DT 27711

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27711

Hints and tips by archy and mehitabel

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Good morning everyone, it’s the cockroach and the alley cat again – I told you we’d be back!  Mehitabel has failed to land an Aristocat as her 18d and I’m still bashing my head on the keyboard so no change there. Our first blog was in birthday week last year so we thought it would be cool to get back together and do another.

It’s a pretty good puzzle with some clever stuff, a few “penny drops” and a few grins.  We’ve agreed on **/*** but 5d is nearly worth a fourth enjoyment on its own. I’m sure many of you will disagree so it will be interesting to see your comments.

Definitions are underlined in the clues and the ones we like most are in blue. Answers are under the “click here” buttons so don’t click unless you want to reveal them.
Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.

Across

1a           Manservant’s short speech expressing farewell (11)
VALEDICTION: a five letter word for a manservant without its final letter (short) is followed by another word for speech or a manner of speaking.

9a           Cockeyed with draught — most of kebab is left (4-5)
SKEW WHIFF: Begin with a draught or a faint or brief smell. Now think of a six letter word for a kebab (or certainly what pieces of meat are cooked on anyway) and remove the last two letters (most of kebab) then put this word in front of i.e. to the left of your first one. Am I making myself clear here?

10a         Griped about piano missing in requiem (5)
DIRGE: An anagram (about) of GRIPED without the one letter abbreviation for piano (piano missing).

11a         Work on engine‘s air increase (4-2)
TUNE UP: An air or melody followed by a rise or an increase of something.

12a         Dicky is mature but with energy for a retired professor (8)
EMERITUS: An anagram (dicky) of IS MATURE but replacing the A with and E (with energy for a).

13a         Putting last of effluvium in piping is the answer (6)
REMEDY: A word meaning piping or thin and high pitched containing the last letter of effluvium.

15a         Indonesian opossum a tranquilliser’s restraining (8)
SUMATRAN: There always has to be one of these – luckily for me I caught him hiding in the middle of the clue before he had a chance to catch me out.

18a         Right checking fruit — and very English! — that grows in swamps (8)
MANGROVE: Start off with a tropical fruit then put in the abbreviation for right (right checking fruit) and follow all that with the abbreviations for V(ery) and E(nglish).

19a         Brand’s very loud exit (3,3)
LOG OFF: A brand or mark that an organisation is recognised by is followed by the musical instruction to play something very loudly.

21a         Green shoots could be a sign of this core getting recycled? Really? (8)
RECOVERY: An anagram (getting recycled) of CORE is followed by another word meaning really or extremely.

23a         At first lost without key in narrow passage (6)
STRAIT: An anagram (lost) of AT FIRST missing (without) a musical key.  The photo’s for Jane.

26a         Criticised in turn by article in Times (3,2)
GOT AT: A short word for a turn or chance to do something is followed by the indefinite article contained in two letters that are the abbreviation for time – the same ones!

27a         Leader? Real idiot, unfortunately (9)
EDITORIAL: An anagram (unfortunately) of REAL IDIOT.

28a         Swim in calm is happy coincidence (11)
SERENDIPITY: A short word for a brief swim or going for a bit of a splash around in the sea or pool is contained in (in) another word for calm or peacefulness. Deja vu anyone . . . ?

Down

1d           Guest given vermouth in shade (7)
VISITOR: Take a sort of shade used to protect the eyes, on a crash helmet maybe, and insert (in) the abbreviation for Italian vermouth.
visor

2d           Make a late start with invention at home (3,2)
LIE IN: An invention or falsehood followed by the usual two letters meaning “at home”.  One thing I can’t do on blogging days, although I suppose I could take the netbook to bed.

3d           Crashed, falling short of the Antipodes (4,5)
DOWN UNDER: Another word used to describe a crashed computer system followed by a word for falling short or not enough.  I bet this one is the 2Kiwi’s favourite.
012915_1132_4.jpg

4d           Money for stamp (4)
COIN: Double definition.

5d           Popular female a victim of farmer’s wife? That’s shocking (8)
INFAMOUS: Start with the usual popular followed by F(emale), the A from the clue and then one of the farmer’s wife’s victims, but she cut off their tails so leave off the last letter. This one raised a smile when the penny dropped on why the last letter was missing. Of course mehitabel wouldn’t need the carving knife – she’s a cat, but catching mice is probably beneath her since she’s a reincarnation of Cleopatra!

6d           Low point, coming from Barcelona direction (5)
NADIR: Hidden in (coming from) the last two words of the clue.

7d           Relative with crushes (4-3)
STEP SON: It’s a relative you might get by marriage. Split the answer (5,2) and you get a phrase meaning crushes.

8d           Story set to music or a three-part composition about love (8)
ORATORIO: Start with OR (from the clue), then A (from the clue) and follow with a piece of music written for three players with O (love) inserted (about).

14d         Islanders with little or nothing to look back on? (4,4)
MANX CATS: These islanders are animals that come from an island in the Irish Sea and they have nothing at the rear end to look back on.  Perhaps it all started with the Farmer’s Wife not restricting herself to rodents – I’ll get me coat!

16d         8 failing to start if translated from Latin for even more convincing reasons (1,8)
A FORTIORI: To solve this you really need to have the answer to 8d.  Take that answer without its first letter (failing to start) and IF (from the clue) and make an anagram (translated).

17d         Bug one could pick up where I am (8)
OVERHEAR: Bug as in listen in. It sounds like (pick up) how you might tell someone where you are.

18d         Ideal man using power to protect king and queen (2,5)
MR RIGHT: A word meaning power or strength is placed around (to protect) the abbreviations for Rex and Regina and then it’s all split (2,5). When this guy gets married his wife becomes MRS ALWAYS *****!

20d         Lay flat out with no hope of revival (7)
FATALLY: Anagram (out) of LAY FLAT.

22d         Five broken toes — these should get cast (5)
VOTES: Roman numeral for five followedby an anagram (broken) of TOES.

24d         Story is impromptu one with no depth (5)
ALIBI: Take a phrase for an impromptu or unrehearsed performance followed by I (one) and remove the D (with no D(epth)).

25d         1000-1’s long odds for Potter’s Friend (4)
KILN: Abbreviation for 1000, I (1) followed by the odd letters from LoNg gives something a Potter uses.  Naughty false capitalisation had me thinking of Harry for a while. Not sure the definition really works, friend?

archy and mehitabel are in agreement that 5d is clear favourite but what do you think?


The Quick Crossword pun: budge+eyrie+gar=budgerigar


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122 Comments

  1. pommers
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Hmm, don’t know where the pictures have gone. They’re in there somewhere but not showing http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    Perhaps someone who’s a bit more computer savvy can sort it out.

    • Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      For several years we have been “hotlinking” images from a certain search engine. It appears that this is now blocked.

      • pommers
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Thanks Dave. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

      • pommers
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        If you find images via another search engine they can still be hotlinked – that’s where the kiln has just come from.

    • Kath
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      You can stop http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif now and try a little http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif instead!

  2. JonP
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Enjoyable puzzle but I found it a bit trickier than ** based on a couple of clues that held me up. Thanks to A & M and setter ***/***

  3. George
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Fair enough puzzle, I think. I did not like 24d however, as the answer here has nothing to do with being a story which implies a falsehood – it could be true. I have never heard of 16d, but did find it after puzzling over the anagram. Just as well I had solved 8d first! I chuckled at 9a as I have not heard that expression in at least 15 yonks.

    2*/3* for me.

    • Attila Thehun
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Chambers has “story” for “alibi”. I suspect it is used simply in the manner of an alibi being a tale told.

      • Physicist
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        I agree – stories can be true, after all.

    • Vince
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always thought it is wrong for a setter to expect rhe solvers to get the answer to one clue before they can begin to attempt another one!

  4. dutch
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Quite a few surprise definitions and a lot of smiles in today’s puzzle, so thank you very much setter!

    I liked the indonesian opossum (15a), very cleverly hidden, 19a made me laugh (Brand’s very loud exit), I enjoyed the islanders with nothing to look back on (14d), 20d (lay flat out), 22d (five broken toes!), and the impromptu story in 24d. Last one in was 16d ( I imagine I’m not alone), though I could work it out with no need to look it up.

    Many thanks archy and mehitable for a very enjoyable review! All good stuff, except I’ve just had a phone call that they are closing the school because of snow and now I have to go and brave treacherous roads to go get my daughter.

  5. Attila Thehun
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I so wanted to put BOG OFF for 19a … I must have been thinking about a certain individual.

    5d was certainly my favourite. I snorted into my tea when I saw it … most unpleasant. :)

    • Bluebird
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Jo or Russell? My guess is the latter….

      • Attila Thehun
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

    • Attila Thehun
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Actually, I wanted to put SOD OFF!

  6. Kitty
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Whew! I don’t quite believe the timer, because this felt much trickier than it suggests. Maybe that’s because the impression one’s left with is from the last few which today I struggled with. The hard ones always come at the end, so are going to affect the perceived difficulty most. And also the impression of enjoyment: whether satisfyingly stiff or a tedious grind. Today, colour me satisfied.

    I really annoyed myself by wrestling with 5a for a while before the pesky Indonesian poked his tongue out at me from where he’d been lurking. And even more by failing to come up with the first word of 19a before it jumped out and said “boo!” There is an appropriate term for that: facepalm.

    My Latin knowledge consists almost solely of Caecilius est in horto, so only after I’d taken far too long over those two (and 23a which also took a while) and had crossing letters in place did I manage to construct it. That was my last in.

    There was lots I liked, including 19a, 27a,18d and 22d, and the long odds part of 25d. We’ve seen 12a and 6d recently. Just one question: should there be something in 23a to indicate which key is to be removed?

    I loved the mous, which earns 5d the favourite spot from me too. Nipping at its tail(!) is 14d :).

    My thanks to the setter and our favourite cat and cockroach double act.

  7. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    14d took me ages. Thought the answer was correct but didn’t see the reason. I’ll wait for the pics to see or not to see their tails.
    Liked the 8d 16d link.
    And 28a. Reminded me of a restaurant in the Angel Islington called thus. Above the antiques market with a fabulous glass roof.
    Thanks to the setter and to A&M for the review.

    • dutch
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      these locals don’t have tails

      • Steve_the_Beard
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        They’re famous for it :-)

  8. Kitty
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I did not know that mehitabel was a reincarnation of Cleopatra. Maybe she should have been called “cleocatra” …

    Sorry.

    • pommers
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      :lol:

    • Attila Thehun
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Mondegreen alert! I thought it was a description of the writer’s action in respect of Cain’s brother.

  9. Hanni
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    **/*** seems right.

    Hello archy and Mehitabel, how lovely to see you back in blogging land.

    I wonder if todays setter was feeling a little chilly when they wrote this? 3d, 15a, 18a and 25d all hint of warmer places. No bad thing with another five inches of snow last.

    I enjoyed this quite a bit. The hidden answer in 15a remained hidden and I just guessed at it. 14d was my last in although 16d put up a fight. All in all good Thursday fun.

    I agree about 5d getting the favourite award. I’m not sure about the capital in 25a either. Is it fair or just misdirection?

    Many thanks to the setter and to our resident cockroach and cat. :-)

  10. gazza
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this – I thought it was the best back-pager of the week so far as well as the trickiest. My favourites were 5d and 14d.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and a&m (Ancient & Modern?).

    • Wahoo
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Totaly agree. Whoever the complier is, let he or she do more!

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely. If we can’t have Ray T every Thursday, then Ray T alternating with today’s mysteron(ne) would suit me very nicely!

        • Rick
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          Or every Tuesday.

        • Hanni
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          I can’t argue with that. Having just read over it again, my appreciation has deepened.

        • George
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          The less RayT the happier I am!

          • Kath
            Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            No! I don’t agree, but one of the wonderful things about BD’s blog is that everyone is allowed to have their own opinion.

    • Brian
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Totally disagree, I thought it by far the worst, would almost (!) have preferred a Ray T to this.

  11. overtaxed
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    A lovely puzzle with lots of great clues. **/**** The missing e in 5d had me scratching my head so thanks to Archie for the explanation. My only gripe is the use of friend for an oven in 26d. Too many good clues for a favourite, although 18a and d and 15 rate highly. Sorry to hear about school closures due to snow. Our skies are pretty clear at the mo, although its quite bracing outside.

    • George
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Arg – you folks – I am just back in after clearing 2 feet of snow from my 250 yard driveway! First you have to dig your way out to the garage 100 feet from the door with the shovel so you can get the tractor fired up – then you snow blow the driveway, then you dig out all the other stairways – then you look at the path to the heating oil tankg, decide that it can wait until another day and cross you fingers that the tanker does not show up.

      Then you come indoors and relax with a Capuccino.

      Nothing like a good blizzard to work off a bit of fat. Isn’t Canada wonderful?

      • Kath
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        I imagine that you’re referring to the UK’s inability to deal with a few inches of snow – this country can’t cope with ‘extremes’. 2″ of snow and we grind to a halt – a week without rain and a drought is declared! Hopeless . . .

      • Angel
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:03 am | Permalink

        In West Sussex we had a short, sharp blizzard this afternoon (actually yesterday now) but nothing compared with what you are coping with. I have had pictures today from friends in Cape Cod and a message from another in Nantucket – wow we in the UK don’t begin to know we are born!

  12. Kath
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Piccies!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif and a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif to whoever sorted it out.

  13. Bluebird
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    It’s a **** from me for enjoyment..

    Here’s another who nearly fell into that clever Harry Potter trap at 25. It’s definitely a friend – trying to drink hot tea from an unfired cup would be an all too brief experience.

    5d was fab-U-lous!

    Thanks to A and M.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      My first thought for 25d was Beatrix. Must be my age …

      • Steve_the_Beard
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        My misspent youth had me thinking of things to be found in a snooker hall….

  14. Bluebird
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Is the pic at 15a a selfie?

    • Bluebird
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I find it dispiriting that the iPad, despite it’s bullying tactics with perfectly decent English words, makes no attempt to second guess the word ‘selfie’.

      • pommers
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        You can go off people you know http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        • Steve_the_Beard
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          He meant 1D, of course :-)

  15. Jezza
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    No real problems in this one, although I had to work out which key to take out in 23a!
    Thanks to setter, and to A&M.

  16. Rabbit Dave
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    1.5*/4*. I absolutely loved this. I seemed to drop in on the right wavelength straightaway today and was delighted to find very satisfying and amusing clues all the way through the grid, with the marvellous 5d my favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to archy & mehitabel.

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      My comment was going to say exactly what yours said so I think I’ll save time and just put ‘ditto’.

      • Steve_the_Beard
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        And I’ll ditto your ditto :-)

    • Rick
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      We must be tuned into the same frequency because I raced through this as well, smiling all the way, with the clock going just a smidge over 1* time. ( Greatly assisted by Polly puppy sleeping all the way through, curled up in the crook of my arm.)
      My only gripe is the clunky clueing of a great expression for 9a. Lots to like though, especially 5d, which rivals the ‘infamy’ clue from yesterday’s Toughie as my pick of the week so far.

  17. toadson
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Just logged on to see why the ‘e’ was able to be dropped in 5d – very clever. I also went down the Harry Potter route for some time. Thanks to all.,

  18. Silvanus
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ll go further than Gazza – for me this was a brilliant puzzle and the most enjoyable so far in 2015, not just this week :-)

    The word-play was excellent with numerous potential misdirections and subtleties that I only got after re-reading and analysing the clues several times. Very hard to choose a favorite but I loved 5d, 7d, 23a and 14d.

    16d was a new one for me too, but eminently gettable and I can’t ever recall seeing 9a in a puzzle before !

    Huge congratulations to the setter and of course to A & M.

  19. Sweet William
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you setter. I found this very difficult – must be just me as everyone else seems to have had no problems. I must just be getting worse – by the day ! I managed to solve it all but it took far too long. Thank you Archy and Mehitabel for your review and hints. You make it all sound so easy.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    • Steve_the_Beard
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Don’t let it get you down – everyone thought that Tuesday was easy, but I found it really quite difficult. Everyone can have an off-day :-)

      • Jane
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Glad you said that, Steve – I’ll just crawl into my corner until it wears off.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      • Sweet William
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Steve ! I need to take one game at a time. I must take the positives after this heavy defeat. I will go away and spend some time on the training ground. Its a home game tomorrow against Don Giovanni. A tough match – I am the underdog, so nothing to lose. I will set my stall out and there will be no lack of commitment from me. Grateful for your support http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Hilary
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Please remember there is actually no such thing as a heavy defeat. Just because you were not on the same wavelength as the setter (I know all about wavelengths as the OH is always pointing out my being on the wrong one) this time you will find that as you do more of their crosswords you will come to se what they mean. This happened to me once I had found BD’s gang whose decoding of the answers grew my confidence by leaps and bounds. Onwards and upwards.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

      • Kath
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Yes – http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  20. Maggie
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Great to get your help when we can’t answer the last few cryptics

  21. Michael
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I put ‘pop off’ into 19a using a bit of ‘bungitin’ logic – but now understand my error! I admit to using my Wordsearch program to get 16d using the cross letters – a new word to me!

    **Note to self – print off a list of common Latin phrases (to go along with the lists of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses)**

    Good fun – right up my street!

    Onward and upward – now down to the Driving Range for some much needed practice! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  22. Kevin
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Once I realise it wasn’t referring to Dick Emery, 12a was resolved
    Other answers were not too convincing, especially 24d

  23. Omar
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle – I for one thought 24d was very clever!

  24. Ridgerunner
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable today and a perfect accompanniment to watching Andy Murray play tennis down under-yes, no trouble with 3d. Both finished at same time and doing the crossword is much better than listening to the commentary. Last In was 14d despite getting the first part I got too fixed on humans!

  25. Framboise
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Like Gazza thought 5d and 14d were brilliant clues! Enjoyed solving this puzzle but got stuck on 25d as went the Harry Potter way. Went completely loopy with 18d and ended up with my regal for ideal man and of course could not parse it! 19a stumped me as I got jo? (From Jo brand) ?ff. Surpassed myself today in convoluted answers but it was fun. First ones in were 1a and 28a – I like lond words and guessed Manx cats before being able to parse it with checked letters. Many thanks to setter and reviewers.

  26. Attila Thehun
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Re 24d, perhaps the setter had the pottersfriend website in mind. It seems to talk about kilns.

  27. The Navigator
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    ** difficulty but I think it merits at least a **** for enjoyment on 5d alone…. Still chuckling! Sunny, clear day in Alabama but looking forward to an English spring after 3 years. Counting the weeks now.

  28. SheilaP
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Liked today’s puzzle a lot. I’ve never come across the answer to 16 down before, but looked it up and there it was. We’ve only got a little bit of snow here on the East Coast, but there’s still time. Thank you to the Thursday setter and to the tremendous twosome.

  29. Paso Doble
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Only got fortiori because of my years spent living in Latin countries. Very good puzzle nonetheless, so I’ll log off and tune up and have a lie in tomorrow if I can get an alibi!!!!

  30. Jane
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for my picture – I’ve already crossed that beautiful bridge twice today! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif As for the puzzle – might I be right in thinking that it was compiled by one of the younger setters? It rather put me in mind of the style used by some of our Rookies.

    I’m going to be a bit of a lone voice and say that I didn’t particularly enjoy this one although I don’t really know why as I’ve ‘ticked’ quite a few as potential favourites. I’ll probably settle on 5d although it could easily have been 8d or 9a (because the sound of it makes me smile!). 16d was a new one for me, as is the fish in the Quickie.

    Oh dear – just 3*/2* for me, but apologies to the setter – I’m probably just having an off-day. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
    Many thanks to archy and mehitabel – as solo artists you both excel, as a duo you’re incomparable! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    • pommers
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Jane.

      I used to sail under that bridge on a regular basis and always had the heebie-jeebies. I KNOW there’s approx 100ft clearance at high water slack and the top of our mast was 47ft above the water but there’s some sort of optical illusion and it always looks as if you won’t fit – scary http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif.

      • Jane
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        I always ‘duck down’ – reflex action, nothing I can do about it! Come to think of it, I also breathe in when driving through the ‘arches’ on the bridge – think the latter may be down to my Dad telling me that it was necessary (aren’t small children delightfully gullible over some things – I pulled the same stunt on my own offspring for years). http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

        • pommette
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          I used to “breathe in” going through the arches in Conwy!

          • Jane
            Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

            I just close my eyes for those – interesting, if you happen to be the driver! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • Brian
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Don’t know that bridge, is the Clifton Suspension bridge?

      • Jane
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        NO, Brian – it’s the wonderful Telford suspension bridge that crosses the Menai Strait from mainland N. Wales to Anglesey. Quite the most beautiful bridge in the world………….but then, I am just the tiniest bit biased!

      • pommers
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        It’s the Menai Bridge over the Strait between Angelsey and the mainland.

  31. Heno
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Mr Ron & to Archy & Mehitabel. Quite enjoyed what I could do, but couldn’t get on the setter’s wavelength to save my life. Got the answer to 8d, but had to Google 16d. Needed 7 hints to finish. Favourite was 21a, was 4*/3* for me.

  32. Brian
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    For me a highly dislikable crossword. Very difficult with some clues which I found very poor indeed such as 9a, 11a, 4d, 5d (esp this one, just awful) and 25d.
    Managed to finish it but with very little fun, no smile clues and very tedious. Apart from that I liked it!
    Thx to the bloggers for the explanations for the poor clues.

    • Rick
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      There are days Brian when I think you inhabit a parallel universe!

      • Kath
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        Me too . . .

        • weekendwanda
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          Ditto.

      • Hanni
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        Me too. As a believer in the Many-Worlds interpretation, it would make sense. I love Brian’s world. In another world I sing Verdi at Covent Garden and can complete Mephisto, but I still use pencils for anagrams. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

        • Jane
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

          Is that the same world where I still look about 27 and can recognise any bird in the world just by its call? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

          • Hanni
            Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

            That’s the one! You look younger but retain the wisdom. And the ability to recognise any bird by its call. Which, by the way, is incredible. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
            If we get to meet at a S & B meet, you’ll have to teach me the basics. That will involve you saying, “No Hanni, that is NOT a $#@/!&\ sparrow!”.

  33. Gwizz
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I needed a couple of bites to finally complete this puzzle but it was a very good crossword and very enjoyable to do. I had to double check 16d as it was a unknown phrase for me; Latin having never been my strong point…
    5d I agree was the stand out clue.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and to A&M for their revue.

  34. Beaver
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Internet off all day until now. Thought it was a tad harder than a **,going for a ***/**** if only for 16d-how many learned solvers had heard of this?, I had a ‘logical bung’ which proved correct What a lovely compilation of excellent clues,15a reminded me of The giant rat of the same name, alluded to by Sherlock Holmes, but the tale never told ‘as the world wasn’t ready for it’ Liked 18d. Thanks A and M for the

  35. Beaver
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Internet off till now . Thought it was more difficult than a **, going for a ***/*** if only for 16D,how many learned solvers have heard of this ? took a ‘logical bung’ which proved correct. Lots of imaginative clues,15A reminded me of the Sherlock Homes story in which he alluded to The giant rat of the same name, saying that the world was not yet ready for this story-still waiting !Thanks to A and M for the ‘pics’ and the one for 23A-have a cottage a few miles away-Snowdonia will look spectacular after the snow, might make the trip.Liked 18D when the penny dropped.

    • Jane
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Hi Beaver, actually Snowdonia’s got off quite lightly thus far. We’ve had plenty of rain but not much snow – there is certainly a little on the highest points but it’s a long way off being a winter wonderland. Am I correct in thinking that you are the BD member who commented on living near Tarporley? If so – ’twas me who replied before and said that I moved to Anglesey from Whitegate and worked for many years at The Hollies.

  36. Jay legs
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    ***/** from today, the Southern Hemisphere took a while. 16d was a new word, thanks to all for the explanations.

  37. Merusa
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    As tricky as I found this, it was a super puzzle. My fave rave is 5d but I must give honourable mention to 14d, both such clever, clever clues.
    I never did get 25d as I was so sure that 1000 was M, never thought of K, and wasted far too much time googling Harry’s friends.
    Thanks to the setter for the entertainment and to archie and Mehitabel for the very funny review!

  38. Vancouverbc
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    ***/****. Very nice puzzle which stretched me more than a little so thanks to the setter. Also needed A & M to explain my bung infor 18a. Quite a few neat clues but particularly liked 1, 12,15,19 & 27a.

  39. Salty Dog
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I must be right on wavelength, because this one fell into place very quickly. 1*/4* for my money, and many a smile generated in the process. Lots of favourites, but l” plump for 9a. Ta to the mystery setter, and to A&M for an entertaining review.

  40. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    We really enjoyed this one and also found it quite tricky. Our two favourite clues were the linked detailed clues, 5d and and 14d. They both had us laughing out loud. We would have chosen 3d as favourite, but then we noticed that the pic was of ‘them on the other side of the ditch’, so. in the spirit of trans-Tasman rivalry, could not possibly vote for it. Great to see the old team back in action for the review.
    Thanks Mr Ron and A and M.

    • pommers
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      I thought NZ counted as Antipodes but reckoned “Down Under” was specifically Oz. Sorry if I got it wrong but I didn’t come across an amusing image for NZ. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      • 2Kiwis
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Yeh, yar probly right mate! Those Ossies seem to lay claim to most things from this part of the world and the expression “Down Under” possibly comes into this category. Not that we have any inferiority complex about it though! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        • pommers
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          “Men at Work”? I’ve got the album with that track somewhere in the archives. Not played it for years and probably won’t play it for many more years to come. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • Kath
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      I love your two ‘detailed clues’. Wonderful! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  41. fran
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    23a took some time since 16d was still incomplete. I didn’t bother trying the net or other electronic device, just went straight to the hints ,( it’s easier with latin / italian musical terms) , and I thought it a poor clue given it’s strategic importance in the south east portion.
    Many other good clues especially 5d 17 and 25d . *** for south east part otherwise ** but I found it to be very enjoyable.****

  42. Una
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I found this most enjoyable, although some clues,14d,16d,9a and 25d, took me absolutely ages. I got the impression from the other clues which I found very fair that they would be gettable if I just kept trying.Stand outs for me were 14d, 18d (where is he ?),17d and 27a. I think 9a is a bit rechere.Best backpager of the week , so far.
    Thanks to the setter and to our partners in blogging.

  43. Jane
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Feeling a lot better now – just finished the Toughie. That makes TWO this week. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    • Kath
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      First Toughie I’ve finished this week – I really enjoyed it. Lots of http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif for you and me!

      • Jane
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        Oops – getting carried away with myself. The other Toughie I completed was the one that you, me & Hanni all managed to crack. Must have been last week – it’s just still so fresh in my mind! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        • Hanni
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

          We all did the Beam I think?

          • Jane
            Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

            That must be it – thought there’d been another one since then. I did finish the Firefly but – looking at the blog – I used a few sneaky dips into Googleland so can’t claim a 10/10. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

            • Hanni
              Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

              Does checking Google/BRB/OED not count? I sometimes check afterwards. No matter, you still get a 10/10 for the Firefly in my eyes. :-)

  44. Chris
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I found this one very difficult; not helped by only having the vaguest recollection of the 16d phrase. Several others were right but unsatisfying since half the clue was at first a mystery (hurrah again for the blog!). I had remembered what the Farmer’s wife’ opponent was, but not what she did, so so the subtleties of the missing E did not dawn, I’m ashamed to admit. What a pity, it was the best clue of the year so far.
    Never mind – tomorrow’s another day! Many thanks to Archy and Mehitabel and to the setter – who is a star.

  45. Hilary
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Have to admit to Wiki help for 16d to confirm what I had put in, loved some of the wordplay because just for once on a Thursday my brain was on the correct wavelength. Sincere thanks to A&M for explanations, seem to have broken my tendency to read blog before doing crossword – not the brightest idea I ever had but is it addictive. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  46. Jerome
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I really didn’t get on with this crossword. I would rate it *****/*.

    I’m still in the dark for 5d. Even if i could get the answer for 8d, 16d was still impossible for those with no Latin. 9a was a strange one. I knew the phrase but somehow never knew it was composed that way.

    My least successful attempt in years. Here’s hoping tomorrow is on my wavelength! :-)

    • Rick
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      For 5d try Googling Three Blind Mice.

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      5d IN (popular) F (female) and MOUS (mouse with its tail or last letter cut off, by the farmer’s wife in the nursery rhyme perhaps

      As for the Latin, the majority of the Latin I know (I was in the German ‘stream’ at school, comes from solving crosswords, including 16d.

      • pommers
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        You left out the A in 5d. It’s in the clue.

  47. pommers
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Apropos of not much, pommette filled the car (it’s fuel tank smartarse) with diesel today and it cost €0.98/litre. At today’s exchange rate that’s about 75p/litre. Not been that cheap for years.

    Gone to bed now http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

    • weekendwanda
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      But she should have filled the whole car with diesel at that price.

      • pommette
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        I know someone who filled a Mini with pig poo – but that’s another story! :)

        • Hanni
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

          Good God! I nearly put petrol in a diesel company car once, but that beats it hands down. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

          • pommers
            Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

            Not now ‘cos I’m going to bed but if you ask sometime I’ll tell you the story – laugh? Nearly wet myself.

            • Hanni
              Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

              http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Kath
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif for a nasty moment I thought you were going to say that she should’ve filled it with unleaded . . .
      Now I’m going to bed http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

  48. Miffypops
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Solved with smiles over Gin and tonics in the hotel bar. Well almost finished. I couldn’t be bothered to try 16d even with all the checkers and the anagram fodder being obvious. Then whilst reading A & Ms review I discovered a mystery KILN. Upon looking back at the puzzle there it was. An unsolved clue. How did that happen? Hopefully we will get home tomorrow. Who knows. Thanks to A & M for the review and a very large dose of thanks to the setter for a wonderful and amusing puzzle with just the right level of stretch for me.

    • Hanni
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      Have you informed a local museum about the discovery of mystery KILN? It could be an ancient dynasty one. You can’t keep it to yourself Miffypops. What if your mystery KILN is an acronym?
      Good luck getting home.

  49. Angel
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    A chacun son gout! I’m with those for whom this wasn’t exactly a bowl of cherries. Perhaps it’s because I came to it late in the day and wanted to complete ASAP and go to bed but struggled particularly in SW corner. 19a and 18d were Fave(s). I’ve said 9a often but don’t think I have ever written it before so it didn’t spring immediately to mind. Thanks Mr. Ron and A & M. ***/**. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

  50. Tstrummer
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Yup, I loved it too. Thanks to A&M (didn’t they used to be a record label?) for filling me in on some explanations I didn’t bother trying to fathom when the answer just clicked in anyway. Tired now. A gruelling week and more to come tomorrow (later today). Thanks too to setter. 2*/4* fun

  51. Catnap
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m with those who found this a most entertaining and excellent puzzle. 5d definitely my fave, too, with 14d close on its heels. Big thanks to the setter.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    I was on the right wavelength for most of the clues, but I didn’t get 16d, although I should have done as I had 8d.

    Really super to have Archy and Mehitabel back. Thank you both for a most entertaining and enlightening review. Here’s a rose each, although Mehitabel might prefer a sprig of catnip? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif