DT 27508 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 27508

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27508

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Ottawa where we are finally experiencing some seasonal weather.

I read through the across clues today without solving a single clue. However, the down clues came to my rescue and, in the end, the puzzle did not seem particularly difficult at all. For that I am thankful, as I am just getting back into the swing of things again after a couple of weeks of touring central Europe with nary a cryptic crossword in sight. That also explains why I am occupying the blogger’s chair a week later than I normally would.

Unless I am mistaken (and, according to the 2Kiwis, I may well be), an indicator seems to have been omitted from the clue at 23a. In my review, I have suggested a couple of possible amendments to the clue to make it work.

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   Drink’s needed by worker — an aid to office work? (9)
{ SHORTHAND } — a charade of a small measure of spirits and one of Crosswordland’s customary workers (the one who apparently uses a single appendage rather than the one with many legs)

6a   Inform on  German author (5)
{ GRASS } — double definition, the first being British underworld slang

9a   A number heard before crashing? (7)
{ LULLABY } — a tune that puts one to sleep

10a   English doctor entering quiet medical area — one that’s deceptive? (3-6)
{ LEG-PULLER } — a charade within a charade; the first consisting of E(nglish) and a family doctor which is placed inside a charade of a verb meaning to sooth or quiet and what the A&E department is known as in a North American hospital

11a   Unusual gripe in the morning? That’s saying (7)
{ EPIGRAM } — anagram of GRIPE followed by the short form for ante meridiem

12a   Comfort given by vicar entertaining priest with little energy (7)
{ RELIEVE } — the abbreviated honorific of a vicar is wrapped round the priest who taught Samuel; then add E(nergy) to the end

13a   Event requiring national crosses? (7,8)
{ GENERAL ELECTION } — an event requiring people across the nation to make the sign of the cross

17a   Trendy resort from which bachelor’s ejected (5-2)
{ RIGHT-ON } — remove B(achelor) from the beginning of the name of a British seaside resort

19a   Severe military bigwig detaining an American close to unit (7)
{ CAUSTIC } — place a charade of an indefinite article, a two-letter equivalent for American, and the closing letter of (uni)T inside the abbreviation for Commander-in-Chief (just be sure to make the indefinite article accord with the synonym for American)

22a   Below par flavour observed in less popular period (9)
{ OFFSEASON } — below par or poorly followed by a verb meaning to add flavour or zest

23a   Judge and society girl getting day in growing area? (7)
{ SEEDBED } — as postulated by the 2Kiwis in their comment below, the wordplay could be a charade of a synonym for a verb meaning to judge (“If you don’t believe me, judge for yourself”), the shortened version of a title applicable to an old girl from the upper crust, and D(ay)

In my original review, I could only conjecture that an indicator of some sort must have been omitted from the clue. If the clue were to read:

Judge and [confused] society girl getting day in growing area? (7)

then the wordplay would be a charade of a synonym for judge, an anagram (confused) of a short term for a society girl, and D(ay).

On the other hand, if the clue were to read:

Judge and [retiring] society girl getting day in growing area? (7)

then the wordplay would be a charade of a synonym for judge and a reversal of a short term for a society girl placed round (getting) D(ay). In the former case, “getting” acts as a charade indicator while in the latter case, it acts as a containment indicator.

The clue has now been amended online to “Judge and retiring society girl getting day in growing area? (7)” – well done Falcon for correctly predicting this revision.  BD

The only other possibility that I can see is that the girl is DEB and society is an anagram indicator — but that I refuse to buy.

24a   Ground that’s blocked near thoroughfare (5)
{ EARTH } — the solution is hidden in the last two words of the clue

25a   Inspector in the flying squad? (4,5)
{ TEST PILOT } — someone who flies experimental aircraft


1d   Comfort thus found with delicate fabric (6)
{ SOLACE } — an adverb meaning thus or to this extent followed by a decorative material

2d   Old boy damaged violin, showing forgetfulness (8)
{ OBLIVION } — O(ld) B(oy) and an anagram (damaged) of VIOLIN

3d   Problem in police device around Spain (6)
{ TEASER } — a stun gun round the IVR code for Spain; Canadian police services seem to favour the name “Conducted Energy Weapon” for this device

4d   A yard in run-down area provides refuge (6)
{ ASYLUM } — A (from the clue) and Y(ard) situated in a considerably less-affluent area of town

5d   Husky, perhaps, actor Richard goes over line in poor poetry (8)
{ DOGGEREL } — a charade of the type of animal of which the Husky is an example, an American actor and L(ine), “over” being a charade indicator in a down clue

6d   Come out as one involved in US party club that’s riotous (2,6)
{ GO PUBLIC } — insert the Roman numeral for one in a charade of the abbreviated nickname for the US Republican Party and an anagram (that’s riotous) of CLUB

7d   Get a place on course about extremely traditional PM (6)
{ ATTLEE } — the place on a golf course where play commences on each hole is wrapped round the outside letters (extremes) of T(raditiona)L

8d   Theatre worker capturing actor’s heart, provider of delicacy? (8)
{ STURGEON } — a theatre worker — not a thespian, but a member of the medical fraternity — contains the middle letter (heart) of acTor

13d   A logger working round year is grotesque figure (8)
{ GARGOYLE } — an anagram (working) of A LOGGER round Y(ear)

14d   Make economies — and have another dig? (8)
{ RETRENCH } — perhaps the first ditch was not up to standard

15d   What paparazzi might get in improbable venture (4,4)
{ LONG SHOT } — this assignment would seem to call for a telephoto lens

16d   Labs unit planned in foreign city (8)
{ ISTANBUL } — anagram (planned) of LABS UNIT

18d   Boss upset man in the middle with cigarette (6)
{ GAFFER } — a reversal (upset) of a charade of a shortened term for someone who mediates a dispute and a slang term for a cigarette

19d   Church students holding second count (6)
{ CENSUS } — England’s state church and an association of students containing S(econd)

20d   Maintenance that, if followed, produces secret look? (6)
{ UPKEEP } — Here we encounter a bit of inverse wordplay (or, if you prefer, reverse wordplay). The solution to the clue is a synonym for maintenance. Were we to split it (2,4) and treat it as wordplay, it would direct us to reverse a four-letter word thereby producing a word meaning a secret look.

21d   Councillor shortly getting correct praise (6)
{ CREDIT } — abbreviation (shortly) for councillor plus a verb meaning to correct text

I note that the puzzle contains a number of “old chestnuts”, even for someone such as myself who is a relative newcomer to cryptic crosswords. My clue of the day goes to 20d — a style of clue that often gives me trouble. Today, however, I saw it fairly readily.

The Quick crossword pun: (belt} + {hour} = {bell tower}

76 comments on “DT 27508

  1. We also had problems with 23a and eventually decided that if DBE Dame of the British Empire (yes it is in BRB) could be interpreted as society girl, then the clue works. No doubt all will be revealed in time. We enjoyed the puzzle, 9a gave us a chuckle. Have a couple of thoughts on who the setter might be but not prepared to guess this week.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Falcon.

    1. I presumed the answer to 23a but from the clue wondered how deb was incorporated – I really can’t buy d.b.e.

    2. Well done on that bit of sleuthing. Frankly, it never entered my mind to look beyond “society girl” being a DEB. Even if it had, I doubt that I would ever have come up with DBE.

      I have now updated my review to incorporate your suggested solution.

    3. DBE was my thought as well but pommette didn’t look too convinced. Still doesn’t!

  2. **/*** for me. Equally baffled by 23a.

    From the number of cryptic defs I would guess this might be Rufus ?

  3. Likewise, I’m confused with the parsing of 23a. Apart from that I found this an enjoyable exercise. ***/****
    18d was best clue for me, made me smile.
    Thanx to Compiler and to Falcon for the Review.

  4. No real problems today except (like Falcon) the parsing of 23A – surely the society girl is DEB (short for Debutante) but no mention of it being anagramised (hope this isn’t an Americanism), and I can’t say I thought too much of 10A either – rather bitty and contrived for my liking. Other than those two, quite a fun solve today – also it has managed to take a bit longer than I liked so I may not be able to get the 6A cut. Again. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.

    1. We can’t be meant to make an anagram of DEB because that would be an indirect anagram which is a cardinal sin so I imagine that what’s missing is a reversal indicator.

      1. With respect, did not the setter slip up with 23a?
        With respect, and many thanks, otherwise, for a most enjoyable puzzle.
        Thanks, also, Falcon.

  5. Quite good fun, albeit a slow start. With the first and last letters of 18D in place, I initially tried to make ‘gasper’ work for cigarette. Liked 6D and19D. Thank you to the setter and to Falcon for the review. Glad to hear our neighbors to the north have finally thawed out.

  6. Had the same problem with 23a.

    As the answer to 15d is in the singular, surely it should be “paparazzo” in the clue?

  7. I would say 3* for both difficulty and enjoyment.
    Didn’t do too badly until I got to the bottom right corner which took me ages – can’t see why now.
    I spent too long trying, and failing, to justify drastic for 19a but having thought of it I couldn’t think of anything else.
    I was also, for some reason, very slow to get 22a – no excuses for that one.
    For a while I convinced myself that 10a was something to do with cricket – that was silly too.
    Just not my day, I think.
    I liked 25a and 2 and 15d. My favourite, even if it did take forever, was 20d.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and Falcon.

  8. Well, this started off really well, but, having done about three quarters with unexpected ease, we got stuck, and had to resort to the hints, thus preventing us from being too complacent. I thought this puzzle was very enjoyable, and I wouldn’t recognise an old chestnut if it jumped off the page and hit me in the eye, so thank you to the setter and to Falcon.

  9. Hello
    Thanks for setting up this website. Helps newbies to the telegraph crossword enormously.

    I think 23a is – Judge ( See, as that is what a judge does or tries to do.) Society girl (D for debutante) and the last which is obvious Bed for growing area. X

    1. Nice thought Sara, but the the ‘getting a day’ doesn’t come into play I’m afraid

    2. Hi Sara,

      I too would like to welcome you to the blog. It is always nice to see new people joining our cryptic crossword community.

      Allow me to comment on your explanation of 23a.

      Like most — but not all — cryptic crossword clues, this one has two parts, a definition and wordplay. Each part independently leads to the same solution.

      The definition is “growing area” for which the solution is SEEDBED.

      The wordplay is “judge and society girl getting day”. If we accept the explanation suggested by the 2Kiwis, then this would parse as SEE (judge) + (and) DBE (society girl) + (getting) D(ay).

      In the wordplay, the words “and” and “getting” are charade indicators. The word “in” is a link word joining the wordplay to the definition.

      As skempie has pointed out, your explanation fails to account for the words “getting day” — and all words in the clue must be used in the explanation.

      But, as you will likely discover for yourself, some cryptic crossword clues are like IKEA bookcases. If you end up with extra parts, you’ve put it together incorrectly.

      Keep at it. It’s an addictive — but rewarding — pastime.

      1. In my printout f the puzzle 23a reads ” Judge and retiring society girl getting day in growing area” . Was the “retiring” left out of earlier versions? Like Falcon going down the a cross clues I managed to get one ,but the down clues came to my rescue and I found it very doable and enjoyable .Thanks to Mr Ron and Falcon for the review.

        1. Yes, the word “retiring” was added to the clue on the website after my review was posted.

          By the way, I interpret “retiring” in the surface reading to be used in the sense of shy or demure.

  10. Super puzzle, I really enjoyed it and, unusually, managed to complete over breakfast but struggled a bit with SE corner. **/****. Thank you setter/Rufus (if it’s yours) and Falcon for setting the ball rolling on reservations about 23a. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  11. 23ac? What about 6d never heard of the GOP. They have never campaigned here in the heart of Downtown L I. I enjoyed this one but it was still too easy. That is four easy peasies in a row. It is down to the Don to up the ante tomorrow. Try not to upset him peeps. Ta to all involved. It is tubs and hanging basket time. Oh deep joy.

    1. GOP is short for Grand Old Party – which is how the Republicans are known I believe.

    2. You’ve never heard the Republicans referred to as the Grand Old Party? Yes, I know that they don’t canvass in Warwickshire, but surely we should occasionally look over the border :-)

    3. The Republican Party was founded in 1856 but the nickname Grand Old Party was only attached to it in 1888 when the Chicago Tribune proclaimed: “Let us be thankful that under the rule of the Grand Old Party … these United States will resume the onward and upward march which the election of [Democrat] Grover Cleveland in 1884 partially arrested.”

      Ironically this nickname had previously been used by the Southern Democrats — the Democratic Party (formed in the 1830s) actually being the older of the two major US political parties.

  12. The puzzle has been updated online and 23a now reads:

    23a Judge and retiring society girl getting day in growing area? (7)

  13. A fairly gentle offering for a Thursday, thanks to the setter and to Falcon for the amusing pictorial review.

  14. Howdy Falcon.
    Like you we struggled with the across clues and ended up with a gap in the SE corner like Kath & Angel.
    But got there in the end. As you say, relatively easy overall but 23a had us foxed too!
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Falcon for the blog!

  15. For me a 3/4 for difficulty and 1 for enjoyment. Never needed the hints so much as for this one. Most clues seemed just so complicated! 6a, 12a, 24a, 14d, 23a and 21d were all way above my pay grade.
    Only clue I liked was 13a.
    Thx to Falcon for the much needed hints.

  16. I started off very slowly and had great difficulty getting going, but in the end I enjoyed it. Needed the hints, like everyone else, to get the why of 23a, and also 17a, which is unforgivable as we’ve had that before. Fave was 20d, honourable mention to 13a. Thanks to setter and Gazza for review.

    1. Welcome to the blog Clive

      The debate was mainly about the fact that the answer contained BED (SEE D BED) rather than DEB, which has now been resolved by the revised clue. Deb is in The Usual Suspects as “socialite”.

  17. Didn’t need the hints today which is unusual for a Thursday. Usually I need them all.
    Thanks to the setter and Falcon

  18. I really enjoyed this puzzle but had to check the blog as 23A was not making sense to me, it was some comfort to find out I was not alone. I would rate this 3*/4* Many thanks to Falcon for his review which was made all the more interesting by the input of fellow bloggers.

  19. I finished eventually without the hints but it took me nearly all day as I had gasped for 18 down ….. Put gaffer originally and changed it ! I am very new to cryptic crosswords and am in awe of those who finish over breakfast ……unless they eat a lot more than I do !!! May I ask how many years most of you regular bloggers have been doing this crossword in the hope I’ll feel better ?

    1. i don’t think length of time is really that important as I’ve been doing this for nigh on 60 years and I still struggle with some puzzles. Brains and the ability to look at things from a thousand different angles means more, and being familiar with a lot of Britspeak! There are also setters who are on your wavelength, very important.

  20. Hi Jules – don’t be daunted, you’ll get there, and the journey’s the fun bit! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif
    In my case, a mere 40 years or so doing cryptic crosswords, of which approx the last 25 would be this one!

    1. ………..and it seems I still can’t manage to attach a reply to a question! D’oh!!

  21. Thank you setter. An enjoyable puzzle -for a change I managed to finish without resort to outside assistance. A rare escape from the clueless club ! Like everyone else I was baffled by the 23a clue but put the answer in regardless. Thank you Falcon for your review and hints and detailed analysis of 23a. Tomorrow back to the NW and much less time available to sit and really enjoy the puzzles.

  22. Thanks that makes me feel a LOT better ! I have recently found I can usually finish eventually but I do use a dictionary quite a lot for help which is probably cheating ! My aim is to do without but that won’t be for quite a while …. And as you say the journey’s the fun bit !! Thanks for the encouragement !

    1. I regard the use of a dictionary or other aids as “cheating” only when one resorts to them too early in the game. Just try to do as much as you can without their assistance. You will improve your solving skills far more by finishing the puzzle with the help of aids than by leaving the puzzle unfinished.

    2. Hi Jules. In the early days I would resort to dictionaries, encyclopaedia, a crossword list book (rivers, mountains, cities, birds, animals etc) and scrap paper for the anagrams and golly I needed them all. Now it is just me , the ipad and a cup of tea or two. The other stuff just got used less and less. I occasionally use pen and paper for an anagram and occasionally google the odd word to make sure it really exists. It took a long time to attain independence though. This site should get you there a lot quicker. If there is something you are not sure about please ask. You can only learn something new.

      1. Hello Jules, I can only echo what fellow bloggers have said. Do persevere and thought processes do improve. Remember all solvers and all setters have unique brain wavelengths so do not be dispirited. This in my opinion is the most friendly blog, if you have difficulty with the understanding or solving of a clue do not be afraid to ask, you will always get a response and remember, your question and subsequent answer could help another blogger who may have been too shy to ask the same question.

    3. A dictionary is NOT cheating. You have to know what you’re looking up and it might be a word you’ve never come across before. If you’ve constructed the answer from the wordplay then that’s fine.

      Cheating, to me, is when you key C-E-T-N- into a web site to find every word that will fit. At least, you still have to parse the right answer out of those possibilities but it feels a bit unfair to me.

      What’s cheating and what’s fair is a personal thing – who or what are you cheating?

  23. I started well but soon came to a halt and consulted hints and tips. With regard to the hotly debated 23a I could see the word that fitted but was not at first able to match it to the clue.

    As to the reference to cheating I feel I have cheated when I’ve got the word by looking at the letters I have and identify a word which coincidently matches the clue. It feels back to front that way.

    I liked 10, 17 and 22 across, favouring the ones that make me grin

    Thank you setter and Falcon

    1. Sometimes you get the answer just by looking at the letters, because your subconscious mind solves it. Then you have to work out why. It’s not cheating in my opinion.

    2. “Back to front” as you put it is how I solve about 50% of clues, especially anagrams. It’s a case of spotting what is the definition in the clue, at that point you’re halfway there. All you have to do is explain why your answer fits the wordplay.

  24. Had to wait for lodger to bring me the papers when he had finished work, I’ve somehow managed to have an infected wisdom tooth and chicken pox at the same time so pretty much house bound :( :(
    Like Kath 20d was favourite. Thank you setter and falcon

    1. Poor you Andy. Here’s a flower from the other side of the world to cheer you up.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    2. “infected wisdom tooth and chicken pox at the same” – sounds horrid.
      BTW, how are the canines (not teeth!)?

      Get well soon, and here’s another flowery thingy http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

      1. They are fine Pommers, If a bit miffed that i’m moping around the house all day interrupting what I presume is their sleep time. My lodger has been “walking” them whilst out on his jogging sessions , no wonder they look zonked ;) BW to you and Pommette

  25. I really liked this – did not have a chance to look until the commute home and it was done quite speedily. A number of nice clues for me: 5d, 7d, 18d, 19d, 9a and 17a. Last in was 10a. 1.5* and 3* for me. Thanks to The Compiler!

  26. Thanks to the setter and to Falcon for the review and hints. I enjoyed this puzzle, there was a lot to make me think. I finished the top half quickly, but found the bottom half much more tricky. There was something wrong with 23a, no indicator to reverse deb, I gather the online clue has been amended, apart from that, there were some good clues. Favourite was 10a, was 3*/3* for me. Let’s hope we have another fine day tomorrow weatherwise.

  27. I have no problem with solving clues by a combination of applied logic and flashes of (apparently) illogical inspiration. This one didn’t need much of the latter, and 2*/3* is about right. No particular favourite, but 9a made me smile. Thanks to the setter, and to Falcon for a most comprehensive review.

  28. Interesting comments on “cheating”, and that 23a.I have the Chambers crossword dictionary which I find myself using less and less and I find myself solving the anagrams quicker than the anagram solver quite a lot of the time.I think these aids are more important when you are tired, and the brain is on a go -slow.
    Apart from 23a and in my case 1a (are there any shorthand people any more ? Doesn’t everybody do their own typing now?) I am inclined to think it was a Rufus mostly because it was on my wavelength.
    Thanks whoever and Falcon.

    1. Shorthand is still essential for journalists. It’s impossible to report a court case, press conference or other debate without it. Telephone interviews are hopeless if you try to write interviewees’ quotes down longhand – and you can’t talk, listen and type at the same time. To get your NCTJ proficiency cert you need (among many other things) 100 words per minute. But once it’s learnt, you’d be surprised at how often you use it in everyday life.

      1. Thank you , I hadn’t thought about it like that. 20 out of 24 of my class at school went on to typing and shorthand courses and then to work in banks, not something I ever wanted to do .At that time it wasn’t so much a glass ceiling as reinforced concrete ceiling in banks for women.

  29. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot and was, like everyone else, baffled by the lack of indicator in 23a, and as I do the pepper version I would have remained baffled without the highly enjoyable debate among fellow commenters. I also thought the debate on cheating was most entertaining. In fact, this is most readable set of comments for ages, IMHO. Thanks due to Flacon for a splendidly detailed review, which also sparked off the debate, and to the setter for initiating the whole affair. 2*/3*

Comments are closed.