DT 27879

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27879

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Ottawa where we have been enjoying, for the most part, some glorious summer weather with more promised for the immediate future. I hope others are faring as well.

I am not going to hazard a guess as to the identity of today’s setter other than to say I am quite certain that it is not RayT. I found it to be a puzzle of two halves. The left-hand side was complete before any incursion had been made into the right-hand side. One clue alone (22d) drove the difficulty level well into three-star territory for me.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ‘Click here!’ buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

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.


5a   Core of schools covered by bad language syllabus (6)
COURSE — the middle letter of schOols engulfed in foul language

8a   One beset by longing over losing head is go-getter, typically high (8)
ACHIEVER — introduce the Roman numeral for one into a term for emotional pain and append (o)VER with its first letter lopped off; the solution is often seen in the company of the modifier high

9a   Cold duck I sent back in Spanish snack food (7)
TAPIOCA — string together C(old), a cricket batsman’s duck and I (from the clue); now reverse this lot and stick it in a Spanish snack; the result could perhaps be a respite from the pudding served up at 21d

10a   Surplus Sun deliveries (5)
OVERS — these deliveries come in six-packs

11a   Yearn for change after smart deception (9)
CHICANERY — a word meaning elegant or fashionable followed by an anagram (for change) of YEARN

13a   Reduce high rent with a cut (8)
TRUNCATE — an anagram (high) of RENT A CUT; if drunk can be an anagram indicator, then why not high

14a   Flamboyant jumper worn by company Charlie (6)
ROCOCO — our favourite Australian jumper wraps itself around CO(mpany) and the letter represented by Charlie in the NATO phonetic alphabet

17a   Duty to get nails, as quoted (3)
TAX — this remittance collected by HMRC sounds like (as quoted) small nails

19a   Psychology professor making a case for pain (3)
GYP — you will find the answer hiding in the border regions of the first two words of the clue

20a   Part of the ear we note –- this may be a trap! (6)
COBWEB — remove the kernels from the ear and then append WE (from the clue) and a musical note

23a   Scotch following chocolate: it could get you high (8)
AEROFOIL — some bubbly chocolate followed by a verb meaning to thwart or frustrate

26a   The altogether bald head (9)
NAKEDNESS — a synonym for bare or plain and a headland

28a   Sycophant undergoes change of heart but provides hot drink (5)
TODDY — replace the middle letter of a servile flatterer with another letter to get a spirited drink

29a   A bash that’s the opposite of friendly (7)
ASOCIAL — the A (from the clue) plus a party or get-together

30a   Drone can put out weapons (8)
ORDNANCE — an anagram (put out) of DRONE CAN

31a   Stress causes regret regularly (6)
ASSERT — a regular series of letters from cAuSeS rEgReT


1d   Plan for elephant keeper to be given parking avoiding hospital (3,3)
MAP OUT — starting with a six-letter word for an elephant keeper, insert P(arking) to replace H(ospital)

2d   Console learner disconnected to help cure failing (5,2)
CHEER UP — an anagram (failing) of HE(l)P CURE with L(earner) removed (disconnected)

3d   Intrinsically Latin adorable hound (9)
PERSECUTE — a charade of a Latin phrase meaning in itself or intrinsically and a colloquial term for attractive or pretty

4d   Discover mistake — time to oust female! (6)
DETECT — starting with a word meaning flaw or imperfection, insert T(ime) in place of F(emale)

5d   Shy about once dropping round High Court (8)
CHANCERY — wrap a word meaning cautious or wary around (o)NCE with the round letter removed

6d   Wedding is sore point when bride’s top goes missing (5)
UNION — a sore point on the big toe missing the first letter (top) of B(ride)

7d   Football managers’ least favourite competition? (4,4)
SACK RACE — the winner of this competition receives the boot

12d   Grant, we hear, is cut (3)
HEW — the answer sounds like the first name of an English actor

15d   Happy pop fans or what they’re likely to be listening to (9)
OPPORTUNE — string together an anagram (fans) of POP, OR (from the clue), and what pop fans would listen to

16d   Bittersweet stuff, with old Left dividing people generally (8)
MOLASSES — place O(ld) L(eft) into a collective term for the people as a whole

18d   Full tuna ban arranged involving Germany (8)
ABUNDANT — the IVR code for Germany finds itself in the midst of an anagram (arranged) of TUNA BAN

21d   This might make you laugh: old school pudding is served up and there’s no end to it (3)
GAS — a reversal (served up in a down clue) of a starchy dessert (a staple food in the tropics and — it would seem — British boarding schools) with its final letter removed (no end to it)

22d   It’s biting as Spooner’s sleeping? (7)
MORDANT — how Rev. Spooner would say a synonym for sleeping DORMANT

24d   Accompany some corpse’s cortege (6)
ESCORT — hiding in the final two words of the clue

25d   Bet on troops being amateurs (6)
LAYMEN — a verb denoting to place a bet followed by one of the usual suspects for soldiers or troops

27d   A host (or half of them) give up –- no depth (5)
EMCEE — the latter half of (th)EM plus a word meaning to hand over or give up something with D(epth) removed

I’m conferring the honour of Clue of the Day on 22d as it put up a ferocious struggle. I must have devoted fully a third of my solving time to it alone.

The Quick Crossword pun: preen+up to you+lag+ree+meant=prenuptial agreement



  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Definitely a wrong envelope day! 5*/2*. This involved blood, sweat and tears, with the NW being the final corner to fall. Several excellent clues offset by with some tortuous wordy charades and a dreadful Spoonerism. Where is Ray T when you need him on a Thursday?

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Falcon.

  2. John Pidgeon
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Re my ‘dreadful Spoonerism’, RD, as I commented to Spindrift last Thursday, ‘Am I in a minority in thinking the solver’s groan is an integral element in the Spoonerism?’ JP

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Some Spoonerisms I really enjoy and others I dislike, although I would find it very hard to try to define logically why some appeal to me and others do not. I do agree with you that the groan is an integral part of a good Spoonerism, but I am sorry to say that today’s one just didn’t do it for me. Nevertheless I note that it was Falcon’s favourite clue today – Marmite comes to mind.

      P.S. The Quick Crossword pun is also like Marmite. I thought that today’s was outstanding and it certainly induced a groan and LOL moment for me today!

      • Falcon
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        As for 22d being Clue of the Day, it is a bit of an ugly fish, but it took so long to land it that it only seemed right to accord it some respect.

        • Vince
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

          But, did it take so long to solve because it’s a poor clue? If so, then the respect is misplaced.

      • Vince
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        It probably didn’t do it for you, as it didn’t for me, because it’s not a proper spoonerism. I don’t understand how it could be Falcon’s clue of the day.

        • Falcon
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink


          Point well taken. I shall henceforth strip it of the title COD and dub it MFF (Most Formidable Foe).

          • Vince
            Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


    • Miffypops
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I rarely do spooner clues. I just do not like them.

      • Liz
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        With this one, as is often the case, I got the answer first, purely from the word meaning, then worked out why it was a spoonerism afterwards….did take me a few seconds to see it though!

    • Liz
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi PJ. Thanks for an awesome puzzle, thoroughly enjoyed it….even the spoonerism,

  3. Brian
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Sorry far too tough for me today. Shame as I was hoping for a good one as it’s not by my nemesis!
    For me ******/*
    Managed only 7 answers the rest are a mystery!
    Ah well there’s always tomorrow’s Giovanni to look forward to.
    Thx to Falcon for the hints.

  4. JonP
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I found this pretty tricky and my problem area was the NW corner where I resorted to solving aids for 3d – just couldn’t see it. Pretty silly spoonerism, but overall an enjoyable puzzle in my opinion 3.5*/3* (thanks to Falcon and setter).

  5. Miffypops
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Ref 21d. There are seventeen words in the clue and only three letters in the answer. Surely the wordiness clue ever.

  6. crypticsue
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I ‘knew’ it was a Petitjean – thank you to him and Falcon

    PS I am neither a fan of Marmite or Spoonerisms.

  7. Una
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Very difficult , just stubbornness kept me at it.
    I agree with RD and Miffypops above. I am not sure I understand John Pidgeon , but as far as I can make out, we all hate spoonerisms. Does he want to live up to the title “torturer ? All those double unches didn’t help.
    I think 3d is a brilliant clue , I spent a long time looking for a suitable dog, and labrador almost fitted. I also liked 23a and 25d, 1d and many others.
    Thanks Falcon and John Pidgeon.

  8. overtaxed
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Had to wotk really hard at this one but finally got there. 29a and 27d took some time. I am more familiar wiyh the longer form of 29 and I particularly dislike the way initials are used in 27. Having said that, there were a number of good clues. I liked 14, thought 5d clever, and had a laugh at 7d. ****/***
    Thanks to Mr Pidgeon, aka Petitjean, and to Falcon for the very early blog.

  9. Hanni
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink


    Difficult and then some. I know it’s on the back page but parts of that felt very Toughie.

    Many answers were just bunged in and I parsed them later…well most of them.

    3 and 15d made me smile.

    Many thanks to PJ(?) and to Falcon for blogging.

    I dislike Marmite.

  10. Roger
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Oooh..this was a little tough one but very enjoyable nonetheless. I agree that 3d is a gem as was 11a.

    Many thanks to setter and Falcon.

  11. KiwiColin
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Circumstances meant that it was a solo solve today so a bit difficult to judge comparative difficulty but it certainly did seem to put up much more than an average fight. Lots of good stuff to enjoy. I did make a guess at who the setter might be and am pleased to see that I got it right.
    Thanks Petitjean and Falcon.

  12. Beaver
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I always ‘rate’ the crossword before I read the blog so as not to be influenced by the comments. Today’s crossword provided a dilemma in that I thought it was difficult but didn’t take long, either I was obviously on the setters wavelength or simply ‘had a good day’, it would be interesting to know how our blog experts arrive at a difficulty rating, is it just a stop clock? i wrote down a ****/**** as I liked the hard but fair cluing .First time I have seen a one word spoonerism clue which incidentally was last in .Thanks to setter and Falcon- the sago looked appropriately disgusting!

    • Falcon
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      I’ve eaten a lot of tapioca in my day but never had sago. Comments from some parties would tend to indicate that they may be much the same thing, although sago always seems to sound less appetising.

      • Kath
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think they are the same thing – it’s all to do with the size of the lumps, I think! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

        • Liz
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          Yes…Sago – small lumps, Tapioca – big lumps. Both disgusting! Semolina’s OK.. As long as it is chocolate flavoured!

          • Tstrummer
            Posted August 14, 2015 at 1:50 am | Permalink

            Semolina and tapioca are equally delicious, if prepared correctly and served with a dollop of my mother’s raspberry jam. Semolina and rice puddings make up the dessert menu of my childhood – all equally enjoyable and good for you.

      • Miffypops
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Tapioca is made from the root of the Cassava plant. Sago comes from the pithy centres of a type of tropical palm. As I remember Sago looked more like frog spawn.

        • Hanni
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          Doesn’t cassava have a poison that needs removing?

          Tapioca and sago are things I can’t bring myself to eat…and I like oysters. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  13. Toadson
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Difficult but done with a large amount of ‘electronic help’. Last in were 22d and 27d. Wouldn’t have got 22 without the hint. Thanks to the setter and Falcon.

  14. Hathersage John
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Took me twice as long as usual – which was too much out of my day, even though I am retired! I enjoyed it, nevertheless, particularly when reading out some clues and their answers to my wife, who thinks I am a really twisted thinker at the best of times.

    Wouldn’t like it as tough as this every day, but a good test and I would award it ****/****.

  15. Kath
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm – I seem to be well and truly in the minority on two counts today. I absolutely loved this and have giggled my way through every single hour it took me and I like Spoonerisms.
    I had a pretty good idea that the setter was PJ – whether I would have had the guts to say so I don’t know – at least 4* for both difficulty and enjoyment.
    Tapioca and sago look remarkably similar – frogspawn.
    So many of these clues and answers have made me laugh that I can’t really pick a favourite but contenders include 26a and 6, 15 and 24d.
    With thanks to PJ and to Falcon.

    • Brian
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Sorry we are opposite sides today. Even after going through the hints I absolutely loathed this one. Far too tough and wordy for my taste. Apart from you know who, I find Petitjean my least favourite setter. Just don’t seem to get on his wavelength usually.

      • Kath
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Hi Brian,
        We often seem to be on opposite sides – that’s fine as this blog wouldn’t be what it is if we all always agreed – but can you honestly say that none of this one made you laugh? Please tell me that that’s not the case . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • Angel
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you Kath – I LOVED wrestling with this. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

      • Kath
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        Oh good! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  16. Jaycat
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this and completed most of it with the aid of some electronic friends so was pleased with myself. Liked 23a and10a. Lots of penny drop moments but some a little too difficult for me 1d, 27d with most difficult being 22d.

    A good learning puzzle with new words.


  17. Heinz
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I like sago and I like marmite. I don’t like Spoonerisms or this puzzle. ****/*

  18. SheilaP
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Way out of our league today I’m afraid, so no, I didn’t enjoy it very much at all. Don’t really find spoonerisms particularly funny either. Thank you to the Thursday setter, and to Falcon.

  19. Werm
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Horse for courses , this was my favourite of the week. Definitely solvable but taxing along the way. Thank you Petitjean and Falcon. p.s. the quickie pun was superb http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Kath
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      A partner in crime, at last – I was just beginning to feel like Billy-no-mates. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  20. Jane
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Yes – I’ll go for wrong envelope day! 4*/3* and a confession that I gave up on the Spoonerism – couldn’t get beyond ‘nodding’.
    In retrospect, I appreciate the cleverness of some of the clues but the struggle definitely detracted from the enjoyment.
    20a was my smile for the day.

    Thanks to PJ and to Falcon – even though the hint for 22d got me absolutely no further forward! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Miffypops
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Me too also spotted that nodding fit with the checkers but I didn’t even bother playing with it to see if it worked.

      • Falcon
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Nodding was also my first thought and I spent considerable time and effort trying to make it work.

        • Angel
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          I settled for nodding too.

  21. Spook
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    What a stinker, many thanks to Falcon, but still didn’t manage to complete without some electronics help.
    Better luck tomorrow I hope.

  22. Miffypops
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    A very very enjoyable puzzle with a lovely degree of difficulty. No pencils were used for the anagrams. Mainly because I failed to spot them (13ac, 2d and 15d). I only realised they were anagrams while reading Falcon’s fine review. Thank you Falcon for that. A hearty pat on the back for PJ too.. Ta to all

    • Kath
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Oh good – another partner in crime – not feeling so lonely after all. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  23. Young Salopian
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    A tough offering today. I certainly strayed into 4/3 territory, with plenty of head scratching. The good reverend floored me and was my last one in. Favourite clue was 11a. Thanks to the setter and well done Falcon for his inspiration.

  24. geoff
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    The best for a long time. How can you not like Spoonerisms?

    • SheilaP
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Because they’re silly.

      • Kath
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        . . . but that’s what makes them fun.

        • Tstrummer
          Posted August 14, 2015 at 1:55 am | Permalink

          They are the spawn of the devil. I would rather swim naked through a vat of tapioca (without the raspberry jam) than have to wrestle with them. This one made me want to go out and set fire to a well-known public building

  25. Framboise
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Hurrah, just finished it but it has been a bit of a battle for a few clues. My excuse is that I could not use my electronic help being at the Hayling island Club – wifi iffy – babysitting our two grandchildren – the morning was a washout because of rain, high winds and thunder. The weather has brightened up and similarly my brain has engaged into solving my last three which were 16d, 9a, and 29a. 22d did not cause me any trouble but I needed the blog to understand the spoonerism! Several lovely clues but my vote for favourite will go to 6d! 1d was funny! 3*/3*. Many thanks to Falcon and to PJ.

  26. neveracrossword
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I thought this much more difficult than yesterday’s Toughie, though I managed to rumble 22d without too much effort. 3.5*/2* for me. Thanks to Falcon and the setter.

  27. Vancouverbc
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    *****/**. It gets five for difficulty as for the first time in a long time I couldn’t complete this without hints – for which much thanks to Falcon. I also didn’t like 22d. Nevertheless thanks to the setter for the brain fodder. Like Falcon, our weather remains glorious but we desperately need rain which is promised for tomorrow although we really need weeks of it to return the province to its normal beautiful state.

  28. Shropshirelad
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I found this harder going than today’s toughie but, nonetheless, enjoyable. I normally get on to PJ’s wavelength quite quickly – but I think he was transmitting on DAB and I was receiving on Longwave. The NW corner was my last part to complete and looking at it, I don’t know why. Therefore I will choose 3d as my favourite today.

    Thanks to PJ for the puzzle (and for dropping in) and Falcon for the review.

    I still don’t like Spoonerism’s ….http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif. but I do like Marmite http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    I do hope the Don’s still in his benign mood for tomorrow’s blog.

  29. Heno
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Petitjean and to Falcon for the review and hints. A very enjoyable but very tricky puzzle. Needed the hints for 29a&27d. Wouldn’t have got either in a million years. Spoonerisms was very difficult. Had a bad start by putting in labradore for 3d. Managed to rectify it in the end. Favourite was 28a. At the GBBF at the moment, will leave the Toughie until tomorrow :-)

  30. Salty Dog
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I completed well within 2* time but found on checking Falcon’s review that l had guessed (wrongly) at 22d. I never get on with Dr Spooner; it’s not that l hate the clues – l just struggle to get them right. Must do better. On balance, then 3*/3*. 27d was my favourite (l liked the misdirection towards the numerical sort of host). Thanks to setter and Falcon. Unfortunately, the weather in SW England is not as pleasant as yours just now!

  31. mre
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t enjoy this puzzle much and finished with eight unsolved and four that I couldn’t fathom the logic for. Favourite clue was probably 23a.

    Four/ two for me.

  32. Ora Meringue
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had more fun at the dentist.
    And I don’t think opportune means happy or that molasses is bittersweet.
    Off to eat worms.

    • SheilaP
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I was at the dentist this morning before attempting the crossword, and yes it was more fun. ( I didn’t need any work done, thank goodness) and the dentist is very nice.

    • Angel
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      I agree re molasses not being bittersweet after all it is a by-product of sugar-refining used for sweetening.

      • Theo Carter
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        There is a variety called Blackstrap used for producing Ethanol which is bitter (although I haven’t personally tried it).
        Got to 26 across today before I got started then not too bad. Afraid I chuckled at the Spoonerism. ?

        • gazza
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

          You’ve shortened your alias so your comment required moderation. Both aliases should work from now on.

      • Merusa
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Molasses is the juice extracted from sugarcane and boiled until it is a thick, black syrup. It is then poured into centrifugals where the sugar is extracted, and you get brown sugar. The white sugar we have is refined from this brown sugar. The waste from the centrifugals is taken and made into rum. Whatever is left after the rum process is called dunder, and it smells horrible, but it is mostly used to put back on the canefields for fertiliser. On our estate, some of it was sent to a “pond”, called the dunder pond, a smell that was with us as long as the cropping went on. I can smell it to this day.

        • Angel
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          Yes indeed. My first job after leaving college was working at “Life & Beauty”, Gaylord Hauser’s London operation, where we promoted his healthy diet régime and the benefits of his 5 Wonder Foods – yoghourt, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, dried skimmed milk and molasses – those were the days – seems like yesterday! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  33. mre
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Just looking at a couple of the clues I couldn’t solve and saw 29a. Surely the solution is neither friendly nor unfriendly and not the opposite of friendly?

    Apologies to anybody who may already have flagged this.

  34. Liz
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    What a cracker! So many brilliant clues…but quite a difficult solve. I had to use my electronic helper for quite a few, but got there in the end and without needing the hints, so Im feeling quite chuffed with myself. Just some of the gems for me were:-
    3d, 26a,19a, 14a and 11a, but my absolute favourite was 28a…that made me smile! I got held up for ages by 26a, thinking we were talking about ‘pates’ until I suddenly realised the head was instead a ‘ness’. Last ones in were 11a and 4d which I really couldnt see until the last minute. Thanks to setter and to Falcon. 3*/4* a very enjoyable and challenging puzzle.

    • Jaycat
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Hi Liz

      Glad we think alike, it was very challenging but very enjoyable and educational !

      • Liz
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Hi Jaycat. i’m now at the stage where I rarely give up on a puzzle even if its really hard, but some are more deserving of solving than others and this one was, for me, by far the standout puzzle of the last few weeks.

        • Kath
          Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you.

  35. Merusa
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Very tricky, but I once I started to get a few clues, they led to others.
    Lots of good clues, particularly liked 1d and 11a.
    I never did get the spoonerisms, and like M’pops couldn’t be bothered.
    I had no idea how “aero” meant chocolate, never heard of it, but I googled it and the lightbulb went on. 23a couldn’t be anything else, so I happily wrote it in.
    Thanks to Petitjean for the puzzle and Franco for the enlightenment.

  36. Cat
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was very good, even though I didn’t get 22d, like Jane I couldn’t get past nodding. Some very clever clues, requiring a bit of lateral thinking but quite solvable. I think my favourite was 3d.

  37. silvanus
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    This was really hard going, which certainly limited the enjoyment factor. At times I felt that I was wading through 9a.

    I never thought I’d see a seventeen word clue in a DT back-pager, but, lo and behold, today there it was (21d). No doubt if such a wordy clue had appeared in Rookie Corner it would attract a lot of criticism, but it seems that an established setter can get away with it!

    Hated the attempted Spoonerism, but I did like 14a, and that is my favourite of the day.

    Thank to the setter and to Falcon.

  38. Jay legs
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    A very difficult puzzle, even for a Thursday ? Thanks to Falcon for the hints, I have to confess that I still did not get 22d even with the hint ? I liked 7d & 11a although I must confess to not liking either 9a or 21d ? ****/***

  39. Kitty
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t quite finished yet. I’m not about to give up but did risk spoilers by scanning the comments.

    Thanks to Jane for tipping me off that nodding isn’t right for that clue, while not providing the answer and so allowing me to go and have another try. Now I have it. I quite like marmite, and I like some spoonerisms but not others. I liked the wordplay in the clue but it’s not a Spoonerism as I understand them – I’d have preferred there to be a different indication for the swapped letters. But maybe I’m just peeved because I’d given up and entered NAPPING with a shrug!

    I’m very much enjoying the challenge. After a few gentle days, it’s nice to have something to sink my teeth into. Thanks to PJ – knew it was you! – and to Falcon for the review which I look forward to reading.

  40. Hilary
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif Remember me I was the one who at the mere mention of ***would make for the cupboard under the stairs with a box of tissues but today I conquered my fear. OK I did need a fair amount of electronic help but I finished, I even got the Spoonerism once I had stopped trying to make it end in ‘ing’,There are far to many things to risk picking a favourite so I will just send a ginormous thank you to PJ and Falcon and I’m off to have a lie down with an ice-pack on my head. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  41. Gwizz
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    There are days when I amaze myself with my stupidity. Today was one of them. So for 29a I blithely put Assault and didn’t even check the effect that had on the down clues. And to make things worse I omitted to swap the A for the D in 29a.
    Apart from that I thought it was a terrific puzzle. 4/4* overall and favourite clue was 14a. Thanks to PJ and Falcon.
    PS. I don’t mind Marmite but I’m not that good at Spoonerisms…….http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Tstrummer
      Posted August 14, 2015 at 2:02 am | Permalink

      By PJ’s rule today, the spoonerisms of Marmite would be Marmite

  42. Angel
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    This was a super exercise. Nearly put glacial for 29a. Had to dig deep to come up with 1d. Not sure about 10a. Fav was 3d. Huge thanks PJ and also Falcon to whom I very nearly had to resort. ****/****. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  43. Kath
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was a brilliant crossword. PJ is becoming one of the setters who I can not only recognise (sometimes/usually) but look forward to. Let’s have more of them. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    • Merusa
      Posted August 14, 2015 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Yes, I also enjoy his puzzles. I find some things a bit obscure from my angle, like “aero” for chocolate, but it’s a Brit puzzle and they’re entitled to Britspeak from time to time so I have no real objections. All I ask is to be entertained, and that he does with knobs on.

      • Falcon
        Posted August 14, 2015 at 1:42 am | Permalink

        Hi Merusa,

        Aero bars are extremely common in Canada. According to Wikipedia, Aero was originally introduced in England in 1935. By 1936, the popularity of the chocolate had extended to New York City, and has since spread to many other countries including Canada, Australia, South Africa and Japan.

        • Merusa
          Posted August 14, 2015 at 1:50 am | Permalink

          Full disclosure! I don’t eat chocolate so I shouldn’t have rushed into declaring it Britspeak. I’ll be sure to look in the supermarket to see if we have them here.

    • Only fools
      Posted August 14, 2015 at 12:21 am | Permalink

      +1 best weekday back pager for me in quite a while .Thanks to both .

  44. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 14, 2015 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Well, I didn’t mind the Spooner as it was quite French.
    Found the rest a bit hard but very enjoyable.
    A bit puzzled by 26a. How can the altogether be nakedness? Sounds a bit philosophical to me and I can’t grasp the concept.
    The other one was lay for bet in 25d. Is lay just short for lay a bet? Maybe Gazza will come to the rescue and give me an example.
    Thanks to PJ and to Falcon.

    • Falcon
      Posted August 14, 2015 at 1:35 am | Permalink


      According to The Lover’s Tongue: A Merry Romp Through the Language or Love and Sex by Mark Morton “The phrase in the altogether was first recorded in 1894, and seems to have been originally used to describe models who posed nude for artists; the idiom likely evolved from the use of altogether to mean entirely, as in “She was altogether naked.””

      Lay means to stake (an amount of money) in a bet : “she suspected he was pulling her leg, but she wouldn’t have laid money on it.” (from Oxford Dictionaries Online)

      Hope this helps.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted August 14, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink
      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted August 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Excellent. Thank you both for the enlightenment.

  45. Tstrummer
    Posted August 14, 2015 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    As always with PJ I found this a struggle from start to finish and it took me far longer than my scrambled brain wanted. Got there in the end without Falcon’s help, but thanks to him for the milk pudding pic – brought back so many memories of my mother’s cooking. She was half Scottish, half Austrian, and mixed good solid British fare with what were, back in the day, exotic Central European concoctions. Made me feel a bit sad, in truth. My Pullitzer Prize winner has to be 26a, because it immediately made me think of John Donne’s To His Mistress Going to Bed: “Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee”. What an absolute genius that man was. As is PJ, just not in a way that I find easy to fathom.

  46. Mikey-Mike
    Posted August 14, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Totally agree with Rabbit Dave. Too many tortuous clues and obscure meanings of words.

  47. Jeni
    Posted August 14, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Took me longer to complete as kept nipping back to look at Hugh Grant. Lovely distraction from the task in hand

    • gazza
      Posted August 14, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, Jeni.

      • Jeni
        Posted August 15, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Thank you gazza http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  48. maarvarq
    Posted September 1, 2015 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    “High” as an anagram indicator has implications of both “drunk” and “spoiled”!