DT 27580 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 27580

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27580

Hints and tips by archy and mehitabel

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

Hola from the Vega Baja and Oxford.  The weather in Spain is still blistering hot (38C yesterday) but poor Oxford grey and drizzle with a bit of an Auntmnal feel this morning.

Yesterday it was scchua’s swansong and today it’s ours.  The alleycat has decided that, as she’s really a reincarnation of the Great Queen Cleopatra, it is beneath her dignity to be seen consorting with a mere cockroach, even one with the soul of a free-verse poet. She’s now going off to search out a suitable aristocat and has graciously appointed Kath to pick up the pieces on a Thursday. For my part, I think I must have been watching too many old episodes of Star Trek as it’s inspired me to go on a search for a speech operated computer so I don’t have to keep bashing my head on the keyboard. In future you’ll just have to put up with pommers sharing the Thursday slot with Kath and Falcon. We’ve both enjoyed doing the blog together but now it’s time to move on, but . . . We’ll be back!

Anyway, on to the crossword.  We both thought this was a tricky little rascal for us to finish on and with some rather dodgy definitions and wordplay so we’ve gone for **** difficulty and only ** enjoyment. It will be interesting to see your comments as when I say it’s hard everyone else usually says it’s easy-peasy and vice versa.  Must be a wavelength thing.

As usual the ones we liked are in blue and if you want to see an answer just click on the ‘click here’ button by the clue.  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           Heathen trend spread instantly (5,3,4)
THERE AND THEN: – Anagram (spread) of HEATHEN TREND.

9a           This makes it hard to contemplate studies before school (3,6)
EYE STRAIN: – A word for studies, as in looks at, followed by a word for to school or coach.  I always thought this was all one word but apparantly it can be two as well.

10a         Some gung-ho ulcerous fiend (5)
GHOUL: – It’s hidden (some) in GUNG-HO ULCEROUS.

11a         Report looked at leading tabloid (3-3)
RED TOP: – A colloquial term for a tabloid newspaper. The first word sounds like (report) a word meaning looked at or studied (not the one in 9a) and the second is a word for leading.

12a         Internet publication covering working in business (8)
ECONOMIC: – Take a word which could describe an electronic publication for children (1-5) and insert (covering) a word meaning working, as in not switched off.

13a         Overheard order for brawn or shellfish (6)
MUSSEL: – This shellfish sounds like (overheard) a bit of brawn.  Not sure what the word ORDER brings to this clue.

15a         Sun’s agony aunt regularly involved in tasteless articles still? (8)
STAGNANT: – Start with S(un) and a word for tasteless or rubbishy things and insert (involved in) the alternate letters (regularly) of aGoNy AuNt.

18a         Adult pivoted turning parental (8)
ADOPTIVE: – A(dult) followed by an anagram (turning) of PIVOTED.  Does this really mean parental?

19a         Ran Germany’s trade abroad (6)
DARTED: – The IVR code for Germany followed by an anagram (abroad) of TRADE

21a         The French embracing Britain with detachment that’s unenthusiastic (8)
LUKEWARM: – This is one for the pedant’s corner!  Take the French masculine definite article and insert (embracing) an abbreviation not of Britain but the country of which Britain is a part and follow with a word which can mean with detachment as in not over-enthusiastic but not completely against. W(ith) and a word for a detachment or wing.  Thanks to Dutch for this one!

23a         Wish we were there, madam? (6)
MISSUS: – A slang term for madam. If it was split (4,2) and followed by a question mark it would be a phrase meaning “do you wish we were there?”

26a         Look into examination of accounts without computer support being sounded out (5)
ALOUD: – Take a word for an examination of financial accounts but with the abbreviation for information technology (computer support) removed (without), and insert (into) the usual two letter word for look.

27a         Introduce a virus and popular old copper’s dead (9)
INOCULATE: – A charade of the usual word for popular (2), O(ld), the chemical symbol for copper and a word used to describe someone who’s dead

28a         Wayward centres going unheaded stop West Ham for one becoming blasé (12)
UNINTERESTED: – Take an anagram (wayward) of CENTRES, but without the C (going unheaded), and insert into (stop) the last part of the full name of the West Ham football club.  The clue could have said Leeds, Newcastle or even Scunthorpe and have worked just as well.


1d           There’s love in monsieur’s proposition (7)
THEOREM: – ‘There’ from the clue but this time without the ’S, containing (in) the letter that looks like zero or a love score in a game of tennis and followed by M(onsieur).

2d           Yours truly in goal? Correct (5)
EMEND: – A goal or aim containing (in) how a speaker may refer to him or herself (yours truly).

3d           Forthcoming bonus docked on account of time (9)
EXTROVERT: – Start with a word meaning bonus or something more than expected without its final letter (docked) follow that with another word for on account of or the reason for and T(ime).

4d           News about motoring organisation that barely gets raised (4)
NAAN: – Barely gets raised as in an unleavened bread.  This isn’t ‘News’ in the sense of what’s going on in the world. It’s the one letter recognised abbreviation for ‘new’ but because it’s plural in the clue there are two of them – they contain (about) a well known organisation that sends people to help unfortunates whose cars have conked out – a regular occurrence in our family!

5d           Revival of unknown movement with a clear determination (8)
TENACITY: – Begin with one of the letters used to denote an unknown quantity in maths, a three letter word for a movement or sudden involuntary twitch, the A from the clue and another word meaning clear in the sense of profit – when you’ve got that lot all together you then need to tip it upside down (revival?). Mehitabel wasn’t clever enough to sort that out for herself so thanks to archy!

6d           Encourage good vitality in European banks (3,2)
EGG ON: – The one letter abbreviation for good and a short word meaning vitality or oomph, are contained in (in) the first and last letters (banks) of E(uropea)N.

7d           Wretch thrown in heap on the grass (8)
WORMCAST: – A wretch or despicable person is followed by a word meaning thrown or flung aside. You don’t really want these on your lawn but they’re not as bad as molehills!

8d           Extract drug (legal) (6)
ELICIT: –  The one letter informal abbreviation for an illegal drug comes before a word meaning legal or lawful.

14d         Store winnings in container in the kitchen (8)
STOCKPOT: – A store or cache is followed by a three letter word meaning winnings or the money won in gambling.

16d         Thanks from gangster initially discourteous about misbehaving (9)
GRATITUDE: – Start with the first letter (initially) of G(angster) and then a word meaning discourteous or impolite containing (about) two two letter words meaning misbehaving or up to no good either criminally or sexually.

17d         Swear military order barked out in hatred (8)
AVERSION: – A word meaning swear or declare to be true is followed by a homophone (barked out) of the last syllable of a military order to get ready to execute a command.

18d         A milk cart could be viable (6)
AFLOAT: – The A from the clue is followed by a low vehicle used to transport milk (or cows or other things).  Cue photo of pommer’s boat!

20d         Broadcast condensed, not on in fall (7)
DESCEND: – An anagram (broadcast) of CONDENSED minus the second and third letters (not ON)

22d         Expand Women’s Institute’s meeting-place (5)
WIDEN: – The two letter abbreviation for W(omen’s) I(institute) is followed by a room used as a place to meet or work.

24d         Bar is quiet at the back (5)
SHAFT: – Two letters that someone may say if they want a person to stop chattering, or how a mother might calm a crying baby, are followed by a nautical term meaning behind or at the back.

25d         Piece of garlic left out for bay (4)
COVE: – A head of garlic is made up of several of these bits – just take out the L (left out).

A bit short on photo opportunities today.  For once we agree on a favourite which was 23a -what was yours?

The Quick Crossword pun: cha+lee+chap+Lynne=Charlie Chaplin


78 comments on “DT 27580

  1. 3* for difficulty, and 1.5* for enjoyment. I found this a bit dull and formulaic with very little to enlighten it apart from 23a, my favourite. What a contrast to last Thursday!

    I’m with mehitabel on 5d. The answer was obvious from the definition and checking letters, but the wordplay completely eluded me, so thank you archy.

    Thanks to the setter and thanks and farewell to a&m for a brief but very enjoyable collaboration.

    P.S. I did like the Quickie pun.

  2. Thanks for enjoyable write-up mehitabeI though many of the clues today were rather convoluted with many bits to piece together, without great surface to justify, which for me is not quite as much fun (though i realise that others adore this) – so i ranked it **. I found it more fiddly than difficult, having to write out suspected answers to check the wordplay before entering them. I quite liked 21a, though I interpreted “with detachment” as W (for with) ARM – if that isn’t the case then the clue loses appeal repeating its definition.

    I’m enjoying the toughie more…

    1. Hi Dutch, you’re probably right about 21a. Didn’t spot that way of looking at it! I’ll edit the hint.

  3. Phew, tough going for me and I was very pleased to finish. Took me ages to see 7D.

    4*/2* I think. (Tricky ones raise my anxiety levels which affects my enjoyment.)

    Thanks for a very successful chore dodger. What now? The toughie or housework? No contest.

  4. Have to agree with the difficulty rating of **** and can’t really get past ** for enjoyment as it was a bit of a slog for a back page cryptic. Although I had the solutions for 5d and 28a, I needed a and m’s blog for the explanation-thanks; fair enough for 28a,which I should have seen, but I thought’ revival’ was stretching things a bit for a reversal. liked 7d and 23a,even brought out a faint smirk!

    1. I thought revival was a bit dodgy for a reversal but synonyms in Collins thesaurus include ‘picking up’ and ‘upswing’ so I guess it’s OK in a down clue.

  5. Thank you setter, not easy but I managed to solve it. I had to work very hard at the wordplay to make any sense and therefore many thanks A & M for your hints and review. I needed your explanation of 5d. Some of the clues were a bit convoluted and clunky, but, having said that very fair and always happy to solve a 4 star !

  6. Crikey; some tricky ones. Stop in 23a was new so it depended on the checking letters – otherwise I was nowhere near. 23a a real on or off the wavelength.
    Quite liked 17d and 9a.
    ****/er… **

  7. Well that must be the trickiest back-pager we have seen in a very long time. We thought of you sympathetically as we were solving it Kath. Pleased to see you had some assistance. We actually quite enjoyed it. The last one for us to sort out the wordplay was 5d.
    Thanks Mr Ron and the team.

    1. I don’t think I’d ever have untangled 5d on my own – that sort of thing does precious little for the confidence! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      1. Hats off to you today, Kath. That was really hard. Definitely too hard for us so thank you both for the hints, and a thank you through gritted teeth to the setter. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

  8. Good combination of mind exercise and fun. Thank you Mr. Ron and Mehitabel(s) – glad it’s only au revoir for you perhaps. Needed help in SE as Frankie Howard’s term in 23a didn’t occur to me and that made 24d difficult. Not sure about 4d and 5d clues. Liked 26a and 27a. ***/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  9. I also found this difficult – especially as I had rejected many of the actual answers as I could not understand why they were the answers!

    So, I really appreciated the clues today, only to humph and puff at the outcome!

    4*/2* looks about right to me.

  10. Definitely the toughest for me in ages. Took me well over double two star time so 4* for difficulty seems spot on. Glad I didn’t have to blog it!

  11. Glad it’s not just me then!

    Totally agree with most of the comments and ratings so far. Maybe 3.5 as I did finish in the end bar 7d.

    Like a roller coaster – painfully slow and creaky all the way to a point and then……..

    Only 2 for enjoyment as a fair number of clues were just too convoluted.
    28a was a bit daft and the clue wording was tortured rather than witty. Hey ho! As for 1a, thought I would drown in all the Ts, Hs and Es. Gave me 9a……

    Thx A and M.

  12. Phew!

    Off to the Toughie for a bit of light relief … hopefully!

    But I did like 23a.

    Many thanks to archy and Mehitabel – needed quite a few of your tips today.

  13. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Archy and mehitabel for the review and hints. A very tricky puzzle, the most difficult for ages. It seemed to grind me down, so in the end I had to resort to the hints for 3,4,7,18d, which I would never have got in a month of Sundays. Favourite was 17d. Was 4*/2* for me. Weather a bit better in Central London.

  14. Well, after a run of some great Thursday crosswords and some very enjoyable clues and being able to solve them with a modicum of effort yielding much satisfaction, we come to todays’.

    Ah well, there is always tomorrow. I only managed 3. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  15. After sailing through the earlier puzzles this week I came to a grinding halt with this one. I managed to slog most of the answers (eventually) but in several cases ended with a wild stab from the letters and then tried to work back to the word play, unsuccessfully with 15a , 23a and 5d. Thanks to archy and mehitabel for their explanations. I have to give this puzzle 1*/3***

  16. Average difficulty, average enjoyment, average crossword, thanks to the setter and to the dynamic duo with thanks for their contributions and hard work.

  17. What a tricky little beggar that was, thoroughly nasty!
    No fun at all, far too bizarre for my taste. One of those you finish and realise that most of the clues you really haven’t understood. Please DT save these blighters for the experts in the Toughie.

  18. Agree with **** difficulty ** for enjoyment . Would have been * but 23a was worth a whole point in itself.

  19. Quite a mixed bag as far as the wordplay goes – some very straightforward clues but others were a shade dubious!

    No particular faves today!

  20. Thanks archy and mehitabel, I needed you hints for 5d and 23a.I seem to have liked it more than some of you, especially 7d, 27a, 26a, There were some very elusive clues , but a fair sprinkling of anagrams and easy ones , I thought.So thanks to the setter.

    1. Welcome to the blog Alan

      I don’t think so. I think it may be part of the homophone indicator – “overheard order for” – but it is not very good.

  21. Very tricky, and managed some clues but relied on the hints more that I would have wanted. Liked 7d (couldn’t make out what the picture was!), 23a, 14d and 27a. Agree that 18a is a tenuous definition of ‘parental’ as IMHO, ‘adoptive’ could relate to siblings etc, and needs the word ‘parents’ to make sense.

  22. “Dodgy definitions” is a massive understatement. A very poor crossword that should have never made its way to publication.
    Big thanks to Big Dave contributors for trying to make sense of this nonsense.

  23. Well, for once nearly everyone seems to be in agreement about the puzzle http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    Definitely a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif as far as I’m concerned. I’ve no idea who the setter is and the style doesn’t ring any bells so perhaps we have a newbie.

    1. Yes – just for once almost everyone is in agreement.
      Now, you can all call me weedy and pathetic if you like but I feel sorry for the setter. He, or she, has put a huge amount of work into putting this crossword together and has had very little appreciation or encouragement. It makes me feel like http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif for him or her.
      I’ve never tried to set a crossword and I wouldn’t know where to begin – come on everyone – what about a little bit of http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif for being able to do it at all.
      I’ll get my coat . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

      1. I agree wholeheartedly with you. I don’t like saying too much negative about the setters, but in this instance I found this such a strange puzzle, at one point I wondered if someone was taking the Michael! But I guess not.

      2. I really didn’t think it was all that bad .OK 28a was really very strange, I got it from the checkers, similarly with 5d . I’m not much good at crosswords yet, and I focus on the definitions rather than the fodder about half the time. Honestly there have been far worse.

  24. That was the strangest puzzle that I’ve ever done! I did finish it but a lot of my answers were from using the M’pops rule, if it fits … etc., so many thanks to a&m for the explanations, particularly 7d, 15a and 28a.
    I had heavy electronic use today. I had “red hot” for 11a as I was not aware of the name of the tabloid.
    Fave was 23a with honourable mention to 7d.
    Thanks to setter, and HUGE 16d to archie and mehitabel, “you done good” to unravel that lot.


    1. Re 11a, the phase for tabloid newspapers comes from the fact that the cheapo end of the UK tabloids all have their names in white text on a red background including the Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Sunday Sport, The People and the now defunct News of the World.

      1. Aha! Thanks for that interesting tidbit. The News of the World was owned by that rat Murdoch, wasn’t it?

        1. Thanks for the compliments in your slightly earlier comment. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif
          I think the News of the World was generally referred to as “The Screws of the World” – well it certainly was this side of the pond!

          1. Or “News of the screws” was my recollection!

            Awful paper, awful crossword, but thanks for your hints. Boy, were they needed!

            1. Oh – you’re probably right – I have been known to get things wrong more than just occasionally. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif
              I’m glad that the hints were helpful.

  25. I was very satisfied once I’d completed the solving of today’s crossword puzzle. I don’t know whether it was because I had a lot that I wanted to do today and couldn’t apply myself to the puzzle earlier or that it was plain and simply quite challenging. I began at about 7.30 am this morning and have just completed it at 7.25pm, having walked the dog, shopped, built a cloche for my veg patch and finished the autumn digging in between times. I really enjoyed this one. Thank you setter and thank you also Archy and Mehitabel for explanations to all the ‘whys and wherefores.

  26. Typical brain dead me on Thursday – my other half says I have a ‘thing’ about Thursday crosswords and I ought to fight it BUT my brain says HELP and I am totally grateful to our valiant solvers for todays timely assistance. I hate to admit it but even with the help I was still struggling.

    1. Just keep going and don’t let Thursdays become a self- fulfilling prophesy. I think your other half is right – it’s Thursday so you think you can’t do it – and then you can’t! I understand totally – I can’t do Toughies – if they’re called Toughies my brain tells me that I can’t do them – so I can’t! Oh dear!!!

      1. Gosh thank you, I thought it was just me. Have not tried Toughie because I have eye problem and find by the time I done the two on the back page my sight is not good enough to do any more.

  27. Yes this was a bit different and therefore certainly a bit more tricky than usual but I’m not really sure that it’s that bad! I finished it and frankly I don’t care how long it took me as I’m just delighted to have completed the puzzle. I enjoy crosswords which take me ages to get, the feeling of satisfaction when they are completed is wonderful! Far more so than the ‘write ins’ that frequently appear.
    So thank you Mr Ron and A & M for the hints which made for good reading.
    I’ll get me coat…… http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

  28. Agree that this was definitely on the tricky side. ****/*** for me, with 23a my fave, followed by 16d. Many thanks to the setter.

    I managed to complete all but 4d, so thank you very much, a & m, for the answer. It took me a very long time to unravel the parsing of some of the clues. I couldn’t work out the wordplay of 5d and 17d, and the ‘tasteless articles’ bit of 15a, despite having the answers.

    Very many appreciative thanks to both cat and cockroach for a most excellent review.

    May mehitabel’s future be spent warm, well-fed and in a deservedly luxurious home with archy to share the luxury and record the future chapters of her life story on his new ‘speech operated computer’. A bouquet of roses and catnip for mehitabel http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif Thumbs -up for archy mastering his new computer http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  29. I just love wrong envelope days.
    Phew, what a fight, but we got there.
    Last in 4d, well, the answer couldn’t be anything else!
    Many thanks to the setter and to archy and mehitabel.

  30. I have finally finished this, except for 7D which I had no idea about. It took several goes of ‘pick up and put down’ to even get anywhere and in the end I solved it from the bottom up. I’ve read every comment, and I’m glad it’s not just me being brain dead. I simply did not like it, not because it took me so long to get into it, but because it was no fun at all and I felt some of the clues were dodgy. I did the toughie before I even looked at this and that was much more fun, even if I didn’t complete it on my own.

    1. 7d is WORM (wretch) + CAST (thrown) giving WORMCAST (a spiral heap of earth voided by an earthworm or lugworm as it burrows).

      The reason it is a poor clue is that the wretch is so-called because of the creature that creates the heap on the grass, so it’s kinda saying the same thing twice. This setter is not the only one who does this, but there are several who would never do it (Notabilis and Micawber to name just two).

      1. Thanks, BD. I know that I can be grumpy at times, but I honestly can’t remember ever being so disappointed by the quality of the clues. But, tomorrow is another day!

  31. I stumbled onto this website by accident but greatly appreciated the clues. I had solved the bottom left corner as well as 8,16 17 24 and25 down plus 27 and 29 across but 5 down was too complex for my poor brain and I had 11 across wrong so all in all it was a toughie! Much of the time I cannot understand how the clues work, but your hints have given me new insights on the devious mind of the setter. I can normally solve these puzzles, and the harder they are the better I feel about that, so having not solved this one I have to award five stars for toughness and at least three for enjoyment.

  32. No, and blogging any puzzle is a challenge I could never take up! You both did a sterling job, and I wouldn’t blame you if you’d spent the rest of the day in a darkened room with a few bottles of vino and some bon-bons. But it’s almost 7 pm here, and soon I will be able to access the Friday offerings and restore my faith. Onward and upward!

    1. We did go out for a rather agreeable lunch with some friends which helped a lot http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif Darkened room not necessary after lentejas, salad, garlic chicken, chocolate cake and half a bottle of the red vino collapso.

      As you say, Friday’s puzzles are here soon, but it’s 0100 here so I’m off to bed now. The Don’s not my favourite setter but at least you know more-or-less what you’re going to get so roll on tomorrow.

  33. Finally got round to this today and needed the hint for 7d – first time for ages, so thanks to the departing duo for that. Not many thanks to the setter though for an unrewarding grind. 4*/1*

Comments are closed.