DT 27697 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27697

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27697

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

I don’t really subscribe to the current theory on the blog that back-page puzzles have got harder since 1st January but I have to concede that this one seems to me to be above average in terms of difficulty with some quite complicated wordplay (so I’ve given it four *). There’s not a lot of sparkle and I thought that some of the surfaces were a bit clunky. 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 Minor  computing device? (10)
PERIPHERAL – double definition, the second an input or output device attached to a computer (a mouse or printer, for example).

6a Singer in traditional top (4)
ALTO – hidden in the clue.

10a Theme in film closed previously (5)
TOPIC – a short informal word for a film is preceded by an adverb meaning closed or fastened (usually applied to a door).

11a Top poetry composed as an exemplar (9)
PROTOTYPE – an anagram (composed) of TOP POETRY.

12a Storm to meeting with navy, anticipating fuss (7)
TORNADO – join together TO (from the clue) and the abbreviation for our senior service and follow that (anticipating) with a word for fuss or commotion.

13a Commend a couple of pages with writing say almost finished (7)
APPROVE – A (from the clue) and two abbreviations for page are followed by the letter used for writing in the abbreviation for ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’. Add an adverb meaning finished without its final letter.

14a Obstinate article penned by unusually tart cleric (12)
RECALCITRANT – an indefinite article is contained (penned) inside an anagram (unusually) of TART CLERIC.

18a Superb lot up for recreation round island specifically devised (7-5)
PURPOSE-BUILT – an anagram (for re-creation) of SUPERB LOT UP goes round the single-letter abbreviation for island.

21a Time in New York in group not at work? (7)
RESTING – the abbreviation for the standard time used in New York (and other bits of North America bordering the Atlantic) goes inside a group or band to make how an out-of-work actor is described.

23a Querulous comedian almost close to fury (7)
GROUCHY – the name of one of the Marx brothers without his last letter (almost) is followed by the closing letter of fury.

24a Expression a good social worker provided for bad-tempered woman (9)
TERMAGANT – an expression or phrase is followed by A (from the clue), G(ood) and our usual social worker from the insect world.

25a Impractical and off presumably? (3,2)
NOT ON – if a light, for example is switched off then it’s *** **.

26a Restricted cheer in parliament (4)
DIET – double definition. The restricted cheer is what you may have resolved to go on at New Year – well done if your resolution has lasted this long!

27a Love, maybe, expensive board items put in department (10)
ENDEARMENT – an adjective meaning expensive and items found on a (chess)board are put inside the only hospital department that’s known in Crosswordland.

Down Clues

1d It’s often baked and apt too to be battered (6)
POTATO – an anagram (to be battered) of APT TOO.

2d Account for  explosive noise (6)
REPORT – double definition, the first a verb meaning to give an account or explanation for.

3d Load get on grass fringing rank in prearranged break (7,7)
PACKAGE HOLIDAY – a load or consignment is followed by a verb to get on or get older. For the second word we need to put grass that’s been dried for use as fodder around (fringing) an adjective (new to me) meaning rank or foul-smelling. I can’t work out what the surface is all about.

4d Agent’s work? (9)
ESPIONAGE – a fairly gentle cryptic definition of what James Bond does for a living.

5d Scent from a capital resident not new (5)
AROMA – A (from the clue) followed by someone from a European capital city without the N(ew).

7d Ordinary female in yard embraced by Hollywood actress? (8)
LAYWOMAN – this is a female who doesn’t belong to a particular profession or have any expert knowledge. The abbreviation for yard goes inside a lady living in the US city where Hollywood is situated (2,5) and who thus could possibly be an actress.

8d Patience, perhaps, in operation before tense volunteers (8)
OPERETTA – Patience is the name of a work by Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s a charade of the abbreviation for a military operation, a literary word meaning before, T(ense) and the old abbreviation for our volunteer soldiers.

9d Loop rash cretin mishandled — and part of sheet? (8,6)
HOSPITAL CORNER – an anagram (mishandled) of LOOP RASH CRETIN gives us what a nurse practises doing on a bed.

15d Obtain in enclosed space first sign of edible vegetable (9)
COURGETTE – insert a verb to obtain or acquire inside an enclosed space or yard. Finally add the first letter (sign) of edible.

16d Lively trip — side let loose (8)
SPIRITED – an anagram (let loose) of TRIP SIDE.

17d Keep parking on wildlife area (8)
PRESERVE – P(arking) is followed by (on, in a down clue) a protected area for wild animals.

19d Blade in sack, yet sheen showing, oddly (6)
SCYTHE – the odd letters extracted from three words in the clue.

20d Young bird and seal mentioned (6)
CYGNET – this young bird sounds like (mentioned) a small seal used to authenticate a document.

22d Small quantity of drink cut by artist (5)
GRAIN – an alcoholic drink contains (cut by) the abbreviation for a member of the Royal Academy of Arts.

The clue I liked best was 26a. How about you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: SCORE + PAEAN = SCORPION


143 comments on “DT 27697

  1. What a comforting prologue ;) Definitely another trickier than usual inside back pager. Anyone willing to take bets on how long it is before a commenter says I didn’t know xx meant ‘closed’? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

    Thanks to the Mysteron and Gazza.

    1. Not me – I did know it meant closed as in “Push the door to”. Took me a while to remember it though – I always used to to wonder where the door was being pushed to . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      1. I’ve just checked my Collins English Dictionary and meaning number 12 of the word ‘TO’ states – “towards a fixed position, esp.(of a door) closed.” Sadly my dog has never learnt that command – she’ll push it wide open, but will never turn round to push it ‘to’ when we ask. I found today’s puzzle far more taxing than many over the last few weeks, but most entertaining. I’m pleased to say that I finally solved it before looking in at the hints. Thanks to the setter.

        1. Our collie was exactly the same – she could open a door and she could learn almost anything except, “Now that you’ve opened it could you possibly put the wood in the hole!”

  2. Have to agree with rating of 4( maybe 3) for difficulty. Thought yesterday was harder but for no good reason after solving it, so better than this one.

    Re clunky surfaces, what about 9d? That was pretty meaningless…….

        1. Well, it’s a free country, Merusa (at the moment anyway).

          I wouldn’t use it for the same reason I wouldn’t call people spastic or subnormal.

          As I say, I couldn’t see the clue for that one making a lot of sense anyway, so I can’t assume it was offensive as such.

  3. Pretty tough difficulty for me definitely ****
    Favourite clue must be 14a. I agree with Gazza puzzles seem to be more difficult or maybe I’m slowing down.
    Thanks to Gazza for explanations needed couple this time.

  4. Finished mostly from definitions and lots of help from strange anagrams. I was thankful for Gazza’s blog for helping to understand the why’s and wherefores of 10ac, 13ac, 21ac, 5d (Doh!) I knew that XX meant closed but only twigged upon reading Cs’s comment and Gazza’s blog. 1ac and 26ac went in last although 26ac has been seen so many times it should be a write in. Nice to see L A get a mention today as I live in the heart of Downtown L I. Thanks to the Mystery Setter, although I found this puzzle a little off the wall I did enjoy it a lot. Thanks to Gazza for the excellent review and thanks for all who contribute to the blog.

          1. Well I have now visited The Green Man website. Couple of questions?
            1) Have you got any electric hook-ups for camping?
            2) What in God’s name are you doing in the river?
            3) Beer…singing to it? Really?
            I know that was three questions. Nice looking pub. I won’t be telling the other half about the festival in May. Mainly on the grounds he’d want to go.

        1. Yes, I did know that Miffypops’ LI was on this side of the Pond but was slightly pulling his leg! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_lol.gif

  5. 4*/2*. Not my cup of tea today – tough but not much fun with a lot of strange surface readings. It’s comforting to see that others including Gazza agree.

    After a handful of easy wins to start with, I couldn’t get on the setter’s wavelength at all. I really don’t like clues like 23a where there could be several hundred possibilities for “comedian” and when you’ve hit on the right one you’ve still got to drop one letter. I feared it was going to be a similar issue with a Hollywood actress in 7d, but that turned out to be a very clever clue; it was my last one and favourite.

    I needed the hints to understand parts of the wordplay for my answers to 10a, 13a & 3d.

    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

  6. ****+/***

    Apparently the expression ‘huh’, is understood in every language. That seems quite apt today as on first pass only a handful of clues seemed to work. On second pass I started to worry.

    14 was my nightmare clue. I’m not sure why the word ‘and’ appears in 9d? Hopefully someone can enlighten me? And I pencilled in 24a incorrectly meaning I couldn’t get 22d.

    23 and 26a made me smile with 1a getting the top prize.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for unravelling the clues today. Very much appreciated. :-)

    Freezing temperatures today with plenty of snow to come. Oh joy!

    1. I think the ‘and’ in 9d is there to make the surface marginally better, by suggesting that the rash cretin not only mishandled the loop (whatever that is) but also part of the sheet.

          1. You’ll be so happy MP! That anagram in 1d was graphite free. So was the 16d, but I indulged elsewhere. And very nice it was too. Not quite as much fun as yesterdays that merited an avatar in your honour but enjoyable nonetheless. What happened to you yesterday? It wasn’t crib o’clock already surely?

            1. We had a family funeral on Sharon’s side to attend which rather took up the day. Great Avatar. The circles are really neat.

              1. Oh MP I’m so sorry. I certainly feel like one of those damn cretins right now for bringing up stupid things like avatars. Condolences to you and Sharon. :-(

              2. Sincere condolences to Sharon also. Sorry only just read this. Its been a bit of a year for her.

                  1. Hi MP. Funny you should say that.. Rob and I had actually planned to look in tonight.:) After two busy weeks am just coming up for air. For some reason, have found the back pagers more difficult since Boxing Day hence going quiet on the blog rather than go into how long it has taken me to complete them.. We look forward to our fix of rural tranquillity. If it could be bottled and sold…. well, in a manner of speaking , it is. Hanni, I don’t think you would be disappointed. I’ve seen some very happy summer visitors. Proximity to Stratford too (book months ahead!).
                    Best wishes again to St. Sharon. :)

  7. Yippee, won the Saturday prize competition. Hopefully it’s not bad form to celebrate but it’s a very nice reward for my regular crossword solving since I retired in April and many thanks to this blog for improving my skills. Was in the nhs so 9d anagram easy for me.
    All I need now is for my weekly “where was I ” in the ST to come up trumps.

    1. I’ve been doing it for a good couple of years and haven’t had a sniff – so well done you lucky devil – time to have a go at the Lottery?? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    2. When I worked at the DT all those years ago in Fleet St, I remember on more than
      one occasion coming across prize crossword entries strewn across the post room floor, so I’ve never bothered. I guess they have have sharpened up their act since those carefree days

  8. If some setters sacrifice substance for smooth surfaces, this was definitely a triumph of substance over style! I don’t pay a lot of attention to surface readings while I’m solving so I quite enjoyed unpicking them, but on reading back there are some very clunky clues. Although there were few write-ins, I got in under my two star cut off time but I got lucky with a few of the trickier ones dropping in from definition alone. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t…

  9. Note to self. When you can’t quite get the last bit to fit, check out the list of abbreviation usages for each letter. I bunged in the G&S answer on the first pass, but never managed to justify the ‘extra’ T for tense.

  10. I agree with all your comments Gazza. This was a rather dull journey for me with 9d clue being one of the few lighter moments – memories of young nursing friends telling me how to make a “proper” bed which I continue to do to this day! Thanks Mr. Ron. ***/**.

  11. Very enjoyable but quite tough but not 4* tough at least for me. Lots of excellent clues inc 1a and 22d but my fav was def 4d, a real smile clue. Must have just been on the setters wavelength today. 9d reminded me of my military basic training pre RAMC, never could get the hang of the blighters but my mate could for the price of a pint!
    Thought 7d a bit of an odd clue and thx to Google for revealing that Patience was a G&S operetta (def not my thing, more of a blues man myself).
    Many Thx to the setter and to Hazza for the hints tho not needed today.

          1. Hi Jane,
            You’re going to hate me. But I did say that I was a Douglas Adams fan. So is Slartibartfast.

            1. Oops – actually you’re probably more likely to be hating me. Had to Google Douglas Adams and haven’t read the book! Does that perhaps contribute to my lack of performance with GKs? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

              1. Grr! Kate Mepham! She always has writers unknown to me. My field is actually very restricted: Loony kind of Sci-fi authors only.

  12. Well, this took me a while – thought there was something wrong with me – somehow not quite the same wavelength as setter – even with all the checking letters (especially when there were lots of vowels) I needed to stare at quite a few clues for ages. Then after that investment, without a brilliant aha moment, I found myself feeling a little disappointed. Thanks gazza for the last bit of wordplay in 13a.

    My favourites would be 15d, 17d, and 19d

    Thanks gazza and setter

  13. Ah ! the deletion and substitution setter – thank you for the challenge. Perhaps not my favourite setter but I am getting used to it and managed to solve it without hints. Having said that I needed your help Gazza to explain my answers to 10a, 13a and 3d. 8d was of course a guess for me as I have no GK. I agree with much of the above. Compared with some other setters – Ray T and Virgilius say, this setter’s surface readings are clunky. Many thanks Gazza for your review and hints

  14. A few errors on first read led to some problems initially, such as calculator at 1a- soon removed as 1d obviously didn’t start with c.
    Some nice anagrams but 26a and 8d beat me before resorting to hints. Pleased to get so far before surrendering though!
    Pleased to see my favourite comedian getting a mention.
    Thanks to setter and Gazza.

  15. Not sure if this is going to “go” as I’ve tried to post a couple of comments and been told, very politely, that I can’t.
    Just popped in to see what the general thoughts are on this one. I’m really glad to see that everyone, even gazza, seemed to find it tricky.
    No time for more now – have to go out now having promised to take a very lovely black Lab for his afternoon walk and arranged to meet another friend who has a puppy – what fun – loopy Lab and potty pup in torrential rain! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif
    Back later . . .

  16. Yes, quite tricky for me as well. Well into 4* territory for me. Clearly I was not sufficiently familiar with G&S as 8d was my last in after come considerable thought and researching. I cannot really say that once I had the solutions in that I thought it should have been as difficult as I found it. Sometimes, it just seems as though my brain does not click on the meaning of the clues and I follow off at a tangent.

    4*/3* is my rating.

  17. Nice and sunny now, after snow this morning. More snow to come tonight though, so may have to do the online version tomorrow. Paper delivery can be iffy if there’s any snow or ice. Thought this was marginally easier than yesterday if only because I finished it before coming on this blog. Really got stuck on the bottom half for a while but ground away at it. I’m putting 22a as my favourite after realising the connection with NY.Agree with Gazza regarding difficulty and enjoyment.

  18. Have to agree with a**** as although there were some straightforward clues, the majority were difficult ie1A ( one double definition obscure) and ‘olid’ in 3D,new to me and Gazza-if it’s new to a reviewer it should be in the toughie! who knew 8D was an operetta ?, only got the answer because I had all the checking letters in. Favourite 7D,even though it was the last in, sorry,can’t go better than a ** for enjoyment.

  19. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza for the review and hints. A very enjoyable but very tricky puzzle. I was beaten by 7d, new it began with lay, but forgot where Hollywood was. Ironically LA woman is one of my favourite tracks from the Doors. I initially spelt 14a wrong, so was really struggling until I corrected it. Favourite was 23a, being a Marx Brothers fan. Was 4*/3* for me. Off to the dentist.

  20. Agree with Gazza ****/** thanks for the explanations of quite a few answers! How do you change the avatar that you were given?

  21. I gave up on this one. I got a few answers but then I lost the will to live so I read Gazza’s review instead which is infinitely more enjoyable and certainly a lot easier to get through; thanks for preserving my sanity Gazza!

  22. Thank you Gazza. ****/*** rating for me. Tricky in parts, though with plenty of easier clues. 1a had me stumped for ages!

  23. I started well, so got the chance to exhibit my skills in the top half. Unfortunately, after having fun showing off I was brought right down to earth again. I’m in agreement with most others that this was tricky and not the most enjoyable.

    8d I only knew from a previous crossword, and failed to parse it completely in this one. Maybe it’s my age or maybe I don’t have any excuse, but I didn’t know the parliament of 26a. I also don’t know or had forgotten 9d, but worked it out once I had the checkers. Was guessing that it’d be some nautical thing I’d never heard of, so was surprised by the words untangling themselves from the fodder.

    Last in was 26a, which I wouldn’t have got without Mr Kitty http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_heart.gif.

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

  24. A bit ‘mechanical’ but 3* rather than 4 I thought. Guessed 8d must be right, and didn’t have the full justification for 3d. I was hoping for a clip from The Doors re 7d!

  25. Thank you for the **** difficulty rating, Gazza, as I was seriously questioning my abilities. I did finish, but only with extensive use of electronic gizmo, much more than I like to do. I can’t remember the last time I needed help like that for so many answers.
    I had no problem with 26a as I remembered the Diet of Worms from schooldays, when we pronounced it the English way with great glee.
    Thanks to setter, and many thanks to Gazza for unravelling some answers, particularly 10a!

  26. I managed to complete this puzzle but I thought it was a bit of a slog. I relied on two or three ‘bungitin’ moments and was fortunate.
    19d was my personal favourite.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza for his worthy efforts.

  27. ****/****. Tough but enjoyable. Favourites were 23&24a and 19d. Thanks to the setter for the challenge and to Gazza for the review and for explaining my bung in for 8d.

  28. Challenging, but enjoyable I thought, and definitely not one to polish off quickly !

    Like Gazza and Beaver (and probably many others), I’d never before encountered the word meaning “rank” in 3d, but it’s certainly one to remember !

      1. I am indeed, Una.

        Your comments to me were very kind and extremely flattering !

        I have thanked you on Rookie Corner 040 by the way :-)

  29. It took me a while , but then I figure I take longer than most of you.7 and 8d down I got from the chequers, what else could they be ?I thought for a while that 8d might be some obscure card game as I haven’t heard of that operetta. 24a we have come across before, but only in crosswordland.No particular favourite , but enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks setter and Gazza.

  30. What a grind !! Top left corner was last in and held me up for an age , not being a computer buff , I don’t associate peripherals with computers . Spent much thought on trying to link minor to playthings for children .
    Anyway thanks to Gazza for 1a ; after that life was just a bowl of cherries and the siege towers are now put away .
    Must say that the 2015. crosswords are certainly not getting any easier .I only really started doing them last year and my success rate is beginning to represent a normal distribution curve

    1. The word MINOR in 1ac is a fine piece of misdirection. I think a fair chunk of people were sent up the garden path looking for some sort of calculation device for children. My hand is held high in the air. So no disgrace there Fran. Solvable only from the checkers for me and then it took some time. A few of these came from memory and a few were bung it in and work out why later. One was bung it in and wait for Gazza. I always enjoy the solve however i get there.

      1. Hi MP,
        Sorry but I made the connection when looking for synonyms for MINOR and there it was staring at me: Minor, trivial, peripheral.

    2. Hi miffypops yes it’s always nice to get the right answer and especially if you initially think that you haven’t got a Clue ?
      What do mean by the term checkers ? I have seen it referred to before , is it the other letters in the partially finished clue ? Thanks

      1. Hi Fran

        Yes, checkers are the letters provided by crossing clues, providing you’ve solved them of course. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

  31. For all you Ray T fans (that’s most of you I reckon) he’s setting tomorrow’s Toughie (in his Beam guise) so I shall expect a bumper set of comments on tomorrow’s Toughie blog.

    1. I might be first in the queue although I find his Toughies really Tough – must get over the mental block with “Toughies” – if that’s what it’s called I can’t do it.

  32. I found this fairly straightforward in contrast to many of the above comments, but definitely agree that it lacked sparkle. However, anything that I can complete is currently enjoyable so **/*** from me. Thanks to Gazza and setter.

  33. We found this one tricky and totally agree with Gazza’s ratings. The amount of time we spent on the two puzzles was about what we normally expect, but this one took more than its usual share and the Toughie less time than it often does. We were really surprised to have found the rank smell for 3d in the BRB. How has such an interesting word managed to stay hidden from everyone. Bet we see it again in a crossword before very long.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

  34. I don’t want to be contentious but I put this puzzle at 2*. My reasoning is that I can only regularly finish 2* but I was able to finish this one with very minimal input from Gazza, for which, many thanks. It did take quite a long time but it was very enjoyable, for which thanks to Mr. Ron

  35. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gifThat was tough and I can’t believe I finished it but it took some persevering and I have to confess to a few bung it ins without quite understanding why they were correct. I wasn’t a nurse or in the army but my mother taught me how to do 9d & I still do them. 8d was a d’oh moment . I think I quite enjoyed that & thanks to gazza for the explanations & thanks to setter.

    1. I wonder how many people that is true of re: 9d? I was taught by my mother and oddly enough my father too. And yes they are still used today unless I am being lazy and using fitted sheets. ;-)

  36. Not sure why others found this unusually tough for a back-pager; I’d score it at about 2*/3*. I think 9d is my favourite – it reminded me of my days as a Cadet at BRNC Dartmouth, and the wonderful old Jutland veteran of a retired Chief Petty Officer who instructed us in the science of naval bed-making! Thanks to Mr Ron, and to Gazza for the review.

    1. Agreed with rating and I am teaching my younger wife 9d at the moment. My mother taught me because she felt that it might be some time before I got hitched. She was wrong so I have never used it since

        1. It certainly one of the more interesting statements I’ve read on the blog Sue. Especially if you don’t know the context. Brilliant. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  37. Feeling rather 23a about this one.
    3d – dreadful surface read and only solved by ignoring everything bar the required definition. Didn’t know the word for ‘rank’ which didn’t help with the subsequent parsing – thanks for finding it, Gazza!
    9d – surely that’s something one ‘does’ with a sheet rather than something that is ‘part’ of a sheet?
    7d – bit of a stretch too far, I felt.

    Those 3 clues alone pushed it up to 4* for difficulty and down to 2* for enjoyment, but I’m glad to see that others enjoyed the challenge. I was obviously just not on the setter’s wavelength. Favourite would be either 23 or 25a. Thanks to Gazza for the explanations and to the setter for his/her hard work.

    On the upside, I went to see Paddington this afternoon with my friend and her ‘birthday boy’ husband. Great fun and my present to him of marmalade sandwiches gave us all a good laugh. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  38. Still think my idea of upped ante for 2105 wrong? Definitely a **** for us but enjoyable as the pennies dropped. Some rather clunky surfaces slightly marred it for us so we’ll give it ****/***.

    I am now going out the back to commit ritual suicide as I had completely forgotten the crossword meaning of TO. I cannot live with this shame http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    1. Not done it yet but just popped back to thank the setter and Gazza – TO indeed :roll:

      Goodbye cruel world.

    2. No – I still agree with you pommers. I think that all the crosswords this year i.e. the last thirteen days have been trickier than expected given who the setters are. Just about managed this one but only just . . .
      Please don’t go and commit ritual suicide – the way things are going I might need you on Thursday . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      1. ‘the way things are going’ – don’t worry about Thursday yet, Kath. At this rate we’ll be lucky to survive tomorrow. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

        1. Hi Jane. So glad that the marmalade sandwich idea went down well. I absolutely loved it! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

          What did you think of the film?

          Pommers I am very glad that you are still with us. Slightly worried that you might be correct about the difficulty of crosswords increasing!

          1. It was great fun, Hanni – a couple of hours of escapism and the computer-generated stuff is so good – I was quite upset about poor little Paddington at some points!

      2. Decided that “it’s only a bloody crossword” (who said that?) so not worth it but I am supposed to be a blogger! I’ll be around on Thurs morning but you won’t need me. Have a flower anyway http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

        1. Relieved that you’ve decided to stick around, Pommers, but I did wonder………. what constitutes a ritual suicide in your neck of the woods? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  39. Unlike many of you I did not find this too difficult but have to admit that I needed the hint for 7d! Knew it started with lay but was looking for Something more convoluted than another word for female… 9d was really good and gets my vote for favourite. So a 2.5*/3* for me. I feel, however, that the puzzles have increased in difficulty since the new year started. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza for the review.

  40. The evidence for the back page getting harder in 2015 seems to be mounting . . .
    I agree with Gazza’s ratings, and eventually finished but it was a bit of a struggle.
    I agree the surface readings were awkward in many cases, but I found 9d not just awkward but frankly unpleasant. Sorry setter, and thanks for your efforts – but not my cup of tea. Thanks to Gazza.

  41. Just called in to say I have my first grandchild born on New Year’s Day.
    Don’t understand 7d but done the rest.
    Thanks to both… I think!

    1. What great news – Congratulations! Enjoy – here’s to many years of happiness for all generations of the family. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    2. How lovely – lucky you – very envious and do really wish that one or other, preferably both, of our Lambs would get on with it.

  42. What I love about this blog is the constant exchange of information that makes solving some clues an evidence.
    That’s if you remember what is said of course.
    2d was such an example with a long explanation from one blogger.
    11a with that famous confusion with archetype.
    All these contribute, for my part, to increase my solving capacities.
    So thank you all very much.
    Ps: I read a comment earlier from a newcomer giving a clue to which the answer is probably Doh, but I can’t find it anywhere. Talk about collective memory eh?

  43. To my eternal shame I have to admit, once again, to extensive use of pencil and electronic supertoy – will I ever be able to complete a crossword without help? Grateful to Gazza and setter for an exhausting time just off to lie-down with an ice pack on my poor confused head. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  44. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif to crossword and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif to the rest of the day too.
    Really late here today. I did the crossword and I agree with gazza’s 4* and 2*.
    Most of my problems were working out if or why my answers were right – 13a, 21a (always forget the time in NY) 27a – the department fooled me – no mention of it being the much loved hospital one! 3d – never heard of this word for rank. 7d I just didn’t understand which was silly. Never heard of the 8d answer but not too tricky to work out and look up.
    I don’t think that 9d is a part of a sheet – it’s more what you do with it.
    Rant now over.
    Spent most of this afternoon seriously lost – if anyone had asked me before today if I could get lost in Oxfordshire I would have said, “No – don’t be silly – I’ve lived here since I was eighteen”. I was wrong – just off to look at map to see where I was – and yes, I know that’s not quite the point of maps!

    1. “Lost in Oxfordshire” sounds as if it should be a film title. :lol:

      Glad you’ve found yourself – that sounds like I’m a trick cyclist :lol:

    2. Kath. Do NOT feel bad. I have been walking/mountaineering since before I was born. This includes…the lakes, Scotland, Alps, Rockies and Tibet. I can fit a flexi crampon in my sleep and pitch a tent in a blizzard. This is neither exaggeration nor bragging. My other half likes walking too etc. Not ONE of our friends agrees to any planned walk if we are navigating. Ever. Under any circumstances. Do not feel bad about getting lost. Looking at maps to see where you went wrong is not only a pass time for us but verging on a necessity. I’m better than he is mind. ;-)

          1. Love it Jane! Perhaps it was playing a particularly complicated game of hide and seek? You know how these large islands disguise themselves as sea?

      1. Do you think it rates alongside looking at reviews here – to see where you went wrong!

        As for getting lost – I managed to get completely and utterly lost traipsing round Brading Marshes Reserve on the IOW when I went to visit no. 2 daughter. Beautifully signposted but the wretched marshy bits kept getting in the way. No, I didn’t confess – just let her believe I stayed out late because I was having such a great time! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

    3. Not Lost. Relocation needed. Why oh why is it always me that relocates? What do the Yorkshire Dales offer this weekend? Lots of beer and Wharfedale v Coventry. It is where I will be. Bring it on. See you all on TUESDAY Ha HA

  45. Sorry for being slow. But 26a. I’m not getting the parliament reference?
    Aside from that I quite enjoyed today.

    1. You’ve changed your alias so your comment needed moderation. Both old and new aliases should work from now on.
      A diet is a legislative assembly (remembered by most schoolchildren from the 16th century ‘Diet of Worms’).

  46. All that I wanted to say seems to have been said. Hard, clunky and unrewarding. I thought 7d particularly so, although straightforward from the definition. Thanks to Gazza for explaining stuff I bunged in , especially the deciphering of 8d. 2* enjoyment 4* slog

  47. Yes pretty tricky. Two short when I came to the oracle. Didn’t get 7d or 28a even with all the other letters in. “Layman” is OK but the female equivalent not in my active vocabulary. Guess I could be accused of sexism. My only excuse for double definition 7d is that both definitions are pretty obscure.

  48. Thank you Setter and for the review, Gazza. I enjoyed 1a, 14a and 27a, as they were pleasantly doable. One third left to go, at my leisure… Hints very likely to be needed.

  49. I completed this on Tuesday evening. I found it quite tricky and it really made me think, but it certainly didn’t leave me feeling 23a. Quite the opposite! ****/**** for me. I thought the clues clever and rather fun, my fave being 8d. Many thanks to the setter.

    I managed to complete this correctly without hints, and even without a dictionary. It is not often that this happens! I always find going through the review is invaluable. Appreciative thanks to Gazza for this excellent one.

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