DT 27976

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27976

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs on what for the moment is a bright, sunny day. I’ve just realised that this is my 150th blog – the first was 3 years ago, on 4 December 2012.

We have a pangram from Giovanni today, with some easy clues and others which needed teasing out, so *** difficulty for me. There’s a certain churchy feel to the clues, wich won’t please everybody.

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           Yellowish-brown saint placed at the back of church rooms (8)
CHAMBERS – Put together an abbreviation for CHurch, a yellowish-brown colour often seen between green and red, and an abbreviation for Saint.

5a           Demanding activity for HMRC (6)
TAXING – Double definition – though strictly the second part refers to an activity of Parliament, and HMRC carries out the process.

9a           A fish heading back around little island (8)
DOMINICA – A (from the clue) and a fish popular with chips, all reversed around an informal word for little.

Image result for dominica

10a         Spot politician in tall building (6)
PIMPLE – The usual politician placed inside a tall or rambling old building.

12a         Songs for which prominent violinist provides the sound (6)
LIEDER – These German songs are a homophone of the senior violinist in an orchestra.

13a         Man at the head of order (8)
BENEDICT – Cryptic definition of the man who founded a monastic order, and whose Rule is followed by many other monastic orders, or a man’s name made up of a short form of his name and an order.

Image result for saint benedict

15a         Deer can’t jump without tail sadly (7)
MUNTJAC – anagram (sadly) of CAN’T JUM(p) with the final P removed (without tail).

Image result for muntjac

16a         Vessel with French wine passed around table finally (4)
VEIN – This is a blood vessel. The French word for wine wrapped around the final letter of tablE

20a         Bill and Henry completely gutted, feeling pain (4)
ACHY – An abbreviation for a bill or account followed by H(enr)Y (completely gutted = having the inside removed).

21a         Country needs someone clever with a grasp of modern technology (7)
BRITAIN – A common abbreviation for modern technology placed inside a term which may be applied to someone clever.

25a         Is queen in parliament showing anxiety? (8)
DISQUIET – IS (from the clue and an abbreviation for QUeen inside a Parliament or assembly.

26a         One offering cryptic clues to sift (6)
RIDDLE – Double definition, the second being something used to sift out stones from garden soil, for example.

Image result for garden riddle

28a         Eve, terribly embarrassed, turned away (6)
VEERED – Anagram (terribly) of EVE followed by the colour of someone embarrassed.

29a         Sins executed with zeal — different from this one? (8)
LAZINESS – Anagram (executed with) of SINS and ZEAL. The answer is a sin which is not executed with zeal.

30a         Carol harbours a yen for making a statement (6)
SAYING – A verb for ‘carol’ wrapped around A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Yen.

31a         Miss goes quickly around, severe no end (8)
SPINSTER – Reverse (around) a word for ‘goes quickly’, then add a word for severe with its final N removed.


1d           Old king accommodating theologian and cook (6)
CODDLE – The letters after the name of a theologian are placed inside the old king who was merry old soul in the nursery rhyme.

2d           Stars entertaining thousand groups of soldiers (6)
ARMIES – The Roman numeral for thousand inside a sign of the Zodiac.

3d           They cover hair and will get in the way of lovers (8)
BANDEAUX – AND (from the clue) is placed inside (will get in the way of) some lovers or boyfriends.

Image result for bandeaux

4d           Cut of meat in a sort of bar (4)
RACK – Double definition: the first involves ribs; the second is a toothed bar often seen with a pinion.

6d           Chemicals containing arsenic dumped outside tunnel (6)
AMINES – The chemical symbol for arsenic wrapped around ‘to tunnel’, producing some organic chemicals.

Image result for amine

7d           Diminished politician’s explanation for abstaining (8)
IMPAIRED – Split this (1’1, 6) and you get a reference to the Parliamentary practice of agrreing not to vote if someone on the other side also agrees not to vote.

8d           What star visitor is doing in gig — tunes newly arranged (8)
GUESTING – Anagram (newly arranged) of GIG TUNES.

11d         In reality, disorderly two-faced wife will be sent packing! (2,5)
DE FACTO – Anagram (disorderly) of T(w)O-FACED with the W removed (wife sent packing).

14d         First item on menu? It could be horse! (7)
STARTER – This is the first part of multi-course meal, but could also be a horse lined up to take part in a race.

17d         Beat up rich man in island republic (8)
MALDIVES – Reverse (up, in a Down clue) a word for beat or hit, and add the Latin word for rich commonly applied to the rich man from the Biblical parable involving Lazarus.

Image result for maldives

18d         Unshaven king drowning in Irish drink (8)
WHISKERY – The Latin abbreviation for king inside the Irish spelling of some strong drink.

19d         Mathematical process in class (8)
DIVISION – Double definition: one of the basic arithmetical operations; or a separation into sections of, for example, a football league.

22d         Go with internal energy doubled, as one full of soup? (6)
TUREEN – A go, as in ‘It’s my go’, with two lots of Energy inserted.

23d         Notice opening time for Christmas shopping? (6)
ADVENT – A short form of a commercial notice, and an opening, giving the liturgical season which runs up to Christmas.

24d         Something with burning contents official examiner reported (6)
CENSER – This sounds like an official who, for example, vets the content of mail during wartime, but is a container for burning aromatic substances, typically in church.

Image result for censer


27d         Theatrical place enjoyed by holidaymakers? (4)
CAMP – Double definition: an adjective describing a highly theatrical person; or perhaps one of Sir Billy Butlin’s establishments.

The Quick Crossword pun SIGH + ATTICA = SCIATICA


  1. Michael
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Pride goes before a fall – this one was definitely too hard for me – there were several clues where I just had no idea and needed the blog to sort me out – thanks for that!

    I’ll try and build up my confidence again with the Saturday puzzle – tomorrow is another day!


  2. Penky
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Definitely not the easiest so*** from me . Had to look up 24d, such frippery never occurred in my Methodist upbringing.

  3. pete
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Not enjoyable in the least for me. I managed to get about half way, unimpressed with some of the clues, to many religious answers for my liking.

  4. Brian
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Got held up a bit in the top left and bottom right corners but all very doable I thought.
    As usual the Friday maestro has provided a very enjoyable puzzle which I suspect is a pangram! Did like 27d, clever misdirection I thought.
    Thx to all

    • Brian
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      PS did need the blog to find out why Dives in 17d, thanks Google, far too religious a clue for comfort for me.

      • Young Salopian
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Vaughan Williams wrote a piece concerning Dives and Lazarus I believe.

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          The modern day version is called Dives and Ashley Young :wink:

  5. Hanni
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink


    A crossword trip around the world today. Some standard fare from the Don, the odd obscurity and a few religious references. Didn’t spot the pangram which I usually do.

    The central section caused me a few hold-ups but a nice solve.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to DT for a nice blog.

    I’ve gone from German songs to Van Morrison musically today. I think I prefer the latter. But all good after riding out 3 times before midday.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Hanni – Tiki Ridge SB @ Waitrose. Normally over a tenner a bottle – on offer £6.99. Absolutely brilliant with a curry http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Hanni
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Cheers SL. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        Wine is needed this evening therefore it shall be consumed. Unfortunately not too much. Never heard of that one. Look forward to it.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          Is it quiz night tonight?

          • Hanni
            Posted December 4, 2015 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

            No that’s Tuesday for normal quiz and the ones I’ve almost set are nearer Christmas.

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted December 4, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

              Need any more help for the later quiz then? My ‘Dangerous Book for Boys’ is still available http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

              • Shropshirelad
                Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

                Btw- just finished trimming my tree, D’you think it’s leaning a bit, hic?


                • Kath
                  Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

                  Whether or not it’s leaning isn’t important – isn’t it too early for Christmas trees? If it’s not then maybe we need a few snow flakes – BD? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

                  • Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

                    11 days to go!

                    • Kath
                      Posted December 4, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

                      Oh – had forgotten. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

                  • Shropshirelad
                    Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

                    Yes, you’re right Kath – Nowadays our tree goes up late and comes down early as the children don’t come back to the household now we’ve ‘downsized’. We go to their’s instead http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

                    • Shropshirelad
                      Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

                      Nice to see the server is letting us ‘chat’. Long may it continue.

                    • Jane
                      Posted December 4, 2015 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

                      Don’t get your hopes up, SL – I’ve just been ‘timed out’ twice trying to post on the other side! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

                    • Hanni
                      Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

                      Ohh looking forward to when I can do that SL. Although I’m having Christmas morning at a friends this year which I’m looking forward too.

                      Do you fancy test solving the quiz too? Can ask Pommers to forward it you when it’s done.

                    • Shropshirelad
                      Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

                      It would be a pleasure Hanni – pommers has my email address http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

                • Hanni
                  Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

                  Love it. Want it. Need it.

                  Not finished setting yet. I’ve asked Pommers and Pommette to test solve the GK. Think Jane agreed to that awhile ago too. Need all the help I can get.

                  Kath I agree about the tree but was overruled by child type thing. But yes looking forward to BD making it snow again!

                  • Jane
                    Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

                    Too late for you instigate now, Hanni, but I had this golden rule that the Christmas tree went up on the night after the girls finished school for the Chirstmas hols. They were allowed to stay up late to help with the trimmings, eat mince pies, listen to Christmas music, etc.
                    Worked like a charm. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

                • Jane
                  Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

                  Nice one, SL, but the best of the modern ones I’ve seen is the one that’s gone up in Claridges.
                  Made of 100 Burberry umbrellas in gold and silver, stretching 6 metres in height from the ground floor up to the first floor. Complete with over 77,000 motion reactive lights which, as visitors descend the staircase, give the illusion of raindrops falling on the umbrellas.
                  Oh – I wish!

                  • Merusa
                    Posted December 4, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

                    I just googled it! Isn’t it amazing, really very, very clever.

                  • Hanni
                    Posted December 4, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

                    Oh so have I, stunning. Next year the tree is going up later and I’m not arguing with the stand thing again.

                    Just about to have my first glass of wine!

                • Kitty
                  Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink
                  • Jane
                    Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

                    Brilliant, Kitty. No. 1 daughter had two much-loved black cats – I’ll forward the link to her.
                    Edit – who am I kidding, I’ll just tell her to look for it!

                  • Angel
                    Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

                    Very cleve and indeed different but for me a bit of a nightmare however ‘to each his own’! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_confused.gif

  6. Beaver
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    A solve of two halves for me, to coin a phrase; top half * bottom half -especially the SE corner ***, so overall a **/*** liked the challenge after a few disappointing Friday puzzles.Like Brian, needed DT for the ‘dives’ and last in 24d was a new word-or at least one that I’d forgot.13a was cleverly clued and 18d amused. All set for Tarporley Christmas tree lights ‘turn on ‘ tonight with a hog roast and a few beers to boot.Thanks to DTand G

  7. Patski
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Had a bit of trouble with this and turned to my crossword solver for a few! Didn’t help when I finished that the app demanded a final x and not s in 3d. I normally spell both words with an s.

    Lot of trouble connecting today.

  8. Spook
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Pretty tough for a Friday needed blog for help, never mind onwards and upwards for Saturday.
    Thanks to DT and Giovanni.

  9. john
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Had to resort to Big Dave for the first time this week. Didn’t like “bandeaux” and agree that there were too many religious references. Good to see the result in Oldham digging the Labour party deeper into the mire.

  10. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    3*/2.5*. Generally unexciting. A few tough clues to crack at the end pushed me up from 2* to 3* time. I spotted that it was likely to be a pangram early on, which helped me at the end to get 11d when I realised it probably included an F. I didn’t know the rich man in 17d.

    Thanks to setter and to DT, and many congratulations on your third “blogiversary”.

  11. JonP
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    A bit trickier from the Don this week, in my opinion. Thanks to DT and Giovanni 2.5*/3*

  12. Paso Doble
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Got off to a flying start but were held up by some uncommon words and had no idea why 17d was right until we looked at the blog. Many thanks to DT for shedding the light and to The Don for a most enjoyable puzzle. ***/****

  13. Young Salopian
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    An excellent Friday puzzle from the Don, with a perfect balance of write-ins and head scratchers which took me well into 3* for difficulty, but 4* for enjoyment. Particularly liked 17d, and the SE corner had the most empties, with 24d my final clue. Many thanks to the Don, and DT for his very readable blog. Congratulations on your 150th – a monumental effort.

  14. Hanni
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    DT…meant to add congratulations on your 150th blog. That is some achievement. It’s very much appreciated.

  15. Kath
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Tricky – well, I thought so anyway.
    I gave up on my last three answers – don’t know why but I just lost interest a bit and nothing made me laugh.
    Didn’t know the 17d rich man or the 24d perfume wafty thingie – or maybe I did but had forgotten.
    I didn’t like 15a because I hate them – and although I don’t mind at all the piccy isn’t one.
    I liked 3 and 18d.
    With thanks to Giovanni and thanks, and congratulations on the milestone, to Deep Threat.

    • Deep Threat
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      The Google image I used for 15a is captioned ‘Red muntjac’.

      • Kath
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        They’re just as wrong as they were the day that I was doing the hints and found a picture for an Italian city – can’t remember which one but whichever one it was wasn’t what they said it was – if that makes any sense at all. Someone on here pointed out the mistake as he had been to the city in question the week before so was absolutely certain.

  16. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Really silly to be stuck on 3d for so long.
    As if I didn’t expect French words to appear every now and then.
    The deer was new to me and so was the Dives in 17d.
    Favourites are 9a and 21a.
    Congratulations to the Don for the pangram and thanks to DT for the review.

  17. Dr_Bob
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was tough overall. Some easy peasy ones but I needed the blog for quite a few to help finish it as well as understanding the word play for 2 or 3 others (e.g. 7d and 17d). Thanks for the useful review DT.

    Can’t say I really enjoyed the crossword. To many religious orientated clues. Not my cup of tea but then others say the same thing about the cricket / golf references too.

    Never heard of the 3d headscarf thing or the 24d incense wafter so I guess I’ve learnt something new.

    ****/** for me.

  18. Shahriar Bader
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Two new words! That’s a record for me. 11d was my favourite. Why mind religious clues? We tolerate worse. Thanks to the main three and all else for comments.

    • Michael
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’m not a Religous person but I don’t understand this antipathy to Religous clues – it’s part of life and perfectly valid as far as I can see. Why all the negativity?


      • Patski
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        I don’t mind them either. I know zero about football and cricket… and golf come to that but they’re all part of crossword land. My enjoyment comes from a cleverly constructed clue regardless of the actual word.

        Congratulations on reaching 150 by the way. I would have used it today but couldn’t connect.

  19. Angel
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    For me most difficult this week but nonetheless enjoyable for that. Agree with Kath re 15a picture but am happy with 16a as vessel. 14a is the official who starts the race rather than a horse which is a runner. Not keen on 23a being identified as a time for shopping rather than the religious period. Fav was 7d. Thank you Giovanni and DT. ****/****. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Deep Threat
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      when in doubt, look at the BRB:

      starter: one of the competitors or horses assembled for the start of a race.

      • Angel
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Actually I wasn’t really in doubt but I guess I must reluctantly bow to you and the BRB and in future refer to the starters, rather than the runners, being at the start. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  20. Heno
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. Well done to Deep Threat on his 150th blog. A complete nightmare for me. A puzzle packed with religious obscurities and Latin. There were six words I’d never heard of. Needed 16 hints to finish. No Favourites. Was 5*/2* for me. Feel like a novice again. Just about rounds up a terrible week of nonsmoking :-)

    • Kath
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Well done to you on the no-smoking week. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
      I’ve done just over six months now and it does get easier – not being smug at all, just trying to be encouraging. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Heno
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Kath, I actually gave up smoking 39 years ago. I meant the comment to read non-solving, but the site wouldn’t let me edit it. Thanks for your support anyway :-)

        • Kath
          Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          Oh dear – now I feel silly! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

          • Merusa
            Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

            Don’t feel silly. I also congratulated him but the site went down and wiped out my comment!

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted December 4, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

            Kath – Well done you, keep up the good work. I only remember when I gave up smoking due to the fact it was the year I bought my first ever new car with the savings made by not purchasing the weed http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

            • Kath
              Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

              Blimey – either you were smoking an awful lot or it was a very little car!
              I do confess to buying some nice clothes, encouraged by a Lamb.

              • Jane
                Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

                Oh dear – just done a rough calculation and I could probably get one of Michael’s mean machines if I gave up. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

  21. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I appear to be the only one who has had difficulty getting on the site due to the b****y server http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif. This will be my 3rd and final attempt to post this comment.

    I think I’ll give commenting on the Friday back pager a miss for a bit as it seems (to me) that there is no joy in completing it. I really used to enjoy Mr Manley’s puzzles but the past few weeks haven’t given me anything to smile about I’m afraid. The puzzle is perfectly fair with a good pangram, but….. (sorry)

    Anyway, well done to Deep Threat for reaching that wonderful milestone – 150 not out. Have you thought about becoming a batsman for England? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

    • Deep Threat
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      No you’re not. My access to the site has been patchy all day.

      When I played cricket I was a slow left-arm bowler and tail-end batsman: absolutely no thought of doing either at international level. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      I think that server has a mind of it’s own – the comment wasn’t there before and now it’s suddenly appeared. No idea http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

      Mind you, BD’s been trying to post the toughie since 1:30.

    • Kath
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      No – you’re not the only one. I agree that it’s got a mind of its own today.

  22. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    What a contrast to yesterday. Joyless and a grind. Needed the blog to finish for which many thanks DT and congrats on the 150th blog. To the setter – you win.

  23. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    What a contrast to yesterday. Joyless and a grind. Needed the blog to finish for which many thanks DT and congrats on the 150. To the setter – you win.

  24. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    What a contrast to yesterday. Joyless and a grind. Needed the blog to finish for which many thanks DT and congrats on the 150. To the setter – you win.
    PS website offline on multiple attempts to post

  25. mre
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon everybody.

    It’s been a good while since I took such a comprehensive biffing from a Daily Telegraph back page puzzle with eight clues remaining unsolved as the white flag was hoist.

    From those I solved I was unable to rationalise 17d and my favourites were 13a and particularly 9a and 10a.

    An enjoyable diversion all the same so ****/**** for me.

  26. rod
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I really take my hat off to you folk who supply the hints. How in the blazes did DT work out some of the clues today? For the first time in a very long time I was left clueless (sorry) with this one. My admiration for you all is boundless. Many thanks to DT and all his colleagues.

  27. silvanus
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    As well as the nice pangram, I spotted three monarchs, three islands or groups thereof, two politicians crossing one another and of course the usual religious/biblical references which never seem to be absent from too many Friday puzzles. I needed my 1a only to confirm whether 3d ended in an “x” or an “s”.

    I actually enjoyed this more than recent Giovanni puzzles, and have picked out 10a, 7d and 18d as my clues of the day.

    Many thanks to Mr. Manley and congratulations to Deep Threat on three years and 150 blogs – an extremely worthy achievement.

  28. Jane
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Been trying all day to post on the blog – no success thus far.

    I’ve got so used to the Don including obscurities that I made far heavier weather of 1d&12a than turned out to be necessary – typical!
    Tried quite hard to justify ‘geyser’ for 24d and then wasn’t sure how to spell the correct word. Speaking of spelling, I’m another who is more familiar with ‘s’ at the end of both words in 3d.
    All done in 2* time, probably 3* for enjoyment.

    Thanks to DG and also to DT – 150 blogs! What a trooper you are, many thanks. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • dutch
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I had an s.

    • Kath
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      I find it extraordinary that anyone puts an ‘S’ on a word ending in ‘eau’ to make it into a plural or am I being unfair? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      • Jane
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Think perhaps you are, Kath. If you look at ‘lists’ most of the ‘eau’ words are given with alternative ‘s’ or ‘x’ endings. Some of them I would always use the ‘x’ ending for, as in gateaux, but others such as today’s and the likes of plateau I would always use an ‘s’. Silly, I know – maybe we’re back into Marseille(s) and Lyon(s) territory here?

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:26 am | Permalink

          Hi Jane,
          In French all words ending in eau have an x for plural.
          There’s only a few exceptions for some words ending in au and eu which would have an s for their plural.

          • Jane
            Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:37 am | Permalink

            As they say, JL, it’s the exceptions that prove the rule – how b—– helpful is that to the rest of us?!!!

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:41 am | Permalink

            Good evening JL – or is it good morning? I hope all is well with you and your family. We’ve not had a chat for a while – hopefully we will make up for it at the birthday soiree. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

            • Jane
              Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:14 am | Permalink

              Ah hah! I spot a man that’s determined to curry favour in order to get some of the edible ‘goodies’ that I’m told JL brought along with him last year. Get in the queue, SL, Hanni and I are getting down the night before. Given your train booking expertise, you’ll be way down the line. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

              • Kitty
                Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

                Haha! Poor SL! I shall be there a full week in advance so will be with the native Londoners at the front of the queue :) .

                P.S. In that saying, it’s proves as in tests. But borrowed words can adopt native suffixes, so you can call then bandeaus if you wish. I didn’t call them anything before now.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      Note from pedants’ corner: That’ll be TROUPER, please

      • Jane
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:16 am | Permalink

        Umm – I might call you out over that one. I meant it as in soldier/veteran, both of which are given as synonyms in the online thesaurus. However, I do appreciate your on going mentoring and will imbibe as much as the aged grey matter will allow!

  29. Hilary
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to DT 150 reviews what an achievement, thanks to Giovanni for addling my antique brain. Loads of scribbling and electronic help but still needed DT’s help with last two. Have a good weekend. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  30. Merusa
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I had a problem with 13a, was looking for a long word for abbot! Never thought about the founder of the order. I also didn’t get 6d, know nothing about chemistry but I should have been able to work it out. Worry not.
    I knew the Dives in 17d, but I went to a church school and spent many hours in Bible study!
    15a gave me no problems as I remember it from before, and Kath complaining about them eating her garden. I had googled them at the time and learned all about them.
    Fave was 18d.
    Thanks to Giovanni. Congratulations and thanks to DT for his many blogs, I really enjoy them and look forward to 150 more!

  31. overtaxed
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    This was a prime example of why I chose my name for this site. Too hard, and I gave in with 5 clues undone. Still, 150 blogs and 3 years in the seat are well worth celebrating, so well done DT. Look forward to the next 150.
    Thanks to the Don for defeating me today, though I managed the quickie, and that too was a pangram.

  32. Miffypops
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to DT and the Don. As tough as yesterday’s for me. I cannot see why. Well done Peter for blog 150. In three years. Top bloke. You did not shirk and give your blogs to others like I might when on holiday. I recognised a pangram but had no help from that as all 26 letters had already been used. Otherwise much mischievous fun all round today. Who knows at what impromptu moment a doorbell might ring.

    • Hanni
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

      So it seems I’m the only one who didn’t spot the pangram then? In fact I wouldn’t have noticed if DT hadn’t mentioned it. Not sure about impromptu callers for you, but I guarantee mine are always when I am busy with work. And it’s invariably Amazon with something.

      • Jane
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        Think I only spotted the pangram because this was a bit of a ‘bottom upwards’ solve for me and most of the pesky letters were down there.
        As for Amazon – tell me about it and most of the stuff I get isn’t even for me! Several of their suppliers refuse to deliver to IOW so Candy gets stuff sent here for onward transmission. How stupid is that!

        • Hanni
          Posted December 4, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          I’m quite shocked at that. They won’t deliver at times to the IOW? Golly. So do you then have to pay to send stuff to her?

          • Jane
            Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

            Seems that some of these companies have a long list (real or imagined?) of stuff they reckon the ferry companies won’t carry. An electric razor – forget it! However, it appears to be perfectly OK with Royal Mail to deliver same from Anglesey to IOW. How daft is that.
            To be fair, Candy always makes a point of paying me back for the postage. Gosh, I hope she never logs into the BD site – I keep forgetting that she uses her ‘proper’ name of Candice since she’s become a ‘grown-up’. My choice had something to do with Candice Bergen at the time she was born!

            • Hanni
              Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

              Great actress.

              So they won’t carry an electric razor? Gosh. Remind me to to tell you about the cheese incident at Gatwick next time we speak. Dangerous stuff is cheese. Handle with care.

              • Jane
                Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

                Think I’d just seen Soldier Blue. Can’t say I enjoyed the film that much but the name obviously resonated.
                As for the cheese – I’ve seen some fairly scary looking ones in my time, maybe it’s the potential wandering mites that worried HM’s best ‘fat controllers’? Such an easy target compared to others we won’t mention.

  33. Organum
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Yes it was tough – and I needed some e-help in the NW corner – but also very enjoyable and satisfying to complete. Thanks to setter & reviewer.

  34. Drapdor
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Some very tricky clues and odd words like 8d and 18d.
    I know things like 24d, and Dives, but ‘lam’ is new to me.
    I didn’t get 3d, and persuaded myself that 22d was ‘careen’!
    Interesting to see a number of people complain about the inclusion of religious terms. There are not really that many and they are no more obscure than cricket or chemistry terms, or gardening ones (the second meaning of 26a was new to me).
    Thank you to the setter and to Deep Threat.

    • Jane
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Drapdor,
      Good to see you carrying on with posting – forgive me if I still think of Trap door every time I see your name come up!
      Quite liking your answer for 22d – two lots of energy + a can for the soup, just that wretched ‘R’ that let you down.
      Don’t worry about ‘lam’ – it does come up quite often, think it’s one of those ‘get out of jail free’ cards for the setters. There are plenty of them. Maybe BD should set up a new section of FAQ to cover them!

      • Drapdor
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        Hi Jane,
        Thank you, I will make a note of ‘lam’ and look forward to seeing it again. I can’t yet imagine using it in real life though.
        Yes, I too was very pleased with my effort on 22d, happy to overlook the superfluous ‘r’ and even the fact that it is a rather loaded synonym for ‘go’ – I am happy to come up with any answer at all!
        A list of classic words (like lam) would be wonderful of course. Another thing I would like to ask (which I don’t think is covered in the FAQs) is how long does each asterisk stand for? Is there a standard unit of difficulty or is it subjective?

        I know it sounds like trap door, but try to think of it as cloth of gold!

        • Jane
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:46 am | Permalink

          Trying again to reply to you!

          Cloth of gold! Brilliant, I shall try to remember that one.
          As for the asterisks – don’t worry about them. I think we all have a reasonable idea of how long we expect to take over solving a back-pager and would give that a 2/3* rating. Anything that is a virtual ‘read and write’ would therefore rate as a 1/2* and one that requires ‘put it down and come back to it’ or ask Mr. Google for help would come into 4/5* territory. It’s all very individual but you do eventually get to realise how other people are setting their targets. One thing I would say to you is, for now at least, ignore the ratings that are given by Cryptic Sue and her ilk – they’ve been solving cryptics for so many years that the rest of us couldn’t hope to aspire to their standards!
          Sorry, CS. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            Re: Cloth of Gold.
            Probably a reference to the meeting between Francois 1er and Henry VIII in northern France. Le camp du drap d’or.

            • Jane
              Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

              Yes – I finally remembered it from the film about the Maid of Orleans.

            • Drapdor
              Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

              Hi Jean-Luc, yes it is the very same!

            • Drapdor
              Posted December 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

              Hi Jean-Luc,
              Yes it is the very same!

        • Miffypops
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:53 am | Permalink

          Hi Drapdoor. As far as asterisks go with me, I never touch them at all. Every puzzle is ***/*** I never alter them. Big Dave alters them for me if he remembers. I care not. But that is just me. Asterisk away to your hearts content.

          • Drapdor
            Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            Thank you Jane and Miffypops, that is reassuring!

            I love the idea of ‘read and write’, I am still at the ‘read and shrug’ stage!

  35. Puzzled
    Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Some of the blogs appear as vertical columns of single letters. Any other bloggers/readers have this problem?

    • Deep Threat
      Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Puzzled.

      You’re probably reading the blog on a smartphone held in portrait mode, and when the comments are nested that does happen. Turn your phone sideways and read the blog in landscape, and all will be well.

      • Jane
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

        Or buy a paper? Sorry, just a thought. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:07 am | Permalink

          Jane – unfortunately the blog hasn’t made it to the paper version yet. When it does we’ll be famous and be eligible for all manner of ‘celebrity’ opportunities http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

          Btw- ‘Candice’ what a splendid name. Love it

          • Jane
            Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:05 am | Permalink

            Good heavens – would that mean we’d all be expected to go and live in the jungle with those two awful men and eat grubs and innards?
            As for the Candice comment – thank you. She’s also 5’10’, long blonde hair and absolutely gorgeous -but then I am slightly biased. Sadly, she’s had to put with family calling her ‘Candy Lou’ (middle name Louise), ‘Pooh’ and ‘Lupin Drawers’ – the latter was down to my Mum – don’t ask!!!

  36. Jane
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Hi TS – I know you often pop in earlier on a Friday so thought I’d post to you now. Had to laugh over your message from yesterday.
    Two reasons – a) it’s amazing what these youngsters (no sexual discrimination) will stoop to in order to get attention and b) I have to assume that your fingers slipped on the ‘keys’ in the wee small hours – otherwise I’m uncertain as to who did what to whom!
    Hopefully you will bear in mind that, if we do meet up at the birthday bash, I shall be expecting to see proof of your travelling arrangements to Canada.
    As part of my on-going reading programme, I have ordered Mr. Bridge and also went for The Cider House Rules – I’m intrigued to learn about the two fairly major characters who were omitted from the film. Maybe we should do a deal over your lending me copies of the books you think would enhance my life – the postage could be cheaper than Amazon charges! Only joking – there are certainly some of them that I will enjoy reading over and over again.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:55 am | Permalink

      Oh Jane Please read A Prayer For Owen Meaney

      • Tstrummer
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:02 am | Permalink

        A Prayer for Owen Meaney is by far his greatest work, with Son of the Circus coming in second – but I was reluctant to recommend OM because the capitals put some people off, sadly, because it’s a masterpiece.

  37. Tstrummer
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    For the first time in a while I needed DT’s expertise to get me through this. So thanks to him and congrats on 150no. Didn’t enjoy the puzzle that much, but I did like 18d, which will give the Don an extra star.

    • Jane
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:21 am | Permalink

      I’m detecting a grumpy note tonight, TS. Bad day at the office? Happens to us all. I’ve had a pre-Christmas lunch with ‘the girls’ today so been on fairly good form. Tomorrow could be a different story!

  38. Kitty
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    The Giovanni of old, even more than last week. Next Friday I might keep the BRB/internet to hand from the start and save time.

    I’m not going to make detailed comments about the puzzle now, though I could, but wanted to drop in to say congratulations DT on your 150th blog. Consistently high quality and always much appreciated

    Thanks to Don and DT.

  39. JR
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    With 1a, an opportunity to sneak in a reference to the BRB was missed. Something like: 1a. Lawyer’s place to find our bibles? (8).

    • JR
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      I was just editing that clue but got “timed out” before embedment. It should read: 1a. Is it the lawyer’s place to find our bible? (8).

  40. Gwizz
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Blimey, that was a struggle! I finished more or less but had ‘s’ for ‘x’ and ‘e’ for ‘y’ and I spelled Censer wrongly. But I finished in spirit is how I’d describe it.
    3/3* overall and I don’t think I had a favourite.
    Thanks to The Don, and congrats to DT on his 150th.