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DT 27687

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27687

Hints and tips by Kath

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating — Difficulty ***/**** — Enjoyment ****


Good morning everyone and a very Happy New Year to you all. Here we have the first Ray T crossword of 2015. I thought it was quite difficult and I’m not hung over! I suspect there could be a few woolly heads out there today so any of you who are suffering should perhaps consider another cup of coffee before tackling this one. I don’t know if the first two across answers count as a Nina – I think they probably do but I’m pretty sure someone will tell me.

The answers are hidden under the things that say “click here” so try not to do that by mistake.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a            Number worked during today, emptily … (6)
TWENTY — A word meaning worked, or in the case of a car, did what it was supposed to do, are contained (during) the first and last letters of T(oda)Y (emptily). Given the date today anyone with their wits about them will begin to smell a rat here because it takes you into the next answer . . .

4a            … number getting fit, that’ll keep following, even briefly (7)
FIFTEEN — Fit, from the clue, containing (that’ll keep) the one letter abbreviation for F(ollowing) and then a poetic word for even.

9a            Pet with sexier snaps showing professionalism (9)
EXPERTISE — An anagram (snaps) of PET with SEXIER.

10a         Small hospital behind mine (5)
SHAFT — The one letter abbreviations for S(mall) and H(ospital) are followed by a nautical term for the behind or rear of a boat.

11a         Most incredible river circles a large lake (7)
TALLEST — A river in southern England goes around (circles) the A from the clue and L(arge) and L(ake) giving you the answer which means most incredible or least likely to be believable.

12a         Problem is hard, producing bad mark? (7)
BLEMISH — Just occasionally I think I’m getting better at ‘spotting’ these hidden answers – I’m not so, for the first time today, oh dear!


13a         Game bird’s role, grand being in control (9)
PARTRIDGE — A word meaning role or playing someone in a drama is followed by another word for control or oppress which contains (being in) G(rand).


16a         Chap’s going round English capital (5)
MEANS — This capital is neither a city nor an upper case letter – it’s money or the werewithal – a chap or bloke, with the apostrophe S, goes round E(nglish).

17a         Typical appetisers prepared around Spain initially (5)
TAPAS — Take the first letters (initially) of the first five words of the clue.


18a         Subject of French writer approaching depression (9)
DEPENDENT — Begin with the French word for ‘of’, follow that with a writer, a biro perhaps, and finish off with a depression or hollow.

21a         Pains I described holding stomach (7)
INSIDES — And another hidden answer – and I missed it – oh dear, again!

22a         No stir’s endless imprisoned by concrete (7)
REFUSAL — A four letter word meaning stir or todo without its final letter (endless) is contained in (imprisoned by) another word for concrete or genuine.

25a         End of spring, facing meagre harvest (5)
GLEAN — The last letter (end of) spring is followed by (facing) a word for meagre or thin and lacking substance.

26a         Rash is more manageable, back covered in antiseptic (9)
PREMATURE — This rash doesn’t mean spots – it means ill advised or unconsidered. A reversal (back) of a word meaning more manageable or gentler is contained (covered in) another word for antiseptic or uncontaminated. I’m not very happy about this other word being a synonym for antiseptic – what does anyone else think?

27a         Pick out record by Queen — Queen’s last (7)
DISCERN — Begin with a record that you could play on a stereo system, follow that with the two letters for our Queen and follow that lot with the last letter (last) of (Quee)N.

28a         Caught, the woman’s embracing sweetheart, bottoms up (6)
CHEERS — The one letter cricketing abbreviation for C(aught) and the middle letter of swEet (sweetheart) go around (embracing) a word meaning belonging to the woman.

Clink glasses with white wine



1d            Laurel crown? (7)
TREETOP — A cryptic definition which took me far too long and I’m struggling to give a hint without including the first part of the answer in my hint. Sorry!


2d            Ban of the French kiss in exercise overturned (5)
EXPEL — The two letter French definite article, a two letter abbreviation for physical exercise containing the one letter that denotes a kiss and then reverse the whole lot (overturned).

3d            Short half of bitter, then two quarters (5)
TERSE — The last three letters (half of) bitter are followed by two points of the compass (quarters).

4d            Present single drink raised in festive surroundings (7)
FREEBIE — The letter that looks like the Roman numeral for one or single and a drink that comes in pints or halves are reversed (raised) and contained in the first and last letters (surroundings) of F(estiv)e.

5d            ‘Geezer’ playing bass perhaps (9)
FISHERMAN — This bass is not a guitar – it’s a cold blooded vertebrate that lives in water.



6d            Remove energy beam, catching cold (9)
ERADICATE — Begin with the one letter abbreviation for E(nergy) and follow that with a word meaning beam or emit rays (very appropriate) which contains another one letter abbreviation for C(old).

7d            Nicks the cons getting banged up (7)
NOTCHES — An anagram (banged up) of THE CONS.

8d            Historic building could be leant over (6)
LISTED — If you live in an old house you really don’t want it to be this as the powers that be come along and tell you what you can and can’t do to it.


14d         Get back, concerned with crew on ship (9)
REPOSSESS — The two letter abbreviation meaning concerned with or on the subject of are followed by a crew or group of men usually seen with a sheriff in a Western film and then the usual two letters for a steamship.

15d         Home team inside centre playing without team leader (9)
RESIDENCE — A word meaning a team or group of people playing sport is contained in an anagram (playing) of CENTRE without the T (without team leader).

17d         Got time over having fake locks (7)
TWIGGED — Begin with the one letter abbreviation for T(ime) and follow that with a word meaning wearing a false hairpiece.

18d         Shovel and stand up awkwardly (7)
DUSTPAN — This kind of shovel isn’t anything like a spade – you’d use it with a brush and it’s an anagram (awkwardly) of STAND UP.

19d         After parking, drives and clears out (6)
PURGES — The one letter abbreviation for P(arking) is followed by another word for drives or encourages.

20d         Bank employees who are recounting (7)
TELLERS — A double definition.

23d         Brandish loud whip (5)
FLASH — Begin with the one letter musical abbreviation for loud and follow that with another word for a whip or rope. I decided against trying to find a picture for this one!

24d         Plunge beginning to swim on river (5)
SOUSE  —The first letter (beginning) of S(wim) is followed by a river that eventually comes out in the Wash.

I’ve just realised how few anagrams there are today – that’ll do as my excuse for finding it tricky. I liked 17a and 1 and 4d. My favourite was 17d.

Quickie pun: Wrestle + Loos + Shuns = Resolutions


104 comments on “DT 27687

  1. HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!
    And what a brilliant start to the crossword year! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    I found this at the easy end of Ray T’s spectrum, pretty close to “read & write”, but nevertheless extremely enjoyable, and my BD rating is 1*/4*. 5d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Ray T and to Kath.

  2. Good morning Kath. I feel really bad today. Fernet Branca is, I hope, the answer. However, I don’t think that I can cope with a RayT puzzle when I have a clear head, let alone today. Happy New Year to you and all the other bloggers on this site (which is invaluable)

    Right, in view of Rabbit Dave’s comments above I’ll have a go at it

    1. How could you Collywobbles? I would rather suffer than stomach Fernet Branca! My father swore by it though. Good old Alka Seltzer usually does the trick for me.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  3. Found the NE corner pretty tricky – especially as I put in ‘notched’ for 7d… 3*/4*. Thanks to Kath and RayT

  4. I found this a bit tricky in places, something to do with a festive night I suspect. Completed it without help assisted by copious amounts of coffee. Thanks to RayT and to Kath for an entertaining start to 2015.

  5. Morning Kath and thanks for doing today. Not sure my brain is up to it. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    I’ll do the puzzle as usual over lunch. I just popped in to give the good news that the Spiderlady is back in today’s Grauniad http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    The puzzle is brill. Her recent illness certainly hasn’t affected her wit and trickiness.

  6. My first post, although I read your blog regularly. A great start to the New Year – how I love my **** **** ( sometimes longer!) with the on line version and a mug of coffee every morning! How do you guys know which compiler sets it? I’d give it **/****.
    Just a bit miffed we don’t get the Toughies or GK crosswords on line.

    1. Welcome to the blog John

      In the interest of less-able solvers we try to avoid quoting actual solving times on here, although creative measures of time like mugs of coffee or pints of beer are OK.

        1. Note to self – must read comments properly before approving them and welcoming people.

          Do you think that covers us for New Year Resolutions? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    2. Welcome John.

      Information on how we know about the setters can be found in the FAQ section. See the tabs at the top of the blog. You can tell it is a Ray T puzzle because he always mentions the Queen and his quick puzzle clues are all one word.

      Not quite sure what you mean about not getting the other puzzles online as they are all available to subscribers of Telegraph puzzles Presume you have an i-Pad subscription.

      1. I think it is a swizz that the tablet app does not have the Toughie. I have both, but the puzzles site is no use when you are travelling without a computer as ipads do not have Flash. I would happily ditch the Quick, which I never do, although I don’t see why providing all three is a problem. Perhaps our esteemed editor could enlighten us?

        1. I agree with you. You could use the stand alone inc app that will allow you to get the quick, back-pager and toughie in conjunction with your puzzles subscription. Cost me about 6 or 7 quid if I remember rightly. I always use it for daily solves but it’s perfect for travelling too. It’ll also import the daily Indy cryptic and quick for free.

        2. Rick, have you had a look at Big Dave’s section entitled ‘Cryptic Crosswords’ above (between ‘Introduction’ and ‘Features’)? You will find there ‘Smart Phones and Tablets’, ‘Crosswords on the Move — How to Access Crosswords by Prolixic’. I found this invaluable and have no problem getting Toughies on my iPad.

  7. thanks for a great start to 2015, and love the pictures as usual

    unlike Rabbit Dave, I found 5d a disappointment as ‘geezer’ didn’t seem to bring anything to mind other than a spirt of water

    keep up the good work

    1. Kevin, I think Geezer in 5d is a very nice piece of misdirection. Not only is it slang for a man, it is also the nickname of Terence “Geezer” Butler, Black Sabbath’s bass player.

  8. Cannot wait, but it will not be today. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! Well done Kath you little topmost blogger you!!! As for Ray T. keep on keeping on.

  9. Bit of a thick head today – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I too, missed any decent anagrams, they always give you a head start!

    A very nice puzzle and a bit tricky – I puzzled over 24d trying to fit in an ‘r’ or maybe a ‘ure’ – the BRB helped me out again where the third definition said ‘to plunge, immerse or duck’.

    Onward and upward – come on you ‘ammers! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  10. I thought this was a bit tricky in places, but very doable and certainly enjoyable. 24D was last one in. I thought there was more to 5D than just a reference to angling. I interpreted “geezer” as sounding like ‘geyser’ and being to do with a fissure (fisher) in the earth that is responsible for a phenomenon like Old Faithful. I haven’t explained that very well, I know. Anyway, on that basis, it’s my favorite clue. Many thanks to Ray T., and to Kath for the review.

      1. I think that Rabbit Dave (above) has given the right explanation for the geezer in 5d, which also explains (since it’s a nickname) why it’s in quotes.

        1. I think so, too, though I also think that knowing who plays what in old rock bands is an area of specialized knowledge. Do I get marks for creativity?

        2. You know more about these things than I do, but RB’s explanation requires a lot of general knowledge about old rock bands, which I do not possess.On the other hand , there doesn’t seem to be any homophone indicator.

          1. I’d certainly never heard of the bass player before reading Rabbit Dave’s comment but you don’t need that specialised knowledge to solve the clue. ‘Bloke playing bass, perhaps (9)’ would have worked as a clue – but it’s much more satisfying when you see the link to Mr Butler.

            1. You are right , I didn’t need it to solve the clue, but I didn’t understand why I got the right answer.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    1. I love the creativity of the fissure and hope it’s true but I suspect Black Sabbath (whoever they/it are!) will be what the setter was hinting at. I was hoping someone would shed light on this, as it seemed just too weak for RayT if it was just the surface reading.

  11. I thought this one was a bit tricky in a number of places as I found many of the wordplays a bit loose with the meaning of the words. I see quite a bit of difference with professionalism and the answer for 9a for example. I have come across many people who claim to be professional that show a remarkable lack of 9a! There are several like this, but then I did complete the puzzle in not too long a time, so I suppose as clues they worked.

    Maybe I am just a bit picky about the meaning of words!

    2*/3* for me.

  12. Ray T for the first of the year – brilliant start. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif
    Def. agree your rating, Kath – I found a few tricky ones along the way.
    13a remained stubbornly hidden for quite a while and I spent far too long trying to find a city to fit 16a.
    I was also a bit worried about the definition in 26a but it’s doubtless in the BRB!
    Favourite is probably 17d because it made me smile. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif
    Think you can have 1&4a as a Nina – poss. include 28a?
    Many thanks to Mr. T as always and to Kath for being sufficiently awake and sober to produce an excellent review http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    Signed off early yesterday as we were going out to visit friends but it was lovely to scroll through the blog later and read all the good wishes sent in by so many on the site. All the best for 2015 to all of you – especially Brian, as I suspect he may need a bit of cheering up this morning. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  13. Me too in the ‘finding this tricky corner’ – I blame the blooming cold wind out in the middle of the marsh – walking in it obviously froze the grey matter.

    Happy New Year and thank you to both Kath and Ray T. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    1. I don’t know about the marsh – if you found a back pager tricky I think hell just froze over!

      1. Sillies. For me, Ray T is the trickiest of the back page setters and today I found him a bit more tricky than usual, that’s all there is to it.

        Had others not agreed with me, I might have had to blame the effect of the cold walk, or last night’s Prosecco, or even the sight of No 2 son’s photo of the toe he hurt falling into a hole in the dark in Cambodia last night.

  14. Happy 1a 4a to everyone :).

    Found this nicely stiff, and very enjoyable to do. There are a couple of definitions I’m not so sure about (e.g. the one Kath mentions in 26a) but I’ll make the effort to look them up in the BRB before raising them here. Too often have I been caught out!

    Hadn’t heard of the river in 11a, and missed the Black Sabbath reference even though I was told there was one.

    I liked it when I 17d 17d, but feel that we’ve had enough 13a’s for the time being. Let them rest for, say, 51 weeks. Very much liked 14d and 17a, but it’s not easy to pick a favourite today from so many contenders.

    Edit: no it isn’t – 28a!

    Thanks to Kath and RayT for your 9a. 28a! :)

  15. Feeling pleased that I managed to grind the first one of the year out without hints and that it felt as hard other puzzles . I must be improving.

    Happy New Year to all.

    1. You omitted the space between ‘SIdeshow’ and ‘Bob’ which meant your ‘new’ alias sent you into moderation. Both should work now.

  16. My head is quite clear but this is certainly tricky , but far from impossible.I needed your parsing of 26a, which I got but couldn’t understand . and I am still at a loss about the anti-biotic..I liked 1a, 4a, 21a and 17d and many others. Thanks Kath and Ray T.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif
    Anybody had a go at the toughie yet ? I will only have a shot at it if it is reasonably benign.

  17. What a cracking start to the New Year. No real problems but not sure why geezer is in ”. Favourite clue 17 down. A ***/**** for me.

    Thanks Ray T and Kath and a Happy New Year to everyone.

  18. I’m another struggling with the antiseptic synonym. My BRB app has 18 definitions of the word but not that one so it is a bit of a stretch. It doesn’t show as a definition of antiseptic either. – I think accuracy has been sacrificed in pursuit of a good surface.
    That grumble aside, a good and stiff test that probably needed a clearer head than mine! Thanks all and HNY.

  19. Really enjoyed this one although had a degree of difficulty. My rating is 3.5/4.5 I alwaways find that Ray T really grasps what a cryptic crossword should be about and he certainly knows how to set them. I am nursing a shoulder injury at the moment so it is my excuse to sit and watch Mary Poppins with a bottle of claret to hand. My very best New Year wishes to our leader Big Dave, the other reviewers, Miffypops, Kath, Gazza, Falcon et al and to my fellow would be solvers. Cheers!

  20. I think if all the cryptics were written by RayT, I would have to stop doing them. They are far too hard for me and for my better half. I’m very pleased most of you enjoy them, but roll on tomorrow. Happy New Year to All.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    1. Persevere, Sheila, persevere. I used to think exactly the same and had some right old strops, teddy out of the pram sort of thing. But gradually I began to understand his clues. I guess the thing is not to get into a negative mindset that it is ‘too difficult’. Have to confess that even now I sometimes start to go down that route. Today was such a day! Started to think that I was going to have to set it aside as for quite a while nothing seemed to work. Then one clue dropped, then another.

      I don’t know how you approach crosswords but I will skip all over the place looking for low hanging fruit such as anagrams. If I get one then I’ll branch out from there with the check letters the anagram gives me to adjacent clues.

      A bit of a rigmarole but I felt exactly the same as you not that long ago. Keep the faith!

      1. Thank you Roger for your words of encouragement. My husband & I jointly do the crossword after we’ve had our lunch and he’s the anagram finder. If I’m going to contribute, I have to know what I’m looking for, & I’m afraid I’m not on this setters wavelength at all. We do enjoy most of the others though, and have improved at bit since we started. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

        1. I agree with Roger. I think that once you know you find a particular setter tricky you (and for you I mean one) go into it expecting to be defeated and with a general feeling of doom which affects everything. I’m a bit like it with Friday crosswords and as for Toughies – well, don’t even start me! If it’s called a Toughie I can’t do it!!

          1. Now that is defeatist.You know perfectly well you have solved lots of Toughies.
            Re Ray T , after I eventually solved a few I became confident that I could solve them all. I think with RayT , the secret is take it slowly , expect to spend a while cogitating over each clue.

            1. Quite right Una. With no more than eight per clue Mr T does not waste a word and they all mean something. He is also a master of making the most innocuous looking words the definition – 22a and 17d are classic examples today. Those who do not read clues carefully – naming no names – will struggle and be none the wiser.

  21. *****/****

    Today qualified under the pleasure/pain principle for me.
    On first pass I got zero clues, not one. I possibly got half a one. But a cup of tea and a freezing walk seemed to help.

    5d. Invoke the Miffypops rule. Without the blog there is not a chance I would have understood it.
    26a. Like others I’m still not sure about the ‘antiseptic’ part.

    These are not ‘niggles’, just my own lack of comprehension as I thought the puzzle was fantastic as a whole. Goodness only knows what Brian will make of it.

    Many thanks to RayT for the challenge, and it was that, and to Kath for your fantastic blog. :-)

    Happy 2015 everyone. That’s 2-0. Not 1015. ;-)

  22. I don’t have any issues with antiseptic (as in scrupulously clean, free from impurities) being a synonym for pure.

    1. I still don’t agree with any of you except Chris – I think there is a mix-up here between antiseptic and aseptic. This could be my quiddity of the day. I have to confess that quiddity is a word I learnt from a Toughie by Micawber (I think) some time ago and if I don’t use it occasionally I’ll forget it!

  23. I loved this crossword, as I do all of RayT’s work, and greatly enjoyed doing it. (How could I not see 1a and 4a immediately though?) My favourite is 12a which I thought was really subtly hidden. I do not think antiseptic is the same as pure and neither does the BRB as far as I can see, though. 3*/5* for me and many thanks to the setter, and to Kath. And a Happy New Year to all.

  24. Tricky but fun we thought. ***/**** just about covers it.

    Didn’t like the pure/antiseptic bit in 26a and 17a has to be favourite living where I do.

    Many thanks to RayT for a great start to the yearand to Kath for the review.

    1. Welcome from me too, Katie. To quote one of our regular commenters “Onwards and upwards”!
      Please keep commenting and good luck. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  25. Happy New Year to everyone, as I counted the empties into the Big Red Bin this morning it slowly dawned on me why I was incapable of starting solve this one. Thanks Kath for the enlightening clueshttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  26. Happy New Year everyone. This was a suitably benign kick-off for 2015 however I did struggle a bit in the North. ***/***. Not really any favs to pinpoint but plenty of fun along the way as I simultaneously watched the ever joyous New Year’s Day concert by the Vienna Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and even look forward to the repeat this evening. Many thanks to RayT and Kath for your ongoing dedication to the cause. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  27. Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a happy new year.
    Still in the middle of France with no access to printer or international newsstand.
    The town I am in is Clermont Ferrand and has links with Hyeres since 1680 or so when a hyerois called Massillon became Bishop of Clermont. And for some strange reasons I have many friends here.
    Should be back in the south by the weekend and in the meantime I wish you all again a great 2015.

  28. Great, welcome to the New Year, have a Ray T, thanks a bunch DT!
    Seriously though, given how difficult so many of us do find his crosswords, why not confine his efforts to the Toughie and let the rest of us have a more solvable puzzle on the back page (or wherever the DT put it these days). That way the lovers of his puzzles can enjoy themselves and leave the rest of us in peace. Do the setters get paid extra to be on the back page?

  29. Thank you Ray T for the challenge. I think it might be quite difficult under normal circumstances, but with the after effects of becoming “tired and emotional” it seemed to be extra tricky. Well done Kath and thank you for your review and hints – beyond the call of duty on a Bank Holiday. Happy New Year to everyone.

  30. Trickier than a usual Back-page RayT, but I got there in the end. ***1/2 / *** as I thought it lacked some of the usual wit.

  31. My difficulty rating for this puzzle is somewhere between Rabbit Dave’s R&W and Brian’s despair!

    Thanks to Kath for the review.

    (Broken all my New Year resolutions already! )

    Hic! Where are my cigarettes?

  32. I found this decidedly tricky, but having 1a and 4a as a gift from RayT, it gave me something to go on. A lot, or I should say, most of my answers were bunged in and figured out later. So many red herrings, e.g. 16a, I struggled to think of a city, then it dawned on me.
    I think the best thing about this puzzle today was working out the “why” then the huge aha moment. Brilliant.
    Hard to choose a fave, I think 17d wins with honourable mention to 5d and 1d.
    Thanks to RayT and to Kath, what a relief it was to see your difficulty rating!

  33. Apologies to everyone, particularly Ray T, for missing the misdirection in 5d. I’ve heard of Black Sabbath but could not name any individuals. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

  34. 3*/4*. What a good start to the year if still groggy from last night. This was fits and starts for me but worth persevering with. 26a was my favourite and 12 and 21 once I got over the d’oh factor.Thanks for the hints Kath and the setter for a real challenge. Happy new year to you all.

  35. Setter here, with very many thanks to Kath for the analysis, and to everybody else for your comments. Also, a very happy New Year to one and all.


    1. Hi Mr. T. If you’re still looking in, can you settle the debate as to your thinking behind the cluing for 5d?

      Many thanks and a very happy 2015 to you, too.

      1. Yes, of course. Despite the very imaginative alternative I was thinking of ‘Geezer’ Butler of Black Sabbath.


          1. There’s no getting away from the fact that I screwed up here. What annoys me is that I did get as far as wondering why Geezer was in quotes – should have done a bit of ‘digging’ i.e. asking Mr Google. Oh dear for the umpteenth time today! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

            1. Don’t chastise yourself, Kath, I’ve never even heard of Black Sabbath, let alone Geezer!

        1. Thanks for clearing that up Ray. All in all it’s been a superb day, with Spurs going fifth in the table by thrashing Chelsea, and the second best club in North London losing to Southampton.

  36. We really enjoyed this one, and a special delight was discovering the NINA across the top. We did the word count as usual and report that everything is, of course, in order. A beautifully compiled puzzle and a review to match.
    Thanks RayT and Kath.

  37. Happy New Year to everyone! Found this puzzle tricky especially the NE corner. At first only managed to solve three of four clues…. So left it and came back to it with more success. So relieved to discover that I was not the only one to be seriously challenged by Ray T’s first offering of the year. Many thanks to Ray T and to Kath for the review – succumbed to peeping at 16a answer… Forgot to think of money for capital! Definitely a 3.5*/4* for me. Bonne année to Jean-Luc!

  38. Struggled with this one, but had a lot of fun doing so. Difficulties might have been due to a little too much New Year spirit last night (which in this part of the world is tequila). I’m grateful to Kitty for the assistance and encouragement from afar which finally got me to the finish. On the first pass 5d brought an immediate smile, and meant that my solving was attempted to a soundtrack drawn from Vol. 4 and the wonderful first album. Ah, memories. Knowing the misdirecting context of the clue meant I had to get a few acrosses in the NE in place before finally realising the answer. Clever clue. Also liked and admired 14a, 17d, and 14d. I wouldn’t have associated “went” with “work” and “pure” with “antiseptic” and wouldn’t call 18d a shovel, but these are minor quibbles with a very enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Ray T for creating it. Since I’m still very much in learning mode, I found several answers by identifying words of the right length that fitted either the start or the end of the clue (is the technical term for that “bunging it in”?), so I was glad to have Kath’s entertaining explanations of the wordplay. Happy New Year to all.

  39. Thank you Ray T and Kath for a brain-numbing start to the year. I did my usual trick of looking at the last down clues first, no go, moved to 1a light dawned followed by 4a. Then crawled through the rest of the clues with an awful lot of electronic help but I persevered and only looked at blog when I had finished. Happy New Year to you all. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  40. A bit of a late evening start to today’s puzzle, but a most enjoyable crossword to begin the year with. I had many 17 down moments when some of the clues eventually fell into place. Favourite clues included 1, 4, 17 & 26 across and 5 & 17 down. Thanks to RayT.

  41. Pretty stiff for a back-pager; 3+*/4* by my reckoning. I don’t usually ping a “hidden” clue as favourite, but 21a eluded me for a long time, then elicited a heartfelt “DOH!” when l spotted it. Many thanks, RayT, and of course Kath for the review.

  42. What a great way to kick off the New Year! Terrific! 5d? No trouble for this old rocker!
    Thanks to Ray T and Kath for her valiant work.
    HNY everyone!

  43. Late in the day I know but just finished. I find I need peace and quiet. Had to chuckle when I got 17d as the last one in. Why geezer in 5d? Ta for explanation of 4a. Obvious but couldn’t see why.
    Doing the radio times chrismas cryptic – is there such a word as pupoe? The cryptic part of the clue leads me to that answer, and I’ve even found a few references on the web but think they are just miss spellings.
    Happy new year all.

  44. Happy New Year to all. Long time follower of the blog and first time contributor.

    I loved this crossword. 4*/4* – Difficult but solvable as I had plenty of time to devote to the challenge, which is not often the case. I usually have more sympathy with Brian’s opinions on Ray T’s crosswords. I got the reference to the Black Sabbath bass player but wanted to write in guitarman until I had some checking letters.

    Many thanks to Ray T and Kath.

  45. Splendid stuff from Ray T, as usual. This was good enough to keep me from my new guitar, and that’s saying something. 3*/4* for me? Thanks to RT and Kath for their efforts. Belated but heartfelt Happy New Year to everyone, even Brian

  46. A Very Happy New Year to you all.

    This was a splendid start to the New Year. Most enjoyable indeed, but I didn’t know about ‘Geezer’ and Black Sabbath.I should have taken a look on Google!

    Very big thanks to RayT for the enjoyment and to Kath for her excellent review.

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