DT 27049 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27049

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27049

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was one of those puzzles which seemed to take me longer than usual, but then when I’d completed it I couldn’t see why I’d been held up (probably the sign of a very good setter). Were you similarly afflicted or did you go through it like a dose of salts? Do let me know how you got on.

If you want to reveal an answer you’ll have to highlight the gap between the curly brackets under the clue; if you’re accessing the blog from an I-whatsit or similar there are some hints to help you do this in the FAQ.

Across Clues

1a  Timid about a B&B that’s dirty? (6)
{SHABBY} – an adjective meaning timid containing A, B and B.

4a  This writer’s wanting agreement to make impression (6)
{IMPACT} – the contracted form of ‘this writer is’ from the point of view of the setter followed by a formal agreement.

8a  Outside old university see awful rabble making attack (8)
{BELABOUR} – an anagram (awful) of RABBLE contains O(ld) and U(niversity).

10a  Blemish of Greek character — that’s about tax primarily? (6)
{STIGMA} – the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet contains the prime letter of T(ax).

11a  Rasp in row (4)
{FILE} – double definition, the row being a column or procession.

12a  Troubled soul? Obtain forgiveness (10)
{ABSOLUTION} – an anagram (troubled) of SOUL OBTAIN.

13a  What could be statement in Holy Writ (3,9)
{NEW TESTAMENT} – we’re seeing quite of few more of these reverse anagrams on the back-page these days. If you take the answer as anagram indicator followed by fodder and solve the anagram you should end up with ‘statement’.

16a  Traveller’s joy? Senior citizen experiences it as hairy (3,4,5)
{OLD MAN’S BEARD} – double definition – firstly another name for a wild clematis plant called traveller’s joy and secondly the hairy growth on the face of some senior citizens.

20a  A comic Frenchman in group is to abandon principles (10)
{APOSTATISE} – the Frenchman is Jacques the actor who portrayed the bumbling and non-speaking Monsieur Hulot in films (comic? – he’ll keep you amused for … 30 seconds, perhaps). Start with A (from the clue) then insert the actor’s surname in a group of men deputised by the sheriff to enforce the law in the wild west.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

21a  List of chaps attending university (4)
{MENU} – another word for chaps followed by (attending) U(niversity).

22a  This writer that is penning article, an unkind type (6)
{MEANIE} – the objective pronoun which the setter (this writer) would use to refer to himself and the usual abbreviation for ‘that is’ contain (penning) an indefinite article.

23a  French refusal to accept a European dictator (8)
{NAPOLEON} – a negative response in French contains (accepting) A and a citizen of a European country.

24a  Before start of ritual saint must be clothed in proper cloth (6)
{DUSTER} – before the start letter of R(itual) the two-character abbreviation for saint has to be inserted (must be clothed) in an adjective meaning proper or appropriate.

25a  Impassioned founder of cosmetics firm, foremost in toiletry (6)
{ARDENT} – start with the surname of Elizabeth, who founded a cosmetics company and whose real name was Florence Nightingale Graham (you learn something every day), then add the foremost letter of T(oiletry).

Down Clues

1d  Special policemen releasing several imprisoned characters for example (8)
{SPECIMEN} – just take away eight contiguous letters from the inside of ‘special policemen’.

2d  Leader of academy donated a plant (5)
{AGAVE} – this is a plant that flowers in Central America (also called American Aloe). The leading letter of A(cademy) is followed by a verb meaning donated.

3d  Black donkey seen around British isle with a whole lot of plants and animals (7)
{BIOMASS} – this word means the total quantity of living material in a given unit area. B(lack) and another word for donkey go round the abbreviation for a British island in the Irish Sea.

5d  Wine‘s second retail outlet running short (7)
{MOSELLE} – this light white wine from Germany comes from an abbreviated word for a short period of time (second) followed by a retail outlet without (running short) its final R.

6d  Great thinker, exceptional sort with tale to engage one (9)
{ARISTOTLE} – an anagram (exceptional) of SORT and TALE containing (to engage) I (one).

7d  Sort of girl that’s grave with zero yen (6)
{TOMBOY} – a type of grave (usually an underground one) is followed by the letter that looks like zero and Y(en).

9d  A celebrity turning up in the distance — Scot who has dreadlocks? (11)
(Revised On-line clue) Star out in the distance followed by Scot who has dreadlocks? (11)
{RASTAFARIAN} – reverse (turning up) a synonym for celebrity [In the revised clue this is just an anagram (out) of STAR], then add an adverb meaning in the distance and one of the usual Scottish male forenames. [When I wrote the original hint I just assumed that the first four letters of the answer were a reversal of STAR but as Rabbit Dave and others have pointed out that doesn’t work. Phil McNeill (Telegraph Crosswords Editor) has confirmed that there was an error in the clue and Giovanni has supplied a revised clue (see above) for the on-line site].

14d  Numbers in the old days you would get on beach (9)
{THOUSANDS} – the manner in which a person (you) would have been addressed in the old days (still used amongst the Quakers and in some parts of northern England, tha knows) is followed (would get on, in a down clue) by another word for beach.

15d  Institute‘s period of time for accommodating call (5,3)
{BRING OUT} – the definition here is a phrasal verb, meaning to inaugurate or launch. A period or spell of time goes round (accommodating) a verb to call by phone.

17d  Terrific marksman  that sees nothing? (7)
{DEADEYE} – a terrific marksman (Dick, possibly) could also, if split (4,3), be a way of describing something that can’t see.

18d  No. 5 for Leeds, one who cries as a player on the field? (7)
{SWEEPER} – this is a football defender who doesn’t have any specific marking responsibilities but who clears up any threats that other defenders have failed to control. The fifth character of (Leed)S is followed by someone who cries.

19d  Unhappy about page and about facing pages (6)
{SPREAD} – a word for two facing pages of printed matter comes from an adjective meaning unhappy containing P(age) and a preposition meaning about or concerning.

21d  Yours truly’s penning brief line as children’s author (5)
{MILNE} – a pronoun standing for what belongs to the setter (yours truly’s) contains (penning) a brief L(ine).

The clue which I liked best was 13a. What took your fancy?

Today’s Quickie Pun: {DYE} + {ELECTS} = {DIALECTS}

82 comments on “DT 27049

  1. Oh dear, I found this rather tough, but managed to do it in two goes and with a good deal of help. I confused myself by putting ‘specific’ for 1d, so didn’t know what kind of testament it was at 13a. Nor do I understand what a reverse anagram is. And I wonder, incidentally, why 16a is called Traveller’s Joy. Many thanks, Gazza, for your explanations, and to Giovanni for the fun. I’m off to Sydney for the holidays and so will be out of touch for the next few weeks.

    Merry Christmas to all! :-)

    1. Hi Franny

      Re the plant in 16A: try the website
      where you can select the entry from the list on the right.

      It has this to say:

      The French name … is ‘herbe aux gueux’ – the beggar’s or rascal’s herb. This is a reference to its use by beggars; they used its acrid sap to irritate the skin to give it a sore and ulcerated look – in order to induce sympathy in, and perhaps a donation from, passers by!

      1. I’d no idea before today, but it seems that Usnea (Travellers’ Joy) is known to have strong antibiotic medicinal properties and is of great use to those travelling in the wild. As described here:
        and in US websites such as:



  2. Found this difficult, and nearly got there ! but held up in NE corner. As another Christmas lunch coming up, it was important to get it done – so took the hint at 4a and was then able to finish. I thought I had 5d but couldn’t see the wordplay. If I had been more confident I should have put it in and then probably finished it ! New word at 20a. Thank you setter and Gazza for the hint and explanations. Heavy rain here in The Grim North !

    1. I forgot ! needed your wordplay explanation for 20a. Had the answer, but hadn’t a clue why !

  3. Another wonderful offering from The Don. Took a bit longer than usual due to the cricket diverting me from time to time and the fact that I’ve never heard/seen/come across 20A, thanks to gazza for the info (I even had the checking letters and the comic’s name, just couldn’t think of anything for the group of men).

    Rain today :-( which is a bit annoying as I wanted to put out some washing (my washing machine has decided to add water during the tumble dry cycle!!! )

  4. I agree with you Gazza, most of it seemed harder that actually was. I got really stuck in the sw corner though – I wouldn’t have got 20a in a month of Sundays, and 22a IMHO is a bit of a non word! Had to resort to hints to finish as I MUST get those cards written today!

  5. I thought this was Giovanni back to his best. For me a three star for difficulty but 5 star for enjoyment. Esp loved 9d and 20a (whatever happened to Jacques Tati?). Just one small niggle, Napoleon was never a dictator, he was the legitimate Emperor, set up a justice system that was the envy of the world and brought prosperity to France and was probably the greatest military genius that ever lived. Vive L’Empereur!

    1. Everyone says he was the greatest millitatry genius whoever lived, so if he was that good, how did he manage to lose to the Duke of Wellington ? I reckon his brilliance was just a rumour put around by those dastardly Frenchies

      1. He was taken ill at a crucial stage of the battle and that idiot Ney pissed away the Imperial cavalry and Grouchy failed to do as he was told and lost the dastardly Prussians. At 4pm Wellington was beaten and the battle lost, only the arrival of the Prussians saved the day.

        1. I recently read that due to suffering from severe piles Napoleon failed to recce the potential battlegrounds & that this was why, partially, we won at Waterloo.

          1. It was probably a factor but Wellington had determined his battleground long before the battle and that was where he was going to fight. The consensus is that after the Prussions were defeated at the Battle of Ligny, the Emperor mistakenly thought Grouchy could deal with them and that Wellingtons mishmash of an army would be defeatable. Just goes to show that even a genius can make mistakes!

      2. We seem to be on a run of failed generals – Custer yesterday, Napoleon today – Rommel tomorrow?

  6. Based on my solving time, I would have to award this 4* difficulty. A handful took me as long to finish off as the rest of the puzzle.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza.

  7. Top quality work from Giovanni.

    Many impressive and cleverly-crafted clues, and a fine partner for Elgar’s Toughie.

  8. 3* difficulty for me and an enjoyable warm up for Friday morning crossword solving. Thanks to both the Gs.

    The Toughie is a proper impaling Friday Toughie but is worth every enjoyable minute spent in perservation and cogitation, although I am not entirely sure that the bruise on my forehead from banging my head on the table is a good look for the Office Christmas Lunch!

    I may be back later today … I may not… :D

    1. One of the few things I miss from office life is the social scene especially at Christmas. Now working on my own I feel a bit daft with a paper hat on & chewing on a chipolata in my home office. And now Mrs S has decided we’re having Chicken Stroganoff for Christmas dinner – how do I tell the Ageing Ps?

      1. No 1 son will be in Ireland, No 2 son has decided he is vegetarian like his father (long story involving too many barbecues in Swaziland) so I am having turkey all on my own – you are welcome to come down and join me.

      2. This year we’ve got a house full what with N°1 son & girlfriend, N°2 son sans girlfriend & my parents both of whom are in their 80s. There’ll be either unconfined joy & dancing or murder most horrible, only time will tell. So watch out for a tall dark stranger knocking on the door come Christmas Day…

      3. A friend of mine was self employed and every year in the run up to Christmas, he’d toddle off to have tea at the Ritz by himself and claim the tax back as it was a genuine Firm’s Christmas Do’ and they’re tax free (or at least they used to be)

        1. I have just received a tax demand from HMRC and they want the balance of what I owe for 2012/2013 before the end of January. Fair enoughish but on top pf that they also want a down payment of several thousand pounds on my earnings for 2013/2014 for work I don’t even know I’ll get. Not what is need a week or so before Christmas.

          Sod it I’m off to Monaco with the rest of the tax dodgers!

            1. Good call! Also it should be possible to claim my parent’s home as my primary residence and get it redecorated at the tax payer’s expense. Then when I get rumbled all I have to do is put on an act worthy of Glenda Jackson…

  9. Oh gosh….I’ve really lost my mojo. Found this one very tough with more clues left unsolved than solved. Maybe I’ll find time for another crack at it later. If not then the hints beckon!

    1. Well, got there but did need a hint or two to get going again plus a bit of electronic aid. 1 and 3 favourites. Had 15d but couldn’t see how. Another of those English noun = verb

  10. “Victory belongs to the most persevering “……..apparently attributed to Napoleon .
    Like others a few clues took longer than the rest put together 20a being the final brick.
    Jacques has been morte for 30 years !
    4* / 3* for me
    Thanks once again

  11. Amazingly for me I completed it all (except 20a, 25a, 19d and 21d) with a little help from the electronic aids. Definitely a 4*/3* for me today.
    I liked 16a and 23a, possibly because they were a bit easier than the others.
    Thanks to Giovanni for the puzzle and to Gazza for the very clear explanations.
    Thought for the day: is warm rain better than dry and cold?

  12. Ouch! I found this really tough, but there are some great clues – especially 13a. In common with several other bloggers, 20a is a new word for me, and although I got 9d quickly I didn’t put it in because I could not and still can’t understand the wordplay. The first five letters are an anagram of “a” and a synonym for celebrity, but they are not “a celebrity” reversed (i.e. turning up). Unless of course a Russian emperor could be considered a celebrity! Thanks very much to Gazza without whose help I would still be struggling with a few answers, and to the setter for an excellent challenge.

    1. Well, it just goes to show that you see what you expect to see – I wrote the answer straight in and just assumed that ‘a celebrity turning up’ was A STAR reversed, but as you so rightly point out it’s not. One thing it won’t be is an anagram of ‘star’ because that would make it an indirect anagram, which Giovanni would never have.
      So, I’m now puzzled. Anyone any ideas or do we think it’s a mistake?

      1. I know tsar has a few informal usages. I had just assumed it was one of those. Can’t see any other way it could work.

  13. What a great crossword – for me three star hard, five star pleasure.

    I did know 20A, and wrote it in the margin, and recognized Jolly Jacques, but I only knew the primary way of spelling it (with a Z)… a quick check with the dictionary gave me the acceptable alternative, and all became clear :-)

    There were many delights on the way; I particularly liked 13A and 20A, but for me the best has to be 16A :-)

    So, thanks to Gazza (BTW, typo in 5D, it’s a “white wine”) and Hats Off to The Don.

  14. Very enjoyable crossword! I needed the hints for 14d and 20a. Hadn’t heard of the French actor and found the wording of 14d somewhat awkward. Kicking myself really though because I saw that it should be ……sands and missed the number! Also saw the issue with the first 4 letters of 9d. I thought maybe the “up” shouldn’t have been there – just “a celebrity turning” indicating an anagram.
    Many thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza.

    1. Giovanni wouldn’t use an indirect anagram so I’m pretty sure that it’s not an anagram of STAR.

      1. Really can’t get my head round the difference between a reverse anagram and an indirect anagram. Actually it’s too late now to get my head round anything – would rather my pillow was round my head, as it’s just about to be, assuming husband hasn’t pinched it!!

  15. As we seem to agree, an excellent crossword and for me also a ***/****.The sw corner was last in not alone i think, i did remember Jacques Tati in 20a -was.nt that where Ken Dodd got his ‘Tatifelarious’ from?. lightly fades the Do, and thanks Gazza for the 9d dreadlocks.

  16. Regarding the first four letters of 9d Phil McNeill has confirmed that there was an error in the original clue and Giovanni has supplied a revised clue which is now on the on-line site. I’ve updated the blog.

  17. A communication has reached me about the RASTAFARIAN clue. A simple (and silly) mistake, for which I apologise. I have provided another clue for the website and for syndication. Sadly this is not the first time that I have reversed ABCD as DBCA. Thank you for pointing this out and for an apprecaitive blog. DM

    1. Good word play on ‘appreciative’ – I prusme it is maent. By the way – tanhks for tadoys pezzlur and tanhks to Gazza for the riview. (I bet you understood that)

      1. I can’t recall who did the study, but it has been shown quite clearly that if you get the first and last letters in a word right, and only jumble the interior, then people reading at normal speed will still understand it – even if you do it to every word in a long piece of text! :-)

        1. Yur’oe asolubtley corerct Steve_the_beard . My previous post wasn’t meant as a criticism as I too thoroughly enjoy the Friday puzzle from the Don. We all have ‘keyborad moments’

        2. “I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe”

          Cut and pasted from an article.

    2. As my Father taught me; “the man who never made a mistake, never made anything”.

      A cracking crossword Maestro, keep on with the Good Work :-)

      1. I think what follows on from that is “the man who makes the same mistake twice is a fool” but have absolutely no idea who said it or where it comes from and am now too knackered to look it up!

  18. I found this to be a ‘clockwise’ puzzle. NW, easy, NE, less so, SE, harder, SW took as long as the rest put together, the fly in the proverbial ointment being 20a. It doesn’t mean what you’d think it would mean, if you get my drift. ***/****

  19. I had to resort to some help for completing this one. I have to say that I don’t like clues which presume knowledge of actors or company founders or other personalities – for me it makes the word play awkward.

  20. I am fairly new to all this and am grateful to this blog which is a huge help. Thanks. I have an issue with one of today’s clues. Surely, 9 down should read ‘A celebrity turning’ rather than ‘turning up’ as it is an anagram of star. If you read the first 4 letter up it reads tsar. Have I misread it? As I said, I am a rookie. Keep up the good work!

    1. Welcome to the blog, JP
      There was an error in the original clue and a revised clue has now been provided (see blog). There’s a comment above from Giovanni (the setter) explaining what went wrong.

  21. Thanks to the two G’s. Just as yesterday, I couldn’t do this to save my life, had some success in the NW corner, but needed the hints after that. Got 5 from the hints, but had to look 7 up, reminds me of a drink. Was 4*/1* for me. Had never heard of 16&20a. Favourites were 15a & 8d. Hoping for better luck tomorrow.

    1. You are exactly where I was 18 months ago. Keep perservating and it will get better although you will still get BUGGER moments!

  22. We had quite happily written in the correct answer for 9d and it was only on reading the review this morning that we realised that there was a problem. The plant in 16a is well known to us in NZ because it grows so well as a garden escapee that it is one of our most significant noxious weeds. responsible for suffocating large areas of native bush. A very enjoyable Friday offering with lots of ‘favourites’, about ***/**** for us.
    Thanks Giovanni (we’ve forgiven you for 9d already) and Gazza.

  23. Best challenge of the week by a country mile. 13a was rather clever. Thanks to the Setter for a job well done.

  24. Aha – so 9d’s printed clue did point to ‘RATSAFARIAN’. I did have an “is it me, or is it the clue?” moment followed by the thought “is this an obscure term for a person who appreciates rats?” before deciding that – since neither Rizzo nor Roland have dreadlocks – it must be the clue. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle nonetheless – last quarter completed was the SW, which I thought was quite tricky. Many thanks to the setter, Gazza and to this blog for existing to ease boggled minds.

      1. I think as CrypticSue says they should fill in the necessary paperwork before they go awol and make us fret so

      2. Franco and andy – I think that Mary said yesterday that she wouldn’t be around today or next Tuesday due to hospital appointments – whether or not that counts as filling in the necessary paperwork I have no idea. I have no excuse as I’ve really just been visiting my nephew’s new babe! :smile:

        1. yes it counts, glad Alex arrived safely.. woof woofs from cynthia and cuth, we are all going to be exhausted by the time Christmas arrives methinks….

    1. Great Aunt Kath is now back from visiting her new great nephew in Nottingham. What a lovely day – young Alex (one week old) is just beautiful. Absolutely RUBBISH journeys due to weather and traffic. Coming home, a journey that shouldn’t take much more than a couple of hours, even allowing for my lack of navigational skills, took nearly three and a half hours.
      As for the dental problems apparently I have a chronic abscess in my jaw – whoopee! :sad: At least there is a reason for all the pain – always good to know that you’re not going cuckoo!!
      Thanks for asking gazza, andy and Franco.

      1. That really is ‘ouch’ Kath, I hope it doesn’t trouble you too much over Christmas! Isn’t it nice of everyone to be so concerned about us, aw :-)

      2. the good thing is that it is diagnosed now and therefore treatment can begin.A chronic abscess ! You poor thing!

  25. I found this a thoroughly entertaining challenge from start to (rather late) finish.
    A typically Don-nishly witty and well-crafted Friday DT cryptic. Too many favourites to single them out, really. Superb surface misdirection e.g. in 7d, 24a, 1d.
    Many thanks to Giovanni (who is surely bound for Crossword Heaven instead of where the original Giovanni ended up) and to Gazza for the explanatory hints.

    And to all on this board for their comments. And I loved the clip from ‘Mon Oncle’, which summed up the feeling of ‘strange kitchen paralysis’ many of us suffer when asked to do something that in theory ought to be really, really simple (finding a water glass, or opening a wine bottle, cutting bread, peeling veg) in a kitchen we’ve never entered before – e.g. over Christmas.

  26. Really too late to do anything other than go to bed so, for once, I will keep this short.
    I had a go at this after supper and wine and a longish day. Didn’t do too badly but eventually gave in and looked at hints for a few – mainly in the bottom left corner.
    I’ve never heard of 8a or 20a and just couldn’t do them.
    I liked 13, 16 and 25a and 6, 7 and 21d.
    With thanks to Giovanni and gazza.
    The thought of bed is just wonderful zzzzzzzzzzzz :smile:

  27. Just blown tanks and surfaced to say that was one of the toughest puzzles in a long time. By the by, is Mary still well ?

  28. Loved fridays crossword as it was a personal best friday for me, 3/4 without any aids.Those I failed in were mostly due to misreading the word play, such as in 25a I mistakenly thought the answer began with a “t”.thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.I am not really keen on the snowflakes.

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