DT 26785 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26785

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26785

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

We have a really enjoyable puzzle from Giovanni today with some great clues. Let us know how it grabbed you.
If you’re desperate to get an answer just highlight the word hidden behind the spaces between the brackets under the relevant clue.

Across Clues

1a  Spiteful about husband and inclined to gossip (6)
{CHATTY} – a synonym for spiteful or malicious goes round H(usband).

4a  Symbol of victory Parliament put back in old city (6)
{TROPHY} – a certain brand of sauce which has a picture of Parliament on its label should give you the abbreviation to reverse (put back) and insert in the name of the city that was besieged by the Greeks for ten years as legend has it.

8a  Consistently successful journalist is well-educated (8)
{INFORMED} – a phrase (2,4) used of a sports player who is consistently playing well at the moment (none of the England batsmen, then!) precedes the usual abbreviation for a senior journalist to make a description of someone who is knowledgeable or well-educated.

10a  Maybe mother or father given periodic payment (6)
{PARENT} – mother is a definition by example, signified by maybe, here. Start with an informal name for father and add (given) a periodic payment for the use of something.

11a  Eager to express grief (4)
{KEEN} – double definition, the second a verb to wail in grief at the death of a loved one.

12a  Animal books better than all others one’s given stars (10)
{BESTIARIES} – these are medieval books which used illustrated stories about animals as a way of teaching morals. It’s a charade of a) a superlative indicating supremacy (better than all others), b) I (one, the Roman numeral) and c) the constellation known as the Ram.

13a  Something sung in film when the enemy walks past? (2,4,4,2)
{AS TIME GOES BY} – You must remember this! The second word of the song title is often referred to as the enemy because there is no way of defeating it. This is a tremendous clue because the enemy in the film were of course Nazi officers.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

16a  Sterling Cafe badly organised with DIY facility? (4-8)
{SELF-CATERING} – an anagram (badly organised) of STERLING CAFE is a description (of a holiday, say) in which you make your own culinary arrangements.

20a  Secluded Conservative girl meets the heartless revolutionary (10)
{CLOISTERED} – the definition is secluded (like a monk, perhaps). Join together a) C(onservative), b) a girl’s name (Superman’s girlfriend, say), c) T(h)E (heartless) and d) a left-wing revolutionary.

21a  Place that makes sense by the sound of it (4)
{SITE} – today’s old chestnut – a place which sounds like one of the five senses.

22a  Hidden stem by a river (6)
{ARCANE} – an adjective meaning hidden or secret and only known to a select few people comes from the hollow stem of a small palm or long grass such as bamboo which is appended to (by) A and R(iver).

23a  Country wants tax to come down (8)
{SCOTLAND} – a country which may soon have the opportunity to raise or lower its own taxes is a charade of an old word for a tax and to come down (at an airport, say).

24a  Back English author (6)
{STERNE} – the back of a ship followed by E(nglish) gives the name of an eighteenth century author, best known for The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.

25a  Go away and ask somebody (6)
{BEGONE} – an interjection ordering someone to go away could be, as (3,3), a phrase meaning to plead with somebody.

Down Clues

1d  Opposing lines revealed in talk (8)
{CONVERSE} – a verb meaning to talk can be split to reveal an abbreviation meaning opposing and some lines of poetry.

2d  A trick when recipe’s included fruit we can’t eat (5)
{ACORN} – a trick (1,3) employed by hustlers has R(ecipe) inserted to make a fruit. We don’t normally eat them raw but they can certainly be used in cakes, breads and soups, so it’s not strictly true to say we can’t eat them.

3d  Mum put in item of furniture that may get broken (7)
{TAMABLE} – put another affectionate abbreviation for mum inside an item of furniture to get a description of an animal (such as a wild stallion) that can be broken.

5d  You can’t trust an agent to be honest giving answers (7)
{REPLIES} – the definition is answers, but if split (3,4) it could be an assertion that a sales agent is not honest.

6d  Artist making plea getting awful rot accepted (9)
{PORTRAYER} – insert an anagram (awful) of ROT inside a synonym of plea to get a description of an artist.

7d  American jerk starts to enrage Englishmen (6)
{YANKEE} – for an American this refers to someone from the northern states but on this side of the pond we’re not so discriminatory and use it for any American. Start with a verb to jerk and add the starting letters of E(nrage) E(nglishmen).

9d  Puts off performance in East Anglian town (11)
{DISCONCERTS} – were it not for cryptic crosswords few people outside East Anglia would have heard of this Norfolk town (population under 7,000) but setters find it very useful. Put a musical performance inside its name to make a verb meaning puts off or unsettles.

14d  Start eating, sit around in proper positions (9)
{INSTIGATE} – an anagram (around in proper positions) of EATING SIT produces a verb meaning to start.

15d  Illustration in a new church includes saint (8)
{INSTANCE} – this is an illustration or example. Insert the abbreviation for saint between IN and A, N(ew) and a shorthand way of writing the Church of England.

17d  Article stuck in bank of river down below (7)
{LETHEAN} – the definition here is “of river down below”, i.e. it’s an adjective relating to one of the rivers of Hades according to Greek mythology (souls were meant to drink from it in order to wipe out all previous memories, before they could be reincarnated). Stick the definite article inside a verb meaning to bank or tilt.

18d  One could make leap to edge of pond — after transformation! (7)
{TADPOLE} – a super semi-all-in-one. An anagram (after transformation) of LEAP TO and the edge of (pon)D makes something that could leap to the edge of a pond, but only after it’s been transformed into a frog.

19d  Very light one of them may be (6)
{FLARES} – the Yoda-like word order is necessary to disguise the need for the capital V. The Very light (invented by Edward W Very) is fired from a pistol to make a bright light as a distress signal and is an example of the answer.

21d  Outburst of colossal volume (5)
{SALVO} – hidden (of) in the clue is an outburst of gunfire.

There are some great clues here including 1a, 23a and 18d but my clue of the day is 13a. Let us know what you liked (and disliked).

Today’s Quickie Pun: {TRANCE} + {ACTION} = {TRANSACTION}

109 comments on “DT 26785

  1. This was definitely more than 2* difficulty for me today. I made quite hard work of this, and my last half a dozen took me as long to complete as the rest of the puzzle.
    I did enjoy it though, so many thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza for the notes.

    The Toughie on the other hand I thought was a walk in the park in comparison, and completed in half the time.

  2. Brrrrrrr, think I might be snowed in today (need to pop into work today or Monday, think I’ll wait for Monday). Very enjoyable fare (as ever) from the Don today, but I got a little held up down in the SW corner, guess I’ll have to gen up on my Greek mythology (especially relating to the rivers of Hades). I thought 12A, 20A, 23A and 9D were very clever today.

  3. Having struggled with yesterdays puzzle, this one was great fun. I filled it all in quite quickly and then ground to a complete halt with 19d and 22a and needed the hints. I’d never heard of a Very light until now. Thanks to G & G for setting and hinting.

  4. Some good clues today, like 19d, but it always falls a bit flat when it uses the names of authors I’ve never heard of and obscure mythological references I have to look up on Wikipedia.

  5. Similar from me. Got a good fill then stuck in the obscurities of the south-west. Still, an enjoyable puzzle otherwise. Thanks Giovanni and Gazza for the hints I needed in SW.

  6. Not on the wave length today, and needed a lot of help to finish this, so I can’t say I enjoyed it much. 19d and 22a had me flummoxed also and were last in. Thanks, Gazza, for the explanations — but acorn cake, bread, soup? They sound very unlikely. I got 4a with no idea about the sauce, and about the only clue I really liked was 25a. Thanks to Giovanni for the workout. :-)

    1. For 4a I only mentioned the sauce as a hint. HP (Houses of Parliament) is the abbreviation that has to be reversed in the answer.

      1. And that’s what I did. Also have now looked up cooking with acorns. It sounds labour-intensive and unappetising, but I must admit it can be done. Putting an acorn cake in the Naughty Corner should keep everyone out. :-)

  7. Not a 2* for me I’m afraid. The first time I’ve had to resort to the hints for a while. 13 across is hard to follow even when you have the answer and as for the SW corner…. I preferred the musical and sporting references from yesterday. Thanks to G & G.

    1. Little Mart – lucky you – you’re clearly too young to remember 13a – thankfully so am I but only just!! In other words I still know what the clue is referring to! Not sure about the musical and sporting references from yesterday – I had a bit of a hard time finding both unless it was “George Harrison” and … ?

  8. Greek mythology let me down too, google comes in very handy. Overall I enjoyed it but definitely 3* for me today. Thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review.

  9. Thoroughly enjoyed today’s puzzle , i gave it *** and **** .SW corner tricky- found the right answer to 17d but in my mind had ‘an’ appendid to the river in question to give its adjective-better with ‘the’ inserted in’ bank ‘or’ lean’ as per Gazza! Back to work.

  10. Ref 12a – I have a Tolkien version bought for my birthday many years ago and which I’m saving for my grandchildren should my 2 lads slow down for long enough to provide us with any.

  11. Very enjoyable – stuck on a couple but managed to work out from the clues before “research” proved them to be correct. These being 12a & 17d. 3d and 25a still remained, both of which took longer for me to see than they should have done. ***/*** for me I think. Thanks to 2G for entertaining puzzle and review.

  12. Tres dificile aujourd’hui. Thought I’d stick a bit of foreign in as there seems to be a dearth of alien clues gracing the crosswords these days.
    Thanks to G and G

  13. I would give this enjoyable crossword 2.5* difficulty. Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza – my favourite clue was 13a too – did anyone else get stuck with the song in their head all morning??

    The Toughie is not quite the walk in the park that Jezza implies but is worth a go, if only for the d’oh moments.

    1. Yes, I was singing it all morning. That happens whenever I see re-runs of the television series too. Fortunately it’s a lovely song. :-)

  14. Pnawn dda I chi.

    Just a thought. Has there ever been occasion when you have not been able to solve a clue?

      1. Ah sorry about that. It’s good afternoon to you all in welsh. Not that I am I just like the language.

        1. In answer to your original question I don’t reckon that I’ve solved a clue until I fully understand the wordplay, and there have been many occasions (especially with Friday Toughies) when I haven’t achieved that!

  15. Hi Gazza, I just started to read the hints. I had a slightly different (probably wrong) understanding of 10a. I read it as mother or father being the definition, with pa being periodic (per annum) followed by rent. Thoughts?

    1. Roland,
      I think that would work, but I reckon that my parsing was probably Giovanni’s intention.

      1. Chambers defines rent as ‘periodical payment for use of another’s property’; I think your explanation is probably as Giovanni meant it.

      2. Gazza, I’m sure you’re right – but there’s no need for the word periodic if that’s the case.

          1. Hi Skempie – it’s a bit of a moot point now (see Jezza above) but the point I was making was that rent is equally well clued by payment or periodic payment.

  16. I thought this was difficult too – at least 3* for me, possibly a bit more. I didn’t help things by getting two wrong answers – I quite often can’t do a clue but rarely get them wrong – these two effectively ******** up most of the bottom of the crossword. Oh dear!! I had “shout” for 21d and, although I couldn’t quite justify it, had “institute” for 14d. I’ve never heard of 12a and 17d but worked them out from the clues. I know that I’ve said it before but Fridays and Sundays are the two days when I’m most likely to meet words for the first time. I liked 1 and 13a and 7 and 18d. With thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  17. Thanks for the hints – needed them for 90 per cent of the answers. Think you got your difficulty and enjoyment stars the wrong way round. When I see an answer such as 17d and see that I would never have got it in a million years because, like every single person I know, I’ve never heard of this word, I realise that my efforts to try to solve the clue were nothing but a pointless waste of time.

    1. I know lots of you disagree, but solving general knowledge crosswords as well as the cryptic variety does enable one to know words such as 17d down.

      1. Once again on this subject – hear hear. Although I’d never heard of this word, I was able to work it out from the clue, and having now looked it up will know it next time. Isn’t that how we learn stuff?

        1. Yes but Roland I see Grumpys point, if you were sat on a beach or anywhere where you didn’t have access to various ways of looking up information, would you ever have solved it??

          1. Hi Mary – as I said, I was able to work it out from the clue. Admittedly I would have had to retire to my hammock of palm leaves without being able to confirm that the word I’d created was correct, but if I was staying on this beach/desert island for a reasonable period of time, I suspect this would be the least of my concerns!
            Every time the general knowledge debate comes up, I’m always in the “ayes” camp and I know you’re always in the “nays”. However, if the setters had to create a crossword puzzle with no recourse to GK (however one defines that), I suspect they’d mostly be very dull – the puzzles that is, not the setters – heaven forbid! :)

            1. What Roland and Crypticsue said. I am absolutely pants (anagram indicator) at plants and flowers (I mean the ones with petals not the rivers p-) ) but I have learned to recognise them. If the clue for an obscure word is written correctly then the wordplay ought to be more lenient in order to give the solver a chance. Having said that there is no such thang as GK , to solve a puzzle one must be a Jack of All Trades* in the GK department.

              * Jolly good at everything? (4,2,3,6)
              Lest I forget!

              1. Pommette and I were nearly finished and I was pondering why 1d should be CONTRARY (wrong!) when pommette suddenly said “Mike, go look up BESTIARIES” in the dictionary.” Why said I, to which she replied “it’s better than all, I, and some stars – which fits the clue but what the hell is it?”. Perfect example of a clue to an unknown word which works – but to be fair you have to have access to a dictionary to be sure so on the beach it might be a problem :grin: but then who would care!

    2. The answer to 17d has appeared in two DT crosswords in the last few years:

      1) An Elgar Toughie had:

      Perhaps drinking to forget the director’s cut, or vice versa? (7)

      2) A Saturday Prize puzzle had:

      Permit His Excellency, a knight, being oblivious (7)

    3. I agree with CS and Roland. It is how we learn things – whether we remember them for next time is, of course, another matter!! I also think, for what it’s worth, that a clue like 17d today is perfectly fair as it is possible to work it out and then look it up.

    1. I did write all-in-one initially then added the “semi” because I thought the “One could make” played no part in the wordplay.

      1. Unless ‘One could make’ is the anagram indicator, and after transformation refers to the change from tadpole to frog!

  18. Recently I’ve really enjoyed Giovanni’s puzzles, but this one took me back to the days when I gave up getting the paper on a Friday.
    I agree as always it’s well crafted but too hard to do without reference facilities, whilst having breakfast at work

  19. Too many obscure answers for me today……..definitely more than a 2*, so I really gave up the will to live by the second half and was not helped by putting ‘HERE’ in for 21a …well it kinda works doesn’t it?

    1. Hi Seemore21

      I see that I have both HERE and the correct answer written by the clue for 21a. HERE doesn’t really work because the sense would be HEARING.

              1. Thanks – will have to work that one into my next comment somehow! Or maybe now! Shall I give it a try? :lol:

    2. On the subject of “kinda works” I had CONTRARY for 1 down for a while – CONTRA (opposing) + RY (lines) – it just doesn’t fit the definition!

  20. A bit obscure in places perhaps but very entertaining and with a few real D’oh moments. I would have to give it 3* for difficulty :smle: It was a bit odd as we did about 2/3 of it in 1* time and were thinking it was a doddle and then we suddenly ground to a near halt!

    Agree with others that 18d is favourite.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

      1. Domus,
        The BD Difficulty Rating just reflects the blogger’s personal view after solving the puzzle. It’s not meant to be a prediction of how difficult other solvers will find it. I try to keep 3* as the average (as it happens I would have given 3* to yesterday’s puzzle). For today’s I was aware of the river Lethe, Laurence Sterne and Very Lights (all of which turn up in crosswords from time to time) so the SW didn’t seem as difficult to me as others seem to have found it.

  21. Hi Gazza, left comment earlier but internest was playing up and it hasn’t made it, personally a 3 to 4 star for me today. although I have mostly come to enjoy Giovanni crosswords, today for me it was a bit like plodding through mud in a hurry to get out the other end! Too much obscure GK eg,9d (at least for me) 24a, 17d, 12a and 19d, however did like 3d, 10a, 13a, and fav 25a :-) Thanks for blog Gazza, off to read it now

    1. Mary, another nice, new word “Internest” – not yet made it into the BRB. Possible definition – “Birds’ communication in the modern age”.

      Ok – we all make typos! :wink:

      1. Yes, thanks Franco, I did notice the typo before I posted the comment, but thought it a much more user friendly sounding word, I thought I would leave it for comment and definition suggestions, I really like yours :-)

      1. I tend to call it all kinds of unmentionable things – especially when husband isn’t here and it all goes wrong and I am completely sunk!!!!

  22. Am I missing something? I cannot find the definition for 3D in the BRB.
    Thanks to setter and Gazza for the hints.

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      Your comment needed moderation because you’re using a different alias from the one you used before. Both should work now.
      Well done!

  23. Big Dave,
    There is a saying that great minds think a like and fools seldom differ, I have just looked at the blog to check that Contrary is the right answer because I was beginning to have my doubts! I used the same rationale for the answer as you but couldn’t then justify this with the definition.
    About 30% through this,will finish off tomorrow as going out now. First impressions is that this crossword is much harder than 2* based on a comparison with a “normal” Rufus puzzle on a Monday which is generally rated as 2*

  24. Well ,the A team eventually got there but I think 3* difficulty for us to-day . I was looking forward to Giovanni ‘s puzzle to-day ,but I’m not blaming the setter but too many things I didn’t know e.g. Very Light ,the author at 24a and the river at 17d, but because of the discussion on the blog I might remember them. Also didn’t know you could use acorns in cakes etc. I did like 23a ,13a & 25a .

  25. I thought this was just right for the back page crossword. All of the answers were sensible words and all of the clues were well thought out. The bottom left corner took me some time but I enjoyed the puzzle. Let’s have more like this please.

  26. Enjoyable fare from The Don!
    Faves : 4a, 12a, 20a, 23a, 24a, 3d, 6d, 14d, 17d & 19d.

    Gazza – I still get HPsauce over here but it is made in NL.

    Finishing the chicken tonight – shall curry it.

        1. Have just looked at nl.wikipedia.org/HP_Sauce (in Dutch) in which it states that Heinz now makes it at Elst.

          PS – it is early morning here and is so cold – I got up to turn up the central heating but am now going back to bed!

    1. There is a picture in today’s DT of people skating on the ice in Amsterdam – it made me think of you.

      1. My daughter and family have been skating kilometres recently over here – I don’t do it any more but used to enjoy it.

  27. Tough, I thought, but infinitely more enjoyable than yesterday’s! Never heard of 12a – though did manage to get it from the checking letters, then looked it up to confirm! – and 17d and 24a were beyond me – again, never heard of them. Am beginning to show my ignorance here! So definitely needed hints for SW corner. Thanks to Gazza for the enlightenment and Giovanni for the puzzle. As someone suggested the Toughie was easier, am now going to have a look at that.

    1. Hi Addicted – as usual I agree with you on most points – I think that I will give the toughie a miss today – not chickening out but not enough time – visitors for weekend.

  28. My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
    My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
    Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
    One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

    Or to put it another way, what a stinker! Pleasurable, but I found it a lot harder than the best of you, methinks. Nice reference to Lethe!

    P.S. I am no poet, that’s Keats up there, that is :-)

    1. I had a Keats moment too, remembering a line which went “No, no, go not to Lethe!” I looked it up and it’s the Ode to Melancholy.

  29. So pleased that Gazza pointed out (in 7d) something that has always irked me about our setters, who all seem to assume that YANKEE is a generic term for our American brethren. Greet someone from the Confederate Deep South this way and they’ll probaby shoot you. I also agree with Gazza’s ratings, and the general praise for The Don.

    1. Hi Digby, agree about Yankee – I always thought it was a derogatory term for a Northener coined by the Confederacy but I’m probably wrong! Yankee Doodle Dandy?

      1. In a similar vein, I seem to have to tell many setters that if it is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland then GB is not UK and vice versa!

  30. One of those days when I felt surprised at the star rating, but Gazza is right, it is how you feel whilst solving.13a great, 18d absolutely brilliant on all levels. Thanks to Gazza and Giovanni

  31. Good night all and sleep well – a chilly -7C in Oxford – who knows how much lower it will go overnight? :sad:

  32. Probably nobody will read this but I’m all excited! Had email from Amazon saying BRB despatched and should arrive Tuesday! Can’t wait! Like a 3 year old on Christamas Eve :grin:

  33. Thanks to the two G’s. Great puzzle, was defeated by the two river clues, never heard of 17d, live and learn and 22d. Favourites were 9d&13a. Bit late blogging as I’ve been slogging away all day on the Squash & Racketball Leagues. Early start in the morning train excursion to Bedlam.

  34. This was a very difficult crossword, definitely not 2**s. I enjoyed most of it except the SW corner, which had too many very obscure references. Many thanks for your tips in solving it!

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