DT 27819

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27819

Hints and tips by Kath

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Good morning everyone. What a beautiful morning it is in Oxford – it feels like summer at last. Now on to the crossword – I confess that my first feelings were those of total panic! Once I’d got over that I thought it was quite tricky and and a bit wacky – I loved it. Over to the rest of you now – what did you all think?

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


1a            Quote work both contrary and lyrical (6)
POETIC — Begin with a verb to quote or name and follow that with our usual two letter musical work – then reverse it all (both contrary)

5a            Sweet Delia ultimately did wrong stuffing prune (4,4)
ACID DROP — I hope you’re all concentrating here. Start off with the last letter (ultimately) of Delia and follow that with a four letter word meaning prune (absolutely nothing to do with dried fruit but a verb meaning to reduce in size) which contains (stuffing) an anagram (wrong) of DID


9a            Exercising swallows at flying display (10)
AEROBATICS — A form of fast and vigorous exercise contains (swallows) the AT from the clue


10a         Stack endless bricks (4)
RICK — Remove the first and last letters (endless) of b(RICK)s. Not the most difficult clue in the crossword, in fact probably one of the easier ones, but it was my last answer.


11a         V&A library originally next to foyer — a blissful spot (8)
VALHALLA — This is very much a case of doing exactly what we’re told to do. Begin with the first two letters of the clue (you can ignore the &) follow those with the first letter (originally) of L(ibrary), then you need a foyer or reception area and finish off with the A, again from the clue.

12a         Spooner’s brown horse passed resting place (3,3)
DAY BED — How the Reverend Spooner might describe a brown horse (one that has brown body with a black mane and tail) who has gone to meet his maker (passed).

13a         Assistant gets Queen away from attacker — twice (4)
AIDE — This attacker begins and ends with the one letter abbreviation of the Latin word for Queen (or King) – remove both of those (gets Queen away from – twice). This is one of those that is easier to solve than give a hint for – the attacker is not a robber – think Indiana Jones!

15a         Present song lacks core evidence of pedigree (8)
HEREDITY — To be present at, or in this place, is followed by a five letter song or ballad without its central letter (lacks core).

18a         Charlie is mainly sore wearing smalls providing grip for legs (8)
SCISSORS — The letter that ‘Charlie’ represents in the Nato alphabet, the IS from the clue, most of the word (mainly) SOR(e) – having got that lot all you need to do now is put the one letter abbreviation for S(mall) at the beginning and end (wearing ie IN smalls). Yet another one that’s tricky to give a decent hint for.

072 ed

19a         Timothy and Rafe shedding pounds in health resorts (4)
SPAS — Timothy and Rafe are father and son actors – their surname ends with a double letter, the one used to denote pounds sterling – remove both of those letters (shedding pounds). I was at a disadvantage here as I’d never heard of either of the actors.

21a         Shy bridesmaid’s content to be cross (6)
HYBRID — A lurker, or an answer that’s hidden in the middle of the first two words of the clue, indicated by the word ‘content’.

23a         A rat and mice dissected — it’s educational (8)
ACADEMIC — The A from the clue is followed by another word for rat or despicable person and then you need an anagram (dissected) of MICE. Unless I can’t count this is our one and only anagram today – and even this is only a partial anagram.

25a         Fine due over brawl (4)
FEUD — Begin with the one letter abbreviation for F(ine) and follow it with a reversal (over) of the second word in the clue.

26a         Cliff pursuing hit ideally neither intellectual nor downmarket (10)
MIDDLEBROW — To hit a cricket ball with the right bit of the bat (hit ideally) is followed by (pursuing) a cliff or top of a hill. The capitalisation of ‘Cliff’ is a bit of a red herring cunningly disguised as it’s the first word of the clue.

27a         A time to regret initially pining over lawyer (8)
ATTORNEY — The A from the clue is followed by the one letter abbreviation for T(ime), the TO from the clue, the first letter (initially) of R(egret) and then a reversal (over) of another word for pining or longing. I think the last three letters which are reversed is a noun – I can’t make ‘pining’ into a noun – any better ideas anyone?

28a         Harvesters may do this run in the small hours (6)
THRESH — Begin with the THE from the clue, put the one letter cricketing abbreviation for R(un) in it and follow the result with another one letter abbreviation, this time for S(mall) and then yet another one, this time for H(ours). Phew!



2d            Musical compositions are humourless in retrospect (5)
OPERA — A short word meaning humourless, which is usually followed by “faced” and the word ARE from the clue are reversed (in retrospect).

3d            Ineffective and also extremely tough? Not as much (9)
TOOTHLESS — Start off with a short word for also or as well as, follow that with the outside letters (extremely) of T(oug)H and then another way of saying not as much or fewer.

4d            Birthplace of rock? (6)
CRADLE — I think this is a double definition. I could be missing something here.

5d            Some farming can be brutal — with onset of rain disrupting better half year (6,9)
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY — Begin with a synonym for brutal or inhumane. That’s the first word of your answer. Then you need a word for ones “better half” (if you’re a woman) followed by the one letter abbreviation for Y(ear) containing the first letter (onset of) R(ain.

6d            Fashionable drinks by the sound of it — these could have an edge (8)
INSIDERS — The usual crossword land two letters meaning fashionable is followed by a homonym (by the sound of it) of some alcoholic drinks that are made from apples  and guaranteed to produce the worst hangover ever!

7d            Fanny Cradock’s heart almost flipped for Austen hero (5)
DARCY — Another lurker (heart) but this time it’s reversed as well (flipped)


8d            Band of men with revolutionary talents on the rise (9)
ORCHESTRA — Start off with the men. These are members of the armed forces not holding commissions, follow them with the name of crossword land’s favourite revolutionary and then a reversal (on the rise) of another word for talents or abilities.


14d         A longing to travel given ticklish verbal undertaking (5,4)
ITCHY FEET — A word meaning ticklish or sensitive is followed by a homonym (verbal) of an undertaking or exploit.

16d         Tony Hancock’s sidekick, returned MP? Pull the other leg (or both) (9)
DISMEMBER — A reversal (returned) of the first name of Tony Hancock’s sidekick or other half (on stage) is followed by a person who sits in the House of Commons

17d         Expression of surprise in the wake of ‘Rolling Stone Ron’s outdoor type!‘ (8)
WOODSMAN — The surname of a member of the Rolling Stones with the Christian name Ron – don’t forget the ‘S – is followed by (in the wake of) an expression of surprise or admiration.

20d         One must be soft in the head to play the xylophone (6)
MALLET — A cryptic definition of the soft hammer that is used to play the xylophone.

22d         Right how-d’ye-do now and then where western types compete (5)
RODEO — Begin with R(ight) and follow that with the even letters (now and then) of the next three bits of the clue.

Bucking horse

24d         Characters presented by critic on silent pictures (5)
ICONS — And finally here is our third and last lurking answer – it’s hidden in the middle of the fourth, fifth and sixth words in the clue.

I liked 5 and 23a and 17 and 22d. My favourite was 7d.

Quickie pun Beehive+Eeyore+Pattens=Behaviour patterns


  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    3*/1*. My heart sank when I saw two columns of clues overflowing with words, and my fears were confirmed with so many tortuous charades (18a was probably the worst example). I’m sorry to say this was not much fun for me at all.

    It took me quite a while to get on the setter’s wavelength and I only managed very few answers on my first pass. One of these, hammer for 20d, was wrong and caused some grief for me in the SE corner.

    There was a touch of chauvinism about 5d – I’d be interested to know if any of our lady bloggers ever refer to their husbands as their better halves! I normally like Spoonerisms, but I thought 12a was a particularly poor example. I am also not convinced by 25a. A brawl might well occur during a feud, but I wouldn’t have said the two were synonymous.

    I hate being so negative and I do appreciate the efforts of all the setters to entertain us. I am sure the charade lovers amongst us will have enjoyed this puzzle. Many thanks too to Kath for the review.

    • Brian
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      With you 100%. I thought it was disgraceful as a back pager. No fun at all.

      • Little Dave
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Great puzzle Brian. Top notch challenge.

    • Jane
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear, RD – I sense a relapse coming on. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        No, no, no! On Tuesday I was so spaced out that I couldn’t begin to explain why I didn’t like that puzzle. I know exactly why I don’t like today’s.

    • Vancouverbc
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more. I thought 4&5d and 12&18a were very contrived. This was the worst crossword for me in a long time – apologies to the setter who I’m sure worked hard to construct it. My thanks to Kath for the review.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted June 5, 2015 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      100 per cent in agreement

  2. gazza
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one – the best back-pager for yonks in my estimation. Thanks to PJ (for it must be his) and to Kath for the excellent blog. My favourite was 26a.
    ps. I think the third answer in the Quick probably forms part of the pun.

    • Hanni
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I think it does but not sure how to ‘say’ it without giving the game away?

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      The paper has the third word in italics which indicates a three word pun.

      • Franco
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        I know that the DT on-line version cannot cope with italics but why don’t they use quotation marks instead?.

        Obviously, a stupid question?

        ps, Never visited the on-line site … so, perhaps, they do.

    • Kath
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Thanks gazza ,
      Damn – that’s not the first time that I’ve been caught out with the pun when not doing the crossword in the paper. I’ve just added the third word but failed to add what it all sounds like – pig’s ears come to mind – I don’t want to make it any worse!

    • Wayne
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Got the first 3 clues but can’t for the life of me work out the pun. HELP.

      • Kath
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        I’ll put it on the comments page – I feel a bit as if it’s pushing my luck to try to edit anything else – have only done it successfully once! You can all call me pathetic if you like but . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      • crypticsue
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Read it out loud and if you have the correct third word, it should make sense.

  3. Hanni
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink


    I made a complete mess of the LHS of this by putting ‘heritage’ for 15a. This error caused me problems with 8d, 16d and 19a. I just sat there wondering where on earth I’d gone wrong? I did see my mistake but nearly gave up. And why heritage? The clue is clear enough, it’s just ridiculous of me.

    Loved the rest of it.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Kath for an excellent blog.

    • Kath
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      I spent ages trying to justify ‘heritage’ for 15a so maybe we’re both ridiculous! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Have some more wine – it always works for me http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      • Hanni
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Kath. I think we’re both quite sensible. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

        Great advice SL. A beautiful evening, great wine to be had and my birthday cake to be eaten. What’s the new wine from Majestic like?

        • Kath
          Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          Another Geminian – which day is your birthday?
          You seem to have caught my inability to tell left from right – I’m really sorry!
          As for the sensible bit I’m not so sure . . .

          • Hanni
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

            It’s today!

            I looked at the Toughie today and my brain just said’ not a chance, don’t even think about it’.

            It seems we have a few birthday bloggers/commentators this week. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

            • Jane
              Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

              Felicitations, Hanni! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif
              To hell with the Toughie – far more important things for you to be doing, like eating & drinking to excess. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

            • Kath
              Posted June 4, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

              Well a rather late “Happy Birthday” to you then, and a little http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif. Hope you’ve had a good day and are having a lovely evening.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

          Belated Birthday wishes Hanni and Kath. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

          Hanna, it is a very nice Sancerre, but a tad expensive at £12 a bottle

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

            Sancerre ‘Clos des Bouffants’ 2014 Domaine Roger Neveu on the Majestic website

  4. Czaz
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one!
    With best will in world, not sure 12a clue works without a ‘by the sound of it’ type addition??’

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      That’s represented by the ‘Spooner’

    • Vince
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you, Czaz. You have to start with “bay ded” (which is nonsense), before transposing the initial letters to arrive at the answer.

      • Posted June 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        I am not fond of Spoonerisms at the best of times, but for one to work you have to be able to imagine it being said by the Reverend Spooner. While he may well have said “Three cheers for our queer old dean!”, this one fails that test..

  5. rod
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Rabbit Dave has said it all for me. I would only add that xylophones are very often played with wooden ball-ended sticks, which are not soft. This clue confused me for ages as I was trying to get stupid, silly or such into the answer.
    Afraid I did not enjoy this puzzle and got quite irritated with some of the clues. 4d just leaves me wondering. One is not born in one (you go in after birth) and one rocks it, not the other way around. Ridiculous.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

    • Heno
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      This was my first one in. I thought it was quite good. Perhaps the question mark gives the setter some licence?

    • Paso Doble
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      The xylophone is generally played with soft mallets and the glockenspiel with hard wooden ones. In either case they both make a dreadful sound unless played properly.

    • Angel
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      I agree – rock in a cradle yes but birth in a cradle??

  6. B
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    27 across: to have a YEN is to pine for. “Over” is to reverse yen–> ney.

    • Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog B

      Kath did know that, but was constrained by the way in which we present the hints. What was giving her trouble was that a yen is a noun and pining is usually a verb. although to yen can be a verb, it equates with to pine, not pining. In this case pining seems to be used as a noun, being the action of the verb.

      • B
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Hello. Thank you. I apologise if I seemed to underestimate Kath’s reasoned response. I found this answer quite troublesome (difficult) and was so glad to have untangled it in my own mind, that I felt I had to share it,
        I have been loitering here for years, being a DT Cryptic addict. I was really happy when my iPad allowed me to expose the answers as well as the preceding explanations, which quite often themselves, do not lead me to the solutions: not the fault of the reviewer, simply the fault of my involuting brain.
        I particularly like it when the compiler is identified by the reviewer. This often explains why I have found difficulty with a particular crossword…often being heard to say “oh. It’s bloody Tuesday. No wonder I can’t do it.” This is, of course, a reflection of the compiler, not the day.
        I am a doctor and live in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

        • Kath
          Posted June 4, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          Welcome to the blog from me too.
          No need to apologise – I didn’t feel underestimated! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

          • B
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            Thank you. B

    • Andy in the Far East
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      i must admit i did look and it can indeed be a intransitive verb. That said, I am really disappointed they no longer teach grammar. Pining can be a gerund eg:

      Swimming can be dangerous

      here “swimming” is a noun

  7. Spook
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Great to be back after some glorious sailing off French coast. This was really tough for me with SW corner being the last in .
    Not sure about Hancock reference in the clue but struggled over this. Favourite 11ac.
    Many thanks to Kath and compiler.

  8. Miffypops
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I got six in and gave in to the sunshine. Harrison arrived at 9.00 am and has not set foot indoors yet. He is currently spark out in a tent on the camping field. I have seen about twenty Roach in our river and Wrens aplenty. Crossword? What crossword?

  9. KiwiColin
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    A solo solve for me and I loved every moment of it and totally agree with Kath’s ratings. I also made a note in the margin saying Petitjean and a question mark. I would be very surprised if he were not the setter. The two four letter words on the West side, 13a and 25a were the last two to go in. Much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Mr Ron (Petitjean) and Kath.

    • John Pidgeon
      Posted June 5, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Spotted, Colin. JP.

  10. omar
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Rod on this….

  11. George
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I am also with Rod on this puzzle. For me it was the toughest puzzle of the week so far but I did complete it in 3* time but was indeed a bit irritated at times. In many clues I found the wordplay obscure rather than clever.

    Anyway – 3*/3* I would rate it.

  12. Paso Doble
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    This was an absolute groover as a puzzle..loved it to bits!

    One of those where it was easy to kick off with. Timothy Spall and Darcy etc and then it slowed down in the middle before everything gradually clicked into place.

    Thanks to PJ and Kath for an entertaining review…3*/4*

  13. dutch
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Quite a bit of fairly clued GK..I didn’t know the Spalls or Tony Hancock’s sidekick and had to look up a 5 letter Jane austen hero before I saw how the clue worked (quite nice really). At least I knew Ron Woods. I got stuck in NE, last one in was 5a (sweet), which I had parsed but took me ages to see “crop”, and I’d stupidly forgotten the enumeration. Didn’t see 5a for ages (bricks).

    My favourite clues are 1a (quote work both contrary..), 9a (exercising swallows at), 28a (Harvesters may do this..), and 4d (birthplace of rock)

    Many thanks PJ and Kath!

  14. Brian
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Oh Dear, someone at the DT definitely mixed up the envelopes today. This makes a Ray T look like child’s play! Shame on you DT. So that makes two puzzles for the experts today and nothing for the rest of us. Gee thanks a bunch!

    • fran
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      I agree if they want two toughies put two in ; us mere mortals need something easier. Without the hints I would have never completed it and whilst I am having a good grumble, several of the clues were a bit weak and overindulgent (long winded, a bit like this response)
      Wavelengths range from high to low frequency , most days I manage to tune in but not today ; that said thanks Kath for the help

  15. Jane
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    First thought on looking through – must be PJ (heart sinks)
    Second thought – please don’t let it be poor Kath who has to cope with it
    Third thought (on spying 5d) – definitely written by a man

    A real brain exercise but lots of satisfaction derived from seeing a completed grid. 3.5*/4* for me. Would have made 3* time but I had merrily put canton for 1a which caused all sorts of grief with 2&4d.
    Couldn’t recall Tony’s sidekick but the answer was obvious – likewise 19a (I don’t know why but I wanted their surname to be Spalding. Perhaps I was trying to amalgamate them with Claire Balding?)

    Seem to think that several New Jersey towns, along with Memphis, vie for the title of ‘The cradle of rock’ – does that poss. come into it?

    Fortunately didn’t need to ‘get’ the cricket reference – I reckoned that ‘straight down the middle’ seemed a good spot anyway!

    Liked 5a & 22d – favourite is a toss-up between 8&14d.

    By the way – I wonder whether 6d accounted for RD’s man flu. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    Many thanks to PJ – it MUST be him and a huge bunch of http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif for Kath – what a corker to come home to!

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Regarding 4d, “cradle” is becoming increasingly used by environmentalists for describing the life-cycle of a product, i.e. “from cradle to grave”. Hence, bizarrely, “cradle” = “birth(place)”

      P.S. I don’t mind cider occasionally but it is not my tipple of choice.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        P.P.S. On reflection I think I prefer your interpretation that it could be based on Memphis being called the cradle of rock. (Although that might be considered as an indirect definition, and possibly frowned on as much as an indirect anagram).

        • Jane
          Posted June 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          I’ve given up frowning too much or insisting on perfect grammar, RD. For one thing, I’ve allowed myself to slip into a few bad habits re: grammar (as TS noted) and, for another, if I can get to the answer then I’m reasonably happy that the setter produced a decent enough clue.
          On days when I get defeated, I could well have a different opinion. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

        • Tstrummer
          Posted June 5, 2015 at 1:44 am | Permalink

          I refer the honourable member to Robert Gordon’s excellent history of rock music called “It Came from Memphis”

  16. John sharpe
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Dave…is 26a middlebrow?

    • Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog John

      Yes it is – you could have confirned that by clicking on “Click here” at the beginning of the hint.

  17. Beaver
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, on first read I thought – this looks difficult and time consuming- but I have to say that once I got started in the top half of the puzzle all fell into place in about ** time, including even the spoonerism! and I did enjoy it. On reading the blog it would seem to be a ‘marmite ‘ crossword’ with comments from a ‘groover’ to a’ disgrace’.Been a while since we had such diverse assessments, anyway packing for a weekend in Beaumaris and my favourite indian.

    • Jane
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Weather’s glorious, Beaver, think it’s likely to remain so over the weekend.
      Really must get down to that Indian!

  18. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t have any problems with the different people mentioned but couldn’t get 26a, 28a and 20d for which I obviously only had the A.
    Wasn’t too keen on “pull the other leg” in 16d.
    Favourite is 1a.
    Thanks to PJ and to Kath for the review.

  19. Una
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    One of the most difficult puzzles I have finished , but needed Kath’s help and then some.I persisted because I am stubborn.
    16d, I never watched Handcock.
    4d, I get it now , but a bit tangential, for a back pager.
    17d, I have zero interest in the names of aging rock stars (or perhaps he died ?).
    I liked 10a and 11a,26a,and 14d.
    I find these wordy clues are difficult .
    Thanks Kath and setter.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

    • Kath
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      No – Ronnie Wood is alive – it’s just that he doesn’t look as if he is!

      • Una
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Ha Ha ! And I did enjoy , I suppose, or I wouldn’t have continued, however stiff-necked I might be.

  20. Jon Myles
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant, I thought.
    Damn difficult and utterly perverse at times. But that helped make it more enjoyable. Thanks to the setter and for the tips!

  21. Young Salopian
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was the hardest puzzle for quite a while. The NW corner had me stumped for ages, so this became a ****\*** for me today. Thanks to all, especially for a couple of hints in that corner.

  22. Franco
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I suspected that this one would divide the opinions of the commentariat.

    I’m siding with Kath, gazza et al . – Difficult, but most enjoyable! Definitely 4* enjoyment.!

    (Very impressed by Kath explaining the “crickety” reference in 26a and “..a bit wacky” sums it up nicely!)

    • Kath
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      As I was doing this Xword at stupid o’clock last night I also had the thought that it would be one of those that would well and truly divide the commentariat.
      I’m so glad that you were impressed by the “crickety” stuff – thanks for saying so. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • andy
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Love the expression Commentariat :)

        • Franco
          Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          Commentariat – First introduced to this blog by “guess who?”

          Kath, of course, way back in 2011!


          • Jane
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

            Hi Franco,
            Looked back to see Kath’s original comment and then scrolled through the rest of that day’s blog. Such a shame that so many of the interesting sounding commenters (grumpyandrew, beancounter etc.) no longer contribute – but thumbs up to the ‘stayers’!

  23. silvanus
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I found this to be very challenging and pretty tough going, but I was quite surprised to see several esteemed commenters effusive in their praise, as I found certain of the clues to be either unconvincing (e.g. 17d) or long-winded (e.g. 5d).

    It also seemed more like Celebrity Squares, with mentions for Delia (Smith), Spall Father and Son, Cliff (Richard), Fanny Cradock, Tony Hancock and Ronnie Wood.

    As has been mentioned, the Spoonerism is incredibly weak.

    I’ve struggled to find a favourite, but 8d probably wins that particular accolade.

    Thanks to the setter and Kath.

  24. Shropshirelad
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Quite an enjoyable puzzle with some well constructed clues but also a few ‘wordy charades’. It also seemed very biased to us here in the UK as I’m sure some of our overseas friends wouldn’t know too much about the various ‘names’ popping up here and there. I’m also with anti Spoonerism brigade, I think BD’s example is about the funniest I’ve seen – unlike today’s 12a.

    That being said, 7d caused Mrs SL to have a swoon and I particularly enjoyed 9a (although you would never get me in a plane doing that!). Thanks to PJ(?) for the puzzle and Kath for her review.

    • Kath
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Mrs SL will have to fight me for 7d! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

      • Hanni
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Do you have a picture of Alan Rickman coming out of a lake?

      • Jane
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Oh goodie – whilst you two are fighting to the death over 7d, does that mean I can have Poldark all to myself? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

        • Kath
          Posted June 4, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

          No – I like him too!!

          • Jane
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

            That’s just greedy. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        She’s rather feisty and Mr Rickman does it for her as well – especially in Robin Hood Prince etc etc set somewhere in Nottinghamshire I’ve been told http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    • Heno
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      I know a couple of very funny Spoonerisms, but they are too risque for the blog.

      • Jane
        Posted June 4, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        Best put them on the list of unrepeatable swear words – you could always print them out for the next BD birthday bash (maybe only hand them round late in the day?!).

        • Heno
          Posted June 5, 2015 at 12:46 am | Permalink

          What a super idea :-)

  25. Heno
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Petitjean and to Kath for the review and hints. I can understand Kath panicking at first. I certainly did :-) First in was 4d, then I couldn’t get another for ages. In the end, they all fell into place. Favourite was 1a. Last in was 20d. Didn’t like
    12a. Was 3*/4* for me. Summer has arrived at last in Central London.

  26. Ora Meringue
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Relieved to see that many here found this one difficult.
    It was way above my pay grade…so not very enjoyable for me.
    Onwards and upwards, though.
    Thanks to the setter and to Kath.

  27. Expat Chris
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    My goodness, there are a lot of grumpy fellers on the thread today! I rather enjoyed this and while I thought it was a bit trickier than usual and a slower solve (better that than read and write), I had no problems with it. I didn’t know the Timothy or Rafe, but that was no hindrance to solving the clue. The “better half” reference didn’t bother me a whit. I just took it as being a bit tongue in cheek. I liked 1A and 3D in particular, but my runaway favorite was 16D. Thanks to PJ and to Kath for the review.

  28. Angel
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Kath and others on this one in that a first pass yielded but one 4-letter solution – 25a. It was then a really tough row to hoe but I surprised myself and got there in the end. Plumped for 24d without seeing why, other ranks passed me by in 8d and wondered why it was a masculine band so thanks Kath for those parsings. First thought was pile for 10a. Altogether a bit of a slog. Thanks Mr. Ron – PJ? ****/**.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_confused.gif

    • Jane
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Hi Angel,
      Your ‘pile’ at 10a makes me feel SO much better about my ‘canton’ at 1a! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  29. Jane
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    No confirmation as yet from PJ. If and when he does check in, I need to have words about one of his namesakes persistently roosting on my Freesat receiver and blocking the signal. Not to mention leaving a guano lake on the flagstones every morning. Why do they need to empty themselves so frequently overnight?

  30. Only fools
    Posted June 5, 2015 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Lovely puzzle (apart from the roonerspism) personal favourites 26a and16d .
    Thanks PJ and Kath for the analysis .

  31. Tstrummer
    Posted June 5, 2015 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Well, when I said the other day that I would have preferred some clues to have been a bit more tangential, I didnt mean every single flipping one of them. So many things not to like about this puzzle: the grid; too many vowels as checking letters; too many clues that, as others have pointed out, didn’t quite make sense; only one anagram; a dreadful Spoonerism, and some over-wordy charades. Made me long for the succinctness of RayT. Having said all that, I found it a curate’s egg, because some of the clues were absobloodylutely marvellous, and so, for that, I’ll give it 2* for enjoyment and 5* for difficulty. Kath, you have my undying admiration – I’d have pulled a sickie on first sight of this – and PJ, thanks for your efforts, but please remember that not all back-page solvers are up to this kind of speed.
    Up early in the morning for a wedding in the Tyrolean mountains over the weekend. Much beer will be drunk and sausages eaten. See you all on Monday night.

  32. Sweet William
    Posted June 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Thank you setter. A good job we are sitting by the pool in Gardone -if we were at home I might have given up and gone for the hints ! I found it difficult, but enjoyed the challenge. Many thanks Kath for your review and hints. A really difficult one to review. It is pleasantly warm here – 32 degrees and we are doing our best for GB in the towels on loungers battle with you know who !

  33. Kitty
    Posted June 6, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Phew! – that was tough but satisfying. There were lots of clues I really liked and a few less so, but altogether it was time well spent.

    Knew Timothy but not his son. No problems with gerunds, but the dreaded cricket made 26a difficult to parse.

    I agree with RD’s third paragraph (in comment 1), but not the first.

    Thanks to PJ and thanks and well done to Kath.

    Happy belated birthday to Hanni.

  34. judetheobscure
    Posted June 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Challenging and ultimately defeated by 4d. Took me a day to really get into it though – only six completed by the end of day 1.
    Never heard of a scissor grip but had to be according to letters and parsing. Some clues more convoluted (and occasionally unconvincing) than usual but balanced out by the greater satisfaction when working them out – plus the very welcome use of Colin Firth’s Darcy http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif
    Favourite 21a, least favourite 5d. 3*/3*

  35. pommers
    Posted June 6, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Busy all day Thurs so only got around to this one today over a late morning coffee and tostado, before braving the Saturday morning crowds in Mercadona. Had to be done – getting low on the red collapso stuff and friends are coming to stay tonight.

    This must be the best back pager for ages. Tricksy and fun in about equal measure so ****/***** from me. No real favourite as it’s all pretty good stuff – the mallet was last in. I knew that would be the answer but I’d forgotten about xylophone mallets being soft headed so it took a while for the penny to drop on the parsing front, D’OH.

    Many thanks to Petitjean and a well done to Kath for unravelling it all.