DT 26770 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26770

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26770

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This is a puzzle with all the hallmarks of Petitjean (my suspicions were first aroused by the Quickie pun). It has some pretty modern references (one so modern that it’s not in my 2008 edition of Chambers) so those who complain about crosswords being designed for oldies should be pleased. It has some excellent penny-drop moments and I really enjoyed it. Let us know what you think.
If you want to see an answer just highlight the space between the brackets under the clue.

Across Clues

7a  Electronic instrument lacking mains lead in it (7)
{THEREIN} – start with an electronic musical instrument (new to me) which is played by the movement of one’s hands around two antennae (so that it can be played without being touched), then remove (lacking) the leading letter of M(ains) to leave a formal adverb meaning in it.

8a  Present-day Romeo in pickle with new temptation rearing its head (7)
{CURRENT} – the definition is present-day or contemporary. Insert the letter for which Romeo is used as a codeword in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet into a verb meaning to pickle or preserve. Then add N(ew) and the first letter (rearing its head) of T(emptation).

10a  Russian city where one may get fleeced (9)
{ASTRAKHAN} – this is a city in southern Russia which has given its name to the dark curly fleece of young lambs and the fabric which imitates it.

11a  Extravagant and atrocious act losing a grand (5)
{OUTRE} – remove (losing) A and G(rand) from an atrocious act to leave an adjective meaning extravagant or unconventional.

12a  Most of queue lines to the right of crush (5)
{QUELL} – start with most (60% to be exact) of the word queue and add (to the right, in an across clue) a couple of L(ine)s.

13a  ‘Little Woman’ makes internet reports on radio for man in street (3,6)
{JOE BLOGGS} – this is a hypothetical average man (man in street or man on Clapham omnibus). Start with one of Louisa May Alcott’s young heroines, then add a sound-alike (on radio) of regularly updated features (1-5) on the internet (like this one).

15a  Brain he addled is on the mend (2,5)
{IN REHAB} – an abbreviated phrase meaning on the mend is an anagram (addled) of BRAIN HE.

17a  Ballerina’s partner sure about pursuing level of proficiency (7)
{DANSEUR} – a male ballet dancer is created from an anagram (about) of SURE which comes after (pursuing) a level of proficiency in martial arts.

18a  Bubbly creature’s game, self-contained — and old (9)
{LAMBRUSCO} – a variety of Italian sparkling wine (bubbly) is made from a) a young creature found on a farm, b) the abbreviation for a fifteen-a-side game, c) the abbreviation for self-contained and d) O(ld).

20a  Returned cloudy vermouth containing no mixer (5)
{TONIC} – the abbreviations for C(loudy) and Italian vermouth have NO inserted (containing) and then everything is reversed (returned) to make a mixer.

21a  Ball seen rarely these days traps West Indian opener prompting expression of delight (5)
{ZOWIE} – this has nothing to do with cricket. Ball is cunningly placed first to disguise the fact that it is the surname of a female DJ and “ladette” (presumably “seen rarely these days” means that’s she appears less on TV than she used to). Take her forename and insert (traps) in it W(est) and the opening letter of I(ndian) to make an informal expression of delight.

23a  Previously lost Whistler’s Tate’s fourth (9)
{ERSTWHILE} – an old-fashioned adverb meaning previously is an anagram (lost) of WHISTLER followed by the fourth letter of (Tat)E.

24a  Due to be carved as ham may be (7)
{RESTING} – double definition – what the Sunday joint is doing between its exit from the oven and being carved and the euphemism used by an actor (ham) for being out of work.

25a  Hearing the outcome of people talking about you? (7)
{EARSHOT} – a word meaning hearing (the range or distance over which one can hear), is also, if split (4,3) what you may experience as a result of people talking about you. Today’s old chestnut.

Down Clues

1d  Spirit trapped before it gets beaten (10)
{KETTLEDRUM} – the alcoholic spirit once favoured by our sailors follows a past participle meaning trapped (used by the police for a tactic to bottle up demonstrators – a usage so modern that it’s not in my 11th edition of Chambers, although presumably it is in the latest edition). The whole thing is a percussion instrument (it gets beaten).

2d  German song involving a tenor turned up in chart (6)
{DETAIL} – a verb meaning to chart or set out comes from a German song with A and T(enor) inserted. The whole is then reversed (turned up, in a down clue).

3d  No going back with article by patient man at work (2,3,3)
{ON THE JOB} – a phrase meaning at work or busy is generated from a reversal (going back) of ON followed by the definite article and the patient man from the Old Testament.

4d  Light cake that’s eaten cold (6)
{SCONCE} – a small unsweetened cake has C(old) inserted to make a flaming torch or candle (light) held in a bracket.

5d  Stream left New York, returning in one of its boroughs (8)
{BROOKLYN} – a small stream is followed by abbreviations for L(eft) and N(ew) Y(ork) (the last two letters being reversed, i.e. returning).

6d  Preventing core emission (4)
{VENT} – this emission comes from the core of the word preventing.

7d  Mad rant by old writer associated with timeless pop is a downer (13)
{TRANQUILLIZER} – this is a downer or sedative. Start with an anagram (mad) of RANT, then add an old-fashioned writing implement and a red-coloured soft drink (pop) without its initial T (timeless).

9d  Valuables found here in search trustee organised? (8-5)
{TREASURE-CHEST} – an anagram (organised) of SEARCH TRUSTEE.

14d  Environment-friendly Kindle gets go-ahead (5,5)
{GREEN LIGHT} – the definition is go-ahead, i.e. a signal to proceed. An adjective meaning environment-friendly is followed by a verb meaning to kindle or set on fire. Kindle is falsely capitalised in an (I’m sure vain) attempt to make you think of the electronic e-book reader.

16d  Her mobile primarily has call-back locked (8)
{HERMETIC} – this adjective means locked or totally sealed. Start with HER (from the clue) and add the primary letter of M(obile) and a verb to call or summon which has to be reversed (back).

17d  Threshold where dripping may go on? (8)
{DOORSTEP} – double definition, the second being a thick slice of bread on which you may spread dripping.

19d  No end of dexterity required with winter transport (6)
{SLEIGH} – a word for the sort of dexterity used by a magician loses its final T (no end) to leave a form of winter transport.

20d  Cheap marble’s dull (6)
{TAWDRY} – an adjective meaning cheap or tacky is a charade of a large marble (as used in the children’s game) and a synonym for dull or uninteresting.

22d  Police No 1 was first that features Sting (4)
{WASP} – something that features a sting (another false capitalisation) is formed from the number one letter of P(olice) with WAS first.

I liked lots of clues today, including 21a, 1d and 7d, but my clue of the day is 4d. Let us know what took your fancy.



129 comments on “DT 26770

  1. Re 1 down – I can’t find it in the 12th edition of Chambers. I use the word to describe shutting the dogs in one part of the house when we have visitors!

  2. Very enjoyable, the only clue that gave me trouble was 21a, largely because of the US spelling of 7d. If you want to hear a 7a with the M, listen to the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” – it’s the ethereal sound.

  3. I thought this was very good. My last half a dozen took me as long to solve as the rest of the puzzle. 24a was my last one in (and not my favourite).
    I liked 1d, and 7d. Thanks to setter(Petitjean perhaps), and to Gazza for the notes.

    The Toughie by Messinae is gentler than this (I thought) and enjoyable too.

  4. Well I am stuck for words as to how I feel about this one!! a five star if only because of 7a!! although the answer could only be one of two words working out where it came from was impossible if you had never heard of this obscure musical instrument!! I was working on the lines of thermionic but just couldn’t get it!!! However I have to sayI enjoyed the right hand side of the puzzle, with three favourite clues, 13a, 25a and 22d (right hand side ), thought it was going to be a pangram and for a while thought the x had to go in 7a!! never heard 21a used, 1d belongs in a toughie, in fact surely todays toughie is going to be easier than this!!!! Thanks for blog Gazza, particularly explaination of 7a it was driving me crazeeeeeeee :-(

    1. Zoe Ball was hosting the evening programme of ‘Strictly’ everyweek night for the whole length of the last series, so if anything she has been seen more lately :-)

      1. The show is called Strictly ‘It takes two’ , Zoe Ball was a contestant hersekf on the show about five years ago

      2. I think it must just mean that at one stage she was on TV every day (in The Big Breakfast) and now she’s on less (though not exactly rarely).

                1. I thought it was quite a nice picture. I wouldn’t want to be thought sexist by including raunchy pictures :D

                  1. I think you may have used a raunchy picture once, but most are ‘artistic’ IMHO! I try hard to emulate your taste and discernment, apart from the odd racing car when I can find an excuse!

  5. WOW its only Tuesday? This one had me looking at my calendar to check I had the right day. Some excellent clues but a few very obscure answers (7A in particular). My faves today are 13A, 7D but both are outshone by 21A (I’m reminded that David Bowie had his son christened with this name).

  6. Wot a rite mixture! Found the right hand side easier than the left! Didn’t have much trouble with 7a, but put that down to a misspent youth listening to Hawkwind and Led Zepp :-) Liked 4d, 7a, 13a and 23a. After all that I need to put my feet up and take a 7d!! As always, thanks to Gazza and the Blog.

  7. Excellent work-out. I was left with 7a (never heard of a theremin) that I couldn’t solve. One or two where I had the answer but couldn’t completely figure out the reason (24a, 17d). Somewhere around 3.5* in my opinion, and **** for enjoyment. Many thanks to setter (Petitjean?) and to Gazza for the review – and the answer to 7a!

  8. Difficult to get my brain in gear for this one today, a filling at the dentist did not help. Needed lots of help on this one. Will hope for better luck with the Toughie this afternoon after the numbness has worn off.

  9. If this is a Petitjean, this is the second time he has got lost on his way to the middle of the paper My solving time makes this a 4* difficulty for me. I agree with Mary’s comments about Ms Ball in 21a – the setter is obviously not a Strictly fan. Thanks to the setter and Gazza too – now I have read through it all again, I agree with your favourites.

    The Toughie took me less time to solve than the back page and is enjoyable.

  10. The darkened room beckons but not before I give the toughie a going over…thanks to the setter and to Gazza for his inimitable style of reviewing

  11. Well, I had to check that it is still only Tuesday and not Friday – this really had me stumped for ages. Only managed the right hand side on my own so many thanks for the hints, I really needed them today!

  12. Extremely enjoyable crossword today, like others I was a bit flummoxed by the US spelling at 7d and therefore struggled with 21a. Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for a masterful review.

  13. Can’t say I enjoyed this at all – some clever clues, but too much time had to be spent trying to explain to myself why a certain word must be the right answer. At least **** difficulty because of that. Thanks Gazza for explaining several, not least 7a.

  14. Have less hair than I started with. Shows a sign of the times when I saw the word ‘kindle’ and thought books! Learnt a couple of new words. A very enjoyable crossword. Best clues were 18 & 25a. PS re the spelling of 7d, I wish we would go back to spelling with a z.

      1. Probably because he’s been “tearing his hair out” over this one! Or did you mean about the spelling of 7d?

      2. using a z rather than s was the first spelling used in OED, Collins etc and therefore the preferred way, but I do not have OED to hand to check whether it is still the case.

        1. The ODE gives:

          tranquillizer or tranquilliser, or (N American) tranquilizer
          * That which tranquillizes
          * A sedative drug

          So the answer given is not the American spelling as it has a double L.

  15. I’ve been struggling with this on and off all morning – at least a 4* for me. I’m sure that it’s a Petitjean – not that I’ve suddenly become an expert on the styles of the different setters but for two completely different reasons. Firstly, the last time I found a back page puzzle as difficult as this everyone said that it probably was him and, secondly, that same time CS said that it was one of his that had been put in the wrong envelope!! Have finally finished but needed the hints to explain a few. Managed the right hand side with a bit of trouble but the left side has taken ages. Some very clever clues but SO difficult. Can’t really pick out any individual ones except the absolutely, in my opinion anyway, brilliant 22d – loved that one, however much I hate the little ********!!

  16. Sorry – this one has used up all my brain cells, especially the ones that do the manners and the memory! Thanks, as always, to the setter, whoever it was, and to Gazza.

  17. I found this challenging (didn’t get any across clues at the first run through) but satisfying. I’d never heard of the instrument at 7a, or the word for trapped at 1d, but finished without resorting to the blog in about my normal time. My best penny dropping moment was 13a – I was trying to make Joe Public at first, and 4d had me scratching my head for a while as I couldn’t get beyond sponge and eccles.

  18. This has been a struggle but got there in the end. Some really nice clues today but spoiled by 21 which was rubbish. Definitely toughie standard.

  19. No, I’m sorry, but this was no fun for me at all — although I managed to solve much of the right-hand side. Of the dozen or so words I managed to find, most were downs. And the only way I could complete it was by reading the across hints here and working my way through the remaining letters. Usually I use the hints as a learning process when I can do so little of a puzzle, but in this case I could never, ever, in a hundred years have worked these clues out. Never heard of the obscure instrument at 7a or the lady at 21a. So, no good for me, but thanks to Gazza for being so helpful. :-(

  20. Thanks to Petitjean for the puzzle & to Gazza for the review & hints. I hated this one, just found it too difficult, was 17 answers short before looking at the hints, then still had to look up a further 8.I couldn’t get on the setter’s wavelength. Favourites were 13, 20 & 25a.

  21. I hated this puzzle too. Involved too many obscure words. At one time the rule was the answer had to be in Chambers. I could not solve 4 of the clues without help from this blog. I still don’t understand how the answer to 11a was arrived at.

  22. I agree with most posters – I found this really hard. I got most of the right side but was stumped thereafter; I had been on a good run (30+ consecutive days) of finishing the crossword on the morning train within the 45 min journey but this one ended that record in spectacular fashion :( – I couldn’t finish it and still had about half to fill in.

    I’d never heard of 7a so would never have got it – many other clues (24a, 1d, 2d, 16d etc) were really contrived. Not my wavelength at all I’m afraid.

    I’ll try the Toughie on the train home!

  23. Tricky little rascal but quite a lot of fun.

    Thought 7d was quite good. I haven’t had that stuff in years, do they still make it?

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza for explaing about the electronic instrument which I too had never heard of.

    Off out for an anodyne tincture of grape now, beats the darkened room any day!

    1. I remembered the drink from my childhood as coming in large bottles, but I see that it is now available in the ubiquitous cans.

  24. On the whole I enjoyed this puzzle but it was very much a game of two halves. I managed the right hand side but 7a, 1d,2d &21a beat me. Thanks Gazza for the hints .Couldn’t have managed without them. I also spelt 7d with an s but even with the z I would never have got 21a. Fav.clue was 7d . Thanks to the setter.

  25. Really tough, but enjoyable for me. Like one other commenter, I spent as long on the last half dozen as the first part of the puzle. Loved the modern refs and especially 1d. Don’t care whether it’s in a dictionary or not, perfectly well known reference.

  26. What did I hate most about this crossword? Where to start?
    I suppose 7a was the worst clue for using a word that only about four people have ever heard of. I’d love to know how vermouth equates to the letters IT in 20a, if that’s how the clue deconstructs. Never heard of taw. We’re supposed to know that Ball gives us Zoe, bubbly means Lambrusco, pop means Tizer, there’s so much wrong here. Then there was 7d, one of those clunk clunk clunk build it by boring stages clues that I never got and since it was the most important clue I was never going to get much further.

    1. When, as a student, I worked in a pub fifty years ago, Gin & It (Gin with Italian Vermouth) was very popular with the young ladies (in the days before exotic cocktails were invented). Gin & French used French Vermouth instead. The other popular drink back then was Babycham – where is that today?

      1. Consigned to the depths I hope. It was advertised as “The Genuine Champagne Perry”, but the French growers soon put an end to that, and it then seemed to disappear.

        1. I see they are trying to say that it stands for Baby Champion to avoid being ordered to change the name by the Frogs. I’m sure it used to be advertised as Champagne Perry.

  27. A real hard slog but all very fair I thought. Gave up on last one (7a) and checked in here…glad I didn’t waste any more time on it! Thanks Gazza & setter.

  28. Tough but satisfying to complete. Thanks presumably to Petitjean flying in full “slightly mad hat” mode and to Gazza for the review.

    There was a time when Elgar used to set an occassional (monthly?) back page crossword. Looking back, at them, they make this one look fairly straightforward.

  29. Well here is one oldie who found it extremely difficult, and only managed to finish it with help from Gazza. Thank you Gazza.

    1. I wouldn’t go quite that far, Brian, though 4 or 5 clues definitely had me reaching for Gazza’s help. Only too pleased that I had a “Rufus” to review yesterday, and not his one! Well done Gazza – now for a Gin & It !!

      1. Brian’s philosophy is that anything difficult or challenging is bad/nasty/horrid and anything easy is good.

        1. Perhaps the DT needs 3 puzzles – the normal, the Toughie, and the ‘lemon squeezy’! Something for everyone. Is it a goer? :)

          1. There are three – the “lemon squeezy” one is called the “Quick Crossword”: no cryptic definitions, no complicated wordplay and only the occasional anagram. Mind you, today’s did have a pacific salmon that I had to look up.

            1. I agree with pommers – I often find the “Quick Crossword” more difficult than the cryptic. So what the hell is the blasted pacific salmon – unless I’ve got something wrong it looks like a very unlikely word.

          2. The Grauniad tries it with a “Quiptic” on-line puzzle on Mondays that’s supposed to be easy. for ‘improving solvers’. Usually it is fairly benign but not always. Doesn’t seem to work IMHO – an Arachne puzzle a couple of weeks ago was far more tricky than that MondaY’s Rufus back pager.

              1. Agree, also Hectence. Orlando’s are very good but he has experience of doing the 13×13 ‘Coffee break’ on his own site. I have to say though that I do like the Spider Lady – and her normal cryptics as well (and she seems a very nice lady who comes from my neck o’ the woods’ – a ‘Burnage Girl’ as we used to call them!

    2. Difficult, maybe, Brian – I found it really difficult too but I thought that it was brilliant (especially as I put the last answer in!) There was nothing unfair about it, apart, perhaps, from the not well known word in 7a. I think it’s probably just a question of getting into a new mind set – yet again, it’s how we learn. :smile:

    3. Would it be too much to ask to explain why this was a ‘new low’ as opposed to a (IMHO) a tricky but entertaining puzzle. Either I can change the record or …..

  30. Only found this site yesterday being stuck on 2 clues BUT … today’s was hard with far too many unsolved clues on my own. So thanks for your clues.

    1. Welcome to the blog Rozza

      By the weekend we will have been here for three years – what took you so long to find us?!

      This one was difficult today.

      1. Hi Dave, FYI – It appears you started this site on my 50th birthday. Congratualtions on what you’ve achieved so far, you obviously have many devoted followers. So, when I toast my own birthday on Sunday, I’ll also raise a glass to you. Cheers!

      2. Only just saw your message! I was so desperate to find an answer that I googled ‘fatally jarred’ and Google came up with your website! Despite feeling a bit of a cheat using your hints … it certainly helps when I am really stuck (as I was with today’s Wednesday one!) It’s going to be a mind game with me knowing WHEN to see your hints and WHEN to try on my own! So thanks again! Wow!

        1. Rozza

          We hide the answers so that you can dip in for a hint without seeing them, should you so choose. Sometimes just one hint might be all that you need to kickstart the rest of the puzzle. It’s only a little different from asking for someone else’s help, and we’ve all done (still do) that.

    2. Very difficult today – this is a great site. I found it almost two years ago and have learnt SO much. Everyone is friendly, helpful and totally non-judgemental, even when the most stupid questions are asked! :smile:

  31. I would concur with the Petitjean attribution. 21a was inspired (think Captain Caveman for the exclamation!). 1d was wonderful and I can’t see the problem with the occasional Americanism at 7d.
    22d seems to be becoming a trademark. I would like anyone who suggests that this is a ‘new low’ to explain their working.

    THanks to the setter and to gazza (I would have preferred “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin from “The song Remains the Same” to illustrate the Theremin at 7d but you can’t win them all!

  32. I’ve not heard anyone say 21a since I watched Captain Caveman in the late ’70s. Little did I know at that tender age it would be required viewing for the Telegraph crossword!

    1. The delicious Ms Taffy Dare used to exclaim this when she had a plan – an homage (amongst other Hanna Barbera cartoon characters) to Farrah Fawcett-Majors.

    2. Haven’t you seen “Some Like It Hot” since then? Osgood Fielding the Third used “zowie” several times :-)

  33. Blimey, I’m used to Tuesday being a doddle and trying to beat my personal best time… what a stinker – I loved it!

    1D was my favourite, 21A and 23A were excellent too.

    Note to Gazza, re the comment about the picture for 21A where you wrote “I thought it was quite a nice picture. I wouldn’t want to be thought sexist by including raunchy pictures”. Absolutely, quite correct! Thanks, especially for the piccies for 10A and 3D :-)

    To Petitjean, thanks and respect!

    1. I echo most of that, except I will say again that I thought 22d was a wonderful clue and that I’m not sure Gazza needs any more encouragement for his piccies!!! :grin:

  34. Can anyone tell me what “Joe Bloggs” references?

    As for “tranquillizer,” in the US, we spell it with one L….

    1. Hi Tmdess
      Don’t know really but I guess that Joe Bloggs is the equivalent of the American John Doe, unidentified member of the public.
      As for tranquillizer’, I can’t help it if Americans can’t spell English!

      1. Thanks, pommers. As an American, I hate to admit it, but there are A LOT of things the US can’t seem to do right!

        1. Two peoples seperated by a common language?

          There’s a lot of things nobody can do right but if you’re American then the intricacies of a UK cryptic crossword must be a bit difficult (or even ming boggling!).

          1. I’d estimate about 20 percent of the answers make no sense to me, as the terms are 100 percent British and do not appear in my dictionary.

            I’m coming to London in February and I think I’ll have to buy a paperback Chamber’s while I’m there…can’t easily get it here. You may already know this, but cryptics are pretty much unknown here. Sadly, Americans don’t seem to love puzzles as much as those in the UK. I’ve made it a personal challenge over the past couple of years to learn how to do cryptics…and it IS a challenge!

            1. I applaud your intention and hope you have a lot of fun acheiving it! Maybe today was a bit tricky but tomorrow’s will be easier, I hope!

              Chambers is available on-line for a subscription I believe but not sure. Otherwise I get by with http://dictionary.reference.com/ which seems to have most things even though it is US English based. Also has a thesaurus which can be useful.

              Stick with this blog and you will learn a hell of a lot very quickly, apart from tomorrow when I’m in the chair!

              Going to bed now as the blog needs writing in the morning and it’s already 0045 here!


  35. I found this v difficult today- have never heard of the instrument in 7a, the term in 21a nor 20a’s cloudy vermouth although got it from the letters.

  36. There’s been a few complaints about this one but for me it was excellent. If they were all easy then how would you improve your solving skills? Sometimes it’s useful NOT to get the answer then consult the review and work out the meaning. That way you’ve learned something which will set you in good stead for the future. I say let’s have more from “petitjean avec son chapeau fou!”

    1. Well said, Spindrift. It’s very disappointing to get a lot of negative comments just because a bit more work is required to get some of the answers.

    2. I’m with you on that too. There are plenty of easier crosswords in the tabloids for those who find these tough. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it!

  37. Late input from me – I was dragged out last evening for dinner at friends which I thought was for tonight so I had to abandon the puzzle until this morning!
    Quite a tough egg I thought.
    Guessed 7a without knowing the instrument : got 21a without knowing about the Zoe (been overseas too long) also mucked up 22d!

    Faves :10a, 18a, 1d, 5d, 7d & 17d.

    Thanks Gazza for the explanations – usually solve the puzzles without effort but not this time!

  38. The no to censorship banner makes it really hard for me to read your brilliant explanations-Any idea how I can get rid of it please?

      1. The “censorship banner” has now gone!

        I’ve also just noticed that it has stopped snowing! When did that happen?

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