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DT 27867

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27867

Hints and tips by Kath

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

Good morning all. This isn’t a Ray T crossword but it’s certainly the week for difficult ones. I have absolutely no idea who the setter is – after my failure to spot Shamus on Tuesday I wouldn’t say even if I had! To me at least it has a rather wacky and off the wall feel to it and some unusual anagram indicators. I’ll be interested to hear what others think.

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


1a            Going out once temperature’s dropped for run is foolhardy (6)
DARING — Begin with a word that means going out with or seeing someone, probably in a romantic way, then swap a T for an R – T(emperature) dropped for R(un).

4a            Dreadful odds, with expert missing a figure out (6)
DEDUCE — Take the odd letters (odds) of the first word in the clue and follow them with a short word for expert – not ‘pro’ but the other one – without its first letter (missing A).

8a            Overlook in accounts numberless Irn-Brus pinched in a hotel (8)
AIRBRUSH — Remove the one letter abbreviation for number (numberless) from ‘Irn-brus’ and put the remaining letters inside (pinched) the A from the clue and H(otel).

10a         Hat with dent in crown felt soft? (6)
FEDORA — I’ve looked at this all ends up but can’t see anything more than it being a very thorough description of a particular kind of hat! Does anyone have any better ideas – have I missed something?


11a         Sour man who painted Parliament but not the Queen (4)
TURN — Sour is a verb here. Think of a well known British artist who painted, among other things, a picture of the Houses of Parliament going up in smoke and remove the last two letters of his surname which are the letters by which our Queen is known (not the Queen).

12a         Notice tautology? (10)
REDUNDANCY — A rather tricky double definition – the notice is what someone would receive if they were being told to pack their bags and leave their job!

13a         Coming down due to an unexpected bug perhaps fall asleep by the top of the stairs (5-7)
CRASH-LANDING — A slang word for going to sleep is followed by the level part of a staircase between flights of steps. I’m not quite sure how the ‘bug’ got in there – any ideas, anyone?


16a         Tempo flagging according to Spooner in activity that takes place against the clock (4-8)
FACE-PAINTING — This activity is one that is usually enjoyed by children and can get pretty messy. Begin with a word meaning tempo or speed and then another one meaning flagging or passing out – then swap the first letters of each of those two words – how the Reverend Spooner might have said it.

20a         Instruction at the Bournville factory how to safeguard recipe? (4,2,4)
KEEP IT DARK — The Bournville factory in Birmingham makes chocolate – there are two main kinds of chocolate and one of them is milk chocolate. Lots of people prefer the other kind so the people working there might be given the instruction to only make that kind. I’m not doing too well here . . .

21a         Top dog announced (4)
PEAK — The top of a mountain is a homophone of an abbreviation for a small fluffy dog that originally came from China.

22a         Thingummybob emerging from back-to-back parties –- oh dear (6)
DOODAH — The usual two letter crossword land party followed by a reversal of the same two letters (back to back parties) and then an interjection meaning ‘oh dear’ expressing surprise or pity.

23a         Gnomes and imps rage away with the fairies (8)
EPIGRAMS — An anagram (away with the fairies) of IMPS RAGE. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this anagram indicator before and although I think I have heard of these ‘gnomes’ it took me ages to remember.


24a         Hose only sprinkled borders of nasturtiums (6)
NYLONS — An anagram (sprinkled) of ONLY is followed by the first and last letters (borders of) N(asturtium)S. Another fairly unusual anagram indicator.


25a         A longing to get settled (6)
AGREED — The A from the clue followed by a longing or hunger.



1d            Opening half of Dame Kiri in recital is spirited stuff (8)
DAIQUIRI — This ‘spirited stuff’ is a cocktail. Begin with the first two letters (opening half) of DA(me) and follow them with a homophone (in recital) of Kiri. I would have found this one easier if I’d known how to pronounce the drink.


2d            Fancy dressing no good for this bird (5)
ROBIN — The fancy dressing is a trimming on a gown – forget its final letter (no Good) and hopefully you’ll end up with a small bird with a red breast – apparently the most popular bird in Britain.


3d            Dull time aboard to do with nerves (7)
NEUTRAL — An adjective meaning relating to nerves or the central nervous system contains (aboard) the one letter abbreviation for T(ime).

5d            East Fife surprisingly overwhelming noted sides to secure title (7)
EFFENDI — The title is a former one for civil officials in Turkey. An anagram (surprisingly) of E(ast) FIFE contains (overwhelming) the first and last letters (sides) of N(ote)D.

6d            Well-informed and bitter? It’s probably hot air (2-7)
UP-DRAUGHT — A two letter word meaning well- informed, often followed by ‘in’, and then some bitter or beer from a cask which is sold in lots of pubs.

7d            Grace, initially, Henry and I leave his German counterpart (6)
ENRICH — This ‘grace’ is a verb and means to enhance or embellish. Begin with the German form of the name Henry. Remove the H(enry) and one of the I’s (Henry and I leave). With very grateful thanks and a  to the 2Kiwis for their help with this one.

9d            Battering fish is said to provide protective cover (6-5)
HIDING-PLACE — A battering or thrashing is followed by a homophone (is said) of a brown flatfish.

cool hiding place

14d         Gently does it with piano part (4-5)
SOFT-PEDAL — A double definition.

15d         Hard breaking into defenceless safe (8)
UNHARMED — The one letter abbreviation for H(ard) is contained in (breaking into) a word meaning defenceless or without any weapons.

17d         Get big problem with leg (5,2)
CATCH ON — A problem or snag is followed by a two letter cricket term that I don’t understand – oh dear!

18d         Clue is second missing first couple of twists (7)
INKLING — A second or instant or very short bit of time without the first two letters (missing first couple) of TW(ists).

19d         In retrospect some boffin won erudite fame (6)
RENOWN — A hidden and reversed answer (in retrospect). It’s ‘lurking’ backwards between the seventh and fifth words of the clue.

21d         Break down as per projected (5)
PARSE — An anagram (projected) of AS PER. This word meaning ‘break down’ is used a lot in ‘crossword speak’ and is something that I’ve had trouble with today.

I think I enjoyed this one a lot but now I need to lie down in a dark room!

I liked 12 and 22a and 1d. My favourite was 24a.

Quickie pun:- (Oat)+(Coot)+(Ewer)=(Haute couture)

145 comments on “DT 27867

  1. Damned hard work this one but satisfying to complete. By far and away the best clue for me was 1d, so clever. Although must admit to liking 20a, shame the chocolate is so awful, needs to be 70% cocoa solids for me.
    Like Kath, just don’t get 10a, why felt soft? And what has Gnomes to do with epigrams?
    For me *****/**. Far too tricky to be enjoyable but satisfying without doubt.
    But hey ho, it wasn’t my nemesis so all the better for that.
    Thx to all.

    1. What would CS say to you about the Gnomes, Brian – I think she’d almost certainly say something a bit like, “Look it up!”

      1. Brian gave up on my 2015 challenge to him a long time ago – he’s a hopeless case with regard to using dictionaries.

        1. I feel very hurt! I did look it up but the problem was I didn’t know what an epigram was. I looked that up too but didn’t associate one with the other..

  2. I am thoroughly demoralised with this crossword and feel as if I have just started doing cryptics. After 30 minutes I had managed just four. No idea as to the rest. I admire anyone who manages to solve this. The crossword is currently crumpled up in the WPB and there it will remain. Pah!

    The Toughie on the other hand is a delight and finished it. I heartily recommend it.

    1. I sometimes share your frustration, but it’s normally the Toughie that ends in the bin. You’ve encouraged me to try the Toughie. Perhaps I could encourage you to have another try at this one, it took me a while, but it was worth it in the end.

    2. Well I do the crossword most days and, after initial fears of abject stupidity, worked through it in an hour. Often it’s the easy ones I get stuck on and feel even more stupid! Thanks to the setter. It was clever and fun. Lucy

      1. Welcome to the blog, Lucy Kay. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope that you’ll become a regular commenter.
        The convention here is that we don’t quote solving times because they can have an adverse effect on other solvers’ morale.

        1. Unless of course it’s MP clocking up over twelve and a half hours – that makes the rest of us feel really, really clever! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      2. What none of you know and I’m not telling, only because I’m not allowed to, of course, is just how long this one took me! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif
        Lucy, welcome to the blog from me too – please keep commenting. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  3. Well done on sorting this one out, Kath. I thought it was the trickiest back-pager for some time and very enjoyable. Like you, having made a total mess of identifying the Tuesday setter, I’m not going to risk getting it wrong again.

    1. Very tricky for a backpager. Took me a Toughie time to sort out – not helped by Mr CS muttering in the background.

      The Toughie took less than half the time and I share the view of a friend who suggested earlier this morning that If you swapped the back page and the Toughie you would have an easy back pager and a mid range Toughie

      Thanks to the Mysteron and Kath. Now back to day 1 of my holidays – off to meet some visiting bellringers and let them ring our lovely bells.

      1. You must be joking! The Toughie is off the scale for difficulty. It’s impossible. The back pager was tough but it’s not even in the same park as today’s Toughie.

        1. Oh dear, Brian. I was going to give it a go as I found the back pager today not to bad. Perhaps I might save myself the anguish!

  4. Hi Kath
    I have been following this blog for a long time but this is the first time I have commented. I understood the bit about the bug in 13a as in a computer causing it to crash. On the whole, I found this the most difficult this week but got there in the end.

    1. Welcome from me too – I’m sure you’re right about the bug in 13a. Please keep commenting.

      1. Thanks to Crypticsue, Jane and Kath for your welcomes. I will continue to comment, if I have something useful to say!

        1. Having nothing ‘useful’ to say doesn’t stop the rest of us . . .
          I have it straight from the horse’s mouth that BD quite likes the chattering – not that I’d ever call BD a horse . . .
          Right – now I’m being serious – all the blathering, chattering, and (sorry RD) but rabbiting too, is what makes this crossword blog different to any other one.
          Three http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif for BD for having the original idea and for doing all the background “stuff” that makes this place run like clockwork. I don’t think that many of us realise just what a full time job it is.

  5. Well that was interesting! I took “unexpected bug perhaps” just to mean a fault resulting in e.g. an airplane coming down (13a). The hat! (10a) – I stared at that for ages! the only thing I can think of is some play with “felt”, perhaps making it a cd.

    I liked the surface readings; 1a (going out once. temperature’s dropped), 23a (gnomes…) 24a (Hose only sprinkled…), 25a (A longing to get settled – I love that one, my favourite), 1d (Opening half of Dame Kiri recital – perhaps a favourite of the 2Kiwis), and 21d (break down as per projected).

    I also enjoyed 12a (notice tautology), and am still enjoying it I suppose.

    Took me quite a while to figure out the parent word in 18d (clue…)

    Definitely toughie material

    many thanks setter and thanks Kath for the review, you handled this one very smoothly

  6. 3*/2*. I know how much effort the setter will have put into this puzzle but I am glad that others liked it because it didn’t appeal at all to me, with the single exception of 12a.

    Every second Thursday when Ray T is in the chair my page is always littered with asterisks, but today sadly it was littered with question marks which I use for “horrid” clues (to quote Brian). Several today were even awarded double question marks – 10a, 11a, 16a (a dreadful Spoonerism), 20a, 22a & 1d (which doesn’t seem to work – where does the first “I” come from?).

    Thanks to the setter and to Kath.

    1. Hi RD,
      Re: 1d – as it’s a ‘recital’ I don’t think the first ‘I’ is a problem as it’s not pronounced in the name of the drink.

    1. You’re absolutely right – can’t count! Sorry – I should have said between the sixth and fourth. If I felt a bit braver I’d go back and edit it but too scared of blowing the whole place up! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  7. Thought this was going to be another 4* but got a toehold in the SW and worked my way up fairly steadily from there.
    Inspiration, rather than correct parsing, gave me 12a&7d and I was amazed that, for once, Mr. Spooner didn’t hold me up too badly.
    Like Kath, I was looking for something more in 10a and also the bug in 13a.
    Did check on the definitions for 23a although it couldn’t really have been anything else.
    Thought perhaps the ‘robing’ in 2d had more to do with the clothing worn for a ‘robing ceremony’ than a trimming?

    Had suspicions as to the setter all the way along and the Quickie pun forces me over the parapet to nominate PJ.
    Great puzzle – 2.5*/4* for me with mentions for 20a&1d. Favourite just has to be 22a!

    Many thanks to Mr. Ron? and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif for Kath. After my first fruitless read through I rather thought you might be close to tears. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    1. Just a thought about 10a – do you think it’s simply that the hat has a dent in the crown because it’s made of soft felt?

  8. Not a favourite puzzle for me today – I persevered and managed all but 7d. Who knew the German for Henry – not me certainly. I have no idea why 1a means foolhardy as I regard this word as a quality. neither have I any idea what 3d has to do with being dull – the very meaning of the word suggests no particular quality at all. But there, maybe I am just pedantic.

    4*/1* would be my take on it.

  9. Well done Kath. We have spent hours trying to dredge up some cleverness in the wordplay for 10a but still without any success. Maybe the setter will pop in at some stage and enlighten us. Dutch is right that we have to pick 1d as our favourite today. Can’t remember when we have ever seen such a challenging back-pager. Good fun.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Kath.

  10. Hmm. In terms of time taken this is only just into 2* territory (by my highly subjective standards, which do not differ between back-pagers and toughies), but it felt a bit harder. Since l had a couple of shameless bung-ins – which l prefer to see as inspiration – l’ll call it 2.5*/3*. 8a gets my vote for favourite. Thanks to the setter (Mr Ron?) and of course to Kath.

    1. What a good idea. I thought I was struggling because I’m tired and sticky from spending the morning in the kitchen making fig jam and chutney when the temperature outside is 38 degrees, so it’s gratifying to see that so many other people are finding this hard. I’ll have another go before resorting to the hints. Meantime, we’re due some refreshing rain right now but it hasn’t arrived, so I need to get outdoors to do a rain dance!

  11. Oh dear, I have been doing the Telegraph crossword for a few years now, if the the last few days are anything to go by, I will be thinking of changing newspapers.

    1. I’ve been doing fine this week, but today is the hardest in many a moon. I often struggle with the last 2 or 3 clues, but today I haven’t even managed half.

  12. Too difficult for me today.
    Not helped by my being certain that German for Henry was Heinz……

    Thanks for the hints.

  13. Well done, Kath ,for sorting this out under a stop watch , so to speak.It is one thing to take ones time at home , but quite another to come up with solutions that the world of Telegraph solvers await, probably none too patiently.
    I thought there were some wonderful clues , such as 9d,14d, 20a, and 8a.
    I really disliked my last two in 3d and 17d.And I am none too keen on 16a, I hate nearly all spoonerisms.
    Thanks Kath and the mysterious setter.

  14. Wasn’t overly keen on this one.

    Among clues I didn’t like much were 16a (beyond contrived), 8a (doesn’t satisfy the definition for me) and 3d (see 8a). Could cite several others. Had no idea why 18d and 23a.

    There were one or two good clues, with 12a easily my favourite.

    Left it with three remaining unsolved (5d,7d and 10a) – the right call as I’d not have got 5d.

    Four/three for me.

    1. 8a: “overlook in accounts”, as in to remove (eg a person) from a story or account, is one of the definitions brb gives for the answer.

      1. Doubtless it does but not one person has ever used that expression in my presence. At best I think it’s tiresome journalese.

        For me this was a (very obvious) solution in search of a problem.

  15. Not often I throw in the towel but with this monster am afraid I did. Thank you Kath for a sterling job. Haven’t the foggiest how 10a works or perhaps it doesn’t and should belong in the Quickiehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  16. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Kath for the review and hints. A very difficult puzzle, but I enjoyed the struggle. I can only think 10a is a cryptic definition, with felt soft as Yoda speak. With the hat being made of soft felt. Favourite was 21d. Didn’t like 1d or 10a. Last in was 11a. Was 4*/3* for me. England struggling a bit.

  17. As Kath says it is certainly the week for tricky puzzles! 4*/3*. Failed on three today: did not get the first word for 13a, don’t know why as it was not difficult; ditto for 16a – hate spoonerisms as I never know which way to swap what letter and 17d – did not understand the cricket term either! Can’t help with Fedora, Kath, sorry! Favourite is 1d which was my first one in, brilliant! Did not know that gnomes were epigrams but got the answer anyway. I should have followed Kath’s advice of doing the Quickie first as this would have given me an inkling of what was awaiting me in the Cryptic. I got the pun though and thought it was funny. I will have a go at the toughie later on… Many thanks to Our mysterious setter and to Kath for her excellent review which put me out of my misery.

  18. This is certainly the week for harder-than-usual puzzles. It took me a while to get going on this one, and I solved the top half first but it was a struggle. 1d and 16a were my favourites. Last one in was 21a after 21d. Overall a tough solve, and not particularly satisfying although perhaps I’m being harsh on the setter. 10a was obvious but like others above, why soft?? 4/2 is my score with thanks to Kath for her review.

  19. I finished without hints, but certainly felt that I was in toughie territory with some of the clues. I still have no idea what 10A is all about and I’m puzzled by the first I in 1D. Perhaps I just pronounce it the American way. 18D made me smile so it’s my favorite. Thanks to the setter, and well done to Kath.

  20. Thank goodness for our electronic gadget. When I first looked at 10across, I thought it might be trilby, except it doesn’t fit. Very difficult we thought. Thank you Kath for the explanations, much needed, and thank you to the setter, but next time don’t be so hard on us .

  21. I can’t do any of it! So relieved that others found it hard…and found others this week hard too! Dr B

  22. I thought this was going to be very difficult after the first pass but got going from bottom up. Finished with a few guesses and thanks to Kath for an explanation of 10a but still not sure how this is arrived at.

    I thought 13a referred to a computer bug which causes a system crash.

    Still ****/*** for me. Many thanks.

  23. Same here.
    Found it harder than the toughie but got there in the end.
    Agree with Jane for 10a, that little dent at the front of the crown is the only connection I managed to make.
    Couldn’t parse 18d either. I thought it was sink and sling without the s, but none are synonyms of twist.
    The queen does make an appearance but I have the feeling that both back page and toughie are from the same setter. Could it be?
    Favourite is 11a. Which reminds me. I haven’t seen the film yet.
    Thanks to the mystery setter and to Kath for a super review.

  24. Found this much trickier than the normal ‘non Ray T day’ fare, albeit with some clunky clues. Can 10a be construed as a cryptic clue? Liked 22a (reminded of Victoria Woods’ dinner ladies) but didn’t like 16a (as usual). 5d is my nominated favourite of the day.

    Thanks to the Thursday Mr Ron and Kath for her excellent review – I do hope I do as well tomorrowhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

    I had a super time at the cricket yesterday, having found the Real Ale bar early on and with Australia blown away http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif. Managed to keep dry (weather wise) but ended up with suntanned knees – It can only happen in Britain. Even managed to stay awake on the train home and therefore not end up in deepest darkest Wales.

    The Toughie is very enjoyable and a bit easier than the back pager. Hopefully, you will all hear from me before midday tomorrow http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    1. I can’t F-INN believe how well it’s gone for England today. Just need Warner out.

        1. Let’s not get too cocky – it will be our turn in this topsy-turvy series to get a caning at Trent Bridge next week.

    2. As you know I don’t/can’t do cricket. What little I know I’ve learnt from this blog but even that’s just the words that I need to know rather than what they mean. My Dad would be ashamed of me – actually, that’s a total fib – my Dad was never ashamed of me in his life!

      1. Having come to know you through the blog, and more recently, met you in person – I’m very sure that your Dad was never ashamed of you. Sorry if that’s too personal a comment – but I say as I see http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        1. Thank you Shropshire Lad and Hanni and no, it’s not too personal a comment at all.
          Good luck for tomorrow, SL – Friday crosswords are the ones that I regularly find the most difficult in the whole week – it’s the only day that I would run a mile from if anyone ever suggested that I did the hints for.

  25. Day off today recovering from a ‘wet’ canal trip so found this a tad testing, like Kath, failed to see anything cryptic in 10a,Heno could have a point with his ‘Yoda speak’ and also Jane’s dimple!. All considered a***/***.Watching the cricket and into the toughie, not sure this is a good idea. Thanks Kath for the blog , knew there would be a cat somewhere.

  26. Harder than usual. Had to resort to Kath’s wonderful hints for a couple. one clue made me smile. But I’ve forgotten what it was! I still don’t get 20 a. How does “black” become back?

  27. “So, following on from Heno’s Yoda-speak, comment, if you read the clue for 10A as “Soft felt hat with dent in crown” it makes sense.

    1. I still don’t really get it – I kept trying to take it to bits and find something that meant soft etc etc with the final answer being what it was.
      I really hope that the setter, whoever he or she may be, calls in later to explain this one, and to acknowledge the compliments, and read the other comments.

  28. I thought this was a pretty challenging puzzle but enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks to Kath and setter 2.5*/3*

  29. Could only do about half this … way beyond my pay scale! Thanks Kath for sorting this out, you must be one clever lady!

    1. Thanks Merusa – no – not clever – just determined and bloody minded and, to be entirely honest, didn’t want to ruin the “street cred!”

  30. H’m, interesting solve, took me most of the day up till now, on and off to get there but had 4a and 15d wrong in the end. Some clever parsing but also some that I didn’t understand. Took the hints from Kath to sort it all out.

    I too will be looking to change newspapers or at least crosswords if this level of difficulty keeps up!


    Thanks to setter and Kath

  31. There are no rules but those that there are, are made to be broken 12 hours 36 minutes and 40 seconds is what it says on the timer on my iPad. Which means there was an abundance of deep joy in this puzzle. More please.

  32. Difficult. Somewhat painful at times. Wanted to give up. Stuck at it. Not much more I can say. ****/***

    Favourite is 1d. Although I’ve never drunk one.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Kath for blogging. In fact really really well done to Kath for blogging. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  33. Well done Kath for figuring out this one! ? Today I didn’t even enjoy the struggle as struggling didn’t get me anywhere and relied heavily on Kath’s hints. I think that ,for me, this has been the most difficult since I started doing the cryptic . I’m sticking my neck out and saying I think this is PJ at his near damnedest if indeed not his damnedest. Thanks Kath.

  34. I really enjoyed today’s crossword; challenging certainly but ultimately quite doable. (Actually I hate that word but nothing else came to mind!)
    My favourite has to be 1d, and overall I reckon 3/3*
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Kath for her excellent review.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  35. Whew. Yes, that was tough, but I pecked away at it and all was well .. apart from 10a and 7d. Eventually I bunged in the right answer for 10a, but had to concede defeat at 7d. Once I had the word that it must be, I was further confused by forgetting the German name for Henry and thinking that the ICH must be part of the wordplay. Argh!

    Thanks to the setter and thanks and well done to Kath http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif. Loved the 13a pic – but I do hope the poor duck didn’t hurt himself!

  36. I couldn’t have managed this without your wonderful hints and tips Kath, so thank you.13a, 24a and 7d straight in. Next in was 9d which was my favourite, but then I ground to a halt. Can’t say I particularly enjoyed this one. Bit too abstruse. At least the cricket has been enjoyable today. Shame about Jimmy Anderson.

  37. Now that was what I call a hard crossword****/*** :( Even though it is Thursday ;) A very big thank you to Kath without whose help it would still be unsolved. Does anyone know what the bird is in the photo illustrating 2 down is, bird watching is my hobby but it has me stumped!

      1. Think you’re right, mre – nothing else has that distinctive black ‘curl’ on its tail.

    1. Oh dear – all I did was ‘google image’ Robin. By the time I did that (please don’t ask – only the Kiwis know what time I emailed them in desperation last night) I’d lost the will to live and really wouldn’t have cared if they’d come up with a parrot or a Red Kite – I did think that it didn’t really look like the kind of Robin that we see all the time – sorry, all you ornithologists. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

      1. It’s still a Robin, Kath. That’s all that mattered for the clue and, anyway, yours IS rather fancily dressed! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  38. After overnight cogitation and waking up early this morning, here is my theory on 10a.
    I reckon that the clue was originally submitted as simply “Hat, felt soft” with the setter thinking that with the F D and R as checked letters that would be enough for a cryptic definition. However the editorial process decided that it was not precise enough and the extra bit “with dent in crown” was added.
    Any thoughts on this?

    1. I have no brain power left, that’s assuming that I ever had any – all I can say is, yet again, thank you both for communication last night at silly o’clock – it really helped.
      I don’t know about the editorial process – maybe the crossword editor could ‘pop in’ to clear this up – lots of the setters do, or is that perhaps asking too much? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  39. After coping valiantly with two **** crosswords it felt like nemesis today, first pass one answer then SW corner dropped in. Crawled upwards on my hands and knees carrying my faithful electronic friend and in the end finally surrendered to the hints with several question marks and a couple of empty spaces. Ginormous congratulations to Kath for rescuing me and thanks to setter. Apropos of 1a yesterday does anyone else remember Paddy Roberts and the Ballad of Bethnal Green last two lines – in a fit of pique she married the Greek and now she’s dressed in mink. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

    1. Brilliant song! I’m not sure that marrying a Greek at the moment would have quite the same effect.

      1. Ah yes what an absolute gem he was. I had all his records and recall with joy the Ballad of Bethnal Green, Three Old Ladies (who got locked in the lavatory), L’anglais avec son Sang Froid (Englishman with his usual bloody cold), etc., etc. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  40. My, what a lot of comments today! That’s what happens if you’re late to the blog as I am today…had to go to work! Well this was quite hard, but manageable with some electronic help. Didn’t need the hints, apart from 11a which was my last in…was just not thinking verb! Some cracking clues, especially 8a which was very clever,also 22a, 16a, and of course, my favourite 1d….brilliant! Thanks to setter and to Kath for the hints. 2.5*/4* a very enjoyable puzzle. Now…….am I going to get time to read all these comments.?.?

      1. Well, yes, just about. However I don’t think I’m going to get theToughie done, only half completed so far and rapidly running out of steam!

        1. I’m sure you’ll do fine Liz, just keep at it. I think if you crack the longish clues the rest will fall into place http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  41. I sense that the DT may be upping the difficulty level in an attempt to win over (or win back!) some cruciverbalists from The Times and I for one am not sorry for a bit more of a challenge but realise I will have to put on my thinking-cap more often. Today we were certainly set a big challenge with IMHO several rather far-fetched clues – too numerous to list. I feel for poor Kath not only having to solve this horror but having to do battle with hints to make our life easier too. Fav probably1d. Whilst appreciating it didn’t take care of “bitter” I had ‘au courant’ for 6d which handicapped me a bit! *****/***. Thanks Mr. Ron and Kath for a sterling effort. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  42. Thanks for welcoming me to the blog. Found it all too much today and not enjoyable on any level, hopefully tomorrow will be better

    1. Good luck with tomorrow’s crossword. I’m sorry that you found today’s all too much but it certainly was a tricky one.
      Please keep commenting – when or if you are replying to a comment it’s quite a good idea to click on the thingy that says “Reply” because that keeps all the comments on a particular theme all together otherwise people lose the thread – sometimes “the thread” in this place can get quite long!

  43. Many lovely messages of welcome to the newcomers, not a single pedantic comment on the syntax of someone who(or whom) has (or hath) pointed out a blatant semantic error on their early message.( please correct as appropriate).

    1. I do think that messages of welcome to newcomers are important.
      As for the pedantic comment I assume that you mean your comment quite early this morning – comment number 7, I think. I did reply to it – I did apologise for my inability to count – I apologise yet again – I can’t do much more.

      1. I think OJ was probably referring to the syntax of his own comment – and wondering why no-one from pedants’ corner had taken him to task over it!

      2. I apologise unreservedly if you thought my comments were meant for you Kath, this was not the case. Nor were they meant for Rabbit Dave. The “gentleman” who commented on one of my first corrections has yet to prove his humility.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif .

    2. Bearing in mind the sterling work Kath put in on the blog today she deserves praise not indirect brickbats.

      1. Thanks so much for the support, Hilary, but, having read Jane’s comment, I think that you and I have both misinterpreted OJ’s comment.

    3. Having read Jane’s comment I apologise, again, if I misinterpreted this. I think we could refer it to Rabbit Dave – he is, after all, head honcho of Pedant’s corner – and now I’m worried if the apostrophe is in the wrong place! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  44. I have been persevering with these crosswords for almost two years now and had begun to think I was getting somewhere. This has not been a good week. Am going away to lick my wounds and drink red wine!

    1. Of course you are – red wine cures most things! This has been a very tricky crossword week. Most of us “old hands” have agreed on that. Please don’t get discouraged – stick with the blog and keep commenting, please. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    2. An excellent way to deal with it Emma. I quite like G & T and many wines Shropshirelad recommends.

      It has been a difficult week for the pack page, don’t be disheartened.

    3. By all means drink some wine. I’ve been doing these DT crosswords for nigh on 60 years and I had to cry uncle with this one. Don’t give up, just enjoy the wine and hope for a kindly Giovanni tomorrow … oops, what did I just say? A kindly Giovanni? We can always hope.

  45. Thank you very much, you live and learn the Australian Flame robin often called the Robin Redbreast :) Hence it fits the clue perfectly!

  46. Just before I drag my antique body to bed I have popped back to say after three gruelling days an enormous thank you to our four intrepid bloggers Gazza, 2Kiwis and Kath and also to Big Dave for providing this wonderful forum. Roll on Friday and please make it just a little bit less mind boggling.

    1. Sorry I omitted you but I managed Monday myself and only joined in the party for the fun, the other three days were hard work. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif this is for the behind the scenes encouragement you have given me.

  47. Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive today – this was a tricky crossword. I think it’s the most difficult one I have ever attempted to do hints for.
    I also think that I’m getting to the point when my Dad would have said, “It’s late, you’re tired, you’re beginning to show off and it’s time that you went to bed”. So that’s where I’m going!
    Night, night all – sleep tight. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

    1. Another http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif for blogging today and also bringing back a wonderful memory of my father saying something very similar to me. I’d almost forgotten that.

  48. Did not know this meaning of gnomes. Fedora is made of soft felt? The picture is not of an British robin, Kath, though you refer to it.

  49. For when you drop in, TS. I had a feeling the poem might be one of yours – is it one that you’ve had published?
    What a multi-talented man you are!

    1. No, it’s relatively new and part of something else that I’m still working on, but I also quite like it as it is. BTW I am mono talented. I’m very, very good at sleeping – everything else is bluff and bluster.

  50. This is my first comment to this excellent site. Been using the hints for the last few days so perhaps this helps Kath:
    13a computer bugs cause crashes.
    Hope that helps.
    Many thanks for all the work to get the hints out so quickly.

    1. Welcome Edmund – now you’ve delurked, I hope we’ll hear from you again.

  51. Gosh! What a tough back pager . Many thanks for the much needed hints, first time I have been stuck this badly for a long time!

    Thanks to setter and solver for the enjoyable experience.

  52. I thought this was a tricky littler lighter, not helped by my overworked brain writing SFOT instead of SOFT in 14d, which had me baffled by 16a. It took an entire pint before I spotted my blunder. Thanks to Kath for striving so hard to make the barely comprehensible seem straightforward and, perhaps grudgingly, to the setter for a gruelling end to a long, long day.
    I’m off on the boat for a week starting Friday night. Bringing it down to London. So, I’m likely to be out of radio contact for the duration. If I can get a signal, I’ll try to pop in, but I’m unlikely to be able to find a DT to do the crossword. If I dont, don’t worry, I’m not drowning, but waving.
    I shall miss you all. Be good

  53. The bug in 13a is the kind that causes your computer to crash . Fairly fiendish puzzle today .

  54. Usual very late input from me – had my granddaughter and her boyfriend here yesterday so finished the puzzle today.
    Fave was 10a – I remember there was a horse that wore such a hat and it was blown away but after a long story it turned up again!

  55. I must have been on setter’s wavelength – all clues correctly answered fairly quickly & easily (not taken me 2 days, only got to crossword today). Some delays in solving some clues but nothing that had me stumped for hours which is what often happens with me and trickier crosswords. I enjoyed the clue constructions too. A few parsings I wasn’t sure of , e.g. 10a (in common with everyone else!) and 17d as I’m also not a cricket buff. Whereas on my 1st pass over the Toughie, which a few of you are saying is easier, I’ve only got 2 clues so far… Many thanks to setter for enjoyable and rewarding challenge and Kath et al for helping me understand some of my answers!

  56. Did DT27867 today from National Post here in Canada. We get them on delay so your site comes in handy. Did finally finish this one but agree with comments on difficulty. Being English did get one involving leg.[See I accidentally hit capital lock !!! – (but I sorted it BD)]

  57. A great site.Makes me feel homesick. As I do crossword on delay via National Post here there will be no point in commenting but will read those that have been made but only after I have completed it.Have visited the site quite often in past and should have come out of hiding sooner.Have no problems with cricket terms but do struggle sometimes with words that are now in common usage in the U.K. No doubt some Canadian puzzlers struggle with both zenda

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