh! there methinks and actually one of the easier ones. Cheers.

          1. Only easy if you know Don :-) , neat is not a commonly used word for the cow although it has cropped up a few time and each time I forget it!

            1. Probably the only time I have seen “neat” used in this way was back in my RAF days, treating the leather in boots to keep them waterproof and supple. Loved 28a, a close competitor to my favourite clue of all time:

              GEGS (9,4)

  16. Thanks to Big Dave & the setter for a tough puzzle. Had some great clues, well written and humorous. Was very difficult though, needed 5 hints to complete.

  17. OMG, has someone put the Toughie on the back page. Totally and completely incomprehensible to me!
    For me absolutely horrible. Faied to solve a single clue, no, failed to understand a single clue.

  18. This was much tougher than the Toughie today, although not helped by the worst clue I’ve come across in many a long year. 19d … how can it be clueless if there is a clue … just because there is no wordplay does not mean that it is clue less … wordplayless yes, but clueless no!

  19. VERY busy morning and early afternoon so only started looking at the crossword about an hour ago – had ground to a halt so thought that I’d see what BD had given it for difficulty and, also, what other people had said. Based on all that I haven’t looked at the hints yet and will carry on “perservating” later on when I’ve done a bit in the garden. I am finding it terribly difficult so congratulations to all those who have finished it – at least I know that it’s not just me!!

  20. I was late getting to it and luckily had a paper so didn’t have to worry about the DT problems. Got all but 23d and for the life of me I couldn’t work it out – thanks for the review BD. I enjoyed it and particularly liked 15/16a and 28a.

    Hope Mrs BD ias pleased with the new carpets. I just had a new window put in in my bedroom and am really pleased with it.

    On to tomorrow – goodie Giovanni.

  21. Like others I found this tougher than the toughie.
    Also dislike the 21ac type of clue using written out form of abbreviations even though the answer is obvious… (didn’t we have DJ very recently?)
    19d should have been blank
    Perhaps it is the setter’s view in 23d which prejudiced me.
    BUT apart from all that it was good brain exercise.
    Favorites 20ac and 1d.

  22. Definitely a lot tougher than normal, but also a lot more enjoyable.

    Favourites: 1a & the silky smooth surface of 9a.

    4d – finally solved a “neat” clue – well it appeared in yesterday’s Toughie – even my memory is not that bad! What was I saying…….?

  23. :sad:
    This one was SO far beyond me – quite the most difficult page cryptic (apart from several Sunday ones) that I can remember, and I did eventually give up completely and go for the hints – and some of the answers! Oh dear!! Definitely not my day. I did think that it was very clever – the problem was that it was too clever for me! Think that I’ll leave my comments at that for today and hope that I do better tomorrow. Well done to anyone who finished it and thanks to the setter and to Big Dave for the very much needed hints. Good night all.

  24. PS – I did get 18/27d but didn’t really understand why – am still not sure that I understand it apart from the first five letters of the first word.
    My favourite clue EVER was, I think, in a Ray T crossword. It was “Kind of shrink underwear showing a revealing glimpse” I may not have got this completely right so apologies …
    Same answer – what a wonderful clue!

      1. Thanks BD, Gazza and Franco – I would NEVER have understood that – as I said earlier, today’s crossword really was completely beyond me … not just this clue but the whole crossword. My confidence has taken a serious bashing … ! Thank goodness (and BD et al) for this blog! :smile:

    1. Kath,

      The reason it’s such a great clue is that Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais were a famous comedy-writing duo (Porridge, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, etc.).

      1. Don’t mention it in Düsseldorf, but I think that messrs Clement and LaFrenais also wrote “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet”!

        Ah, just noticed the “etc” in your comment

  25. Tough but also great fun to sit down to after supper. One of the best for a long time.
    Thanks to setter and Big Dave. I have no arguments with the star ratings.

  26. Late input from me – I nearly forgot to get the DT this afternoon as was busy talking to my twin grandchildren who are 16 today.

    I liked 1a, 21a, 29a, 4d, 14d, 18/27d & 23d.
    Surely the fodder for 31a is really for a down clue?

  27. 1a, 13a and 14d get my votes. 4d evoked a long-unused memory, as did 25a. A nice challenge. Measuring difficulty by station stops depends on the line and whether it’s an fast or stopping service. For example, my morning train (now I’m back to commuting for a while) stops twice in nine minutes, then 12 minutes later, then six minutes after that, then is fast for 27 minutes to its destination.

  28. I am obviously stupid because I have looked at this for about 30 minutes over our evening meal and cannot get started. I cannot even spot an anagram to kick things off.

    I will have to stick with Monday’s and Saturday’s.

    1. This was, in my opinion anyway, and lots of others too, a seriously difficult crossword – just keep trying. Good luck and don’t give up. :smile: Actually I’m not really sure that Monday and Saturday crosswords are the easiest – just depends on your “wavelength”.

      1. As you say, it’s a “wavelength thing.”

        Often it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees with crosswords, just as gnomethang described above. That’s a good thing – crosswords are supposed to be deceptive. It’s all about finding a way in. One of the great things about crosswords is that every solution to a clue makes others easier to spot.

        It took me ages to access this one via the website, but I was glad that I did. It’s an accomplished puzzle. If everyone had found it easy, then it would have been too easy. This, for me, was a puzzle that rewarded the solver’s efforts, which is just as it should be.

        For anyone who found this a struggle, I’d suggest looking back over the hints in the blog. BD’s descriptions of the clue mechanics are very good. Hopefully the next puzzle by this setter won’t trouble you quite as much.

        I’d be delighted to see more like this one.

  29. .. not sure that I’ve ever seen so many comments on a weekday crossword …. but could be proved wrong – in fact, probably will be!!

  30. Some great clues in there but I’m not happy about the spurious couple of Es in 21a. The capital P in Polo seems a bit unfair too.

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