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DT 27855

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27855

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** / ****Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Ottawa where we are currently enjoying pleasant summer weather which comes as a welcome respite from a recent heat wave.

I am quite confident in declaring that this is not a RayT puzzle. Nevertheless, I did find it to be a highly enjoyable solve. I also found it to be a rather difficult solve and, with the pressure of having to write the review looming over me, I resorted to electronic help after completing about two-thirds of the puzzle. It was the upper and lower left-hand corners that I found particularly challenging. The setter certainly forces one to “think outside the box”. Even after finding the correct solution to several clues, I had to think long and hard to justify my answers.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


8a   Satisfied about party leader’s stand-in (4)
TEMP — reverse (about) a verb signifying fulfilled the requirements and append the leading letter of P(arty)

9a   Traditional drama is grind devoid of energy? The reverse (3)
NOH — this drama is traditionally performed in Japan; take a word meaning to sharpen (a knife perhaps – or maybe one’s wit) and remove the E(nergy); then do exactly what the clue says, reverse what remains

10a   Horrified scallywag has tried boxing (6)
AGHAST — hidden (boxing) in the central three words of the clue

11a   Spring  fruits (6)
RESULT — double defintion; the first a verb (often followed by ‘from’), the second a noun (that might be followed by ‘of one’s labour’)

12a   Nothing to listen to on playing back band’s record (3,1,4)
NOT A PEEP — split the solution (2,4,2) and we have a reversal (playing back) of ON (from the clue), a band that the police might use to secure a crime scene, and a record that doesn’t play for very long

13a   Income issue spun out causing insolvency (15)
IMPECUNIOUSNESS — anagram (out) of the first three words of the clue

15a   A politician live in outskirts of Catford? It’s not a place to stay permanently (4,3)
CAMP BED — tuck A (from the clue), the usual politician, and a short word meaning to live or exist inside the outer letters of C(atfor)D

17a   Beg or threaten — somehow husband’s put out (7)
ENTREAT — anagram (somehow) of T(h)REATEN with H(usband) removed (put out)

20a   Fiat’s progress tweaked around tyre’s edges to produce signs of speed (2-6,7)
GO-FASTER STRIPES — anagram (tweaked) of FIATS PROGRESS encompassing (around) the outer letters (edges) of T(yr)E

23a   Unmentionables  that could really put the wind up! (8)
THERMALS — double definition in which the latter one is a cryptic reference to atmospheric phenomena exploited by gliders — or eagles

25a   Revolutionary pressured from most quarters to give up (6)
ESCHEW — Crosswordland’s favourite revolutionary is hemmed in from three directions by points of the compass

26a   Lie about charge covering nothing (6)
LOUNGE — to charge (as a fencer might) containing the letter that looks like nothing

27a   Muggins lapses now and then (3)
ASS — take a regular series of letters (now and then) from the word LAPSES; there are only two possibilities and, should you choose the wrong one, you will likely feel like the answer

28a   Touch on an objection (4)
ABUT — a conjunction symbolizing objection (often seen in the company of ‘if’ and ‘and’) is preceded by an indefinite article


1d   Have second thoughts?  Cash in (6)
REDEEM — the question mark is a key element of the first part of this double definition, which suggests this may be what leads one to atone for past bad behaviour

2d   Trafalgar Square staff’s Christmas to-do list in order (6,2)
SPRUCE UP — it would appear that the staff at Trafalgar Square must perform only one chore in preparation for Christmas

3d   Recorder perhaps with jury making dash in car? (10,5)
INSTRUMENT PANEL — what a recorder of the musical variety is an example of is followed by a common term for a jury

4d   Joint with punch — you’ve got a party! (7)
SHINDIG — a joint followed by a poke; the first part may not be considered a joint in anatomy class, but it is in the butcher shop

5d   Finally (and equally impressively) alto blasts tune improvised around tango (4,3,3,5)
LAST BUT NOT LEAST — anagram (improvised) of ALTO BLASTS TUNE containing (around) the letter represented by tango in the NATO phonetic alphabet

6d   Chelsea side joins cool trendy club together (4,2)
CHIP IN — a charade of the first letter (side) of C(helsea) plus a synonym for cool (or trendy) followed immediately by a synonym for trendy (or cool); can’t you just tell we are talking about Chelsea?

7d   I solve — except nothing very key (4)
ISLE — remove O (nothing) and V(ery) from the first two words of the clue to obtain a speck in the Caribbean

14d   Faux pas in Jacuzzi? (3)
SPA — anagram (faux) of PAS

16d   Almost on tenterhooks earlier (3)
AGO — remove the final letter (almost) from a word meaning very eager or curious

18d   What to wear for drizzle and pelt? (8)
RAINCOAT — I interpret this to be the style of clue that our former blogger scchua would have labelled WIWD (wordplay intertwined with definition). The entire clue suggests that we are looking for an article of clothing that would protect one in the event of either drizzle or pelting rain. However, lurking inside is a charade of a form of precipitation and what protects an animal from the elements.

19d   Temperature in stormy scary lake can be like ice (7)
CRYSTAL — insert T(emperature) into an anagram (stormy) of SCARY and append L(ake)

21d   Downright disdainful giving away own goal (6)
ARRANT — start with a word meaning impudently over-presumptive and remove (giving away) O(wn) G(oal)

22d   Keep detailed new free supplement (3,3)
EKE OUT — in this charade, the first element is an anagram (new) of KEE(p) with its final letter removed (detailed; i.e., having the tail lopped off); the second element is a synonym for free [like Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman].

24d   Bear up — that could be the goal in court (4)
HOOP — reversal (up in a down clue) of a “bear of little brain”

There are so many good clues that it is a challenge to pick a favourite – and Kath would never allow me to have multiple favourites. I enjoyed the four long fifteen-letter clues and managed to solve them all without resorting to the use of electronic aids. I also liked the four short three-letter clues — especially 14d for its elegant simplicity and suggestive surface.

The Quick Crossword pun: inn+teary+oar+dekko+waiter=interior decorator

113 comments on “DT 27855

  1. I found this puzzle to be very tricky in places and needed some electronic help in the SE corner. I found it reasonably enjoyable, but was woken by back pain in the night and decided to have a go then which probably didn’t make for ideal / rapid solving conditions. Thanks to Falcon and setter ****/***

  2. Got about six answers but couldn’t see why in three of them, the rest needed hints and electronic. Can’t say I enjoyed it much, a big challenge for me.
    Thanks to setter and Falcon

  3. Truly what I would describe as a crippler!

    Grateful for this blog more than usual today:)

  4. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gifDefinitely a wrong envelope day! 5*/2.5*. The right hand side and the two long across answers went in reasonably easily but the left hand side was a nightmare. I would like to have given it 3* for enjoyment but have shaded this as IMHO this was too tough for a back-pager.

    I particularly liked 13a, 2d.& 14d.

    Thanks very much to Falcon for a few explanations, and to the setter for what was a very tough challenge.

    1. I also found the left hand side a nightmare and agree that this was probably too tough for a back-pager.

  5. Dear me that was tough but very enjoyable. Some very clever clues that as Falcon says requires considerable lateral thought such 6d and 11a. Last in was 22d, I missed the alternative meaning of detailed, so clever.
    For me ****/**** Many thx to the setter and to Falcon for explaining 22d.

      1. I think he’s just being contrary, Kath. Any Thursday without a Mr. T back-pager is a good day for Brian! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

  6. First read through aroused my suspicions and I wasn’t wrong-a **** difficulty no doubt ,thought the blog would be interesting ! as Brian says -very clever cluing-like 21d and 3a and i liked 2d,thought of the Christmas tree straight away ( if not the type )and the bear in 24d ,which helped- the puzzle generally requiried a lot of thought to find the definition-hence the ****, I suppose I enjoyed it when I’d finished, so a *** for this box, so thanks to Setter and Falcon, the pic for 14d looked straight from Roswell!

  7. What a cracking puzzle. Nicely challenging but soon polished off with some great clues such as 3, 24 and my last one in 2. Many thanks to the setter and Falcon.

      1. I’ve been too busy going through a 24 page legal contract for a new distributor overseas & I have to take into consideration European & Israeli laws!

        This crossword was a welcome break during lunch (even though I haven’t finished & will complete, hopefully, later on accompanied by a large glass of the nectar brew known as Jenning’s Snecklifter…

    1. Maybe all the members of the RayT fan club have visited the Beam Toughie before today’s back-pager (by PJ?)

      Thanks to Falcon for an entertaining and very early review … what time was it in Ottawa when you posted?

      A very enjoyable puzzle today – apart from 11a.

      (The Quickie pun is excellent!)

      1. I posted at 12;37 am EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).

        Ottawa is five hours behind London so the puzzle appears here at 7:00 pm the evening before the date of the puzzle.

          1. At midnight on Wednesday in London (when the Thursday puzzle is posted to the Telegraph website), it is still only 7:00 pm on Wednesday in Ottawa.

      2. Just spotted your post, Franco – that makes two of us in the PJ camp!

        As for the Mr. T/Beam – think I may need to have a lie down for a while before tackling that one. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

        1. Edit on the above – have just spotted Bufo’s difficulty rating for the Beam. Maybe that ‘lie down’ will last rather longer than anticipated. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  8. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif and another one http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif
    Definitely a wrong envelope day. 5* for difficulty and I haven’t quite got round to thinking about how much I enjoyed it.
    This has taken ages – so long that I’d get away with saying just how long – it couldn’t possibly discourage anyone.
    11 and 23a and 24d were my last answers and I still don’t get why the answer means ‘the goal in court’.
    If it hadn’t been for the four fifteen letter answers I don’t think I’d ever have got off the ground today, although I’d never heard of 20a.
    I had been going to moan about 4d and the fact that a shin is not a joint but then read the hint so I’ll shut up.
    I liked 23a and 4 and 14d and the quickie pun made me laugh.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and thanks and huge admiration to Falcon for being able to sort this lot out. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    1. The ‘goal’ in a court such as a basket ball court is referred to as a ‘hoop’ – I seem to remember. Alternatively, isn’t that what they call the thingies that croquet players whack the balls through? Brain suffered so much overload with this one that I’m not so sure of anything any more. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    2. Totally agree. The explanations have made things a little clearer, but I was 6 clues short of completing this.

    3. Thanks Jane and gazza. I don’t know anything at all about basketball and don’t remember what the thingie is called in netball – think it was probably a net! As for croquet I think they are called hoops but it’s played on a lawn not a court. Oh well – on to Ray T/Beam now although brain might be a bit past it now . . .

      1. Point taken re: croquet lawn, Kath, although even that’s a bit of a minefield given that they play Lawn Tennis on courts at Wimbledon! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      2. The Laws of Association Croquet refer to the playing area as a court – though they are generally called lawns. But I think netball or basketball hoops are more of a goal than a croquet hoop is.

    4. Kath,

      I think our solving experience was very similar. Your last in were also among my last in, with 11a bringing up the rear. Despite noting that the solution fit the checking letters, I initially disregarded it and searched vainly for some other possibility. Only when that search proved fruitless did the penny finally drop.

      I’d also never heard of 20a — they are called “racing stripes” in North America.

      1. 20a was one that didn’t cause a problem here – I seem to recall several of the young men in our ‘gang’ painting go faster stripes onto their ancient ‘bangers’ in a vain attempt to make them look sporty!

  9. I thought this was a seven star level of difficulty.Yesterdays Toughie “Boot out from Liberal Democrats, without discreet negotiation”, was an anagram of Liberal Democrats without the letters of discreet. It was elegant and clear. Today we were given quite a few anagrams 5d, 7d, 19d, 21d , 20a which required fiddling with, and some of them really inelegant.I think one tweaked anagram per back-pager is enough.
    I liked 14d and 26a.
    Thanks Falcon and setter.

  10. What a cracker definitely a lot of outside box thinking. Not a real fan of three letter clues but hey ho it makes the puzzle more challenging.
    Definitely ****/**** for me.
    Many thanks to Falcon and setter.

  11. Just about recovered now – this was definitely in 5* territory for me. Enjoyment level went from zero (11a – just awful) to 5* for the likes of 2&3d. I’m putting my money on PJ for this one.

    As others have said, the left-hand side proved the most difficult although there were a few monsters lurking all over the show.
    21d was a stumbling block which didn’t help with the south west corner and I was so unconvinced by any answer for 11a that I spent ages revisiting the checkers in case I’d messed up somewhere else.
    Took far longer than it should have done to realise why 7d was what it had to be and wasn’t too happy about shin for joint. Yes, it’s sold in a butcher’s shop but wouldn’t most of us be likely to ask for it by the pound/kilo rather than as a joint?

    Thanks to the setter for almost beating me and immense gratitude to Falcon for unravelling it all.
    ps. That was a truly awful pic. for 14d. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

    1. I thought some of the gentlemen would appreciate a picture of naked females in a hot tub http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

          1. There’s a very bad joke coming to mind regarding mantelpieces and fires but I’ll resist the temptation. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  12. Unsatisfying
    I don’t mind them tricky when the answer brings either a smile or an appreciative nod to a clue well constructed. Today had neither as far as I was concerned.
    Hands up to Falcon for sticking with it though!

  13. I bet no-one else put knees-up for 4d! I thought it was two words but breaking it down to 4-3 made sense at the time. I thought this was a very challenging back pager. Didn’t like 11a – it’s really pushing it to think he answer has the same meaning as either of the words in the clue. Needed help today – thanks to Falcon. Thanks too – I think -to the settr.

    1. Sorry, you’ve lost your bet. “Knees-up” was my first thought as well. As for the missing hyphen, British dictionaries often disagree whether an expression is a compound word, a hyphenated word, or two separate words. However, in this instance, Chambers, Collins and Oxford are in rare agreement on the spelling (with a hyphen).

  14. This I found quite difficult and I certainly entered ******* territory. The NW corner held me up although once solved I couldn’t see why, apart from 11a for which I needed help. I originally had kneesup too for 4d which didn’t help matters. Didn’t like 22d. Overall a tough solve. Thanks to all.

    1. Star problems again. Think I’ll revert to numbers from now on. Should read 4/3.

  15. Just loving the ‘knees-up’ idea! If it hadn’t been for the fact that, by then, I’d convinced myself that a) 13a is a real word b) I actually could figure out the spelling and c) it did use all the correct letters from the clue, I’d have been right there with you. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  16. Really didn’t enjoy this today. Far to hard for us, so we just had to use the hints for far too many. Thank you to the Thursday setter and especially to Falcon.

  17. 11a. I only got the answer from he checking letters. Still don’t get it?

    4d. I don’t agree that a shin is a joint.

    1. Re 11a:

      Both “spring” and “fruits” can be synonymous with RESULT

      – The idea sprang [resulted] from a chance meeting.

      – They could finally sit back and enjoy the fruits [result] of their labour.

  18. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I don’t think this is a PJ if only because I don’t normally have as much trouble with his crosswords as I had with this one.
    I’m very bad at “setter spotting”, I don’t have any better ideas about who else it could be and I’ll probably be proved wrong. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    1. I almost always have trouble with PJ – hence the nomination.
      You mean to tell me there’s an even worse fiend on the back-pager team! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    2. Hmmm – not sure if there is another even worse fiend and neither am I sure if PJ is one of those who “pops in” to take the blame/ownership. Maybe we have another new fiend . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  19. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Falcon for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but this was the most difficult puzzle that I can remember. Needed the hints for 8,11,23,26a&2,21,24d. Would never have got any of them. FFavouritewas 20a. Was 5*/3* for me. England struggling in the test match.

    1. Aussies both on centuries. Watching the open. They’re all wearing winter kit there. Makes it more interesting.

  20. ****/***


    Thank goodness for the 4 long clues without which I would have really struggled. Pencils were used to solve anagrams, tea was used to drink and my brain just feels used. I liked this.

    Favourite clue is 14d….though I could have lived without the picture Falcon! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    Many thanks to the setter and to Falcon for a first rate and very much appreciated blog.

    Beam Toughie later, enjoying the weather now and wondering why on earth we have so many military plames flying around us recently.

  21. Well! I didn’t find this too difficult, but that’s not to say I understood all the answers. Nowhere near as easy as yesterday’s and I thought some of the clues were a bit ‘iffy’ …11a particularly, and the short words gave me a bit of bother, BUT… I didn’t need to use the hints…apart from just needing to check I had got it right at the end. My favourite clue was 24d..I usually calculate my star rating on how much help I need from the hints, rather than the time it takes me (they all take ages) and I’m not in a race with anyone, so in this case, I think I can give it a 2*/3*. How do others arrive at their star ratings? Thanks to setter and to Falcon for the hints.

    1. Hi Liz. I hope you see this. Well done, especially not being in a race. Let us all just have fun. I still have six of these pesky blighters to get but I aint giving up. Not yet.

  22. ****/***. Tricky little puzzle and some quite obscure answers at least for me. Many thanks to Falcon for explaining my bung ins and to the setter for a real head scratcher. Off to the UK and Hungary for the next few weeks so may not get too much time for the mental stimulation.

  23. This turned out to be a bit of a struggle.

    Got started and pretty much confined to the right hand side before getting stuck. Eventually got 21d. Eleven remaining at this point (not including 22d which I could see what the solution was but couldn’t fully explain). More time passed. 4d emerged. This led to precisely nothing. 13a eventually arrived leading to 1d. More time passed before the white flag was raised leaving a8,9,11,23,26 and d2,3,24 unsolved.

    Reasonably enjoyable all the same so four/four for me. I like to think I’d have figured 3d eventually…

    1. Having now looked at the hints it’s clear I’d have not solved 9a and 11a.

      I’m not persuaded by the use of charge in 26a.

  24. Difficult, but better than last Thursday. Had to look up 9a (which was new for me) and 11a. Managed to fill in 22d with the right answer, but had to check why. 20a was favourite. Thanks to setter and to Falcon.

  25. Phew, this one was a struggle, but I was determined to solve it without any assistance.

    I also found the left hand side quite a bit trickier than the right (and that was fairly tricky!) and the SW corner was the last to go in, in particular 23a. Just because it took me longer than any other clue to solve, I’ll nominate 21d as my favourite.

    Thanks to the setter and to Falcon.

  26. I had trouble in top and bottom left too, Falcon. I’m puzzled that thermals are considered unmentionables. I wear mine with pride a lot in the winter, and never shrink from admitting to the fact!

    1. I think that’s a bit unfair and not very constructive – perhaps you could elaborate?
      I thought that 14d was really good, mainly because it conjured up an image – just don’t ask . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

    2. Strange how experiences differ – I found this certainly very tough for a back-pager but definitely not short on ‘pop’ or ‘style’.
      As for your other comments – I’m sorry, but I found both of those rather unnecessary and self-indulgent.

  27. Tough going for a back-pager! 3*(maybe a whisker over)/4*. Some excellent clues (2d, 20a) but my favourite is the deceptively short, and delightfully misleading, 8a. Thanks to the setter, and to Falcon.

  28. I’m not sure quite what to say about this one, suffice to say it has been a very long time since I have been quite so unable to finish a back pager! What I could complete I enjoyed, but the others….. and 11a was something else!
    Ah well, tomorrow’s another day and hopefully all will be well in crossword land again.
    Thanks to the setter and Falcon – well done sir for a sterling review!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  29. Thank you Falcon from rescuing me from the slough of despond. I ended up needing your help for several answers, still reeling from shock so no favouriteshttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

    1. Hilary – please join the rest of the club – this was tricky! No need for the slough of despond or tissues today. Cheer up! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif
      Now we just need to see what Tstrummer has to say although I’m sure there may be other comments in the meantime.
      I’m now completely “crossworded out” and heading for bed and book pretty soon . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

  30. Certainly made a dog’s dinner about today’s gruelling mind teaser! Admittedly had mitigating circumstances as not only our grand-daughter – with us for a sleepover – fell out of bed and landed in our own forcing me to abandon ship and retreat to the downstairs settee but also deep concern about my brother’s health taking its toll on my sleep pattern… Anyway needed a lot of hints and cheating to complete it so really did not enjoy it much. It seems that I was not the only one to fail so I do not feel so bad now. Thanks to Falcon for a much needed review and to setter – was this a backpager or a toughie? 5*/2*

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. I hope your fears are alleviated soon

  31. Proper Thursday puzzle, tres,difficile ****/*** ;( But very enjoyable :) Big thank you to Falcon and a smaller thank you to the unknown setter!

  32. This was torture for me and I was tempted to call it a day after a while but instead I resorted to numerous hints particularly in the South. Thank you Falcon for those. I would go so far as to say there was a ring of a Rookie’s touch about it as IMHO there were numerous unwieldy clues and solutions – sorry about that Mysteron but thanks anyway. *****/**. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

  33. Right – that’s it for me. I’ve about had it now and heading for bed.
    Just thought I’d say a big http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif and a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif and a rather you than me, mate, to Falcon!

  34. I did not enjoy this at all. Managed 13 clues and stopped dead. Some dubious (4d) and massively obscure (9a) answers. I’d rate this 5/0.

  35. Fiendishly difficult! 7 Down is a very tenuous. I presume the ” Key” part is a nod to the Florida Keys? Not keen on this compiler.

    1. Welcome to the blog William

      A key or cay is another word (from the Spanish) for an island – the Florida Keys are just the best-known example.

      1. Thank you Sir. I last did the Telegraph cryptic around 20 years ago, so I’m guessing I don’t know these compilers now. I am A Scottish man living in England and when I face a challenge I am the original dog with a bone! Thank you for welcoming me into your fold. Happy solving amigo!

    2. To add to what Big Dave has said, a key or cay is a low-lying island or reef, especially in the Caribbean. The word comes from the Spanish word cayo meaning shoal or reef. The pronunciation and corresponding spelling “key” is apparently influenced by the English word “quay”.

  36. Well I liked being well and truly being beaten into a corner. Cracking clues that I did get and cracking clues that I am still striving for. Lots of love to the setter and golly bongs What on earth did you snort to get you through this one Falcon. Kerosene? Give me Mondays any day Well done

  37. Hmmm. I have prepared my excuses carefully before commenting: I’ve had a hard five days at work (with another to go in the morning); my working day began at 9am and finished at midnight, so I had to run(ish) for the last train; I’ve also done two radio programmes today; in my haste to catch the last train, I left the beer that I had bought in the office, so this has been a dry solve; I’m depressed about the cricket; a car alarm has been going for the past hour. It may be because of any, all, or none of the above that I struggled mightily with this one, so much so that my brain hurts. Having slotted in all the 15-letter clues quite quickly, I thought it was going to be a breeze. How wrong can you be? At one point, I was tempted to go outside and bang my head on the kerb for some light relief. I am so grateful, as many others have been, to Falcon for explaining many of my answers to me after I limped bloody and bowed, across the line. Some great clues: 20 and 23a, 6 and 24d for example – but too many that I would never have untangled even after a brain transplant without the checking letters. I thought 4d, particularly, was awful – shin is a cut, not a joint, and hit is to my mind much more violent than dig. The most startling thing, though, is that Planet Brian loved it. I didn’t. 1*/5*

  38. Dreadful. Needed help which is rare for a back pager and don’t really think some of the answers fit. I’m guessing it’s a new compiler.

  39. 11a – truly awful clue – it could have made a bit more sense if the Crossword editor had changed it to ” spring from fruits” (from underlined)

  40. We’re very late in again owing to work commitments but unlike nearly everybody else we didn’t find it too tricky. A thoroughly enjoyable solve however.
    Thanks to Falcon and the mystery setter……***/****

  41. Since it’s tomorrow now and all the discussion of clues has been done, I’ll keep my comments general. At first I found it tough-going but immensely enjoyable. After about twice as long as I normally spend on a Thursday puzzle, I had to leave it with 8 clues unsolved (the four at the very NW and also the SW-ernmost four). I returned to it in the evening and four more fell, but in the end I reluctantly did some gentle cheating. Mainly because I wanted to read the blog: I had a sneaky suspicion that I’d be able to do it “all my own” self eventually – and I think I would have too. So I’m a teensy bit annoyed that impatience got the better of me. I really like puzzles that are hard but doable – although if all the back-pagers were this tricky, they would probably pile up, which I wouldn’t like so much!

    I can’t remember my favourite clues, but there were lots of contenders.

    Thanks to the setter and thanks (and a small medal) to Falcon.

    1. Chased you over here just to see how you’d fared with this one – relieved to see that you are another in the ‘what a stinker’ brigade. I’m also rather enchanted with the thought of ‘gentle’ cheating – in what way does that differ from ‘honest to god’ cheating? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

      1. Hello again Jane :) .

        Yes, it was tough enough that I didn’t finish until this morning.

        Gentle cheating should mean looking up elements of wordplay or a definition or two, whereas “honest to God cheating” is revealing the whole answer. It should mean that. Sometimes, it might actually mean blatant cheating done through half-closed eyes, shouting “lalalaI’mnotcheating” inside my head…

  42. I never, never give up.
    Four to go.
    Finding it really hard.
    Still, that’s the back page for you.
    Thanks setter and reviewer but I shall not even peek.

    1. Keep at it. I had a puzzle by the side of my bed for months with a single clue that I looked at every day. Eventually I googled the clue and found this wonderful site.

        1. I have this very complex strategy for working out the Mr. Rons.

          If I find it tough going but get there eventually with a smile on my face it’s Shamus.
          If it’s tough and I get there whilst thinking ‘how mad is he!’ it’s PJ.

          If this is a ‘newbie’ I may have to invent a whole new category. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  43. If a good setter normally aspires to lose gracefully, then this setter was disgracefully victorious.

  44. i didn’t find it particularly difficult, the only glitch i had was the underwear and the bear, i wasn’t sure if it was pooh or hoop if it was pooh i thought sporrans would do nicely and if hoop then thermals. i opted for thermals because of the wind but the a scotsman might feel a breeze up his kilt so could be either at a push? i thought some of the clues unwieldy impecuniousness being a good example i think the setter was trying too hard to be too clever by half, it was not an enjoyable puzzle for me but obviously many may have found it a challenge

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