DT 27371 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27371

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27371

Hints and tips by pommers

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

Feliz Navidad from the Vega Baja where it’s a bright and sunny morning but a bit chilly. I hope you have all enjoyed the festivities, have survived the appalling weather, and have recovered from it all a bit faster than I seem to have managed (my powers of recovery are not what they used to be!).  Maybe it’s the after-effects of some excessive Christmas cheer that’s slowed me down but this one seemed to me to be a little bit tricky in places, so *** it is.  You lot will probably all make comments that it’s only about a 1* (just to make me feel bad) but it will all roll off my back like a duck!

BTW, tomorrow morning  will be exactly one year since I last had a drag on a cigarette.  I don’t miss them at all – well not muchly, ish, well OK, maybe a bit, sometimes, or often, but I reckon I’ve saved about €2500, the cough seems to have gone away and I don’t have to sit outside the bar any more,  so we’ll just have to see how the next 12 months work out!

As usual the clues I liked most are in blue.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.  You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Dance with energy and desire (4)
{HOPE} – A nice simple one to start. An informal word for a dance (3) followed by E(nergy).  Did any of you ever use this word for a dance? Only ever comes up in crosswords as far as I can see.

3 a     Government department’s feature that may suit selfemployed writer? (4,6)
{HOME OFFICE} – Double definition.  The second one could apply to anyone who works for himself and needs a desk and a filing cabinet.

9 a     Reluctant to shed outer bits of clothes (4)
{LOTH} – Remove (shed) three of the outer letters from cLOTHes

10a    Copper about to join worker in African country? That’s risky (5-3-2)
{TOUCH AND GO} – First you need the chemical symbol for copper and reverse it (about) and follow (to join) with one of crosswordland’s workers (not the ant this time!). Insert all that into an African country and split the result (5-3-2).  Complicated or what?

11a    Saint and sailors wearing fuzz (7)
{BERNARD} – Fuzz as in what grows on my chin when I forget to have a shave!  Insert the abbreviation for our Senior Service (sailors) and you get a saint (or a sainted dog!).

13a    A female with some pride? (7)
{LIONESS} – A not very cryptic definition of a female with a pride.

14a    One to crow as heretic, clan getting disturbed (11)
{CHANTICLEER} – This bird that crows is an anagram (getting disturbed) of HERETIC CLAN.

18a    Financial executive given wave by politician in bed (11)
{COMPTROLLER} – Start with a child’s bed, insert a politician and follow with a wave – think sea not a gesture!

21a    Someone to emulate  for instance (7)
{EXAMPLE} – Double definition. Can’t think of much else to say about this one.

22a    Sympathy and money needed by Heather (7)
{FEELING} – Some money that you might have to pay followed by the usual heather which has been falsely capitalised in the clue.

23a    What critical PhD examiner may be, showing opposition (10)
{ANTITHESIS} – Double definition. Opposition as in the exact opposite and it’s also what a critical PhD examiner might feel about what the student has written.

24a    A lass hasn’t left — is seen around port (4)
{RIGA} – Take A (from the clue) and another word for a young lass and remove the L from the end (hasn’t L(eft)).  Then reverse the lot (is seen around) and you get a seaport and the capital of Latvia.

25a    Brief strain troubled politician (10)
{TRANSITORY} – Anagram (troubled) of STRAIN followed by a right wing politican.

26a    Remain idle (4)
{REST} – Not sure about this but I think it’s another not very cryptic definition.  Otherwise it’s a double definition where both parts are verbs.


1d    Sufferer from lumbago may restrain from action (4,4)
{HOLD BACK} – Something a lumbago sufferer may do is also a phrase meaning to restrain someone from doing something.

2d    Father’s friend has caged a bird (8)
{PATERNAL} – Take one of the usual friends and insert (has caged) the A from the clue and a small seabird.  I thought the definition was quite well concealed.  I spent a while trying to put PAS at the start, then a friend with an A inserted to give some sort of obscure bird!

4d    Like an egg that’s old and useless (5)
{OVOID} – An egg shape is O(ld) followed by a word meaning useless or empty.

5d    First-class old mini-dwelling ending with the National Trust (9)
{EXCELLENT} – A charade of two letters for old, usually the old spouse, followed by a small room where the guys in 22d might live, then E (ending with thE) and finally the National Trust.

6d    Quartet outside small room full of zest? (11)
{FLAVOURSOME} – Place a group of four people around an abbreviation for the smallest room in the house.  I had the O as a checker in this so wasted some time trying to do something with LOO for the small room, d’oh!

7d   Trendy action for sure (6)
{INDEED} – The usual word for trendy or popular followed by an action.

8d    I get so nasty as self-centred person (6)
{EGOIST} – This selfish guy is an anagram (nasty) of I GET SO.   Pommette says this clue sums me up!

12d    Expects fun and games will be interrupted by one head (11)
{ANTICIPATES} – Take some fun and games, of a mischievous child perhaps, and insert (be interrupted by) I (one) and a word for a (bald) head.

15d    Able to take part, not having lost heart (9)
{COMPETENT} – A word for to take part, in a sporting event maybe, followed by NT (N(o)T having lost heart).  Couldn’t parse this at all until I realised I’d put an A for the 7th letter, d’oh!  Told you I was a bit Duntish!  (Meaning of Liff – DUNTISH, (adj.): Mentally incapacitated by severe hangover)

16d    New Lab. has one formal procedure deriving from its founder? (8)
{BLAIRITE} – You need to read the definition as “deriving from New Labour’s founder” for this to make sense but the wordplay is clear.  Start with an anagram (new) of LAB and follow with I (one) and a formal procedure, particularly in a religious context.  Another tricky one! I thought at first that this was an  &lit (all-in-one) but it isn’t. It has separate wordplay and definition.  It’s just that the definition refers back to the first part of the wordplay, hence the question mark on the end – neat!

17d    Sweet female opening charity event with tirade (8)
{FRAGRANT} – F (Female opening) followed by an annual student charity event followed by a verbal tirade or bombast.

19d    Disown bombast that goes around the City (6)
{RECANT} – We’ve got the same bombast or tirade as in the last clue!  This time it goes around the post code for the City of London.  Seems a little careless to have these two clues following eachother!

20d    Woman noted for work in market has closed early (6)
{MARTHA} – The answer is a woman’s name and it’s another word for a market followed by HA (HA(s) closed early).  Not at all sure what “noted for work” means here but no doubt someone will enlighten me!  Perhaps it’s an allusion to the song on the Beatles white album (****** My Dear).  I’ve had a trawl around Wiki and can’t think of owt else.

22d    This monk is one who may deal with monkfish, we hear! (5)
{FRIAR} – This type of monk sounds like (we hear) someone cooking monkfish, or any other type of fish.

Favourite was 16d, once the penny dropped!

68 comments on “DT 27371

  1. Just testing the speed of writing, which is ok in Chrome, but has gone slow for the past week when using the HTC built-in browser. Input on HTC oneS smartphone. Anyone else had a similar problem?

  2. Thanks Pommers.

    20d – Remember this is Giovanni so Martha is the patron saint of good housewives (woman noted for work).

    1. Cheers Sue, I knew there was something I was missing! Thought the noted bit was probably something musical. Hey ho, can’t win ’em all http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      1. Luke 10:38-42.

        Jesus rocks up in a village, Martha invites him in and then does all the work (for a meal?) while Mary sits at Jesus’s feet and listens to him.

        Martha has a moan about doing all the work, but Jesus tells her that Mary had chosen to do the better thing.

    2. There is a song with something about Marys’ mind and Marthas’ hands….can’t think of it…maybe a hymn…or carol???

        1. There’s a prayer :

          “Lord of all pots and pans and things,
          Since I’ve no time to be
          A saint by doing lovely things or
          Watching late with thee,
          Or dreaming in the twilight or
          Storming heaven’s gates.
          Make me a saint by getting meals or
          Washing up the plates. Although I must have Martha’s hands,
          I have Mary’s mind, and,
          When I black the boots and shoes
          Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
          I think of how they trod the earth
          What time I scrub the floor,
          Accept this meditation, Lord,
          I haven’t time for more.
          Warm all the kitchen with thy love,
          And light it with thy peace,
          Forgive me all my worrying
          And make all grumbling cease.
          Thou who didst love to give men food
          In room or by the sea
          Accept this service that I do
          I do it unto thee.”

  3. A bit tricky in places but solvable with some thought Thanks to Giovanni and to Pommers for the review, also thanks to Cryptic Sue for explaining 20d.

  4. Just briefly popping in again to say hippo birdie to me http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif and to say what an enjoyable restart to the crossword (only glanced at it over the past week or so). Re 20D – I immediately thought of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas

  5. A great way to gently recover from Christmas excesses. Big thanks Giovanni for a such an entertaining present. So many really good clues including 10a, 13a, 18a, 23a, 12d, 20d and 22d. **/*****. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  6. Excellent puzzle but I have to say that 24a beat me. Tried heavens hardest to find a reason for it to be Lisa or Gina? That alone makes it a 4+ for difficulty for me.
    I thought that 23a was one of the best clues I have ever managed to solve, very clever. Also my Thx to the Don for providing a crossword free of all religious references :-)
    Many thanks to the maestro and to Pommers for putting me out of my misery in 24a.

    1. Free of religious references ??? 19d, 20d and even possibly 11a!

      Giovanni will be pleased you found it excellent and also that the star voting thingy appears to be working in his favour today – we discussed how it appears that however many people comment favourably on his crosswords, the star votes only ever reach poor! As I type this, it appears the conclusion is ‘almost excellent’.

  7. I enjoyed 1d , 3a and 23a the most so thank you Giovanni. Thanks Pommers and keep not smoking. How did you do it ?Are those electric fags any use ? It’s high time I followed suit.

    1. I just went “cold turkey” and packed it in. I was in hospital with pneumonia and a collapsed lung over last New Year and that was a great incentive (but not recommended) and I haven’t smoked since.

      A friend of mine says the electric fags work really well and helped wean him off the weed so they’re probably worth a try.

  8. Hola pommers and Feliz Navidad to you too, I found this one quite difficult today and needed lots of electronic help so I agree with the three star at least rating, no favourite clue today, there was one I quite liked but forgot to mark it!!
    The weather is really strange here after a very wild windy night we now have almost every five minutes alternating blue skies and sunshine then dark ominous skies and hailstones!!!! Best to stay indoors I think and maybe paint using my lovely new easel that Santa brought, if I can just figure how to assemble it, trust Santa to buy me the most complicated one ever!!!!

      1. A variation on water off a duck’s back maybe.

        This was hard today – especially as, in desperation and not quite able to justify it, I put bearded at 11a (my saint was Bede, my bearded was wearing fuzz, but I couldn’t sort out the sailors).

  9. Thank you DG, an enjoyable wrestle. It has taken me ages, but I did make breakfast for all our visitors – and do the veg prep for the big meal – and lay the table…….! So I am not sure whether it was difficult or not. Time to open the bar. Many thanks Pommers for your review and hints. Glad you are fully recovered.

  10. 2*/4* for me on this last night – but then again I was in a good mood to approach it after having stayed up (to about 3.00am here) to watch a solid performance by England in Melbourne. Weird pitch so tomorrow should be fun.

    16d was clever and amusing. Wonder what the former PM is up to nowadays?

    Thanks to the Don for a fine puzzle and for Pommers for the review. I’m going to try to give up the evil weed on Jan.1 (again!)

    1. What is the former PM up to? Probably still trying to sell his Grandmother and all the silver cutlery he knicked from number 10 – anything to make a few bob.

  11. A few in the bottom left corner slowed me down in an otherwise fairly gentle puzzle.
    Many thanks to setter, and thanks and best wishes to pommers for the review.

  12. Thanks to Giovanni and to Pommers for the review and hints. I just couldn’t get my head round this one. Needed 2 hints in the top half and about 10 in the bottom half. Favourite was 6d. Was 4*/2* for me. 18a was a new word. At least the rain has stopped in Central London.

  13. Hi all.. I have not time to read all your comments – just bang this in and be off. Will read later though.
    A ***/*** for me with the SE corner being last and Pommers straightened my wrong answer for 24a (I had Pisa – not really a port and I could not square the clue either) so thank you for that. Learned a new word with 14a. Thanks to Giovanni for the workout. Enjoyed it.

  14. Feliz Navidad to you, Pommers, and to all the bloggers. Today is when the true love sent Three French Hens and we are still finishing off our Christmas capon. My small grandson has been rearranging my decorations and keeping me busy and amused, but I did find a moment to tackle this. I enjoyed it very much, only getting really stymied by a few 4-letter words. 24a escaped me, and I completely messed up the top corner by putting “pull back” instead of “hold”. I particularly liked 14a as when I was at school we had a carol about him. Many thanks to Giovanni and Pommers. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

    1. Hmmm, so it’s you, those guys and Una’s mum! Knew someone must use the word or it wouldn’t be crosswords – just never met them is all!

  15. Thanks pommers!

    It’s a rare luxury to have the time to do a Friday crossword but I enjoyed this one. Found it tough to get going but once I’d got 3a with some electronic assistance the rest went in OK.

    Many happy returns skempie, I hated having a birthday this close to Christmas when I was younger but now it’s nice to have all the family over for it.

  16. I found this one to be a bit tricky, so agree with pommers’ rating, but very enjoyable. We’ve had 14a before, I remember because I always think it sounds like an ancient madrigal! I never did get 16d nor 24a, no excuse for 24a as it is certainly workable. Favourite is 23a, runner up 10a. Thanks to DG, and it’s good to see pommers back in the reviewing seat again. Keep off the weed, you do eventually stop missing them. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  17. Enjoyable tussle, some brilliant clues eg 23a and 20d.
    Re 24d – I put in a port, albeit ancient, which fitted the clue perfectly. Only its first letter was different.
    Feel miffed it wasn’t the correct answer.
    Many thanks Giovanni and pommers for the review.

  18. Feliz navidad y año Nuevo. No se que vives en España.
    Espero que todo va bien. Me diverta bien y no necessitamo mucha ayuda.
    I enjoyed this and didn’t need much help. Thanks

  19. The SE corner held us up and in the end did not get the answer for 24a. Certainly quite a challenging Friday puzzle for us with lots of good stuff.
    Thanks Giovanni and Pommers.

  20. 20d “Woman noted for work”—you heathen lot don’t read your New Testament!! In Luke’s Gospel Chapter 10 there is the story of how Jesus went to the house of Mary and Martha. While Martha was doing all the work in the kitchen, Mary just listened to Jesus.Martha quite naturally complained but Jesus said Mary had chosen the better part.

  21. Thanks Pommers, I find myself like Brian having left 24a un-parsed. Took doglets for walk , had lunch, then the answer was so d’oh…. Glad to hear you’re OK and big hugs to Pommette. Oh and Thanks to Giovanni too, manners

  22. Surprised 24a seems to have caused so much problems.

    20d is a bit of an odd one. I read the clue and wrote the answer in without conscious thought and moved on. The woman’s name seemed obvious. It was only when writing the blog that I found the 3 words that, as far as I could see, were superfluous. The clue still works without them, although the surface isn’t as good. I think rayw is probably right – I’m a heathen!

    Anyway, off to bed now and hopefully will be firing on all, or at least more, cylinders tomorrow!

    1. Interesting to note that Mrs B does not have Riga in her list of ports, but it is there in her list of capitals. It did not occur to us and we should have looked more closely at the wordplay. No excuses. :)

  23. Finally got round to posting despite many months of benefitting from this site’s help on these crosswords. Failed with 20d but was very close! 16d was very clever, and having visited the Canterbury Tales exhibit a few years back, it was good to see the randy rooster appear in 14a, otherwise that would have stumped me too.

  24. Martha is a biblical figure who is frustrated because her sister Mary leaves her to do all the housework while she hangs out with Jesus.

  25. Like others, I needed the hint for 24a, otherwise a bit of a write-in. Very enjoyable nonetheless, and I kicked myself when I realised the answer. Thanks Pommers and all of you.

  26. Martha see Luke 10:38-42

    38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

    41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

  27. It is 10.30 am and the DT hasn’t put today’s crossword on its ‘broken’ puzzle site yet. It worked so much better when the pdf was put on Big Dave last time there was a problem – any chance of a similar deal until this problem is sorted out?

  28. Definitely **** enjoyment for me! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif Have indeed heard of the word for ‘dance’ in 1a. We used to use it as teenagers!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_lol.gif Clues particularly liked were 1a, 13a, 23a, 1d, 6d, and 20d. I did manage to work out 24a, but came to grief on 26a and got it wrong! Dear, oh dear!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif
    Many thanks, Giovanni, for a lovely puzzle. And many thanks, Pommers, for your delightful and most helpful hints.

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