DT 27691 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27691

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27691

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

There is a literary flavour to today’s puzzle with two novelists and a novel featuring in the answers. I started off at a rate of knots but slowed down in the SE corner and needed all the checkers for what I thought was the trickiest clue, 21d. On the whole it seemed pretty straightforward with nothing to set the world alight. Do let us know how you got on and what you thought of it.

If you click on any of the areas showing ‘Click here!’ you’ll see the actual answer so only do that as a last resort.

Across Clues

1a Messy, agent eating chop (6)
SLOPPY – a secret agent contains a verb to chop or prune.

4a Neat  poker hand (8)
STRAIGHT – double definition. The second is a poker hand containing a sequence of five cards (which beats three of a kind but loses to a flush).

10a View exotic lap dances (9)
LANDSCAPE – an anagram (exotic) of LAP DANCES.

11a Food ready to eat after end of fast (5)
TRIPE – an adjective meaning ready to eat follows the last letter of fast.

12a Entrance by duke that is doggedly determined (2-2-3)
DO-OR-DIE – string together an entrance, D(uke) and the abbreviation for ‘that is’.

13a Looks steaming, having done this on the golf course? (3,4)
AIR SHOT – a charade of looks or appearances and an adjective meaning steaming or seething produces an unsuccessful and embarrassing attempt to hit a golf ball.

14a Improvised, most of excuse involving daughter (2-3)
AD-LIB – an excuse without its last letter contains the abbreviation for daughter.

15a Novel confusing to morons (8)
NOSTROMO – an anagram (confusing) of TO MORONS gives us the title of a Joseph Conrad novel.

18a Moral tale about Ecstasy is wholly distasteful (8)
ALLEGORY – the abbreviation for the drug Ecstasy goes between an adverb meaning wholly or totally and an adjective meaning distasteful or gruesome.

20a Overactive aboard dinghy, perhaps (5)
HYPER – hidden (aboard) in the clue.

23a Boast endlessly about firm, the place for fruit (7)
ORCHARD – a verb to boast without its final letter is reversed (about) and that’s followed by an adjective meaning firm or solid.

25a Uncertain what to do, with income less than outlay? (2,1,4)
AT A LOSS – double definition, the first meaning baffled or uncomprehending.

26a Conclude not one has escaped from hell (5)
INFER – a word meaning ‘not one’ as in ‘not one objection was heard’ is dropped from a word for hell (as described by Dante).

27a Saw maiden boiling water (5,4)
ADAM’S WINE – an anagram (boiling) of SAW MAIDEN.

28a Novelist in Maine tried changing ending of ‘Middlemarch’ (8)
MEREDITH – I can’t say that this Victorian novelist was familiar to me but the word play is very clear. The standard two-letter abbreviation for the state of Maine is followed by an anagram (changing) of TRIED and the end letter of Middlemarch.

29a Attentive pocketing key and watch chain (6)
ALBERT – this watch chain was named after the Prince Regent (and is not to be confused with the bodily piercing also named after him). An adjective meaning attentive or vigilant contains (pocketing) a musical key.

Down Clues

1d A youth’s after seconds, going to pub food counter (5,3)
SALAD BAR – A (from the clue) and a young man follow S(econds) and that all precedes another word for pub.

2d Personal objective in move that backfired? (3,4)
OWN GOAL – charade of an adjective meaning personal or private and an objective or target.

3d Dance well with person brought up in post (4,5)
PASO DOBLE – an intensifier meaning well or very (as in ‘well pleased’) and the reversal (brought up, in a down clue) of an informal term for a person go inside a wooden post or stake.

5d A fantastic thing seen in article, jazz fan’s night attire? (3,4,7)
THE CAT’S PYJAMAS – this informal phrase for something excellent dates from the 1920s (it’s very similar in meaning to ‘the bee’s knees’). Start with a definite article, add an informal word for a jazz fan plus the ‘S and finish with a type of night attire.

6d Change flag, heading off (5)
ALTER – flag here is not a noun but a verb meaning grow weak. Remove its first letter.

7d Thriller writer‘s forbidding abridged copy (7)
GRISHAM – put together an adjective meaning forbidding or dour without its last letter (abridged) and a copy or counterfeit.

8d Deal with party, ultimately making pact (6)
TREATY – a verb to deal with (a sick person, say) is followed by the ultimate letter of party.

9d Respond amiably to fool over satisfying role (4,2,4,4)
TAKE IN GOOD PART – a phrasal verb meaning to fool or hoax (4,2) is followed by (over, in a down clue) a satisfying role.

16d Learns in the course of proper practice session (9)
REHEARSAL – a verb meaning learns or gets to know goes inside (in the course of) an adjective meaning proper or genuine.

17d Split screen in court showing Turkish emblem (8)
CRESCENT – an anagram (split) of SCREEN is contained inside the abbreviation for court.

19d A match for the devil (7)
LUCIFER – two meanings, the first an old type of match or lighting device.

21d Papers supporting wizard’s image (7)
PROFILE – a collection of information (papers) follows (supporting, in a down clue) an informal word for a wizard or expert.

22d Element of hatred under Stalin’s lead (6)
SODIUM – a word for hatred or disgust follows (under, in a down clue) the leading letter of Stalin.

24d Biting cold in desert (5)
ACRID – insert C(old) in an adjective meaning desert or dried up.

My top clue was 9d. How about you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: PLANES + PEKING = PLAIN SPEAKING

 


141 comments on “DT 27691

  1. I found this one a bit uninspiring but a steady plod. My favourite is 5d today. Thanks to setter and to Gazza for the review.

  2. A much better day for me toady. 5d put a smile on my face that lasted the entire journey! Many thanks to Gazza and the setter.

      1. . . . .oops . . . . the trouble is that I tend to do that when entering answers into the grid . . . . . . !

  3. Thank you setter – right on the limit of my solving ability. With so little GK I struggle with authors, titles of novels and watch chains etc. I found it very hard going but was pleased to have finished it. Thanks Gazza for the review and hints. I needed your explanation for 3d although I concluded that the answer couldn’t be anything else. I have noted your ** rating and wonder if I will be the only one who struggled ?

  4. 2*/2*. I agree with everything Gazza says. This was an unexciting puzzle heading towards 1* difficulty but with the last few clues taking a little longer. 9d was my favourite. I’ve never heard of 15a, 28a & 29a but all were easily solvable from the wordplay.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza.

  5. Easier than yesterday but I agree with Sweet William. There seems to be too many GK clues creeping into the Cryptic puzzles these days. Difficult for commuters who don’t have access to Google. 15a and 28a are cases in point. 5d was my favourite and brought a smile to my face. Thanks Gazza for review.

    1. There’s always been GK in these crosswords – sometimes more than others. I started solving DT puzzles when commuting in the days long before the interweb, so you solved the puzzle the best you could, had a look the next day to see what you had right or wrong and if you could work out why the solutions were what they were. It was a very solitary occupation where if we gave the setter a thought, it certainly wasn’t to harangue them with our opinions of their crosswords, although I expect there were quite a few ‘letters to the editor’ even in those days.

  6. A fair workout today – and I learned some more new words in 15a, 13a, 28a and 29a – never heard of these but they were all, fortunately quite solvable by logic. I started very slowly, but once I had a foothold, the rest filled in quite steadily.

    2*/3*

  7. Much better for me than yesterday’s Cryptic although I had to check with Mr. Google to confirm a couple – 15&28a – and needed Gazza’s explanation to fully justify the answer for 3d.

    12a rather pertinent in light of the front page DT photo’ http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    11a – have any of you ever eaten the stuff? I remember, as a child, watching in horrid fascination as my Mum ate it and promising myself that I’d never, ever touch it……… I never have!

    2*/3* for me, with 1d as favourite. Many thanks to Gazza, as always, and to Mr. Ron for an enjoyable solve.

    1. A few years ago when I was on a business trip in Czech, one breakfast delicacy offered in the hotel was tripe soup.
      http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif
      I’ll try most things once but I drew the line at that, particularly for breakfast!

      1. Good grief – I guess that way you’d be spared the texture of the stuff but it must have looked awful and sounds even worse. Hopefully, you hadn’t been out drinking the night before – you could have really disgraced yourself at the breakfast table! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

    2. I’ve eaten 11a – doesn’t really taste of anything but it’s horribly slippery and slimy – not keen! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

  8. Very enjoyable and easily doable, although looking through my answers I am now wondering just what a “DOORDIE” is. A breed of non barking dog perhaps? At least with the newspaper I could thicken the spacings between words which I cannot do on the ipad. I too finished with 21d Gazza but wasn’t helped in the SE corner by putting ES instead of AL at the end of 16d due to the first word in the clue being a plural. Yet another Joseph Conrad novel which I have not read. Would not give house room to Grisham and have no idea who Meredith is. I still have Ray Ts from Thursday (new years day) to tackle. It is sitting there all virginal, teasing and tempting me. When the decorations come down, the gloves are off. Great piccie for 5d. Ta to the mystery setter

    1. I’ve still got the Sunday Telegraph from 21st December to read – just haven’t had the time – in fact I only looked at the DT from the 20th on Friday

    2. Ummm……….. if you used to ‘thicken the spacings’ (doesn’t everyone?) then I guess that means Hanni is right – you DO have pencils. Is she also correct in guessing that they have pet names?

      I rely on a motley assortment of biros, mostly acquired from envelopes containing begging letters from various charities. I could probably fill an entire school pencil case with ones from the British Red Cross.

      OK – that’s my load of old 11a for the day. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

        1. Didn’t the ink run all over the neighbouring squares – and didn’t the paper ‘bits’ get stuck in your nib? Oh dear – I think I’ve just given you a lead into a Beet 17a.

          1. Anagrams aside, I do wonder about pencilling in answers in the newspaper. If you get a hard one and have to have a couple of goes at it, wouldn’t rubbing it out just leave a hole?

          2. Not with a pen of that quality Jane. Will this one do?
            http://store.carandache.com/uk-en/634-stylo-bille-varius-rubracer-argent%C3%A9-rhodi%C3%A9.html I cannot write for toffee so love the ipad. It is ever so neat and I can tell what each letter is unlike my handwriting. My solving times have decreased rapidly now that I no longer think Ls are Cs or Gs. I can tel the difference between a P a D and a B and by Ns and Is can be easily distinguished. yes jane. So bad I cannot tell an I from an N.

            1. That will do nicely, MP – thank you so much for the offer. I’ll send you my address for delivery. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

            1. And it’s very lovely…quite an ‘eclectic’ selection. Mine seem positively mundane now. I still have pen envy!

        2. Get you. My writing has got worse and worse so much so that the OH spends the whole shopping time trying to read what I have written on the list P S I have the same problem with his writing but I am not allowed to mention that.

          1. OH’s that shave before bedtime – OH’s that do the shopping…………. I’m just speechless. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

          2. My OH does the shopping too – reading the shopping list isn’t a problem for him as it generally gets no further than the kitchen table. He only uses it when he gets home to see what he forgot – I sometimes think he’s missing the point . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    3. A doordie is a term for any activity in one’s life. A doanddie, on the other hand, refers to life as a whole.

      PS – Enjoy Thursday’s crossword – it’s the best of the year.

  9. Like Gazza, the SE corner held me up for a bit, but mainly for trying to figure out the why of 23A. The authors weren’t too difficult to work out (although I must admit to not having heard of 28A – did have a physics master of the same name though). I have heard of the book in 15A (but have not read it) – its also the name of the ship in Alien.

  10. I think this has scuppered pommers’ conspiracy theory about raised difficulty levels. A slight delay in the SE took me just over 1* time but otherwise no problems once I was sure which spelling of the night wear was required. I agree with Rabbit Dave that the ‘GK’ questions were so clearly clued that no reference books should have been needed. A pleasant interlude – 2*/3*

  11. A lot easier than yesterday and therefore more fun – for me!

    My only stumbling block was 28a – a extremely obscure Victorian Novelist who I had to look up on Google.

    I hit a 12a yesterday – to say it’s embarrassing is an understatement – much merriment all round – except from me!

    Onward and upward-ish! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

      1. Oops – of course I meant 13a – I followed that up with hitting the ball straight into a pond – nightmare!

        1. Have you ever considered taking up a different sport? It’s easy enough to embarrass oneself without paying extortionate Golf Club fees for the privilege!

          1. I enjoy it – one good shot makes up for all the dross which is instantly forgotten. It costs me £880 a year for a lot of fun and some much needed exercise – well worth it!

            1. No, Michael, you didn’t instantly forget it – it’s been at least two days now and the memory’s still haunting you – or maybe it’s just that your partners won’t let you forget it!!!

              1. That’s five-day membership at Red Libbets at Ash in Kent, I think at Wentworth there’s a £15k joining fee and £8k a year membership – that’s a little too strong for me!

  12. Two Conrad novels in a row. Is there a Joseph Conrad festival going on and we haven’t been invited?
    Had a bit of trouble with the coined expressions of 9d and 5d but got there eventually.
    Remembered 27a from a not too distant past.
    As for 11a, I just love offal. Tripes à la mode de Caen. Dee-licious. Sorry Jane.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review that I haven’t read yet.
    I shall do that straight away and have a go at the toughie.

    1. Somehow I just knew you were going to say that! Go on – really upset me – how do you prepare Tripes a la mode de Caen?

          1. Jane, a marmite is a type of French cooking pot. However I think that adding Marmite to a tripe recipe may well be a considerable improvement!

              1. Thanks very much, but I’ve always been brought up to believe it should be ladies first!

          2. At the Jardin we often have as “dish of the day” things like Veal Head with Gribiche sauce, Ox tongue with devil sauce or even a Provencal specialty called Pieds et Paquets which are lambs feet rolled up with tripe. Hardly any leftovers on these days.

            1. Could just about contemplate the Ox tongue but would really prefer a nice fillet steak (cooked as in the Brit idea of ‘medium’) with mushrooms, tomatoes, fries and a side salad. Would that be OK with you?

              I wonder – do you get many Brits eating at the Jardin?

              1. The French are renowned for their sauces which they use to camouflage their calves heads and lambs feet.

            2. There are many foods I am willing to try. Beetles, alligator, gingersnaps…but certain foods are a no go area. This could be one of them. Tongue maybe.

              1. I eat anything that’s no too unhealthy or that gives pleasure – preferably both. Trying new things is a good idea, except when it isn’t.

  13. I’ve said it before, but I don’t like the inclusion of names of people – unless they are truly famous such as Shakespeare etc. It’s a cryptic crossword, not a test of general knowledge.

    1. Cryptic crosswords are like my dinners. I don’t care what is in them. I just want one every day.

    2. There’s always knowledge being tested though: of words, of abbreviations and of two-letter Italian rivers, for a start. I do agree with you though, actually. Too much here of the “wrong” kind of GK. Just don’t ask me how much is too much and what constitutes acceptable GK content, because I have no idea. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      1. I reckon that what constitutes ‘acceptable GK’ is down to whether or not you actually know the answer. If you do, it makes you feel ever so clever. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

        1. There’s a lot of truth to that http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif.

          I also like learning new things, so how welcome an obscurity is depends a lot on which way the wind is blowing. In any case, I agree that more esoteric stuff should be fairly clued, and the general consensus today is that it is.

          1. I agree. Yesterday the obscure ‘canine’ didn’t appear to be fair to the solver. However the GK needed today may not have been known by all, but was more accessible in terms of solvability.

      2. I suppose one of the problems is that when you get to a certain age and have completed a certain number of crosswords be they cryptic or GK ii can safely be presumed by the setter that the solver has a reasonable knowledge database from which they can draw to complete the grid and therefore including the occasional GK question is not beyond the pale. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

        1. The key difference between yesterday’s dog and today’s clues is solvability. Even with all the checkers the dog was impossible without knowing it or looking it up. Today 15a was clearly an anagram, while the clue for 28a tells you exactly how to assemble the word. Rufus’ love of cryptic definitions is well known but it can occasionally leave you hanging with no wordplay to fall back on.

          1. Surely the debate is wider than just over two specific days. I agree that yesterday’s dog was a bit esoteric and not easily parsed but as a very last resort unless you feel it is cheating there is always Google. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

            1. Yes it’s a wider debate but that clue crystallises it perfectly. Basically it said ‘do you know a breed of dog that doesn’t bark, first letter B?’ The answer is a straight yes or no, with no wordplay to help you further. With a clue like 28a, if you do step 1+2+3 you will have a plausible word to then check if you wish (which isn’t cheating as this isn’t a competition, but there is a difference between looking at a list of dog breeds to find one that fits and using reference works to validate an answer you have worked out for yourself.)

              1. Dutch’s comments on the Toughie make for good reading today. The advent of the Internet with instant access to information has made the solving process different than when I first started, think CS mentioned this too. I wonder if that’s affected the setter and editor’s mindset when it comes to GK.

  14. I’ll start with saying thanks to Mr Ron in case I forget. With golf, jazz and lots of literature (I used to be such a big reader, too, but I forget everything :() I decided that I wasn’t going to finish on my own and so turned to the hints much earlier than I’d normally dream of doing. So extra thanks to Gazza today.

    Hadn’t heard of 28a, 29a, 9d or 19d. Unlike Gazza I found the SE okay, so could guess the watch chain.

    I am feeling like I want to go away for a few years and read a load of books then come back to these when I have more knowledge.

    5d was nice. I liked the pic for that more than the subject of the photo did!

    10a is a good anagram, and 26a has a very appropriate surface reading which earns it the title of todays favourite.

  15. I found out today that Joseph Conrad was Polish – I’m sure everyone else knows this, but for me that was the most valuable learning from today’s crossword. My last quarter was NW with the dance going in last (3d), since it took me a while to parse “well”.

    Favourites are 10a (view exotic lap dancers, though I think this might be an “old friend”, as Giovanni calls chestnuts in his new book – still a great clue though), 12a (entrance by duke), and 27a (saw maiden boiling water).

    I agree with others that all the obscure answers were extremely fairly clued – very enjoyable and enlightening

    the answer to 13a was a challenge in the sunday times clue writing competition not so long ago.

    Many thanks Gazza and setter

    1. I didn’t know that Joseph Conrad was Polish either – doesn’t really sound as if he is – so many Polish names end in ‘ewski’.

      1. That’s exactly what I thought when I googled Nostromo and it said it was a novel by Polish author Joseph Conrad. So I looked him up on Google too and his name was actually Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, which makes a lot more more sense, and, you’ll be pleased to see, ends in ..”wski”!

  16. I seem to be in the minority today. This was much more than 2* difficulty – more like 3*, maybe plus a bit, and about 3* for enjoyment too.
    It’s one of those that now I’ve finished it I can’t really see why I found it tricky – just did – after reading all the clues through once I had five answers.
    Poker is yet another thing I can’t do but it had to be what it was.
    With 18a I spent too long trying to fit E into a moral tale to find something meaning distasteful rather than the other way round.
    Missed 20a as per usual – oh dear! Didn’t know the 28a author or the 29a watch chain; sorting out why 3d was right took a while too.
    I have at least learnt that Turkey doesn’t actually have an official emblem.
    I really liked 5 and 9d, especially the piccy for 5d.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to gazza.

    1. With you all the way regarding 18a although I did know 29a – just because I’ve got one (made into a necklace).
      As for 4a – I got it via ‘poker-faced’. I guess that saying must come from the game – not giving any facial hints about the hand you’re holding?

    2. I used to be a bit of a poker hound in my youth, mainly five card draw. Then I was taught seven card stud by two Canadians and some alcoholics.
      These days, I can’t keep up with the maths required for Texas Hold’em, especially late at night.
      There was a Christmas night game this year, which ended with my husband and son in a face off ……H won with his 2 Js and a nice Jack on the river.

            1. The Rowing Endeth” by Anne Sexton

              I’m mooring my rowboat
              at the dock of the island called God.
              This dock is made in the shape of a fish
              and there are many boats moored
              at many different docks.
              “It’s okay.” I say to myself,
              with blisters that broke and healed
              and broke and healed –
              saving themselves over and over.
              And salt sticking to my face and arms like
              a glue-skin pocked with grains of tapioca.
              I empty myself from my wooden boat
              and onto the flesh of The Island.

              “On with it!” He says and thus
              we squat on the rocks by the sea
              and play – can it be true –
              a game of poker.
              He calls me.
              I win because I hold a royal straight flush.
              He wins because He holds five aces,
              A wild card had been announced
              but I had not heard it
              being in such a state of awe
              when He took out the cards and dealt.
              As he plunks down His five aces
              and I am still grinning at my royal flush,
              He starts to laugh,
              and laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth
              and into mine,
              and such laughter that He doubles right over me
              laughing a Rejoice-Chorus at our two triumphs.
              Then I laugh, the fishy dock laughs
              the sea laughs. The Island laughs.
              The Absurd laughs.

              Dearest dealer,
              I with my royal straight flush,
              love you so for your wild card,
              that untamable, eternal, gut-driven ha-ha
              and lucky love.

              1. Goodness that takes me back. Having to discuss the relationship between Plath and Sexton.

                  1. Fantastic Miffypops! To get such diverse things referenced in one poem?
                    Can you manage lacrosse and waterfalls. ;-)

                    I may regret asking this but how’s crib going?

                    1. The season re started tonight after the holiday break with the grudge match of the season. The Green Man has two teams. GMLI (Green Man Long Itchington or Green Man Light Infantry) and The Green Man. I play for The Green Man and Not So Saintly Sharon plays for GMLI. Tonight was GMLI vs The Green Man so Not So Saintly Sharon’s team had home advantage. We won by 4 – 3. We beat them on their own park Yea Go Green Man. My contribution was to win my pairs match by 2-0 a great result away from home. thanks for asking. It should have been televised. We are still at the top of the table.

                  2. Miffypops I am in quietened awe. To cross reference lacrosse and waterfalls is impressive. I’ve hired researchers with less skill.

                    Even more so on a night when you faced the stresses of an away game. The lack of familiarity with the setting makes your results even more impressive. Did you have to travel far? I hope the beer was good too. Televised crib…hmm it’s an interesting thought.

  17. Found today’s puzzle ‘light hearted’ for some reason and quite enjoyed it, a few ‘iffy’clues like 21d,first time I’ve seen wizard for pro, wanted to put whiskers in 5d-wonderful pic Gazza- but didn’t fit, and then the night attire arrived .My grandparents used to eat 11a boiled with vinegar and pepper-put me off for life!

    1. I’m with you on the cat’s whiskers but, as you said, it didn’t fit – just as well really as otherwise not only would it have scuppered lots of other answers but I’d have been wondering why anyone would sleep in whiskers. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

        1. Indeed. Since the OH took early retirement it’s a rarity unless I actually drop a razor on him accompanied with the words, “now” and “go”!

  18. As per Gazza, I started off quickly and had everything done bar the SW corner – which took me the same time again to do so I’d agree with 2* difficulty. Thanks to Gazza and Mr Ron **/***

  19. ****/***

    A sunny day, a difficult crossword and the spring bulbs are coming through.

    It started off quite easily on the across clues. Pencilling in the lap dancers at 10a was fun and then I got to 15a. Had I heard of the book? Not a chance. However I have heard of the fictional spaceship in the film Alien of the same name. And since this was the only anagram I could come up with, in it went with a vague hope that Ridley Scott is more ‘literate’ than I.

    28a was also something of a guess, well a complete guess but it was the only thing that fit.

    21d put up a noble fight as I could not equate ‘wizard’ to ‘pro’ and 3d was just plain bung it in. Thank you to Gazza on that one.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for a lovely blog.

    Favourite clue is 5d with 23a getting a mention.

    1. Hi Hanni – just been out to refill the bird feeders and spotted a clump of snowdrops in full flower! Hope they don’t get a nasty shock over the next week or so. Lovely sunshine here as well – must ignore it and get on with the cleaning…………

      1. No – wrong way round. Cleaning can wait but the sunshine might not hang around – off to play in the greenhouse . . .

        1. Well said Kath. Except I’m meant to be working. I’ll maybe have a break!!! I love seeing the snowdrops too and the start of the Daffs.

  20. No real hold-ups, but I did find it a tad more challenging than the usual Tuesday offering. 15A and 28A were new to me but fairly clued. Thanks to Mr. Ron and Gazza.

  21. I agree with Kath I found today more difficult than yesterday definitely 3*, never heard of the term in 5D or 28A or 27A.My favourite was 22D

  22. We thought this quite tricky and it took us quite a while to do, with some sneaky little looks at the hints to see if we were on the right track. I don’t mind a bit of GK having picked up bits of obscurities over my lifetime. Thank you to the Tuesday setter and to Gazza. I’ve really had a chuckle reading the comments today, keep it up, I love it.

    1. And why is it the obscurities that linger on – rather than the memory of what one’s supposed to be doing tomorrow? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  23. It did not help that I spelled Grisham with an ‘e’. This therefore failed to present me with my helping of tripe. (I suppose I should be grateful. My Mum once told me she refused to eat the revolting-looking stuff, even when everything else was rationed.) I have at least heard of Grisham, and Conrad.
    I spelled 28a correctly but do not feel any better educated for knowing there is someone obscure of that name. (I expect Wikipedia or even the telephone directory could provide lots of other obscure names too, but I hope not to find them in a cryptic crossword.) Thanks to Gazza and the setter, anyway! 3*/2* I’m afraid.

  24. The references to authors or their works did not stymie me at all. I have an abundant passion for literature. However my downfall came with 13A and 5D Terms I have never heard of. With a little electronic help and reference to Gazza’s blog I got to the finishing post. My rating is 3/3 Thanks to Gazza for the review.

  25. Enjoyable but got stuck in the SE corner. Never heard of the watch chain and couldn’t get the attentive, missed the inclusion indicator in 20a, never come across the author before but the wordplay was ok (I think setters have a never ending stream of obscure authors and composers!) and I have no idea what an intensifier is in the hint for 3d.
    Did like 15a, reminded me of the best SciFi movie ever made and Thx to the setter for a total lack of religious clues.
    Thx for the needed hints.

    1. Intensifiers strengthen another part of speech. In a sentence like ‘he was drunk’ there’s no intensifier but if you say ‘he was totally drunk’ totally is being used as an intensifier.
      You can replace the intensifier ‘well’ in ‘he was well pleased’ with ‘so’ to make ‘he was so pleased’, for example.

  26. Started quickly in the NW corner but soon ran out of steam. Not familiar with 29a or 15a and as a regular golfer I couldn’t bring myself to think of 13a. ;)
    Thanks to setter and Gazza for the hints. ***/** for me.

  27. I enjoyed this, even with obscure authors at 28a, which, oddly nough, I had heard of but have never and will never read! I am also not likely to read Conrad or Grisham.
    My fave, by a landslide, is 5d, enhanced by the pic. One of my Mum’s favourite sayings.
    Thanks to setter and Gazza for the hints, in particular explaining 21d.

  28. I started as usual on the last clue and worked my way up ignoring any that did not immediately come to mind, found it about right for me with one or two hiccups. Fave rave 5d reinforced by Gazza’s illustration. Fascinated by the debate going on as to whether or not the odd GK answer should appear please keep on commenting. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

  29. Not too difficult and quite a lot of fun. 5d was too obvious to be my favourite, so I’ll pick 25a or perhaps 2d instead.I agree with most of the other commentaters that tripe is a taste I don’t intend to aquire. Thanks Gazza and setter.

  30. **/***. An enjoyable puzzle so thanks to the setter. Had a couple of bung-ins from the checking letters which proved correct but thanks to Gazza for giving the rationale. A very lazy start to the day so time to get moving.

  31. Have read all the comments and see that nobody has commented on the answer in 27a. We remember several months ago when the same answer appeared there were loads of comments from people who had only heard of the beery version of this term. The collective memory must have come into play. Luckily one of our team has an excellent literary knowledge and made light work of these answers. We enjoyed it.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

    1. Strange you should raise this as the same thought came to me – Ah yes I remember that from a few weeks ago and wondered if it would be mentioned again.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

    2. It was in a Monday crossword and yes there were lots of comments but we have all learned from the experience. We all joined the Michael Club. Onward and upward!

    3. It was 17th November. Twice in six weeks puts it into old chestnut territory! Even Brian seems to have remembered it…

    4. And I did mention it in my comment but didn’t want to open yet another can of worms. Call it French diplomacy.

  32. Finished it – eventually! Somehow my brain doesn’t seem to work early in the day. Then in the evening I seem to be more on the ball – probably something to do with circadian thingys. Only had a bit of trouble with13a – not a golfer you see. Must brush up on Joseph Conrad. Enjoyed it. Thanks.

  33. I’m with Kath and others in finding this not all plain-sailing but most enjoyable nevertheless. I don’t object at all to some GK questions. It contributes to keeping the old grey matter functioning. NW corner went in quickly but then progress slowed however I just managed to beat Gazza’s post to it which always pleases me! 11a reminded me of visits to Simpson’s restaurant in The Strand where my father always ordered and greatly enjoyed Tripe a la mode de Caen – yuck! but I much preferred roast meat from the joints (can’t say that any more!) carved at the table on the trolley – yum! Thanks Mr. Ron and Gazza. ***/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    1. Yes! I remember Simpson’s next to the Savoy. Upper class carvery more than anything and the only place in London where the waiters are older than most of its customers.

      1. The scene of many long lunches – beef from the trolley, and savouries instead of pudding. Hardly ever see that now.

        1. That is probably why “The Ivy” , “J Sheekey” and “Scott’s” remain my favourite restaurants when in London. Real British food at it’s best.

          1. Ah Skeekeys, I had a friend as work who when his expense account would stretch to it would treat me to a meal there – Happy Days. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

          2. Je suis d’accord Jean-Luc – you can’t beat golden oldies like those. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifThe Ivy is closed at present for major refurbishment but they have said the traditional atmosphere will be retained. A new Ivy Grill in the Market is also due to open soon in Covent Garden so let’s see what that brings”.

  34. Very disappointing. If I wanted a general knowledge crossword, I’d get the Sun. I thought I’d got a cryptic crossword!!!

    1. Most of the answers in today’s crossword (one novel and a couple of novelists) that probably come under GK were clued in a cryptic way so that, even if didn’t know them, you could work them out logically and then look them up to check. I think that’s fair.

  35. This one didn’t pose too many problems, although l was trying to fit “whiskers” into the last word of 5d for a while. 2*/2* is about right, with 15a favourite, because l like Conrad. Thanks to the setter, and to Gazza for the review.

  36. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but quite tricky I thought. Started in the NW corner quite quickly, but then ground to a halt. Got there in the end, managed to work out all the GK’s from the wordplay. Had never heard of the cat’s pyjamas, but managed to get it from the checkers, but kept thinking of another phrase concerning a dog :-) Last in was 28a. Favourite was 12a.Was 3*/3.5* for me. Late commenting due to organising the Squash Tournament.

  37. Never ever heard of 5d but it’s all that fitted. It’s a great expression that I intend to use in everyday conversation. But then again I’ve had a few glasses of red wine so may reconsider in the morning. Got 23a but must admit didn’t fully understand the clue without a little help from my friends. Boasting backwards with the end missing is difficult to fathom after too much alcohol. Good night all.

  38. Same as yesterday, this seemed to me to be a combination of some relatively easy clues and some that were quite tricky. I did manage to finish without resorting to the hints. I have never come across the matches in 19d. 2.5*/3*. Many thanks to the setter and Gazza for some great hints, a couple of which I needed to explain confirm the answers I had come up with!

  39. My inability to sit in a doctor’s waiting room for longer then 5 minutes and not catch somebody’s cold is weighing me down. Twice in the last month! Argh!
    Now I have finally got round to catching up on this week’s crosswords; this one I found a bit awkward, for me there was just a tad too much GK involved however it did not cause too many problems. What did cause problems was putting ES instead of AL.
    No more need be said….
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza for his revue. And once again a very readable and amusing blog! Superb!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

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