DT 27898 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27898

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27898

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs

I took a while to get going on today’s Giovanni, perhaps because I like to work down from the top of the grid, and this time the bottom half fell into place much more readily than the top. 8d was the last one in – I was sure there had to be a horse in there somewhere – so well into *** difficulty for me. As usual with Giovanni’s clues, once you’ve solved them, you wonder why you were held up.

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.


1a           Woman in charge, a complainer, ruler in muddle (10)
MANAGERESS – Put together A from the clue, someone who is a persistent complainer, and the regnal cypher of our ruler, then wrap a muddle around the result.

6a           Gardener’s son revealed by Somerset House (4)
SETH – This is the third son of the chap who worked in the Garden of Eden: he’s hidden in the clue.

9a           A ben scaled could be construed as this (10)
ASCENDABLE – Anagram (could be construed) of A BEN SCALED. The whole clue gives the definition.

10a         Wise guy, the crossword compiler — but not an abstainer (4)
SEER – Remove the letters used to indicate someone who is a total abstainer from alcohol from the word commonly used to describe a person who compiles crosswords.

13a         Hitting the sack with only a bit of the body tucked in (7)
BASHING – A part of the body, placed inside a sack or container.

15a         Chaps in planes mean to fly across Ireland (6)
AIRMEN – An anagram (to fly) of MEAN wrapped around an abbreviation for Ireland.

16a         Shabby-sounding item taken from Hamish’s allotment? (6)
TATTIE – The Scottish word for the vegetable that goes with haggis and neeps sounds like a word for shabby.

Image result for neeps and tatties

17a         Be a bit mad, having lost the thread? (4,1,5,5)
HAVE A SCREW LOOSE – A colloquial phrase for being a bit mad is also a literal description of having lost track of a metal item which has a thread.

18a         Dismissed a knight involved in heavy defeat (3,3)
RAN OUT – A (from the clue) and the chess notation for a knight placed inside a heavy defeat, giving the past tense of a verb describing one of the ways of dismissing a batsman at cricket.

20a         More than one animal goes by sea — any number brought aboard (6)
SNAILS – The algebraic symbol for ‘any number’ inside a verb meaning ‘goes by sea’.

Image result for snails

21a         Leader of Democrats backing savage cut (7)
SEVERED – A word for savage of harsh followed by the first letter of Democrats.

22a         Return of workers’ organisation one dismissed as unacceptable to toffs (3-1)
NON-U – Reverse (return) a workers’ organisation, and remove the Roman numeral for one.

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It’s ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule’s comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I’m afraid the preserve’s full of stones;
Beg pardon, I’m soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

John Betjeman

25a         A docile man stirred up, influenced by a devil (10)
DEMONIACAL – Anagram (stirred up) of A DOCILE MAN.

26a         Vehicle was first after starting second (4)
SLED Second followed by a verb meaning ‘was first’ (in a race).

27a         Mob around Italy getting about, making advance (4,6)
GAIN GROUND – A generic term for a criminal mob such as the Mafia wrapped around the IVR for Italy, followed by a word meaning about or approximately.


1d           Nasty plan (4)
MEAN – Double definition, the second being a verb for ‘plan’ or ‘intend’.

2d           Charming home set up overlooking church (4)
NICE – The common expression for ‘at home’, reversed and followed by an abbreviation for the Church of England.

3d           Good to reduce the courage of potential killer (6)
GUNMAN Good, followed by a verb meaning to reduce the courage or virility of someone.

4d           Try something that looks impossible? Oh, from earth once very tricky! (5,3,3,4)
REACH FOR THE MOON – Anagram (very tricky) of OH FROM EARTH ONCE.

Image result for reach for the moon

5d           Mum is upset — time to give things up? (6)
SILENT – Reverse IS (from the clue) and add the liturgical season which precedes Easter, when pleasures such as alcohol, tobacco or chocolate are traditionally given up.

7d           Chosen man in charge of modern type of technology (10)
ELECTRONIC – Put together a word for chosen, the short form of a man’s name, and the abbreviation for ‘in charge’.

8d           When trained he’s a better animal (10)
HARTEBEEST – Anagram (when trained) of HE’S A BETTER.
ARVE Error: need id and provider

11d         Groups coming together chat about Wagner’s work (10)
GATHERINGS – A word for chat or gossip wrapped around the title of a series of operas by Wagner.

12d         Source established beyond doubt — one of the forebears half forgotten (10)
PROVENANCE – ‘Established beyond doubt’, as in a court of law, followed by the first half of a forebear.

13d         Country vehicle conveying drunken earl (7)
BELARUS – A public transport vehicle wrapped around an anagram (drunken) of EARL.

Image result for belarus

14d         Floral arrangement guy brought up and put down (7)
GARLAND – Reverse a word for guy or tease, then add a word for ‘put down’ (an aircraft, for instance).

19d         Girl runs into river — start of adventure (6)
TERESA – Put the cricket abbreviation for Runs into a river in the North-East of England, then add the first letter of Adventure to get a girl’s name.

20d         Older one is falling apart, little right! (6)
SENIOR – Anagram (falling apart) of ONE IS, followed by Right.

23d         Bit of the crust a light brown? (4)
ECRU – Hidden in the clue.

24d         Gee, boy is cock-a-hoop! (4)
GLAD – The letter whose name is Gee followed by a boy or young man.

The Quick Crossword pun MINER + PROFIT = MINOR PROPHET

59 comments on “DT 27898

  1. Yes, I agree with DT’s comments, although 8d was no problem for me. I think 2*/4* is a fair rating.I thought 22a was a bit weird although easily solvable from the clue – is this even a term that is used? – was Giovanni a bit stuck here?

    Thanks to DT and Giovanni as usual.

    1. U and nonU …… Nancy Mitfords terms for words or phrases which were considered to be ‘upper class’ (U) or common (nonU) such as ‘lavatory’ (U) as opposed to ‘toilet’ (nonU) or ‘what? as opposed to ‘pardon?’…….

  2. 3*/3*. For the second week running I enjoyed this Friday puzzle, with 4d my favourite. My only slight quibble is that I thought it was strange to include two very similar words from the answer in the clue for 17a.

    I made life more difficult for myself by putting in “summit” for 5d on my first pass (anagram of “mum is” followed by “t”) without enough thought that this was not a reasonable answer for the definition “things up”.

    7d was my last one in because I had forgotten that the first five letters can in some circumstances be used as the past tense. I also dabbled for quite a while trying to use “horse” as the first five letters of 8d; this fitted with the checkers and is of course an animal of special relevance to betters when trained.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to DT.

  3. Is this really a Giovanni? A couple of the clues 27a and 3d seem clumsy by his high standard. Also no weird and wonderful words and no 15th century Bishops ?
    Still very enjoyable and probably nearer a 2* for difficulty for me.
    Many thx to all esp to the maestro for a relief after yesterday.

    1. PS Loved the bit of Flanders and Swan. My favourite is the totally non-PC The English, the English, the English are best!

  4. Very enjoyable puzzle with many nice clues: I particularly liked the surface readings in 15a (chaps in planes), 5d (mum is upset), 8d (when trained he’s a better) and 11d (groups coming together chat about wagners work). I though 9a (a ben scaled) was clever.

    many thanks Giovanni and DT

  5. **/****

    Great stuff for a wet Friday morning. The anagrams helped get things started, actually spotted the hiddens today and didn’t shudder when I spotted the reference to Wagner’s Ring Cycle. 16a was my last in with a real head in hands moment when I realised.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to DT for blogging. Great pics and poems etc.

  6. Loved this one, lots of witty clues with great wordplay. Favourites galore but best one has to be 16a. Took me 3* time but not a slog so very enjoyable 4.5*.

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT.

  7. A good solve and a relatively easy offering from Giovanni although 5d caused a problem or two since I decided that “mum is” was an anagram followed by T (time) led to “summit” , things up. Thought 3d very clever and couldn’t see it initially 26a was the last in.**/****
    Thanks to the setter and DT
    Still struggling with yesterdays puzzle , determined am I not to look at the hints . !

  8. I’ll go with Hanni on a 2*/4* for this one.
    Only slight hold ups were wanting to put ‘pilots’ in 15a on the first pass and trying to make 8d end with ‘beast’.
    Liked the misdirection in 13a and actually managed the cricket reference with no problem!
    Favourite is 16a with 10&17a coming close.

    Many thanks to DG and also to DT – loved the 4d pic.

    By the way – the Toughie is very doable (must be, I’ve done it!).

  9. I thought it a workout and no mistake,
    But as always with Giovanni ( if it was him) a feeling of achievement once done and a lot of fun in parts!

    Re 13a, isn’t the “A from the clue” redundant? Bag and shin suffice, don’t they?

    My favourite was the Scot’s allotment. I am about to turn out a bucketload of Pink Fir Apples…..let’s see how many I get after 90 days.

    The Betjeman piece is so thoroughly vicious, isn’t it?

    1. You’re quite right, and I’ve amended the hint. The extra A seemed necessary at one o’clock this morning when I did the first draft of the blog http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

  10. I enjoyed today’s crossword very much. I’ll go for 3* difficulty and a bit more than 3* for enjoyment.
    The clue in the paper for 16a is, ‘Shabby item taken from Hamish’s allotment’ i.e. no homophone indicator – I was going to have a whinge about that but see that the online version is slightly different so I’ll shut up.
    I had serious anagram trouble today – they all took me a very long time to see and, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I’m usually pretty quick with them.
    I didn’t put 20a in until I had a few letters as I didn’t think that snails were as animals.
    I liked 17a and 2 and 7d. My favourite was 5d.
    With thanks to Giovanni for the crossword.
    Thanks also to Deep Threat for the review and most of the illustrations – my problem is that I’m going to be a gnu for the rest of the day!

    1. Hi Kath. The BRB definition of animal is “an organism having life, sensation and bodily motion”. It’s just that a snail’s bodily motion is very slow!

    2. Surely you remember the old programme “Animal, vegetable or mineral”? Everything is one of the above, and snail is not a turnip, nor petrol, therefore it must be an animal.

  11. I go along with most of your comments Kath including now having “I’m a gnu” on the brain but what happy memories of “At the Drop of a Hat” were brought back by DT – thanks for that and all your leads. 13a eluded me – toyed with ‘bathing’. Not sure about 10a. This was a demanding end to the week but I really enjoyed the challenge. ***/***. TVM Giovanni.

  12. Nice and Straightforward and very enjoyable **/**** ? Thanks to Giovanni & DT for explaining the reasoning behind 12d, favourites were 16a, 26a 11d ?

    PS thanks Gazza?

    1. You’ve changed the spacing in your alias, which is why your comment went into moderation. Both versions should now work.

  13. Last one in was 16a. And good thing I had all the checkers as I was going on a totally different track.
    Favourite is 5d.
    Thanks to the Don and to DT for the review.

  14. Enjoyed this today. Agree with Kaths’s “snail” comment. And putting beast for beest is easy when you spell the first part “herte” . I had no reason to look it up so it’s a good job I checked out this blog. Thanks to BD. My favourite is 25 a, not because its a particularly good clue, but I just like the sound of the word! ItS just a pity I don’t find B Nevis 9a any more.

    1. Strangely enough I’m having the same issue with Snowdon these days – I blame it on global warming…….http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  15. I had a lot of enjoyment from this puzzle – not my speediest but the answers kept coming and my interest didn’t fade throughout. ***/****

  16. A really good Friday crossword! Some lovely clues and 11 and 12d were prime examples. I’ll nominate 11d as my favourite and 3/4* overall.
    Thanks to the Don and DT for his review.

  17. Great Friday Xwrd thank you G. **/*** for us. I say ‘us’ because I sat down with 19 yr-old son to dispatch this baby in one sitting. Son bagged 8d out of the blue which had posed problems and a few others. Last in was 27a mainly because we were sweeping that way. 9a and 4d loveliest clues. Oh.. And DT, thanks for an inspired blog. Loved the poem.

  18. Down in The Smoke today for tomorrow’s cricket at Lord’s. Good Friday fare, 2/4, with thanks all round.

  19. ****/**. Just not on the right wavelength for me. Thanks to DT for explaining a number of these and the setter for making me scratch my head. I’m disliking windows 10 as it won’t allow me to scale the printout in a more customized way.

  20. An enjoyable puzzle, I thought, which I found easier than the last couple of days – except that like Bob H I bunged in “hertebeast,” so not a perfect score for me today. Oops.

    I could nominate a few clues as favourite but will choose 17a because it made me laugh. No need to say why.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Deep Threat.

  21. I took a little while to kick-start the solve, but it didn’t take me too long to finish. Enjoyable and fairly straightforward **/*** – thanks to DT and Giovanni.

  22. I score this about 2*/3.5*. There are some nice clues, but even before l spotted the wonderful F&S clip in DT’s review, my favourite was always going to be 8d. Thanks to Giovanni, and of course to DT.

  23. Damn
    I put ‘summit’ for 5d.
    Thought it a pretty good answer as an anagram of ‘mum is t’
    But no, I was wrong.
    It threw me for 9a.
    Silly me.
    Great puzzle.
    Many thanks Giovanni and DT for the review.

  24. We too had problems with the spelling of 8d until we checked it out with BRB and for 16a we thought that we had met another UK TV gardener until the penny dropped. A good fun puzzle we thought.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

    PS. We thought our Windows 10 laptop problems were over after its “fix” yesterday but when we turned it on this morning it is back to the same problem. Looks like we will have to start the process all over again. Oh dear!!!

  25. Ive come to the conclusion that my brain doesn’t work in the mornings. I stared at this for ages and was only able to do about 25% of it this morning and early afternoon, and was all set to give up on it. Then this evening I thought I’d give it one last look and finished it straight off in about 15 minutes……why does that happen? They were the same clues, but just didn’t register earlier on….very odd! Anyway, I suppose as it took me so long to get there, I will have to give it a 3*/3* for difficulty. My train of thought early on was much too convoluted….I was convinced 1a was ‘chatelaine’ even though I had no idea why, and I spent ages trying to fit various spellings of ‘shallot’ into 16a…..that was a brillant misdirection! Lots of good clues which nearly disrailed my week of successful solving! Thanks to setter and to DT for the hints, which happily, in the end I didnt need to use. Don’t know if I dare look at the Toughie!……..

    1. Cryptic crosswords illustrate how the brain works like no other endeavour I can think of. You plant the seed and the subconscious quietly gets on with the solving process all by itself. Like going to sleep with a problem and waking with the answer. Indeed, I find it counterproductive to ‘sweat’ a clue for more than a minute or two. Also, try doing the same crossword with the same brain but at a time of day when you are normally deep in the land of nod. I’d say you are on half power at best. It’s the combination of guile, interconnections, memory, knowledge and past experience together with the odd leap of intuition that make the things so addictive to some people.

        1. It’s a little handmade Clay-Mate model which someone bought for me.. I think because of his grumpy face!
          You might be able to find one if you google, facetwit it, it or whatever you do these days.

      1. I so agree. And with Liz’s comments above. It’s amazing how some answers just pop out on the second, third or even more attempt.

  26. Answers yielded slowly with no real favourites but an enjoyable feeling of ‘not-easy-but-I’m-getting-there’ throughout, with satisfying answers once found. Very pleased to have finished and even better, to have got all the parsing right! Well, arguably not entirely – as working from paper version I was without homophone indicator for 16a (my LOI) so thought maybe answer was also an alternate spelling for the shabby synonym which I wasn’t familiar with. Online version of clue much more satisfying, which I’d never have known without this blog, so thanks! For 17a, I thought if screw lost its thread it wouldn’t bite and therefore would be loose but not sure if that’s right as no-one else seems to have picked up on that nuance? Thanks to Giovanni for enjoyable challenge and DT/commenters for blog.

    1. Typical – the first day I decide the errors must have stopped so I didn’t cross check and the paper clue for 16a leaves out the vital word ‘sounding’

      1. Must admit that I tried for a lurker in Hamish’s allotment at first but, once I got a checker in, my love of haggis, neeps and tatties came back in a flash of inspiration!

      2. I pointed out the missing word ‘sounding’ in the clue in the paper in my comment at about 1.00 pm. No-one seems to have noticed it. I was going to moan about it but why bother . . .

  27. An excellent workout from the Don today, solved at the head of the river Lee navigation in Hertford, where I was able to get a paper and a mango in Waitrose. I could have done with the homophobe indicator in 16a, which would have helped me fill in the top half more easily. Like DT, I found the south easy going and the North more of a struggle, with 13a my last one in – and also winner of tonight’s star prize. Many thanks to the Don and to DT (by sheer coincidence, I found myself singing the F&S version of “This old man …” – the de Gaulle satire – followed by Brian’s favourite, “The English are best”, even though I’m Scottish, as I worked through the locks today). Off back down the Lee and up the Stort tomorrow to Bishops Stortford. A rain-free day would be nice

    1. Hi TS, think the weather is due to improve for the next couple of days so hope you get lucky on that score – you’ll be running out of dry towels for the dog!
      Have been delving into the Robert Frost poems – what a mixed bag. At the moment, my favourite by far is The Road not Taken.

          1. I’ll keep what I think of Putin off the blog.

            But that is one of the best/worst autocorrects ever. Poor TS.

  28. Really enjoyed this one – probably because it’s my quickest solve ever :) The entire north-west half went in in one sittinghttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif
    Lots of lovely clues though a couple of clunky ones 17a and also the print version of 16a.
    Spent a long time on 8a trying to make the last part “beast”. Changing that made filling in the top half straightforward despite never having heard of the animal ;)

    1.5*/4* and favourite is 13d for the image of a drunken Belarussian earl in his Landrover :)

  29. I’m glad I’m not the only one who immediately thinks of Flanders and Swann when hearing the answer to 8dn!

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