DT 27951 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27951

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27951

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Hola from the Vega Baja where we’ve just about dried out from last Sunday night’s rain. We had about 3 inches in 90 minutes coupled with a fairly decent gale so it was all a bit interesting. Lots of damage in Torrevieja but Amoradí seems to have escaped unscathed.

I’m not 100% sure about the setter of this one but I did seem to need the slightly mad hat for some of the off-the-wall bits. I really enjoyed it and I almost gave it 5* for enjoyment which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’ll be interested to see your opinions of it.

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons.  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           Blonde toupe that’s very sweet (6,5)
GOLDEN SYRUP: Another word to describe blond hair followed by a rhyming slang term for a wig or toupe gives you something that’s very sweet.  I was lucky with this one as I was reminded of this term for a wig just recently in a crossword in another place. I usually call them “rugs”.

9a           Placid about extremes of emotion put out (9)
RESENTFUL: A term for placid or peaceful placed around (about) EN (extremes of EmotioN)

10a         Fear to depose leader? That’s a mistake (5)
ERROR: A word for great fear without its first letter (to depose leader).

11a         Simple being, a snake from the East slithering over bits of me (6)
AMOEBA: You need A (from the clue) and a type of constrictor snake and reverse them (from the east in an across clue). Having done that you need to insert (slithering over) ME, but the M and E aren’t consecutive as indicated by “bits of”. Hope that makes sense. It’s one of those much easier to solve than write a hint for.

12a         With business no longer on the decline, newspapers must be stored in front half of a kiosk (5-3)
APRES SKI: The business here is actually a winter sport that involves going down (on the decline) and the answer is what you do when it’s finished for the day. Take the first half of AKIOSK and insert the generic word for newspapers and then split it (5-3).  A rather bizarre definition which really raised a smile when the penny dropped!
apres ski 1

13a         Party reaching Hebridean island flipped diminutive best friend (6)
DOGGIE: The usual party followed by the reversal (flipped) of an island in the Inner Hebrides gives a childish (diminutive) word for man’s best friend. I spent far too long trying to find a breed of small dog.

15a         Hearing facilitated by this Wild West lawman with polish (8)
EARPHONE: The famous lawman of the “Gunfight at the OK Corral” followed by a word for polish or sharpen.

18a         Invincible Arsenal’s wingers could centre for players (8)
ALMIGHTY: AL (ArsenaL’s wingers) followed by a word meaning could or perhaps and the centre letter of plaYers.

19a         Smother the Spanish attacks in retreat (6)
STIFLE: The Spanish definite article followed by some attacks or seizures but all reversed (in retreat).

21a         One passing through border in record time? (8)
EPHEMERA: One passing through as in not being around very long. It’s a border or edge, of a piece of clothing perhaps, inserted into one of the usual records and a long period of time, not an age but the other one.

23a         Hair product — one that sets containing nothing American succeeded (6)
MOUSSE: By “one that sets” the setter is referring to himself. Insert (containing) an O (nothing), US (American) and S(ucceeded).

26a         Extra bus shelters working (5)
BONUS: Insert (shelters) the usual two letters for working into BUS (from the clue).

27a         Significant I’m left with a nutcase? (9)
IMPORTANT: IM (from the clue) followed by the nautical left and then A (from the clue) and lastly NT (the case of NuT).

28a         Ultra-Conservative unmitigated moaner leaving hospital (5-6)
RIGHT WINGER: You need a phrase which could describe an “unmitigated moaner” and remove (leaving) the H(ospital). I’m not sure the “ultra” bit is really necessary here.


1d           Deck showing fish catch (7)
GARLAND: Deck as in decorate. You need an elongated European marine teleost fish followed by a word which can mean to catch said fish.

2d           Girl’s put on ring that’s designed to catch a filly (5)
LASSO: It could also be used to catch a colt. It’s a girl with an O (ring) on the end.

3d           Bringing dignity to opera company embracing new flashy opulence (9)
ENNOBLING: Abbreviation for the English National Opera with N(ew) inserted (embracing) followed by some flashy jewellery.

4d           Secure folio in prepaid envelope (4)
SAFE: F(olio) in the abbreviation for a stamped, addressed envelope.

5d           Hero of the Rovers absorbing French articles about pressure and acting out situations (4-4)
ROLE PLAY: The eponymous hero of the comic strip about Melchester Rovers goes around (absorbing) two French definite articles and P(ower).

6d           Vice-President turns up — English brass off (5)
PEEVE: Slang term for the US Vice-President reversed (turns up in a down clue) followed by E(nglish).

7d           Short way one fillets normal fish (7)
SARDINE: Abbreviation for a way or thoroughfare (not street but another one) and I (one) inserted into (fillets) a word meaning normal or, at least, not mad. I love these when they’re done on a BBQ on the beach.

8d           British exit quickly bringing snub (5-3)
BRUSH OFF: B(ritish) followed by a phrase meaning to leave quickly.

14d         I pulled out of mad haymaking contest you have to be up for (8)
GYMKHANA: This is a contest you have to be up on a horse to take part in. It’s an anagram (mad) of HAYMAKING but without the I (pulled out of).

16d         Medley to enhance air from Queen in rocking pop tour one … (9)
POTPOURRI: A mixture of fragrant stuff to sweeten the atmosphere is R(egina) inserted into an anagram (rocking) of POP TOUR and I (one).

17d         … can call lively (8)
STIRRING: Another slang term for can as in prison followed by to call on the phone.

18d         Bitter outstanding resistance meeting writer (7)
ACERBIC: A charade of a word for outstandingly good, R(esistance) and a brand of ball-point pen. Hands up those who thought this would end with PEN as the writer.

20d         One who chooses role reversal over playing etc (7)
ELECTOR: Reverse ROLE and place it around (over) an anagram (playing) of ETC.

22d         Commiserate with loss of mutual friend and skinflint (5)
MISER: This is a sort of lurker as the answer is hidden in the clue. A mutual friend might be described as this (2-4) and he needs to be removed from the word COMMISERATE (with loss of) to leave the skinflint. The answer to this was obvious from a couple of checkers but it took a few seconds for the penny to drop on how it works.

24d         Are patois and argot among ‘les langues de France’? (5)
SLANG: Another word for PATOIS or ARGOT is lurking (among) in the rest of the clue so the answer to the question is “yes they are”.

25d         Regular characters sacked from support position (4)
SPOT: Remove (sacked) alternate characters from the word SUPPORT.

I’m not sure about a favourite as I liked most of this puzzle but, if pushed, I would go for 18a with 24d and 14d on the podium.



78 comments on “DT 27951

  1. I would go a touch firmer on my difficulty to a 3, with a solid 4 for enjoyment. Favourites 1a and 12a, last ones in 18d and 21a. Great fun for a miserable Marches morning. Thanks to our setter and to Pommers for his review. Off to Birmingham this afternoon for an evening concert at Symphony Hall. Fingers crossed the M6 behaves itself.

    1. Agree with your difficulty rating. Although it was completed, I needed pommers help with a couple of the reasons why! Toughie took 15% less time that the cryptic for me today. Enjoy the concert. Thanks to setter and pommers.

      1. Whenever the DT ask their iPad readers to take a survey and ask for suggestions how they can improve the on-line version, I always ask for more puzzles, specifically the Toughie. So impressed are they by my cogent arguments that they have ignored me but put in Codewords, the point of which I do not get, although Mrs YS quite likes them. Just got a website error notice when I tried to post this comment.


        1. Been there, done that (often recently!) Were you also asked to fill in your name/email address which used to appear automatically.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_question.gif

  2. 4*/1*. I couldn’t disagree more with pommers about this puzzle. I found it an unrewarding struggle. One man’s meat, etc. …

    6d gets my vote for most hideous clue of the year. Although I don’t like to hear that Arsenal are invincible (and they certainly weren’t yesterday!), I did think that 18a was the best of a few good clues.

    Thanks to the setter for making the effort, and sorry it wasn’t my cup of tea. Many thanks to pommers for an excellent review.

  3. I’d certainly give this 5* for enjoyment – I thought it was the best DT back-pager for ages. The clues getting the medals from me were 12a, 8d and 24d. Thanks to PJ and pommers.

  4. Is it just me or is this site running very slow today? I’m not having problems with any other, just here.

    BTW, there’s a rather good offering from Paul (Dada) in today’s Grauniad.

  5. Just missed your downpour, Pommers, having returned from our apartment on the Mar Menor before the weekend. But the weather in Blighty is nothing to write home about.
    We have a picture of the Hebridean island painted by my Scottish mother-in-law. She used to say: ” Born in Eigg, lived on Rum and died in Muck”. 3*/3* for me. Thank you Pommers and setter.

    1. Where on the Mar Menor are you? Our apartment is in Los Acazares at Roda Golf and Beach resort.

      1. We’re in LA too – next to El Patio 4. I used to cycle to Roda Golf past the orange and lemon groves. Unfortunately, I lost a leg last year and my wife would”t allow me on the bike this time. But I enjoyed a session at the driving range.

        1. Let me know when you’re visiting next. We may be able to meet up for a beer or something. A sort of Mar Menor sloggers and betters http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  6. **/****+

    Loved it. Utterly delicious puzzle, wish I had it to solve again. Clever, funny and fair with a lot of clues given stars. Golden star goes to 24a.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Pommers for blogging.

    Toughie time.

    1. I’m about halfway through the Toughie – it’s no harder than this one but not quite so mad http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

      1. 4 to go. And I know exactly what you mean. Might have a look at the Dada if I have time this afternoon.

  7. What an interesting puzzle – the setter seems to be trying hard to come up with misleading definitions that seem a bit off-the-wall – e.g. “with business no longer on the decline”, “medley to enhance air”, “contest you have to be up for” – I felt these were a little loose but maybe that’s ok, makes a change anyway.

    Then some of the surfaces are great, e.g. the two clues with the ellipsis (Medley to enhance air from Queen in rocking pop tour one……can call lively), while others seem disjointed (Hero of rovers absorbing french articles about pressure and acting out situation – what’s all that about?)

    14d was a new word, fortunately an anagram. I didn’t know the rhyming slang, so 1a confused me, all the more so with this spelling of toupe not being in brb (though the rhyming slang is, under syrup)

    I didn’t want to think Eigg was an island but sure enough.

    Some deja vu with the answers to 18a and 21a, can’t remember where I saw those recently

    Not sure sane is normal (to quote Jimmy Buffet: if we weren’t all crazy, we would go insane)

    Some lovely clues, I liked the simple 4d, 24d I thought was clever, and definitely an enjoyable solve with quite a different flavour, very refreshing

    many thanks setter and pommers

  8. I enjoyed it in the end, but it was quite, quite mad.

    OK till most of the SW corner lay like the Sahara, then needed electronic help.

    All in all, like walking through porridge, in the mist, with demons whispering in your ears.

    1. Couldn’t do the quick one either, so, being insufficiently warmed up, perhaps I pulled an intellectual muscle……..

    2. I found this on facebook – written by Petitjean who is obviously today’s setter:

      Solving my crossword today, according to one commentator, was “like walking through porridge, in the mist, with demons whispering in your ears.” Praise indeed!

  9. Went into 3* time with this one – surely it has to be the mad hat in charge today? Definitely a 4* for enjoyment.
    1d – I had ‘gurnard’ in for a long time and went through research into the names of different boat decks and ways of knocking folk to the ground before I finally accepted that it was wrong.
    7d – well – a garpike is a fish but that wouldn’t work either!
    18d – didn’t fall into the ‘pen’ trap but it still took ages for the penny to drop – I’d settled on ‘ale’ for the bitter!
    14d – had to work hard to convince myself that there really was an anagram to be found in there.

    Podium has 28a in top place with 1a, 7&17d close behind.
    Many thanks to PJ(?) and to Pommers for being on top form despite the weather.
    The Quickie pun made me chuckle as well!

    1. Glad someone else had ‘gunard’, didn’t make any sense with the rest of the clue but it was the best I could come up with. I found 1d the most difficult clue I have come across in a very long time.

  10. I enjoyed this & would rate it ***/**** had a few giggles on the way 1A for instance, my favourite was 18A with 13A a close second, many thanks to the setter & to Pommers for the review. ?

  11. First read through didn’t yield very much and progressed slowly but surely.
    The clueing was very fair and made me think that maybe this was the work of a new setter.
    I always thought that SAE was self addressed envelope in 4d. Same thing I suppose.
    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for the review.

        1. Hi Angel,
          I should have checked the jargon from the Post Office.
          And should have guessed there was an abbreviation for everything.
          I found this:
          A self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), stamped self-addressed envelope (SSAE), or just stamped addressed envelope (SAE)
          Surely they forgot the “addressed stamped envelope (ASE)http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  12. ***/*****. The best puzzle for ages. The bottom half went in fairly quickly but it took me a while before the top yielded. Favourite clues were 1,12&21a and 16d. Thanks to the setter and Pommers for the review.

  13. A good challenge for a miserable grey day! Very enjoyable; I liked several clues of which 5d was my favourite. 3/4* overall.
    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for his review.

  14. We loved this one and it would be difficult to pinpoint our favourite clue. Personally, however, writing as Paso, i did like 1a because I photographed Gary Glitter in 1981 for Ritz Newspaper and my assistant sez to me….’I’m sure that geezer’s got a syrup on ‘is ‘ed’ He had of course.

    We would agree with Gazza that it stretched to 5* for enjoyment because the clues were clever and amusing. Difficulty maybe 2*/3*

    Thanks to the mystery setter and to pommers for the splendid review.


    Many apologies for mentioning a convicted law breaker but the fellow was quite amusing back in the day….

    When he arrived in my Primrose Hill Studio, he saluted and shouted…”Group Captain Glitter reporting for duty Sir”

    To which I replied…”At ease Glitter, sit down and get yer make up on.”

  15. I have not done many PJ puzzles but, whenever I have, I have found them very difficult. On a par with RayT. However, this puzzle proved to be the best that I have done for a long time for enjoyment and I was able to finish it without help, except for a couple of explanations. Favorite clues were 11a and 12a. Many thanks PJ and Pommers for a pleasurable morning

  16. When I first saw the long winded clues, I thought I was going to struggle, but I was pleasantly surprised. The puzzle was a good challenge but I enjoyed it, probably because I managed to finish without any help.

  17. I’ve only awarded 5* for enjoyment once before, and that was for a Virgilius ST prize puzzle, but this one certainly deserves the accolade. It wasn’t that hard (2*), but l loved the quirky and inventive cluing. It’s almost impossible to choose a favourite – l usually scribble likely contenders around the margin as l go, and in this case l see such scribbles for 1a, 14d, 9a, 18d, 13a, 3d, 7d… Heartfelt thanks to the setter, and to Pommers for the review. Cheer up – it’s raining in Cornwall too.

  18. I agree, totally insane but fun!
    Loved 12a, 28a, oh! Too many to mention.
    I didn’t know the slang for wiggie in 1a but I bunged it in anyway.
    I needed the unraveling for 8d.
    Thanks to setter, and to pommers for helping to translate!

  19. A very enjoyable puzzle to cheer me up on a wet and dismal day in Shropshire. For once, I started with the quick crossword and I think that it’s pun leads me to waving a very mad hat on a stick above the parapet for today’s setter. If it’s not him, then I will eat said hat.

    There are far too many great clues to mention individually – but I will go with 12a as my favourite http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif An excellent piece of word play.

    Thanks to today’s setter for the excellent puzzle and pommers for his review.

  20. A joint effort today with me contributing only seven solutions. Judging by time taken I’d say three stars for difficulty with last in 7d holding up proceedings for a good while.


  21. I loved this puzzle, definitely a 5* for me, although I think I would give it 3* for difficulty. I thought 1a was so funny that I laughed out loud, although so many great clues it’s difficult to pick a favourite. Many thanks to the setter and also to Pommers for a great review, I got 7d and 23a but needed help to understand why, some of the misdirection was extremely clever.

  22. Not to my taste at all. Finished, but I needed to come on here to find out why. I really do not like having an answer I cannot explain. Still not sure that US slang for VeePee is indeed Veep. I have certainly never heard in use, and having worked in Big US Corporate for a long time, and even been a VeePee one would think I should have?

    1. VEEP might not be an American term for a Vice President but it’s certainly a British one. Even pommette had heard of it. The clue makes no reference to America.

  23. Excellent stuff and we had correctly guessed the setter. Not a quick solve as we had to do a bit of research on things like the ‘toupe’ and the Scottish Island. Amazing how long it took us to work out the anagram for 14d even after we understood how the wordplay worked. Really really good fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Petitjean and pommers.

  24. Very enjoyable especially after yesterday’s car crash. Only thing I got wrong was 1d, beat me all ends up!
    Some very clever clues though in 11a, 12a, 18a and 16d.
    Thx to all.

  25. Great satisfaction, lots of fun. Not often I can finish a Thursday puzzle. Only needed the review for checking. Lots of favourites, 1a, 12a and 28a but could mention more. Thanks to Petitjean and to Pommers. Hadn’t heard of syrup for a wig, but checkers made answer obvious. Thanks for the explanation of Cockney rhyming slang. In London now for a very busy weekend.

  26. Definitely not a Ray T puzzle was my first impression at seeing so many wordy clues and quite a few well in excess of double-figures. I was not mistaken!

    I was somewhat surprised that the setter seems to have tried a tad too hard to be a little too clever with many of the clues. I find it interesting that if a clunky 17 word clue (12a) had appeared in a Rookie puzzle it would have attracted a lot of criticism, but it appears to pass almost unnoticed for an established setter. Hey ho. It seems to be a “Marmite” clue too, seeing that many regulars seem to like it. I absolutely hated it!

    I did like 13a (my favourite) and enjoyed a few constructions like 18a and 14d, but generally speaking I’m firmly with Rabbit Dave on this one.

    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers.

  27. Not sure what to say here – although I needed a couple of hints to finish in sensible time, I enjoyed it. Also needed the blog to fully justify 6d. Liked 12,13 and 15 across.

  28. I don’t know about walking on porridge , in the dark, with demons whispering, but it certainly was very strange. More like Schrodinger’s cat in the box, both very enjoyable and devilishly difficult.
    My favourite is 12a, though there was much to admire.If Petitjean appeared more regularly , one might get onto his wavelength.
    With thanks to Petitjean and pommers.

    1. Hi Una

      Seems to me we get a fair few PJ puzzles on Thurs. It tends to be RayT on alternate weeks and then the others seem to be either PJ or Shamus with PJ a bit more frequent of the two. I was pretty sure today would be PJ as it was a Shamus Toughie and I don’t think there’s ever been a day where the back pager and the Toughie (and of course the Quick) have all been from the same setter.

              1. I’ll send an email. We can discuss dates with Falcon during December. We’re sorted for the blogs up to New Year but after that there’s nothing fixed. I believe Miffypops would like a go at a RayT but the trouble with that is that you can never be really certain it will be him until you see the puzzle.

  29. I know I said earlier that the site was slow today, and it has been all day, but in the last couple of minutes it’s started going like the lightning we had last Sunday night! Weird http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  30. A good deal easier than yesterday thank goodness but still struggled with the top left hand corner I agree with Rabbit Dave , 6d was an appalling clue and eventually I gave up on it -even with three letters , also struggled with 7d but overall ** /*** for difficulty but a resounding **** for enjoyment . Thanks to the setter and Pommers for an excellent review , I also agree couldn’t see the need for “ultra” unless Napoli were involved !!

  31. Smashing good fun – thank you PJ and Pommers particularly for parsing 15a, 23a and 17d. Fav 12a. ***/****. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  32. I liked this very much. Not too slow today, all things considering. Thursdays are often good crosswording days for me because I’m tuned in to the RayT wavelength, like the twinkly-eyed one and don’t usually need a slightly mad hat. More often, I need to don a slightly normal hat. It is appropriate then that the normal in 7d was the one that eluded me until the very end. Cue Homer Simpson impression.

    The syrup of figs was new to me but not my friend, so I managed to avoid having to check anything in the BRB. No favourites today, just lots of “blue.”

    Thanks to pommers and PJ.

  33. A curate’s egg of a puzzle: quite a few gimmes to get us entry-level solvers started and then a few bonkers ones to make us want to go out and set fire to a well-known public building. I was in the gurnard camp with 1d for too long and tried to force Maple into 1a (well, it is a beautiful blond tonewood). When it didn’t fit, I left it there to come back to, forgot, and then tried to begin 2d with the P. A pint sorted me out eventually. The rest was pretty straightforward with many to enjoy (12a; 13a; 15a; 17d and 18d). As soon as I saw 5d I thought PJ and by the time I’d finished, I knew. I agree that the “ultra” 28a is superfluous, but perhaps that was just a clever misdirection. I didn’t like 18a – any clue with the scum in it gets a thumbs down from me. 2*/4* ta to Pommers (I remember well Torrevieja from when I lived in Barcelona in the 70s) and to PJ

  34. can anyone explain the dots that join clues 16d and 17d, and their significance. In many, many years of doing crosswords I keep coming across this and still don’t understand !!

    1. This is called an ellipsis, and is nothing more than a device to link two adjacent clues. In this case, it is the surface reading that is connected: 17d very nicely completes the sentence started in 16d, though the clues are fully independent cryptically. There are other ways that the clues might be connected (could just be a reference to something in the other clue, or the answers are somehow related), and sometimes seeing the connection helps you solve the clue.

      1. dutch – many thanks for replying to my query, but sadly I still don’t get this particular ellipsis ( as I now know it is called).” Potpourri stirring”
        doesn’t mean a lot to me !

  35. Thanks to Petitjean and to Pommers for the review and hints. I really enjoyed this one, but it was definitely mad hat day. Got the answers ok, but needed the hints to parse 12&23a,6,22,24d, the last two were so well hidden. Favourite was 1a. Was 3*/4* for me. Late commenting due to battling with spreadsheets and html, to get the Squash Tournament onto our Club Website.

  36. Dreadful puzzle. 48 hours of my life I will not recover. Too many dreadful clues to list, nothing even vaguely positive. 1a awful. 12a appalling. 18a What? 17d eh? 18d ? Please can we get Ray T to do every Thursday? They might not be easy, but at least they are fun. I hated this!

  37. A thoroughly enjoyable solve up to the last seven clues. I gave up then as the iPad either did not show them at all, or had them dancing. I am fed up with it all.

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