DT 27961 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27961

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27961

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

There are some pleasing clues here but also a few clunky surfaces so it was something of a mixed bag for me. Your thoughts, as always, are most welcome.

If you click on any of the areas showing ‘Click here!’ you’ll see the actual answer so only do that as a last resort.

Across Clues

1a Hard to control a child, perhaps, after work, hollowed out (7)
AWKWARD – start with A (from the clue) and add a young person in one’s care (child, perhaps) after the word work without its middle letters (hollowed out).

5a David Cameron about to steal from the French? That’s a worry (7)
PROBLEM – put the abbreviation for Dave’s title round a verb to steal from and a French definite article.

9a Loving a short time hugging soldiers (American) (7)
AMOROUS – A and an informal word for a short time contain the abbreviation for non-commissioned soldiers. We finish with a 2-letter abbreviation for American.

10a Peter out with tough conservative (7)
DIEHARD – a verb to peter out (like an engine that’s run out of fuel) followed by an adjective meaning tough or difficult.

11a Go for a walk and get lost (4,1,4)
TAKE A HIKE – double definition, the second an informal command to get lost or go away. Chambers says that this is a US usage.

12a Team missing one member, heads of state extremely agitated (5)
TENSE – the number in a football team, say, after one player has been sent off is followed by the leading letters of ‘state extremely’.

13a Horrible about good, slow piece of music (5)
DIRGE – an adjective meaning horrible contains G(ood).

15a Bar’s grime — possibly an ash-grey, strong-scented substance (9)
AMBERGRIS – an anagram (possibly) of BAR’S GRIME. The definition is a straight lift from the BRB.

17a Suppress urge for food (6,3)
SCOTCH EGG – a verb to suppress or scupper is followed by a second verb, this one meaning to urge or incite.

19a Shrew, rat, hamster coming together in anger (5)
WRATH – hidden amongst the furry ones.

22a Praise former lover returning fortune (5)
EXTOL – the short word for a former lover is followed by the reversal of a word meaning fortune or fate.

23a Journalists and friends, maybe they try to get you on board (5,4)
PRESS GANG – charade of a word for journalists en masse and a group or circle of friends.

25a Teach about the Queen’s country (7)
TERRAIN – a verb to teach or coach contains our current Queen’s cipher. This is the third use of ‘about’ as a containment indicator.

26a Catch-22 novel after cover’s turned over (7)
DILEMMA – a Jane Austen novel follows the reversal of a cover or cap.

27a Put a stop to religious education by force (7)
REPRESS – the abbreviation for religious education is followed by a verb to force or thrust.

28a Was afraid of editor after report initially coming in late (7)
DREADED – the usual abbreviated editor comes after an adjective meaning late or deceased with the initial letter of report contained inside it.

Down Clues

1d A page in old hat getting changed (7)
ADAPTED – start with A and then insert the abbreviation for page into an adjective meaning ‘old hat’ or old-fashioned.

2d One who criticises  that gets hammered before opening? (7)
KNOCKER – double definition, the second what someone seeking entry to your house may use to announce their arrival.

3d Atmosphere from a group of travellers (5)
AROMA – A followed by members of a travelling community.

4d I diet, pass out and fade away (9)
DISSIPATE – an anagram (out) of I DIET PASS.

5d Father‘s flat note (5)
PADRE – an informal word for one’s home, often a flat, is followed by a note from tonic sol-fa.

6d Topple across woollen wrap (9)
OVERTHROW – string together a preposition meaning across or ‘to the other side’ and a mainly North American term for a woollen wrap or shawl.

7d Student thinner when eating right (7)
LEARNER – a comparative meaning thinner contains (eating) the single-letter abbreviation for right.

8d Strange end in religious service? Nonsense (7)
MADNESS – an anagram (strange) of END goes inside a Roman Catholic service.

14d Help! Cut with axe! Upset when hospital leaves excuse (9)
EXCULPATE – an anagram (upset) of [h]ELP CUT AXE when the abbreviation for hospital is removed.

16d Arrogant tailor: he’d be glad, I being short of length (9)
BIGHEADED – an anagram (tailor) of HE’D BE G[L]AD I without the abbreviation for length. The surface is not great.

17d Lieutenant in clear retreat (7)
SHELTER – insert the abbreviation for lieutenant in an adjective meaning clear or unmitigated.

18d Cut, touching blooming exposed edge of rock (7)
OUTCROP – a verb to cut or clip follows (touching) an adverb meaning blooming or ‘in blossom’.

20d Drink, holding weapon? Penny gets worried (7)
ALARMED – an alcoholic drink contains a weapon. We finish with the abbreviation for one of our pennies prior to 15th February 1971. I remember a vox pop interview at the time with an elderly lady complaining of being confused by it all and saying ‘They should have waited till all the old people are dead’.

21d Writer‘s tired and gaunt (7)
HAGGARD – double definition, the first being an English writer of adventure novels including King Solomon’s Mines and She.

23d Yearn over small underwear (5)
PANTS – a verb to yearn or crave precedes (over, in a down clue) the abbreviation for small.

24d Very stuck in one crack (5)
SOLVE – the abbreviation for very is stuck inside an adjective meaning one and only.

I liked 28a and 4d but my favourite clue was 11a. Which one(s) impressed you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: MANNER + WAUGH = MAN-O’-WAR

90 comments on “DT 27961

  1. Hard to disagree with Gazza’s opening thoughts. It certainly had me scratching my head after a slow start, but then it fell into place quite nicely. I go along with 2/3, but can’t find any real favourites to highlight. Thanks Gazza, and our setter for cheering up an increasingly damp day here in the Marches.

  2. Agree with **/***

    In fact agree with Gazza about his favoured clues..and what he said about 16d. The best part of the review was when I saw the 2d illustration. Brilliant stuff.

    As for the rest of the puzzle I made the odd mistake as I couldn’t read my own writing.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for a great blog.

    Should do some work now but may tackle the Toughie instead. The heart asks pleasure first.

  3. Found this on the easy side for Mr Ron and agree with Gazza that there were a couple of clumsy clues but overall most enjoyable as usual. **/*** from us. Thanks to Gazza and to Mr R.

  4. Knocked a few out before slowing up 11a proved to be difficult having not heard this before. A 2.5/2 for me today. My thanks to Gazza for the blog.

  5. I’ve been told to be brief. Harder than usual. Surfaces I particularly liked (good overlap with Gazza) are: 11a, 25a, 26a, 28a, 2d, 4d, 7d, 24d – not bad going. Great knockers.

    I enjoyed the reference to “Catch-22 novel..” – what a great book (I mean the Joseph Heller one).

    Many thanks Gazza and setter

    1. Hi Dutch – for me, you can be as verbose as you want to be. I have always enjoyed your comments (not just your reviews) and I think they show the setter why you have either enjoyed or disliked a particular clue / puzzle.

      Keep up the good work http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    2. Surely you didn’t pay any attention to that comment? Please continue to comment freely, we enjoy your take.

    3. I like your writing style Dutch. You often bring up things I’ve missed out on. Carry on as you were.

    4. I also like your in depth comments, Dutch – particularly on the Rookie puzzles, which I have no doubt are very valuable to our Newbies and also help the rest of us to understand the ways in which some clues could have been refined.
      Brevity has its place, but so does honest appraisal.

  6. I too had a bit of a slow start but then picked up speed and ended in almost record time. 5a got my biggest chuckle. At least until I saw the pictorial clue for 2d. Imagine having that on your front door!
    Thanks to both setter and Gazza for the entertainment.

  7. Agree with **/***

    I got held up in the SE corner by stupidly writing the answer to 26a in the space for 28a. Took me a while to realise what I’d done.

    I think 1a was my favourite. Thought the definition of 15a could have been a bit cleverer.

    Thanks to setter and Gazza.

  8. Agree with others that 2/3 was about right. Enjoyed 11a and 17a but agree that 4d reads well. Thanks for Gazza and setter.

  9. I was interested to see what everyone thought of today’s puzzle , like many I was slow to start -the top left as usual , and found the top half generally quite difficult with the bottom half straight forward. Last in 3d, as eventually I had to assume that the travellers were something to do with the Romany-is Roma the plural ? Anyway, ended up with a 2.5*/ 3* Thanks Gazza for the blog and pics- 2d looks the type of knocker you might find in Greece.

  10. I agree completely with Gazza. This was a strange concoction.

    Many thanks to Gazza and to Mr. Ron.

  11. Not a hard one today, but I took a while to untangle 14d. There were a few underwhelming clues, but some very pleasing surface readings, including the dietary ones (11a, 4d, 7d) and the ones which may be linked only in the mind of a few: 23d and 24d.

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza. The knocker is funny, but I will restrain myself from using the phrase that spring to mind.

  12. Just finished solving while having lunch at a café terrace. And even though 10a and 28a felt a bit relevant to the situation, I enjoyed the crossword.
    26a favourite too as, yet again, it reflects our position in front of such atrocities.
    Wish we could close that chapter once and for all but not before thanking the likes of Dan Snow for his article on page 16 and the rest of the Telegraph team.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza.

    1. Hi JL – Dan Snow has never been a particular favourite of mine but I do agree with you on his article in today’s paper. Well written.
      My thoughts are still with you and France as a nation http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  13. ***/** for me, put paste in for 5d ? So that gave me Shepard for my Conservative ?
    Apart from that reasonably straightforward. Liked 1a, 25a, 26a & 17d Thanks to Gazza & Mr Ron? ?

  14. Mum and I started quickly, then slowed right down. Needed a few tips before we finished, but we are definitely getting better with practice.

    1. I found this difficult and I have been at these crosswords for about 60 years! Don’t worry, you’ll probably ace it tomorrow.

  15. In total agreement with the majority of comments – definitely nothing to scare away Red Rum and Desert Orchid that’s for sure. No particular favourite but I think 26a deserves a mention as I thought the surface and construction were clever, but I’m not sure that I haven’t seen it somewhere before.

    Anyhow, thanks to the Tuesday Mr Ron for the puzzle and Gazza for the review (and the picture for 2d – OUCH! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif)

    The toughie’s well worth a go today.

    1. Having commented on the pictorial for 2d – it has just occurred to me that there is a somewhat more ‘OUCH’ moment in a scene from the ‘Long Ships’ circa 1960’s. That is ‘The Mare of Steel’ clip which can be viewed on You Tube and ouch is an extreme understatement – Chaps, watch at your peril http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

      1. I didn’t watch the YouTube vid..couldn’t but I stupidly read about it. Feel a bit ill now. Really don’t like anything gruesome.


        Pouilly Fumé 2014 @ £8.99 from Aldi is delicious treat. There is also a Sancerre that goes down really well. I’ll be drinking some of the latter tonight.

        1. I didn’t put the hyperlink in for the ‘mare of steel’ for that exact reason

          I wholeheartedly agree with the Aldi Sancerre – bought half a case the weekend before last – didn’t last long enough http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

          Pouilly Fume – bought a couple of bottles and had it with a crab linguine and thought it a bit ‘thin’ (if that’s a wine term) but quaffable. I’ve heard Majestic are doing some seriously good deals in both Sancerre and Pouilly Fume by the half case. I am out tomorrow and will report back http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

          1. I know what you mean about the Pouilly. Suits when I want something ‘light’. Agree about the Sancerre. Gosh it goes down well. Far too well. My next bottle is chilling as we speak. I can justify drinking midweek as I’ve had a semi-tiring day.

            All new recommendations are welcome.

        2. Don’t worry, Hanni – I watched the clip and nobody really got hurt. Actually, I doubt there’d have been time to even register an ‘ouch’ if it had happened!

  16. This took more passes than usual so Double pleasure for me.which I enjoyed a lot. Thanks to all concerned.

    1. Good heavens miffypops, what are you doing standing on that chair dressed (it appears) only in a pair of socks?

    2. Once again MP…unbelievable. What can I say?

      If you are an elf I need a Star Trek style transporter please. And some gloves.

              1. I have no personal Santa. Perhaps an anagram of one.

                Mr K has another feline of his own, but I have not seen the lovely Simba since he was adopted from the animal shelter in which I met him.

            1. Hi Kitty. You can have our cat if you want, I’m exhausted chasing after her http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

              It’s been looking for a while that she’s virtually on her last legs after 19 years and 10 months on planet Earth. However, our vet has now introduced Taz to an appetite enhancer – she now lives up to her name (the cat that is, not the vet). It’s like having a new cat http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

              Not sure how long it will last, but I do hope until the new year.

              1. Thanks SL, but I don’t have anywhere to put her. She sounds like me: enhanced appetite and hoping to make it into the new year! Anyway, I’m sure she has no wish to move.

                1. Thanks Kitty – we would be bereft if she left us with all her worldly belongings wrapped up in a knotted hankie on the end of a stick and headed off to London.

                  1. I would never remove an animal from a loving home. Which is good news for the owners of a few of my local cats!

                  2. She’s the ‘spitting image’ of No. 1 daughter’s very last cat. I won’t show her the pic – it would only make her cry.

  17. Never heard of 11a so thank you Gazza for pointing me at BRB but apart from that I did not find it too hard. 17a made me smile but for sheer ingenuity I go for 1a. Horrid day here but rain held off to let us get back from shopping before the heavens opened. Thanks also to setter. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  18. I am surprised reading the comments on here, that no one found it hard. I struggled to get half way, for me this was the hardest for a long time, no real enjoyment in it.

  19. I agree with 2* difficulty and 3* for enjoyment – also agree with most of what has already been said.
    I was slow with most of the top left corner – don’t know why.
    I liked 17 and, surprisingly, 19a. My favourite by a long way was 11a.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and to gazza.
    Raining – very very windy – sister hasn’t stopped talking since she arrived mid-morning so generally a bit http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  20. Good afternoon everybody.

    A reasonable back page puzzle with nothing particularly noteworthy. 11a was first in and a little too obvious I thought.. Didn’t seem to take very long but I’ll say three star to be on the safe side.

    The day’s highlight was Cynthia Payne’s obituary which had me chortling out loud.


  21. Failed on 11a, had never heard of the expression. Otherwise no difficulty. Ouch indeed for the illustration for 2d, made me smile. Favourite was 26a. Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza. I have just read Dan Snow’s comment in the DT: a very good article. Vive l’entente cordiale with la perfide Albion – love and hate relationship between our two countries, a bit like a marriage at times! Many thanks for you kind messages: feeling much calmer today, still sad but not resigned. Will have a go at the Toughie…

  22. The south half went in quite well, but I really struggled with the north half. I had four for which I needed the hints in the NW corner. I was so far off wavelength, I nearly gave up halfway.
    My fave was 17a, also my first answer in so no wonder I liked it, with 11a running a close second.
    Thanks to setter and to Gazza for helping me to finish.

  23. I’m also totally in agreement with Gazza on this one, some of the surfaces were extremely clunky unfortunately.

    No outstanding favourite, although 11a did raise an unexpected smile.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

  24. I’d agree with Owdoo on this one and give it a 1*/4* – most enjoyable.
    Crowded podium with 10,17&28a plus 2,4&24d jockeying for position.
    Many thanks to Mr. Ron and also to Gazza – is that your door knocker? If not, then I reckon Santa MP may well put that right – although perhaps you’d prefer a rather more ‘feminine’ one?!!

        1. You will have to wait a little Jane. I will sort it soon. I had to send toastcards to Woodstock first.

  25. Top left gave me the most trouble. Thought 1a and 9a were very clever, just right for the constipated mathematician!! Is 13a really a slow piece or would it be more accurate without the word slow. I expect the BRB endorses it.

  26. Slightly slow start in the NW and then it all fitted together smoothly. Nobody seems to have offered any thoughts on who the setter might be so we are a bit hesitant in offering up our suggestion. We have tentatively written Shamus in the margin as we thought we recognised his style in the charades. We enjoyed it all.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

    1. For some reason I hadn’t given a thought as to the setter but, now that you come to mention it, I certainly enjoyed it enough for it to have been penned by the twinkly-eyed one. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  27. You’re quiet Brian!! Am I the only one who’s never heard if 15a… only got it coz I knew it was an anagram so googled the only combination that could possibly work. Entering 3* territory for me at first run through but agree with 2* having had a second go

        1. That will explain why I’ve never found any – I always assumed that it was amber in colour. Must try harder although, with my luck, I’ll just come up with a lump of oily tar!

      1. People are forever combing the beaches here for it. Must admit I’ve done that too. So far I’ve found…
        A shoe
        A naked couple with people filming them
        Old fishing lines
        Some sand.

        I’ll keep looking.

        1. I found a rope that was so long it girdled the earth. Well it girdled our henge. Not quite the earth.

          1. You have a henge? Google ‘The Daily Mash, Stonehenge’. That may have been a show room for henges apparently. Do you still have the rope?

  28. Can’t believe how long this has taken me to complete but I have to say I enjoyed every minute of the challenge – pleased Merusa and Pete struggled a bit too. Thank you Mr. Ron and Gazza whose hints were as pertinent as ever although I was determined not to succumb to consulting them today. NE corner presented most problems. Never heard of 11a, even in the US. ****/****. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  29. Enjoyable crossword. 24d was the last to go in. Wanted to kick myself when I realised what it was and why!!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  30. I thought this crossword was a bit of a curate’s egg. Some of the clues were a bit clunky and I found I was using the checking letters more than usual to confirm my answers. 2/3* overall and I guess 11a is my favourite.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza for the review.

  31. I rather enjoyed this rather quirky puzzle, and took time to get on wavelength. I completed right on my 1/2* borderline, but much enjoyed the struggle, so 4* for enjoyment. My favourite was 26a, and not just because it mentioned a truly brilliant book. Thanks to Mr Ron, and to Gazza.

  32. Hi TS – it was a little while ago but you had already recommended A Fine Balance. I think that, along with The Narrow Road to the Deep North, have been my favourites so far. However, I haven’t read The Great Gatsby – put in an order with Amazon today.
    By the way, I also found a lot to like in the two Paul House novels.

    1. I get forgetful in my old age. Gatsby is sublime – but I missed a lot of it on first reading, but it’s one of those books I have to read each year, and each time it gives me more. It is, in my view, the masterpiece of pre-war American literature. A couple of years ago I went to see Gatz, an American theatre production that uses only the words of the novel in real time. Started at 2pm and finished at 10.30, with a couple of meal breaks. Sensational.

  33. I started out not liking this at all, but it grew on me as I worked through. Some real clunkers (16d being the worst) and some marvels. I particularly liked 1a and 17a, but the Golden Globe has to go to 26a. Many thanks to Gazza and the mystery setter. 2*/3*

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