DT 27789 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27789

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27789

Hints and tips by Kath

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

Good morning everyone. It’s another beautiful morning in Oxford and it’s a Ray T Thursday – what more could we ask for? This crossword has almost all of his trademarks apart from the Queen who seems to be otherwise occupied today. I had a few little spots of bother and thought it was quite tricky in places. I almost gave it another star for difficulty. Please leave us a comment and tell us what you thought.

The answers are hidden under the things that say “Click here” so only do that if you need to see them.


1a            Close after mixing in crew’s quarters (10)
FORECASTLE — An anagram (mixing) of CLOSE AFTER. I know I’ve said it before but a nice long anagram right across the top is such a good start and does wonders for the morale and confidence.

6a            Back plans for junk mail (4)
SPAM — A reversal (back) of some plans or designs.

9a            Active serviceman dropped into drink … (5)
AGILE — An abbreviation for an American soldier (serviceman) is contained in (dropped into) a drink of the beery kind.

10a         … left crew circling English Channel (9)
REMAINING — A crew or gang of workers goes around (circling) the abbreviation for E(nglish) and another word for a channel or sea.

12a         Film director took a trip in Italy (7)
FELLINI — Another way of saying took a trip or tumbled over, the ‘in’ from the clue and then the IVR code for I(taly).


13a         Tones down fashion before case of excess (5)
FADES — A fashion or a brief craze is followed by the first and last letters (case) of E(xces)S.

15a         Stranded guard on manoeuvres (7)
AGROUND — An anagram (manoeuvres) of GUARD ON.


17a         Attraction of girl ends with love in France (7)
GLAMOUR — The first and last letters (ends) of G(ir)L are followed by the French word for love.

19a         Newspaper customarily contains brief glimpses (7)
APERCUS — This is one of those ‘lurkers’. The answer is hidden in (contains) the first two words of the clue – and it’s not even a very common word either!

21a         Excuse is almost fair embracing former wife (7)
PRETEXT — A word meaning fair or attractive without its last letter (almost) contains (embracing) the two letters for a former wife (or husband).

22a         Mountain top found following fault (5)
SINAI — Two letters meaning top or first class come after (following) a fault or transgression.

24a         Spreads about over first slice of sandwich (7)
REPASTS — One of the two letter abbreviations for about or concerning, a word meaning over or done with and the first letter (first slice) of S(andwich).

27a         Sneakily steals in after sweetheart’s key (9)
ESSENTIAL — Begin with the middle letter, or heart of swEet and follow that (after) with an anagram (sneakily) of STEALS IN.

28a         First for Sabbath, performing in charge of sound (5)
SONIC — The first letter of S(abbath) (first for), a short word meaning performing or showing and the abbreviation for in charge.

29a         Trains of young sprogs initially? (4)
TOYS — The first letters (initially) of the other four words in the clue


30a         Some wreathe art in essential quality of sincerity (10)
HEARTINESS — Another hidden answer (some) – it’s in the middle of the second, third, fourth and fifth words of the clue. And jolly well hidden it was too – so well hidden that it almost stayed that way for me.



1d            Agitation from female sitting on knees (4)
FLAP — The abbreviation for F(emale) is followed by (sitting on) another way of saying your knees, or thighs when sitting down.


2d            Strengthen control caught in front (9)
REINFORCE — A control used when riding a horse is followed by another word for front or first part of something – maybe a boat or ship – which contains (in) the one letter cricketing abbreviation for C(aught).

3d            Can opener with winder for fish container (5)
CREEL — The first letter (opener) of C(an) is followed by a means of winding something in.


4d            Close second slipped catching first person (7)
SERRIED — The one letter abbreviation for S(econd) and then a word meaning slipped or made a mistake which contains (catching) the first personal pronoun.

5d            Rodent male, minute, occupying branch (7)
LEMMING — A branch or limb contains (occupying) the one letter abbreviation for M(ale) and another abbreviation for a minute of time. Explaining this was one of my spots of bother.


7d            Dug ‘Satisfaction’ reportedly (5)
PRIED — This kind of ‘dug’ is nothing to do with gardening or understanding – it’s more like being nosy and it’s a homonym (reportedly) of a word meaning satisfaction or sense of achievement.

8d            Judge moving targets and aim (10)
MAGISTRATE — An anagram (moving) of TARGETS and AIM.

11d         Provoke fashionable celebrity about launch opening (7)
INFLAME — The usual two letters meaning fashionable or popular are followed by a noun meaning celebrity or stardom which contain (about) the first letter (opening) of L(aunch).

14d         Trouble from injury containing clot on hospital department (10)
HARASSMENT — Time to get the lego out and start building – begin with a noun meaning injury or damage – that word contains (containing) a clot – not a blood clot which is implied in the wording of the clue but a twit or fool – then follow that lot with the usual hospital department.

16d         Job taking top off ointment (7)
UNCTION — A job or role without its first letter (taking top off).

18d         Respect order by one’s master, welcoming direction (9)
OBEISANCE — A three letter abbreviation for a specific order or award is followed by the letter that looks like the Roman numeral for one, with the ‘S, and then another word for a master or expert containing (welcoming) one of the four directions of the compass.

20d         Below stairs, oddly, eat fish (7)
SARDINE — Begin with the odd letters (oddly) of StAiRs and follow that (below) with a word meaning eat or feed. This one almost made me cry – the answer was obvious but it took me ages to see why.

Over the last hundred years, some decades have seen huge schools of sardines flourish off the Central California coast; during other decades, the small fish have been virtually nonexistent. These changes may be symptomatic of long-term (50-year) cycles that affect the entire Pacific Ocean.
Over the last hundred years, some decades have seen huge schools of sardines flourish off the Central California coast; during other decades, the small fish have been virtually nonexistent. These changes may be symptomatic of long-term (50-year) cycles that affect the entire Pacific Ocean.

21d         In tree collecting nut kernel (7)
POPULAR — The tree is a rapidly growing one of the willow family and it contains (collecting) the middle letter (kernel) of nut.

23d         Good man in denial, being horrid (5)
NASTY — An archaic word for a denial or a way of saying no contains (in) the usual crosswordland good man.

25d         Gives us hiccups consuming Japanese dish (5)
SUSHI — And here is our final lurker of the day. It’s hidden in (consuming) the first three words of the clue.


26d         Plays in a court having small support (4)
ACTS — The A from the clue, a two letter abbreviation for ‘court’ and another abbreviation for S(mall).

I liked 9 and 10a, particularly because of the way they go together, and 1 and 7d. Much as I usually hate the hidden answers – they so often catch me out – my favourite today was 25a – it made me laugh!

Quickie pun (Mince)+(Horse)=(Mint sauce)

71 comments on “DT 27789

  1. I really enjoyed this puzzle and certainly concur with the difficulty and enjoyment rating as there were a couple of words I was unfamiliar with that I had to deduce via the wordplay. Thanks to Kath and RayT ***/****

  2. I thought this was a splendid offering & liked almost all of it, my only comment were the number of hidden lurkers I’m not a great fan of these genre of clues.Many thanks to the setter & Kath for the review.

  3. Thought I was never going to get off the ground but kept my nerve and gradually it all began to come together. Brill puzzle with lots of d’oh moments when pennies dropped. Many thanks RayT for much joy and early-bird Kath for sorting 24a for me – I had failed to identify over synonym. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif. ***/****.

  4. It’s a bit like London buses. No Ray T for a while then we get two in quick succession – which is absolutely fine by me!

    I agree with Kath’s 3*/4* rating for an excellent albeit queenless puzzle, which was quite challenging in parts. 4d & 10a were my last two in, with 10a getting my vote for favourite. (Kath, 25a, your choice as favourite, is so well hidden it doesn’t exist).

    I toyed initially with “alive” for 9a but gave up and returned to it later when I couldn’t see any way that IV could be a serviceman.

    Many thanks to Ray T and to Kath.

    1. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif That just goes to show how scrambled my brain is – I meant 25 across – oh dear!!
      It was just the thought of the Japanese food giving us hiccups that I thought was funny. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

        1. I think the expression is along the lines of “when in a hole stop digging” so that’s what I’m going to do now before I make anything any worse!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

          1. It’s fine! All the hard work is done now Kath, so you can – and should – put your feet up and relax.

  5. Owww – that hurt. More please!

    I took an age to get started and the tail end also proved stubborn. Overall, it lasted almost twice as long as yesterday’s so I wouldn’t have minded seeing another star for difficulty. That said, in most cases I think I made it harder than it was. The couple of unfamiliar bits I could work out, so in fact the only one today that eluded me was 1a in the quickie. Silly me!

    Favourite is 1d which took longer than it should have and made me smile.

    Thanks to RayT for the pain fun and Kath for the usual top quality review.

    1. 1d took me ages too – I think it might have been my last answer. I kept trying to justify ‘flak’ which would, at a push, have done for agitation but it just wouldn’t work.

      1. I kept thinking of fuss, but there was no way of justifying the uss. Only once the checkers were there did I see the lap.

        My last in was 7d, which for some reason I just couldn’t see for ages.

  6. This all proved very easy for me with the exception of 4d which was my last in and took much searching in the dictionary. Not a word I knew and a wordplay I could not unravel.

    This would have been a 1* rating for me except that 4d took as long to solve as the rest of the puzzle! So I would have to say it took 2* time and 4* for enjoyment today.

  7. Enjoyed this, took a bit longer than usual. 4d (close second) was an unfamiliar word with clear wordplay, and wonderful surface I thought. I also liked 17a (attraction of girl..) and my favourite was 12a (Film director). I also liked the hidden clues.

    Many thanks RayT and Kath for a lovely review

  8. Delightfully teasing this Ray T several clues had me reaching for the Thesaurus, I agree with the difficulty rating. Favourite clue believe it or not 3d.
    Thanks to Kath and Ray T. Must go and teach navigation to would be sailors now, quite nice after this crossword.

  9. Our last one to finalise was 26d. We pondered on the possibility of ACES being the answer with ‘plays in court’ being the definition, referring to tennis serves, but eventually abandoned that idea. Lots of good fun and we did check the word count of course.
    Thanks RayT and Kath.

  10. For me 14d was the last one in. I think I spent more time on that clue than on the rest of the crossword.
    19a was yet again a French word that I didn’t imagine being used in English.
    The surface of 20d made me laugh and my favourite is 21d.
    Thanks to RayT ( must remember to vote) and to Kath for the wonderful review.

  11. Great puzzle, some easy, some hard and some very hard! Some lovely misdirections. Perfect. Agree ***/****

    Favourite? 4d, 7d, 20d and 21d – take your pick. Probably 21d for a d’uh moment

    Thanks Ray T and Kath

  12. ***/****

    Some lovely anagrams to start, a few R & W and I actually spotted the hidden words (19a had to checked). I thought this would be done in no time. I was wrong.

    Sorting out 18d was a nightmare. Add 22a to that along with 20d. The latter I tried to make a word out of the odd letters of ‘below stairs’.

    I do like RayT days.

    Many thanks to Mr T and to Kath for a fine blog.

    6 to go in the Toughie. I’m giving serious consideration to ripping it out and attempting to make a paper aeroplane instead.

  13. Thanks to Ray T and to Kath for the review and hints. I enjoyed this a lot, but ran out of patience in the end. It just seemed to grind me down, and I couldn’t think anymore. Needed 7 hints to finish. Would never have thought of any of them. Had never heard of 4&16d or 19a. An old chestnut in 21d if you’ll excuse the tree allusion, but enjoyed the way it was clued. Favourite was 12a. Was 4*/3* for me. Off to the Reading Beer Festival tomorrow, let’s hope it’s dry, the weather that is :-)

    1. Heno, stuff The Reading Beer festival. You will queue for too long. Come to The Long Itchington Beer Festival instead. One Village. Six Pubs. Four Days. 1st – 4th May

      1. I’d love to come along as I’ll be in the area for Death of a Salesman in Stratford, but unfortunately I shall also have three dogs, a non-beer-drinking partner and a car to consider – none of the above fit in well with beer festivals… I suppose I could tie them up outside, but then she’ll probably never speak to me again

  14. I found this quite difficult and had to use the hints for some in the NE corner. I thought some of the clues were a bit ‘iffy’ as were some of the hints. I didn’t like 7d or the hint for it….There are two verbs here….’to pry’ …..which is used for the explanation……and ‘to prize’ which can mean to dig or force open. Not very satisfying at all. I also didn’t like 10a….I would not say that a crew = ring…gang perhaps…. I’ve never heard of a ‘ring” of workmen. Anyway grumbles apart, this took me much longer than I would have liked and I really didn’t enjoy it much. Thanks for the hints, Kath, and to the setter. I can only give it ***/* today.

  15. I know this was a Ray T (because the quickie puzzle clues are all single words) but it just didn’t feel like it to me. Not just the absence of HM, but no cheeky innuendo either. Still, I did it without hints and quite liked it overall, but the smile factor wasn’t there for me. Thanks Ray T and Kath.

    By the way, Kath, if you do the Toughie, I already know what your favorite clue will be!

    1. I think I’d better have a go at the Toughie – I wonder if I can guess what 12a is. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    2. Expat Chris, Hanni and pommers – you’re all right. Oh dear – I’d hate to be called predictable! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  16. Agree with the ***/****,and by general consensus an excellent puzzle by Mr T. Took a while to spot the anagram in 1a-after I had the solution ! and last in 24a produced the d’oh moment .Thanks Kath for the ‘pics- without my glasses on thought 5d was the opening scene of Far From The madding Crowd!

  17. 4d and 19a both new to me ; I prefer to know the words I am dealing with but perhaps one of them will crop up again in the next 10 years . A good mix of clues nonetheless and the bottom half flew in today which is unusual for me on a Thursday .
    Once the anagram in 1a went in the top half unravelled but not without a couple of hints , spent loads of time thinking about the Rolling stones for 7d !! Thanks Kath for the hints . ****/***

  18. I found this very difficult and would have been quite happy if Kath had added another star for difficulty! Two words (agile and sushi) were also in yesterday’s – presumably just coincidence.

  19. Splendid stuff as usual from Mr T. ***/**** from us too.

    I once put Firenze 15a outside Lymington harbour entrance. She went from over 5kn to a dead stop in about 10 feet. The only problem was that father-in-law was having a pee in the heads and went flying. He was a bit moist when he came up on deck.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif That memory makes 15a my favourite.

    Thanks to RayT and Kath.

  20. Re; 10a, crew = ring ??? that’s pretty obscure. Do compilers go out of their way to find obscure definitions and little used words (serried).
    ***/* for me today, didn’t enjoy it at all.
    Thanx to Kath for the review.

      1. I have come to expect this type of synonym from RayT – I have given up complaining about such things!

        1. Yes, I suppose one has to ‘go with the flow’ as it were. I don’t usually take issue with the clues, just thankful to be able to get the answer for most of the time . I usually get the answer first and then work out why….but this one I thought was a stretching it a bit……see Pommers comment below…..Uncle Tom Cobley and all springs to mind!…..Oh well, just got one clue to get in the Toughie and I’ll feel happier with today effort.

    1. Synonyms of ring from Collins thesaurus

      gang, group, firm, association, band, cell, combine, organization, circle, crew, knot, mob, syndicate, cartel, junta, clique, coterie, cabal

  21. Excellent puzzle with enough difficult clues to test those who rarely venture to the toughie page.
    18d last in, but favourite probably 17a.
    Thanks to Kath and Ray T. ***/***

  22. Ah, a Ray T crossword. What fun! Lots of clever stuff and the gray cells were seriously challenged on several occasions. Favourite clue was 30a jst cos I missed the answer first time round. I agree with Kath’s rating. 3*/4*
    Thanks to Ray T and to Kath for her review.

  23. Well, I enjoyed the bits of this one that I could do…..about half of it I guess.
    Electronic help got me to the rest of them except for 7d. ( I don’t think that pride means satisfaction, though).

    Needed the hints to understand a lot of the answers, so a big thank you to Kath.
    Thanks to the setter also.

    1. One of the meanings of pride in the BRB is “a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction on account of something worthily done by oneself or someone connected with one, one’s family, possessions etc”.

  24. Phew. That was difficult. 4* for me and I’m grateful to Kath for the lucid clues. Feeling pleased with myself I think that I will go and serry my wife

  25. I am sure that nobody will be surprised when I say I absolutely loathed this puzzle on almost every level. Having finished it (with help from the hints) I can see no redeeming features whatsoever. The nadir was of course 19a!
    Roll on Friday!
    Thx to Kath for the much needed hints.

    1. I agree Brian. I wasn’t too keen on this one either. Several iffy clues I thought. The Toughie is better …pleased to have redeemed myself by finishing that!

    2. I was wondering where you’d got to – thought you might have thrown yourself out of your pram with all your 29a’s! It didn’t surprise me one little bit that today’s crossword was not quite your cup of tea but you’ll be smiling tomorrow and I’ll be the one who’s struggling.

  26. Best of the week so far. A couple of tricky ones to test us. Congrats to he setter.

  27. One of your harder puzzles Ray T. Got there in the end and enjoyed the challenge. Rather like Virgilius puzzles, I always find them a real battle, but enjoy the wrestle as I know I can finish them with a bit of concentration. Thanks Kath for your detailed review and hints. Managed to dodge the showers on the Suffolk coast today. Some nasty stuff on the way though.

  28. Breezed through the left half, but the right-hand side required more use of the little grey cells.

    I found it overall slightly easier than normal for a Ray T puzzle, but extremely enjoyable and well-assembled as one would expect.

    My favourite was 12a and made me chuckle.

    Many thanks to the esteemed setter and to Kath for her valued input.

  29. I loved 12a and the hidden clues amoung many others , but I found the last 4 or so clues very difficult. 24 a I just gave up on and looked at the answer.I never heard of 4d.
    Thanks Kath and Ray T.

  30. Strange that the solution to 27a appears in the clue for 30a – thought I’d seen it somewhere before!

  31. Setter here, with many thanks to Kath for her analysis and to all who left a comment. Those looking for innuendo could perhaps have another look at 1d…


    1. Thank you so much for popping in – I do hope that you know how much it’s appreciated by all of us here.
      Yes – some innuendo in 1d but nothing like as much as my favourite ever clue, not just of yours, but all time favourite. Please forgive me if I haven’t got it quite right but it was along the lines of, “Move rhythmically, topless, on a pole maybe” (8). Absolutely wonderful and had me laughing for days. The other one was, “Kind of shrink underwear giving a revealing glimpse.” (8, 4).

  32. Usual Thursday struggle but managed to complete with some electronic help. Thanks to Ray T and Kath. I am in disgrace because I did not write something in the diary and the person concerned rang asking where I was too late for me to keep appointment – the perils of old age. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    1. None of my friends ever expect me to turn up on time or remember events Hilary. I get by though

  33. Tried to start this on the late train home, but couldn’t concentrate because of the drunk young man opposite trying, and failing, to eat a Cornish pasty. Only got a couple of hidden answers before getting off and catching the wrong bus from the station that left a long and weary uphill trudge home. Once here, however, with a pint and some cheese, it all came together swiftly until the last couple in the NE corner. It took me an age to realise that I had put PRIDE instead of PRIED for 7d, which made 13a unfathomable. Got there in the end. I do love a RayT challenge and was smugly thinking that I was there in 1* time, but the hold-up put paid to that. I particularly liked 12 and 19a and 18d (I guessed the answer straight away, but it took me ages to work out why). Thanks to Ray and Kath for the splendid review, and to Brian for a first-class return to form.

    1. Well said. I am still where I was at 10 o clock this morning. One to savour later I think.

  34. 5d – does the word “leing” , of which I’ve never heard, really mean “branch” ? Even Mr Google doesn’t appear to know it either !! Someone please explain.

    1. The abbreviation for male is M, that for minute is MIN and the branch is LEG. Make more sense now?

      1. how very kind of you put me out of my misery from all the way round the other side of the world ! Many thanks from Up Over to Down Under.
        Once one gets an idea for part of the clue it is very difficult to budge. I knew the answer must be what it turned out to be, but got fixed on the two M’s- senior moment !

        1. We know what you mean. We went down the same route but thought that ‘occupying’ was the clue for IN. Unfortunately M for minute is not recognised in Chambers, so Kath’s explanation, as set out above, has to be the correct one. Cheers.

  35. Well it took forever, and I have not enjoyed it at all. Way below Ray T ‘s normal standards. Since when have knees been equivalent to thighs, or indeed the rest of the answer? Nonsense!

    1. No – not nonsense at all. What do you say to your toddler – do you want to sit on my knees/ do you you want to sit on my lap?
      In my opinion this was certainly not “way below Ray T’s normal standards”.
      Whether or not it was beyond your ability is, of course, a different matter all together.

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