DT 27811

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27811

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Today’s grid is tailor-made for a Nina around the periphery but as far as I can see there isn’t one (unless you are better at spotting them than I am). Its effect is to give us lots of answers with unchecked first letters, making it slightly more difficult.

I would have given this ** for difficulty but my last answer (7a) held me up for some time so I’ve upped the stars to three. I thought it was enjoyable without producing any great hoots of laughter.

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

7a A ploy to alter trailer for valuable cargo (7)
PAYLOAD – an anagram (to alter) of A PLOY followed by the abbreviated word for the sort of trailer that is designed to whet one’s appetite for a forthcoming film, say. This was my last answer and I spent some time thinking that I needed some sort of ploy with its last (trailing) letter altered – eventually the penny dropped.

8a Sign of a healthy elder? (7)
FOLIAGE – this elder is not an aged human.

10a Ride party arranged boarded by quiet short-term visitor (10) [(3,7) in the paper version]
DAYTRIPPER – an anagram (arranged) of RIDE PARTY has the musical abbreviation for quiet inserted (boarded by). This is more usually seen as 3-7 (Chambers) or 3,7 (other dictionaries and the Beatles and in the paper).

11a Archbishop once in skirt (4)
TUTU – double definition, the first the name of a retired South African archbishop (whose forename is commonly used as rhyming slang for a lower-second degree).

12a Film producer‘s healthy cheer (8)
BROCCOLI – another double definition, the second being potentially one of your recommended ‘five a day’.

14a Throw off course queen in foreign parliament (6)
DERAIL – insert the cipher of our current Queen in the lower-house of the Irish parliament.

15a Financial prudence shown by good people a consoling factor (6,5)
SAVING GRACE – string together a word for financial prudence (what one may be doing for a rainy day), G(ood) and a people or ethnic group.

19a What organised rebel leader might say getting ticket (6)
COUPON – split the answer 4,2 to get what the rebel leader may text, say, to his followers to tell them that the preparations are in place for the attempt to overthrow the government.

20a Old boy with single note that’s outdated (8)
OBSOLETE – string together the abbreviation for old boy, an adjective meaning single or only and a musical note from tonic sol-fa.

22a Reportedly money is generated (4)
BRED – this sounds like (reportedly) an informal word for money.

23a Terrible torpor in leaderless TUC showing decay (10)
CORRUPTION – an anagram (terrible) of TORPOR IN and (T)UC.

25a Real dope, one taken in by French article (7)
GENUINE – an informal word for dope or information is followed by the Roman numeral for one contained inside (taken in by) a French indefinite article.

26a In secure drill, Greek character shows source of notes (7)
BAGPIPE – put together a verb to secure or capture and the abbreviation for drill or a physical workout and insert (in) a Greek letter. I like the definition of a gentleman as someone who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.

Down Clues

1d Gruesome Scot taken with a lot of drink (7)
MACABRE – start with the name of a Scot (it’s a well-known fact that in Scotland all men who are not called Ian or Jock must be called this) and add A (from the clue) and all but the last letter of a drink which may be either beer or tea.

2d Small group getting place on programme (4)
SLOT – S(mall) followed by a group or gang.

3d A pride, maybe, harboured by firm in risk-taking venue (6)
CASINO – pride here is nothing to do with lions. A (from the clue) and what pride is an example of (one of seven, possibly) go inside the abbreviation for a firm or business.

4d A hundred men on both sides of free territorial strip (8)
CORRIDOR – we start with the Roman numeral for a hundred then add the abbreviation for ordinary soldiers twice with a verb to free or clear between the two occurrences.

5d Lost chair I restored belonging to the past (10)
HISTORICAL – an anagram (re-stored) of LOST CHAIR I.

6d Self-indulgent bout, say, with trio playing piano (3,4) [(3-4) in the paper]
EGO TRIP – the abbreviation for say or ‘for example’ is followed by an anagram (playing) of TRIO. We finish with the abbreviation for piano (as a musical instruction). The BRB has this as 3-4 (as does the paper version).

9d Executives in early stage of year in launch site? (11)
SPRINGBOARD – cryptically, as (6,5), this could be the executives who are in charge of a company during an early season of the year.

13d Of no more use like actors in an encore? (7-3)
CLAPPED-OUT – after a good performance actors may be called back on stage then applauded off.

16d Lodge reviewed note about head of catering having clean hands (8)
INNOCENT – a lodging place is followed by an anagram (reviewed) of NOTE containing the top letter of catering.

17d Fruit mostly satisfied connoisseur (7)
GOURMET – a fleshy fruit with a hard rind loses its last letter (mostly) and that’s followed by a verb meaning satisfied or fulfilled.

18d Bad-tempered, indisciplined sport discontented plenty (7)
STROPPY – an anagram (indisciplined) of SPORT is followed by what’s left of plenty after its inner letters or contents have been taken away.

21d During burlesque, a keen one takes peep (6)
SQUEAK – hidden (during) in the clue is a peep or high-pitched cry.

24d Record  end of track event? (4)
TAPE – double definition, the second what the winner of a track race breasts (or, at least, used to before the introduction of electronic timing).

My favourite clue was 9d for the nice definition (launch site). Which one(s) made you sit up?

Today’s Quickie Pun: PEER + SINGLY = PIERCINGLY

 


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80 Comments

  1. rod
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I have to admit that this one beat me. I failed to get 7a 8a and 2d and having seen the hints and answers I admit that I never would have got them. Thanks Gazza for your hints. It is some consolation to know that an expert found 7a testing. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  2. George
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I was not in tune with this puzzle at all. Many of the correct answers I rejected as not making any sense – – why is 1a valuable? Surely this applies to any cargo. Shouldn’t 26a be plural, I have never heard of someone playing the singular, why is 12a healthy? It is just another one of many, no healthier than the rest and what does it have to do with cheer?. And so on.

    Anyway, I would rate this as 4*/1*.

    • Liverpool Mike
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      I didn’t like some of the clues either but I think that 1a is OK. The BRB gives ‘that part of the cargo … for which revenue is obtained’

    • Angel
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      George and Mike, obviously you both mean 7a rather than 1a.

    • SheilaP
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Agree with many of your comments. I don’t see how the answer to 26 across can be in the singular, having googled a picture of the musical instrument..

      • gazza
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        The BRB gives both plural and singular.

  3. omar
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I also found this difficult, with 12a the last in, so *** for difficulty…..I admit ‘cheer’ can in some circs mean food, but even so!

  4. Jezza
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I made heavy weather of this one – not quite sure why; perhaps an excess of everything over the long weekend.

    Thanks to setter, and to Gazza.

  5. Paso Doble
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Like everyone else, we found this quite difficult. We started off quickly and then ground to a halt for a while. Very enjoyable though and quite a few clues of the type that are really obvious once you’ve got them – 13d and 12a for example. We were not sure whether it was ‘pan’ or ‘bag’ for 26a but thanks, Gazza, for the explanation. And thanks to the setter for a very satisfying challenge of a puzzle. ***/****

  6. crypticsue
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Today’s “Toughie” should restore everyone’s faith in their cryptic brain power.

    • Hanni
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.

    • Kath
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Today’s Toughie took about a quarter of the time that this one did but I need the hints to explain a couple of my answers.

    • Jane
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      So glad that you’ve all had your ‘faith in your cryptic brain power’ restored. I’m only about half way through and struggling mightily. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      • Kath
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Just keep going – if I can do it so can you. I have a couple of answers I don’t understand but will look at the hints after supper. Back later . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    • Una
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely.

  7. Miffypops
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Not the easiest but satisfying to nearly finish it. 8ac has me stumped like most of the Elder on our land.

    • Angel
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      IIMHO 8a solution is a bit iffy and for me it was a case of bunging it in!

  8. Rabbit Dave
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Wrong envelope day! I needed a lot of electronic help to complete this so 5* for difficulty, and 2.5* for enjoyment with some good clues interspersed with some poor ones.

    The answers to 8a & 12a couldn’t be anything else but I found the wordplay very unsatisfactory. I wondered if I was missing something but Gazza’s review confirms that I wasn’t. Also I originally assumed that 4d must start ACOR (“A hundred men”) which stopped me getting 8a for quite a while. To me the A seems misleading and unnecessary, but, as Gazza hasn’t mentioned it, I assume it must be considered OK.

    7a (my last one in) & 13d were excellent, with the latter assuming the mantle of my favourite today.

    Many thanks to Mr. Ron and to Gazza.

    • gazza
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see a problem with ‘a hundred’ – it’s pretty much interchangeable with ‘one hundred’.

  9. JonP
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I found this pretty tricky but had it completed within 2* time but was unable to parse every answer. Thanks to Gazza and setter **/***

  10. Hanni
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    ***/***

    Not the easiest of Tuesday’s. 7a was bunged in and thought about after. As was 8a. I struggled with the wordplay for 19a…

    Got there in the end. Liked 9d.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for blogging.

  11. Angel
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    No trouble in the North but South was a different kettle of fish however made it in the end with a bit of help from the little red book, etc. 18d seemed a bit convoluted but liked it when penny belatedly dropped re “discontented”. Thanks Mr. Ron and Gazza whose hints helped me to parse one or two. ***/**. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_neutral.gif

  12. Jane
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Going a bit against the general flow here, as I rather enjoyed this one. 2.5*/4* for me. 8&14a were my last ones in and I took ages over 12a – with just the final ‘I’ in place for a while, I was fixated on Roman Polanski and no-one else would come to mind!

    Not very happy with ‘squeak’ for ‘peep’ at 21d but otherwise everything seemed fine to me.

    Cheated a little over parsing 15a – I just saw ‘saving’ for ‘financial prudence’ and ‘grace’ for ‘shown by good people’. I know it’s technically wrong, Gazza, but it was so much easier!

    18d gets a mention in the roll call for being such a wonderfully descriptive word – favourite is a dead heat between 19a & 13d (sorry, Kath).

    Many thanks to Mr. Ron and to Gazza – no, I can’t find a Nina and I still keep thinking that there must be something else in the wording of 8a that I’ve missed!

  13. Nev
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    The need to refer to several clues took this to 4*/3* territory for me today. Thanks to Gazza for the help, and thanks to the setter.

  14. Sweet William
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Thank you setter. I found that to be quite tricky, and was pleased to finish without resorting to your hints Gazza. It did seem to lack sparkle. It is always a pleasure when a clue makes you laugh rather than merely relieved that you have finally got it ! I am hoping to avoid the “Just because you found it difficult you didn’t like it” criticism, but with the awkward grid it was a bit of a slog ! Thanks Gazza for your review and hints, which I thought I might need !

  15. Wahoo
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Bottom half went in first, reasonably quickly, then top, then held up by 7a, 2d and 8a, which delayed me.

    For 8a I was initially (maybe because of the late hour last night!) too focused on trying to make the first two letters “No” (as in no wrinkles, no dementia etc) and make a word for a sign! So those three took me into *** for time. Probably *** for enjoyment.

    Thanks to setter and Gazza.

  16. Kath
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif Oh good – not just me. At least 3* difficulty, and probably nearer 4*, and 3* for enjoyment.
    This has taken some time – actually quite a lot of time and I thought if gazza had given it 1* or 2* for difficulty I might cry.
    My last one was 7a and I don’t know much about film producers so 12a was late going in too.
    I think any rebel leader who says 19a should have a few lessons in French pronunciation!
    Like RD I was fooled into thinking that 4d should begin with ‘Acor’ which meant that 4d and 8a took ages.
    I liked 7a (eventually) and 15a and 5 and 17d. I think my favourite was 24d – simple, I know, but I liked it.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to gazza.
    The enumeration for 10a in the paper is 3,7 – if it had been 10 I don’t think I’d ever have got it.

    • gazza
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the info about 10a, Kath – I’ll update the blog. I do hope that we’re not going to have another week of differences between the versions in the paper and online. Is the enumeration for 6d the same in the paper?

      • crypticsue
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        3-4 in the paper

        • gazza
          Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. I struggle to understand how the paper version, which must be set up some time in advance, can be more correct than the online version, which I’d have thought could be changed much later.

  17. SheilaP
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Some rather tricky clues today but with help from Gazza we’ve managed to finish. Thank you to the Tuesday setter and to Gazza.

  18. Beaver
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Difficult grid and a difficult crossword ,struggled with the NW corner, thought 12A ‘healthy cheer’ was a bit iffy, as was the cluing in general, guessed the answer then looked it up to confirm, always remember the archbishop in 11A from the song don’t mess with my toot-toot’ whatever that is. My rating was a****/**

    • Jane
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Beaver, I was waiting for you to sign in. Lovely week back in the ‘old country’ and lots of good meals – you probably already know of the Pheasant at Higher Burwardsley (better food than ever on this visit) but I wonder whether you’ve tried the Dusty Miller at Wrenbury? Great food and a lovely location at the side of the canal towpath. Wonderful entertainment watching the narrow boat ‘handlers’ deal with operating the drawbridge!

      • Beaver
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Hi Jane, just spent a few days in Beaumaris-festival weekend-another wonderful indian! due for a canal- ‘booze cruise’ next month ,I think the Dusty Miller is on the agenda-will check with the skipper

        • Tstrummer
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:21 am | Permalink

          Which canal, Beaver?

          • Beaver
            Posted May 27, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            We’re going on the Shropshire Union canal, calling at the Shady Oak pub-and others!

      • Tstrummer
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:21 am | Permalink

        Coming back up the South Oxford Canal on Monday after a few days on the water in The Racy Mole, who should we see chugging towards us heading south but Timothy West and Prunella Scales in their narrow boat – and how cheerfully they acknowledged our greeting. Their two canal series have been the best thing on television for ages (although I don’t have a TV, I sometimes dip into the iPlayer).

  19. Young Salopian
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    SW corner had me stumped for a while today. That made it into a ****\** for me, probably the hardest I’ve found for quite a while. A couple of the clues in that corner didn’t do it for me.

    • Cryptor
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      SW corner last in for me too! But then I checked answers and found I’d put a different set of pipes into 26a. No wonder it didn’t parse – but as a couple of others didn’t either I just ho-hummed and bunged it in. ***/***. Thanks to all.

  20. Vancouverbc
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    ****/***. Quite a tricky puzzle which needed a nights sleep to finish off. My thanks to Gazza for explaining a couple of bung ins which I couldn’t see without his help. Thanks also to the setter for a good workout.

  21. Gwizz
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    This was a bit tricky to say the least! There were a couple of clues where I had the answers but couldn’t convince myself so I didn’t put them in. The Italian gentleman I guessed but it just seemed a strange answer in a cryptic crossword. I liked 19d, it was daft and it did not come easily!
    3*/3* overall I think.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza for his invaluable help.

    • gazza
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I take it that the ‘Italian gentleman’ is Cubby Broccoli. He was actually American but very well known here as the producer of all the James Bond films.

      • Kitty
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Not well known to me! I investigoogled and found his daughter Barbara Broccoli too – also a producer.

        • Miffypops
          Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          I remember them in The Herbs

          I am Constable Knapweed
          And I keep Law And Order
          I like to see that all is well
          Along the garden border

          • Hanni
            Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            I’m a very friendly lion called Parsley.

  22. Kitty
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Definitely a hard one for me today, and it started out so well too. I thought it was to be a quick solve, but then came down to earth with a bang. I enlisted help at the end, and Mr K got me to the finish… except that I had the wrong instrument in at 26a and thus couldn’t explain it.

    I got 8a ok, but it didn’t seem very cryptic – or exactly well-defined. Two equally obvious possible meanings for elder, one of which it was. With no idea of what the sign of health might be, it did take some scrabbling around in the branches before I twigged the required answer.

    Add me to the 4d ACOR- club, but I didn’t mind it once I got it. It just needed the checker in place from the aforementioned 8a (so I would have had even more problems if the elder had not treated me kindly).

    My thinking was along the same lines as Jane in 15a, so I didn’t like it until Gazza set me right. D’oh… Favourite is probably 13a.

    Thanks to the setter, and many thanks to Gazza for the much appreciated hints and explanations.

    • Kitty
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      13d, not 13a.

  23. Shropshirelad
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Definitely not a romp in the park for me. Had to tease out a great number of clues (apart from the gimme’s) just to get me going and then struggled with quite a few others, so I suppose I was off the setter’s wave length for sure. However, got there in the end but I’m sorry to say I didn’t derive a great deal of satisfaction in completing the puzzle.

    Thanks to the Tuesday Mr Ron and Gazza for his helpful review.

  24. Miffypops
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Got there in the end. 8ac fell. Nice puzzle. Great hints Gazza. Ta to all

  25. silvanus
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I found this really hard going and made fairly slow progress, but I’m consoled by the fact that many others seem to be in the same boat.

    I also felt a few of the clues were decidedly iffy, my biggest bone of contention being with 8a. I don’t know if we have any arboriculturists on here, but is having leaves a sure sign of a healthy tree? I don’t wish to be pedantic but I’m sure that there must be many specimens up and down the country that are now in full leaf but are diseased within.

    I did like 13a however, and that stands out as my favourite of the day.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

    • Kitty
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I was about to question your choice of a favourite that doesn’t exist … then I saw that it’s the same as mine! I meant 13d.

      • silvanus
        Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        13 is said to be unlucky! Yes, I meant 13d too :-)

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly on 8a, Silvanus. My logic was that at this time of year absence of leaves means it must be unhealthy but presence of leaves proves nothing.

  26. Hrothgar
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I found this really, really hard going.
    Wrong envelope?
    It happens.
    Still, it’s good to give the brain cells a vigorous massage.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

  27. Una
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I was going to scream if I read comments saying this was a piece of cake.Fortunately , for the neighbours , everybody seems to agree that it was quite tough.I never did get 12 or 8a.
    I thought 13d was a very good clue.
    Thanks setter and Gazza.

  28. neveracrossword
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Much more to my taste than yesterday’s rather bland offering. This kept me amused for some time while I waited around in a hospital for hours. I agree with Gazza’s rating. Thank you to him and the setter.

  29. Heno
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza for the review and hints. A very enjoyable but very tricky puzzle. Needed the hints for 8,12,19,22a. Had never heard of the film producer. Also needed the hint for 13d. Very difficult to get on the setter’s wavelength. Favourite was 4d. Was 4*/3* for me.

  30. Liz
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Yes indeed, this was a bit of a shock to the system after yesterday’s doddle! However I managed to complete without recourse to the hints….. but with a large helping of electronic input! I must say though, quite a few of my answers were entered without quite understanding why…..had to check the hints for the full reasoning eg 20a…I always forget the tonic sofa thingy, so was wondering where the T came from. Same with 7a …again I always forget about film classifications. I really liked 8a….this very nearly defeated me until the penny dropped… My favourite was 19a… This made me laugh……Shades of Wolfie Smith! A very enjoyable puzzle with a bit of meat to it, so thanks to setter and to Gazza for clearing up the ones I was left musing on. Perhaps I will give the Toughie a go……last weeks ones were out of my league, so a confidence replenishment is called for. **/***

    • gazza
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      There’s no film classification in 7a. It’s an anagram of A PLOY giving PAYLO followed by AD, i.e. an advertisement or trailer.

      • Liz
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        Hi Gazza. Right, I misunderstood your hint then….thought you meant AD for adult! Silly me.

  31. 2Kiwis
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Good morning all. We have not looked at any puzzles since we did the Virgilius one on Sunday and then started our long air flights home, so have some catching up to do when we have taken care of unpacking and other such tiresome chores. We arrived late yesterday (Tuesday for us) and were very grateful to at last be able to collapse into bed. Our mental time clocks still had us awake by 2am this morning but we did get enough sleep to be ready to take on and write the Blog for the Jay puzzle in a few hours.
    Just reporting in to let people know that we arrived safely home. Will be in touch again soon. Cheers. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    • Kath
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      Glad that you’ve arrived home safely – pity about the mental clocks. It took almost your whole time here to adjust to our time and now you have to do it all over again, in reverse. Oh dear! Good luck with the Jay and ‘see’ you tomorrow. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    • Jane
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      That’s real dedication to duty, 2K’s!
      Glad you’re safely back home – sorry I missed out on meeting up with you on this trip. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    • Kitty
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Yay – Happy to hear that you’re home safe. I hope the Jay blog goes well and that you get re-adjusted to NZ time smoothly.

      P.S. I’m definitely up for a Skype Toughie solve sometime if you like.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Glad that you are now back home, safe & sound http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      Would have no idea how to ‘Skype’ – I’ve given up on technology :)

  32. fran
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Having put cast into 2d , 7a became impossible until I looked up the hints(in desperation). Struggled with 12a , and 13d as a consequence . Altogether a tough day at the office, although the right hand side was almost a write in .
    Could easily give this ****/***** difficulty but have felt sluggish all day . Maybe the Shiraz consumed last night was still weaving it’s magic ( or blocking some overworked neuro-transmitters in the cerebral cortex)
    Thanks Gazza I needed your help today.

  33. Salty Dog
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Completed in 2* time, albeit with quite a few inspired guesses (all of which were right, as it turned out). The right hand side went in pretty quickly; the left hand side rather less so. Maybe l’m having a grumpy day, but l can’t say l enjoyed it much so only 2* for satisfaction. Still, thanks to the setter, and to Gazza for the review.

  34. Brian
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Gave this one up in disgust! Managed about half, found it far too difficult for a back page puzzle. For me */*****
    No fun at all.

  35. Whybird
    Posted May 26, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    This was tough and not much fun. 8a and 12a especially worthy of criticism for a non-toughie. And to make it worse, none of the tricky clues (and there were a good number given the unhelpful grid) ended up with a sense of amused shock when the answer dawned, just a sense of “really?” The kind of crossword that makes me think I should find better things to do with my time. Trying to be positive, at least 13d is ok. Not worth the money today. And what is going on if the Telegraph can’t tell the difference between a Hurricane and a Spitfire? (Not that I have checked the past few days for posts on that score).

    • Tstrummer
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:04 am | Permalink

      How we laughed when we saw the Hurricane described in big brown letters on P1 as a Spitfire. When (Sir) Max Hastings was editor, that would have been a sackable offence. The metadata supplied with the photo said it was a Spit, and they clearly never bothered to check. We spotted it straightway, of course. Thank you Airfix for that.

  36. Tstrummer
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    Others have already said what I too feel about this one. I didn’t like the grid at all, especially since ten second letters of the 14 answers with no first letter to check were vowels. That had me running the alphabet through my head too often to try to guess the answer rather than trying to work it out. With the help of the bung-it-in factor, I finally limped across the line in 3* time without recourse to Gazza’s hints, which I read and enjoyed anyway for their typical succinctness, so thanks for that, as always. 19a and 18d lifted this otherwise uninspiring effort into 2* for enjoyment, so (grudging) thanks to the setter too.

  37. almo
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    no one seems to have mentioned 23a – does the answer really mean decay ? Poor clue, to my mind !

  38. almo
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    “Today’s grid is tailor-made for a Nina around the periphery” – can anyone tell me what this means ?

    • Miffypops
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      It means that you should refer to the FAQ before asking here. When you find your answer be aware that when all are declaring NINA NINA and sounding like a herd of emergency vehicles, Miffypops will be scratching his head and asking “where”

    • gazza
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      You can find out about Ninas here.
      This puzzle doesn’t have one – I was just pointing out that the grid is very suitable for a Nina going round the outside.

      • almo
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        molto ta, Gazza – most interesting, and whilst I can find the peripheral message in the puzzle shown, I can’t for the life of me find the man’s daughter in either Ella or the Marx Brothers – please put me out of my misery. ..ALSO..I don’t know if you saw my other message today, re 23a – surely, decay happens naturally and corruption certainly doesn’t – do you agree that it was a very poor clue ?

        • gazza
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          No, I can’t see it in the drawings either – keep looking and let me know if you find it. Chambers has ‘rottenness’ as one of the meanings of corruption so I don’t see anything wrong with the clue.

          • Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

            I’ve updated the page so that hovering over each of the images highlights the position of the Nina and clicking on each image displays a larger version.

            • almo
              Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

              my goodness, Big Dave, obscure or what !!!!!!!!!!!! How would anyone have spotted that.?

  39. titchy dave
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    As with many others my last one in was 7a. However, as a person who usually struggles when the experts declare it a *** level, I did it in bed in less time than usual for me, and I am referring to the crossword.
    Although I got 20a as it was all that seemed to make sense, didn’t fully understand the clue till reading your blog as I spelt it wrongly. Disgraceful for an ex language teacher!