DT 26736

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26736

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hola from the Vega Baja where it’s pretty chilly again at this silly time of the morning! No, it’s not Wednesday! Bufo is unavailable today so BD is doing the Toughie and I’m standing in on this one.

I really enjoyed this puzzle but found it a bit of a challenge. I’ve gone for 3* but another couple of minutes and it would have been 4*.  It doesn’t feel like a RayT as there are too many 2 word answers but we must be due one soon so you never know.

The clues I like most are in blue and the answers 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.

Across

4a           Limit European policy connected with a built-up area (8)
{CAPACITY} – The limit or holding ability of a vessel is made up from the abbreviation for the European policy on agriculture, A (from the clue) and a large urban area. I’ve put this in blue simply because it was my first in!

8a           Girl  facing river in additional room? (6)
{ANNEXE} – Take a common girl’s name and a river in Devon and you get an additional room, in a hotel perhaps.

9a           Crackpot engraves weapon (5,3)
{NERVE GAS} – An anagram (crackpot) of ENGRAVES gives a particularly nasty type of chemical weapon which I think is probably illegal nowadays.  I like the anagram indicator if not the weapon!

10a         Estate, maybe, that’s ruined in no time, we hear (5-3)
{WRITE OFF} – ‘Estate maybe’ indicates a type of car. What do you call it after a very bad crash and it’s irreparable? It sounds a bit like (we hear) a phrase meaning in no time or immediately.  With both ‘maybe’ and ‘ruined’ in the clue I spent some time thinking this was an anagram until the penny dopped with a resounding clang!

11a         Corpulent leader of team must be kept in shape (6)
{ROTUND} – To get a word meaning corpulent insert T (leader of Team) in a word describing a circular shape.

12a         Greet in sun daughter in Asian country (8)
{THAILAND} – Not at all sure I understand this one but here goes! Take a word for ‘to sun’ or sunbathe and insert a greeting. Follow with D(aughter) and you get the Asian country formerly known as Siam.  If anyone has a better idea please let me know!

13a         Engish spymaster is perhaps protecting Republican agent (8)
{EMISSARY} – This is an agent in the sense of an envoy. Take E(nglish), the James Bond spymaster, IS (from the clue)  and follow with a word meaning perhaps or for example with R inserted (protecting R(epublican)).

16a         Senior academic largely hated scruffy tie (4,4)
{DEAD HEAT} – The very cleverly concealed definition here is tie! Take a senior university position without its last letter (largely) and follow with an anagram (scruffy) of HATED. Split the result (4,4) and you get a tie or draw in a sporting event.  Tricky little rascal!

19a         Educated woman among Irish conservationists, one proving troublesome? (8)
{IRRITANT} – Something that’s troublesome or annoying is made by taking the woman who was educated by Michael Caine in a film (she was played by Julie Walters) and insert (among) between abbreviations for Irish and the conservationists who look after our National Heritage.

21a         Paper beginning to tackle point in dispute (6)
{TISSUE} – This is the sort of paper on which you may blow your nose. Take T (beginning to Tackle) with a ‘point in dispute’ or ‘point in question’.

23a         One selling in US city source of perfume (8)
{LAVENDER} – A plant which is a source of perfume, if split (2,6), would be a phrase which could be taken to mean somebody selling in a west coast US city.  I always thought this seller was spelled with an O but the OED has both alternatives.

24a         European capital associated with a lot of drink and food from Italy (8)
{RIGATONI} – A European capital (Latvia) followed by a drink, which I only ever have mixed with gin, without its last letter (a lot of) gives a type of tubular pasta.

25a         Vent one’s feelings in journey for Franglais speakers? (3,3)
{LET RIP} – A phrase meaning to vent one’s feeling or ‘blow up’, if split (2,4), is ‘the journey’ but half of it is in French and half in English (Franglais).  Not sure I’ve explained this very well but it’s the best I can do!

26a         View certainly backed in British island (8)
{ANGLESEY} –A word for a view or take on something followed by an affirmative reversed (backed) gives a British island off the north west coast of Wales.

Down

1d           A Catholic hospital defended by some in lawless state (7)
{ANARCHY} – Take A (from the clue), the abbreviation for the Church of Rome, H(ospital) and insert that lot into a word for some and you get a state of lawlessness.

2d           Unusual socialist accompanied by people in hunt (4,5)
{LEFT FIELD} – This is a slightly obscure term for where something unusual or unexpected might come from. The first word describes the political orientation of socialists and the second is the people in a hunt.  I’ve no real idea where this phrase comes from but I suspect it’s baseball.

3d           Some doffed or adjusted headwear (6)
{FEDORA} – A type of hat is hidden in doffed or adjusted.

4d           Indicate loft in untidy yard in secret state (15)
{CONFIDENTIALITY} – This state of secrecy is an anagram (untidy) of INDICATE LOFT IN followed by Y(ard).

5d           Picture left by artist with charisma (8)
{PORTRAIT} – This type of picture or painting is the nautical term for left, the usual artist and a colloquial term for charisma or sex-appeal.

6d           Top research briefly featuring in court (5)
{CREST} – An abbreviation (briefly)of research inserted into the usual abbreviation of court gives the top of a wave or hill.  I guess the abbreviation for research is in the Big Red Book but I’m not sure I’ve ever come across it before! Really must get a Chambers, perhaps pommette will come up trumps for Xmas as I’ve dropped enough hints!

7d           Attendants on queen in coach (7)
{TRAINER} – A line of attendants, who follow a monarch perhaps, placed on the abbreviation for our current monarch gives a coach.

14d         A last tune played in Muslim territory (9)
{SULTANATE} – A Muslim territory is an anagram (played) of A LAST TUNE.

15d         Free information definitely arising about origin of opera (8)
{GENEROUS} – A word meaning free or liberal is made from the usual information followed by a word for definitely or certainly reversed (arising in a down clue) and placed around (about)  O (origin of Opera).

17d         Activity promoting unrest initially ignored becoming issue (7)
{EDITION} – Take a word for promoting unrest or rebellion and remove the first letter (initially ignored) and you’re left with an issue, of a newspaper perhaps.

18d         Favoured condition entered by European is provisional (7)
{INTERIM} – Take a phrase to describe something that’s in favoured or good condition and insert E(uropean)to get a word meaning provisional.

20d         Use abusive language against English organ that’s taken up (6)
{REVILE} – This is a word meaning to use abusive language against someone and it’s E(nglish) and an internal organ all reversed ( taken up in a down clue).

22d         Stop trader’s outlet? (5)
{STALL} – A word meaning stop is also where a market trader may sell his wares.

A bit limited in photo opportunities today but I did manage Kate Moss and some cars!
Lots of good stuff in this, and a lot of blue, but top favourites are 16a and 25a.


The Quick crossword pun: {proper} + {gander} = {propaganda}

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83 Comments

  1. mary
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Hello pommers a 3 to 4 star for me today, a lot of hard work is how I would describe this puzzle! no real favourites, well maybe 25a, needed your hints to explain a few but otherwise managed with my books and little ‘friends’ just got to go take a Tesco delivery, back later, thanks for hints pommers :-)

    • mary
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      don’t really understand the first three letters of 24a?

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Morning Mary, how’s the hubby doing?
        24a – the first 4 letters are the capital and the next 4 are the stuff you put in gin without the final letter.

        • mary
          Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          Oh stupid me I thought the last five were ‘a’ drink without the final letter and couldn’t figure out the first three!! Thanks pommers, he’s still not great and we’re still waiting reults hopefully the antibiotics are kicking in now

    • Franny
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Hello Mary. I’ve also been thinking of you and hope your other half is doing well.

      • mary
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        Hi Franny nice to see you back again and thanks for the good wishes :-)

    • Kath
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Do hope that the “patient” is feeling a bit better today. :smile:

      • mary
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Kath, he is not the type to sit at home doing nothing it drives us both crazy, that is why I know he is really not well! (still drives me a bit crazy mind! )

  2. moose
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    4d is the anagram suggested with ‘y’ included. A difficult crossword today and I certainly needed help for the first time in some while!

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Sorry moose – left out part of the hint by mistake! It’s the anagram as indicated followed by Y(ard). I’ll get it fixed!

  3. moose
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Mary it’s the first 4 letters that you need

    • mary
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Thanks moose I thought the fourth belonged to the drink, duh………..

  4. Jezza
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I started off not enjoying this one, but warmed to it as I progressed, and by the time I finished, I ended up quite liking it.
    Thanks to setter, and to Pommers for the review.

    Back to finish off the last few in a very enjoyable Toughie from Micawber.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I was the same but it ended up as one of those where I was sorry when I realized I had filled in the last answer!

  5. Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    A great puzzle which I took an hour to get started with. I thought I would never get to the end but on finishing I felt a great sense of achievement. Wierd because yesterdays Toughie was completely beyond me.
    Thanks to Pommers and the Setter.

  6. Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Very enjoyable today. Again, I needed to work this through methodically as answers did not just appear out of the blue, rather they suggested themselves as letters appeared – just what I enjoy in a crossword.I thought 19A was very clever (kept trying to fit GREEN in there somewhere) and 7D produced a wonderful picture of Herself in sports shoes dong exercise.

  7. Dickiedot
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Hated it, my brain was not on the setters wave length!

  8. Franny
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I found this quite difficult and needed the hints for 2d and 16a to finish. Otherwise I managed to do most of it with a minimum of electronic help. It was ok but not tremendously enjoyable, and my favourite clues were 26a and 5d. Thanks to Pommers and the setter. :-)

  9. BigBoab
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to the setter for a nicely challenging Friday offering, very enjoyable. My thanks to Pommers for the excellent review.

    • Kath
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Friday … ? :smile:

      • BigBoab
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        I knew I shouldn’t have sampled the Snow Grouse.

  10. Kath
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ve really struggled with this one – have finally finished but needed the hints for 10a and 2d – just couldn’t see them. It’s probably closer to a 4* for me, unless it’s just me!! Now I’m not quite sure why I found it so difficult. Oh dear – maybe the cold has made my brain seize up! I don’t think this feels like a Ray T puzzle – no Queen, nothing remotely rude and the quickie has too many clues of more than one word – no doubt we’ll find out later. I liked 13 and 26a and 5d. With thanks to whoever and Pommers. Think that I might give the toughie a miss today ……

    • Heno
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      7d has Queen

      • Kath
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        So it does – you’re right – this still doesn’t feel like a Ray T puzzle but I do admit to failing to notice the queen bit! :sad:

  11. crypticsue
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I would give this at least 3.5 stars for difficulty – it took me ages to get going and it wasn’t as much fun as some of the other puzzles we have had this week. Thanks to the Mystery setter and Pommers too.

    The Micawber Toughie is tough, start with the RH side and prepared to work hard. It is, however, great fun and well worth the effort.

  12. eXternal
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I found it tough too, but slowly chipped away and broke it down. Nothing great about it, in my opinion, and some of the surfaces are dodgy. Not at all sure what ‘Girl facing river in additional room’ means.

  13. jerseyboytoo
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I never got the field part of left field, but an interesting puzzle nontheless

  14. keith Coleman
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Finished it but it was a grind – thanks for the explanations once again
    Much appreciated as ever

  15. Jo
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Took ages to get first clues in and had to look at hints for 10a and 16a to get me rolling. Not sure about 13a as my answer doesn’t fit with the hint, anyone help?

    • Jo
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Also can’t see what the word for creating unrest in 17d would be although fairly sure have right answer

      • gazza
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        The word for promoting unrest is sedition.

    • gazza
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      It’s E(nglish) + M + IS + SAY (perhaps) containing R(epublican).

      • Jo
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Thanks gazza, I had the right answers, never heard of sedition though and was trying to put the R inside the IS not the SAY! Was heavy going today but have got there . . . with help.:)

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Hi Jo, sorry I wasn’t around to help out but I got dragged out shopping by pommette! Glad to see Gazza was there for you!

          • Jo
            Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

            gazza is usually there for me (thankfully) hope you had fun flexing the plastic!

            • Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

              Not really, it was food shopping in the local supermarket but I did manage to slip a rather large quantity of wine into the truck!

            • Kath
              Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

              In my experience Gazza ALWAYS picks up the bits – perhaps we should all say “Three cheers for Gazza – hip hip etc etc”

              • Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

                Agreed!

              • gazza
                Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

                Gee, I shall start blushing soon. Thanks, Kath.

  16. Addicted
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Found that very tough. Did eventually finish r/h side but needed hints for the rest, particularly SW corner. Never heard of 24a and don’t really understand 2d – had both words in my head at different times but putting them together didn’t ring any bells!! so thanks for the explanation Pommers. (Comforting to read you are a little unsure of origin, too!) 10a very obscure but clever once the penny has finally dropped. Am just happy to see a completed puzzle when, on first two read throughs, it was still totally blank! Glad I had more time than usual to-day to concentrate but am not sure I actually “enjoyed” it? Thanks to setter and Pommers.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Hi Addicted
      Don’t think I’d have got 24a so easily if I hadn’t had some for lunch in Truro a couple of weeks ago when I took the aged parent out for her birthday! Baked Rigatoni with spicy meatballs and a bottle of Pinot Grigio – yummy!

      • Addicted
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        Hi Pommers – It certainly does sound yummy! Didn’t know that one – tried spaghetti, vermacelli, cannelonni, linguini – all the ones I could think of ending in “i” (and have probably spelled them wrong anyway!) but none of them worked – so not much hope for me with that clue. Also, my geography is such **** I wouldn’t have know the capital of Latvia anyway. I should probably spend half a day with an up-to-date Atlas, but I can actually think of better things to do with my time!! Know what I mean? Thanks for the reply.

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          No probs. It was the second part of the clue that gave me the difficulty as I don’t think of tonic as a drink – it’s something I put IN a ‘drink’ but on it’s own? It’s one of God’s happy accidents as far as I’m concernced, both tonic and gin are revolting on their own but put together about 50/50- yes please!
          Had me going for a bit! I could see the answer from the checkers but couldn’t work out where the second half came from.
          Just had a thought – an Italian cookbook is what you need!

          • Kath
            Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

            It sounds as if I was the only one to try to make 24a “Helsinki” – it being the only “European capital” that I could think of!! :sad: Did eventually realise the error of my ways before it screwed up anything else!!!

            • Addicted
              Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

              No Kath – you are not alone! It was the first one I thought of too!! It was later on I went on to Italian foods.

              • Kath
                Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

                Oh good – always so nice to know that I wasn’t the only one not just barking up the wrong tree but in the wrong forest!!

          • Addicted
            Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

            I’ve got one!! Now, why on this earth didn’t I think of consulting it????????? I wonder if CS could “publish” No1 son’s list of European capitals??

            • gazza
              Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

              BD has put together a lot of useful stuff about countries and capitals in The Mine. See here.

        • crypticsue
          Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

          As part of his geography lessons, Son No 1 had to learn all the capitals around the world, and,although he can only remember about half of them, Mr CS and I have retained them all, which comes in very handy for crossword solving!!

        • Steve_the_beard
          Posted December 16, 2011 at 12:41 am | Permalink

          Re capital cities… maybe this will help to remember this one…

          There was a young lady from Riga
          Who smiled as she rode on a tiger
          They returned from the ride
          With the lady inside
          And the smile on the face of the tiger
          :-)

    • Silveroak
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      I was relieved to hear a lot of people found this difficult because I really struggled with it. Was beginning to think my brain cells were dying off. I wondered if the setters were responding to several people saying how easy they find the puzzles because they seem to have got harder to me. If they have, please consider those of us who don’t find them easy. 23A was a problem for me because is said in US city so I assumed LA was the first and last letters. I wanted it to be “after” US city when I solved it.

  17. Heno
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the setter & Pommers for the review and hints. Managed three quarters of it, but SW corner blank, needed 9 hints to finish and had to look one up. Found it a real struggle. Favourite 19a, because of the reference to an old film.

  18. Pete
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Struggled today but got there in the end. Did not really enjoy the experience.
    Thanks to setter and Pommers for the hints.

  19. Brian
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Bit of a curates egg today, the right half was tricky but doable whereas the left half was a real stinker. No great favs today although 4a wasn’t bad but thought 16a, 24a and 2d were really horrid. Still don’t understand 2d, what’s the difference between a left field or a right or centre one, makes no sense to me. Nice to see 12a, it was 32 degrees when I left there last week! Many thx to Pommers for the excellent hints without which I most def would not have finished today. Mary I hope the invalid is feeling a bit better today.

  20. Franco
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one today.

    2d – “left field” is definitely a baseball term, but shouldn’t it be hyphenated?

    Thanks to pommers for “stepping up to the plate” for today’s review.

    • andy
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Agree baseball related Franco, if memory serves it is something to with if you hit the ball to the left hand side of the plate (left field), because the thrower has a greater distance to throw the ball to the first base (to the right of the plate) to get the batter out, it is more unlikely / more unusual to happen than if you hit into the right field.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Hi Andy, you could be right there! At least it sounds plausible bit I don’t know enough about baseball to comment really. See below for what I could find via Google.

        • andy
          Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          Cheers, I’m probably making it up, but I suppose the batter wouldn’t see the ball being thrown to the catcher as they are both going in the same direction. So if he was caught out by the time he reached first base , he might be heard to say “I didn’t see that coming, it’s come from left field”. I’ll get me coat.

          • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            pommette thinks it’s more likely to happen when trying to get back to the plate rather than 1st base as then the ball would be coming from directly behind the runner – she used to play rounders! Otherwise she agrees with you (you’re privileged – she rarely agrees with me!).

            Sod the darkened room, I’m off to the pub now!

            • andy
              Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

              Surely if you were running back to the plate the ball woul…. oh sod it, pub beckons here too. Dare not argue with SWMBO and risk my priveleged status.

              • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

                Not so much SWMBO but more like ‘She Who Must Only Be Disobeyed With Great Circumspection’!

  21. Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Re 2d

    I’m familiar with the notion that an ‘off-the-wall’ idea is said to come ‘out of left field’ but, as I said in the hint, I don’t know the origin. I rather hoped someone would be able enlighten us all but, as no-one has, I’ve been doing a bit of googling etc! Still can’t find a definitive answer but I did come across this on phrases.org.uk if anyone’s remotely interested!

    WAY OUT IN LEFT FIELD – Out of touch, eccentric, odd; also, misguided. This term alludes to the left field of baseball, and there is some disagreement concerning its origin. Some writers suggest it comes from the remoteness of left field, but only in very asymmetrical ballparks is left field more distant than right field. Others suggest it alludes to the ‘wrongness’ of left as opposed to the ‘rightness’ of right. A correspondent of William Safire’s in the “New York Times” said it was an insulting remark made to those who bought left-field seats in New York’s Yankee Stadium during the years that Babe Ruth played right field, putting them far away from this outstanding player. Perhaps the most likely theory is that it alludes to inmates of the Neuropsychiatric Institute, a mental hospital, which was located behind left field in Chicago’s old West Side Park. Hence being told you are ‘out in left field’ would mean you were accused of being as peculiar as a mental patient. In any event, the term has been used figuratively for various kinds of eccentricity and misguidedness since the first half of the 20th century.

    • andy
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      I tried, albeit a bit late in the day!!

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        The more I think about it the more I think you’re right! I’m familiar with the left/right fields in baseball being like on/off sides in cricket but hadn’t twigged the significance of the extra distance from the fielder to 1st base! So I suppose it is a bit off-the-wall or bizarre to get run out by a ball coming from that side.
        Thanks Andy!

        Think I’ll go for a lie down in a darkened room now!

    • Franco
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      The only thing I can add is that in baseball: Left-Field is always Left-Field regardless of whether the batter is right-handed or left-handed.

      Cricket makes it far more complicated: “The ‘Leg’ side is on the left-hand side of the batsman when a right-handed batsman is batting, but when a left-hand batsman is batting it is on the Right-hand side ”

      Who’s on First base?

  22. Prolixic
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I think every cryptic cell in my brain went on strike this morning as it took me 5x longer than usual to solve and had to put it to one side with 5 unfinished and revisit it later. I then spent ages looking at the Toughie blankly without a clue. Seriously wondered if I was clinically brain dead by the time I reached Waterloo.

    I would not mind but I had not had anything to drink the night before so there was no excuse.

    Thanks to our Mysteron and to Pommers for the review.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Sounds a nasty affliction you had there – hope it’s not catching!

  23. Derek
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    This was quite a tough cryptic which I had to work on for a long series of goes.
    Thanks Pommers for your research on “Left Field”.
    It is a long time since I followed baseball!

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      Evening Derek
      As for left field I think Andy and pommette between them have cracked that one. The stuff I unearthed doesn’t look very promising to me!

    • Franco
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      Goedenavond, Derek!

      How many days until the Solstice?

      • Kath
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Seven because apparently the shortest day this year is not the 21st but 22nd (quote husband, I don’t understand)! In other words in two weeks time we will be in same position as we are now as regards daylight and after that it improves!!! :grin:

        • Derek
          Posted December 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          Kath!
          The earth nutates in its orbital path round the sun i.e. it wobbles a bit so the equinoxes and solstices are never precisely on the 21st days of the respective months.

          A bit like a spinning top!

          If these characters at CERN with the LHC are correct with their findings we may be in for a complete revision of our understanding of a lot of things! I worked at the embryonic CERN many years ago – so did my late wife.

  24. gazza
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I thought that this was the trickiest back-page puzzle we’ve had for some time – it was at least 4* difficulty for me. Thanks to Pommers for the entertaining review.

    • Kath
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      Oh good! SO nice to know that at least one of you clever chaps thought that it was tricky. This wasn’t a Ray T was it? It didn’t feel like one of his and anyway he always “pops in” doesn’t he?

      • gazza
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        It definitely wasn’t a Ray T.

    • Franco
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      gazza, Somehow I don’t believe you!

      I always get the impression that you never find any puzzle difficult!

      • gazza
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

        Not so! BD once painted a picture of us bloggers resembling a swan – calm and serene on the surface but thrashing around wildly underneath. I struggled with this one and didn’t enjoy it greatly (I think that part of the problem was that I was in a hurry to get it done and move on to the Toughie by the always excellent Micawber).

  25. Kath
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Please could I add baseball to the increasingly long list about which I know absolutely NOTHING – so far I have cricket, football/ rugby (both the same but one is played with a round ball and a net to aim it into and the other is played with a pointy ball and an “H” to aim it through) golf, horse racing/betting, car racing …… I could go on but, for the moment, that might be it – am quite sure that other things will come to mind! :smile:
    Sleep well all …

    • Addicted
      Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      Kath – I’m with you on this, except for golf, which I do play (tho it doesn’t always help me with the clues!) – can I add F1 and snooker to the list? Oh, and probaly the Olympics when they occur next year!
      Sorry – just realised you said car racing, which is probably the same as F1. I’m pretty hopeless on current “pop”, reality shows and soap operas, too! Am I a dinosaur?

      • Kath
        Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        I thought that F1 was the same thing as car racing! :oops: I agree about snooker (and snooker players) and the Olympics. Also hopeless with reality shows (unless you want to include the dancing which I have to confess to being addicted to) and soaps. I could go on, yet again ….

        • Addicted
          Posted December 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          Indeed – dancing definitely excluded – last one tonight – will the entire country be at home, do you think?!

  26. Posted December 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Found the right side fairly straight forward. Left side was like a different crossword! For 2d, 10a & 16a needed the hints. Liked 24 & 26a.

  27. jaehancock
    Posted December 16, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Managed to finish, eventually, without hints, but came here to verify my thinking. Thought some clues strayed into Toughie territory today. Thank you to the setter for a great brain twister and to Pommers for unravelling it.