DT 27978

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27978

Hints and tips by Miffypops

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

A tidy puzzle from Rufus today which includes all of his usual trademarks and some very clever all in ones.

The hints and tips have been rushed out by Miffypops who has got one of December’s two vans out of his system. The Lady In The Van was watched last night and is a delight throughout. Van (the Man) Morrison is a treat in store.

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 Sets of clothes awaiting deliveries (8)
LAYETTES: These delightful deliveries are babies and this is the name for their clothing sets which may also include bedding.

6a Appreciate notice before sticky situation (6)
ADMIRE: Our usual suspect for a notice or advertisement precedes (before) a noun meaning a situation from which it is difficult to extract oneself from, like a boggy swamp or marsh

9a One’s mastered the art of eating out (6)
ETCHER: This artist might use a technique that eats away glass or metal to produce a picture or maybe words.

10a Gallery gives girl tumultuous hand (8)
VERANDAH: A girls name (Lynn or Duckworth) is placed before an anagram (tumultuous) of HAND

11a New tune that’s invigorating (5,3)
FRESH AIR: A word meaning new followed by a tune

12a Sweet thing from the Far East turned on by Greek character (6)
LITCHI: Take a verb meaning to have turned on (flicked a switch) to brighten a dark room say and add one of goodness knows how many Greek letters. The result is both a Chinese fruit and the sapindaceous tree which produces them.

13a Task for a jester wasted effort (1,5,6)
A FOOL’S ERRAND: The answer here is an attempt to do something that has no chance of success. A fruitless mission.

They told him that it couldn’t be done
With a smile he went right to it
He tackled the thing that couldn’t be done
And found he couldn’t do it. (author unknown)

16a All the same, they’re evidently not routine presentations (7,5)
VARIETY SHOWS: These theatrical entertainments consist of a succession of performers each doing a different type of act from the others and usually fronted by a compere. My own experience of these is that they could range from the sublime to the truly awful

19a Air  force (6)
STRAIN: A neat double definition.

21a They cut  teeth (8)
CHOPPERS: And Pfff. Another double definition. This time another word for an axe or another word for teeth, particularly false ones.

23a End of drive? (8)
AMBITION: A typical Rufus all in one clue. The answer as a noun means a strong desire to do or achieve something. [I read it as a double definition BD]

24a Emphasise sin must be cast out — it’s wrong (6)
INSIST: Anagram (must be cut out) of SIN followed by a second anagram (wrong) of IT’S

25a Period for redemption states article by church (6)
USANCE: The states here are the united ones followed by the form of the indefinite article as used before words that begin with a vowel and finally the initial letter for the C(hurch) of E(ngland). Not a word I have ever heard of before.

26a Chairman‘s carved horn seat (8)
SHERATON; We have a man here who designed chairs. Lots of chairs. His name can be wrought out of an anagram (Carved) of HORN SEAT. As Van Gogh said “Do not sit upon that chair. I have just painted it”


2d Cast or cast out (6)
ACTORS: Anagram (out) of OR CAST

3d Those false beliefs (5)
ETHOS: Another anagram (false) of THOSE

4d Act, concerning a volte-face (9)
TURNABOUT: Another word for an act that might have appeared in one of the 16 across productions and a preposition meaning concerning

5d A few part with a pound (7)
SEVERAL: A verb meaning to part by cutting and the A from the clue are followed by the abbreviation for monetary pounds as in LSD

6d Losing sweetheart a danger this month (5)
APRIL: This month can be found by removing the letter E (The heart or middle of the word sweet) from another way of saying A danger but split 1,5

7d Supply smart name for old soldiers (3-2-4)
MEN AT ARMS: Anagram (Supply) of SMART NAME. If you want this indicator to work think of supply as being more supple or bendy

8d Contacting every one within call (8)
REACHING: Place a word meaning every one of a group inside a word meaning to telephone

13d Changing to it again creates trouble (9)
AGITATION: Anagram (changing) of TO IT AGAIN

14d Budget that could be useless in parts? (9)
ECONOMISE: Scrimp. To make this clue work split the word USELESS into two parts as you are told to do by the words IN PARTS. USE LESS. Thank you Big Dave

15d Leisure activities of father’s days (8)
PASTIMES: Split 3,5 we have an endearing word for father’s halcyon days

17d Extra helpings may be minute portions (7)
SECONDS: Extra helping of food after the first serving has been eaten or one sixtieth part of one minute

18d Irregular forces decoration (6)
FRESCO: Anagram (Irregular) of FORCES

20d Innocent one is found in part of the church (5)
NAÏVE: The letter that looks like the number one is placed inside the central part of a church building

22d Like getting in quiet word of thanks for the food (5)
PASTA: Like as in the word (as) in my next sentence between (getting in) Quiet as in piano. And Ta as in Thanks. Altogether they give this awful foodstuff. Not on my plate they don’t

The two long across clues 13 and 16 gave me problems today. How about you?

The Quick Crossword pun: Forth+rite=forthright


  1. bifield
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    A nice brain workout this morning from Rufus. 12a had me puzzled for a while, I’m more used to a different spelling. I really enjoyed this one. Thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops for the hints and explanations.

    • Kath
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      12a’s are a bit like muesli – well, they’re not really except that they both have umpteen different ways of spelling them.

      • Una
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink


  2. Framboise
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Can’t believe I am the first one to comment! Really enjoyed Rufus’s treat but must confess to a few head scratching moments. Gave up on the first part of 13a – knew that a jolly errand was wrong but had forgotten about a fool’s one. 26a was my last one in as I was trying to fit an anagram of Mao’s horn!!!! 3*/4* for me. Like Miffipops the long anagrams did not exactly fall off my pen. Many thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops for the needed review. Liked 1a but my vote for favourite clue goes to 26a.

    • Framboise
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Oops, got pipped at the post!

  3. Michael
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable – I made it 7 anagrams which was very handy – 25a is a new word for me too, I must admit I got it via my Wordsearch program rather than work it out from the word play but hey-ho there you go!

    Good fun!

    That’s the Cryptic, the Quick, Herculis, the Anagrams, the mini Sudoku and the Sudokus all done – it’s been all go – oh well, I suppose I’ll have to knuckle down and do some work – maybe after lunch!


  4. Harport
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    It would have been plain sailing if I hadn’t confidently put ‘incisors’ for 21a. And I never even noticed my error.

    • Una
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      I was similarly tempted but held back.

  5. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    3*/4*. Great fun as always on a Monday. I bunged in 14d without fully understanding the wordplay. I see this also stumped our reviewer of the day, but BD has come to our rescue. I needed Google to check what 25a had to be as it was a new word for me and not in my BRB.

    Many thanks to Rufus and to MP.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      It stumped me even though I have seen useless used in that way before.

    • Kath
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      I’ve never met 25a before either but it is in my BRB – for some reason that I don’t quite get it’s under ‘usage’. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Well spotted, Kath. Yes it’s in my BRB too. I didn’t think of looking under “usage” even though it’s only about an inch above “use”!

  6. Kath
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I agree 3* difficulty and 2* or 3* for enjoyment.
    I got completely stuck with 14d – having missed the word play I ended up messing around with different endings.
    Also couldn’t get 26a for ages – eventually got there but I’m not sure it’s completely fair – he designed furniture not just chairs.
    Don’t know about 5d – to me anyway a few isn’t very many whereas the answer is, well, several i.e. lots.
    I liked 1 and 16a and 6d and the anagram indicator in 7d, not that I spotted that for myself.
    Thanks to Rufus and to MP.
    Stuck on NTSPP – haven’t looked at yesterday’s crossword yet as I was in Nottingham for eldest great nephew’s third birthday but really ought to do some Christmas “stuff”.

  7. Hanni
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink


    Lovely stuff as always from Rufus. I think 25a was a new word for me. As is the word sapindaceous. I like that word. Like RD I needed help working out why 14d was correct. My pencil was used for all anagrams.

    Many thanks to Rufus and to MP for a great blog.

    Beautiful day on the moors, ridden out twice, goodness thoroughbreds are are quick, wonderful thrill. Now I have to work.

  8. Paso Doble
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyable Rufus today with a little more head-scratching than usual. Ditto re 14d. Thoroughly enjoying Dire Straits while writing this – so thanks to Miffypops and to Rufus for a great start to the week. ***/****

    • mebebob
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Dire Straits always totally enjoyable and to anyone not familiar with Mark Knoffler’s joint effort with Chet Atkins I.e. the Neck and Neck album, give it a listen, I never tire of it.

      • Kath
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        Love Dire Straits – Mark Knopfler with James Taylor and a bit (mercifully a small bit – sorry MP) of Van Morrison “Sailing to Philadelphia” is also brilliant.

    • dutch
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Also a big fan – Miffypops’s music is always a treat

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Always being the key word here folks. Except I once played The Carpenters.

  9. Spook
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Interesting puzzle 25a had me reaching for good old Roget, nevertheless very enjoyable.
    Thanks to Miffypops and Rufus. ***\*** for me.

  10. Dave B
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Very good crossword. learnt a couple of words, 1a & 25&. 26 a was my favourite. Thanks to all.

  11. Una
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    A good workout for the start of the week. 25a is also new to me but it was clearly clued.I liked 1a, 10a, and 13a best of all.
    With thanks to Miffypops and Rufus.

  12. Stone Lee
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Definitely *** for difficulty but I must have had my grumpy head on this morning as I would have said ** for enjoyment. 1a is another of those clues that you either know or don’t even when after i worked out the meaning. Unlike 25a which was obvious from the clue even if I didn’t know the word. Thanks to Rufus and MP.

  13. ProfPesca
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Lots of words I’ve never heard of made this a bit frustrating for me I’m afraid. After actually managing to finish one last week I only got 4 on this! Putting Tapas instead of pasta didn’t help! This week can only get better :-)

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Tapas is better than pasta any day. Unless it is pasta tapas.

      • Kath
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        How on earth can you not like pasta – yum yum and so many different ways to do it – we’re going to have it for supper tonight. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        • Miffypops
          Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Pfff. It is flour and water Kath. Dried wallpaper paste. Throw it at the wall. If it sticks throw the rest in the bin

          • Rabbit Dave
            Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

            Our local Italian restaurant serves spaghetti aglio e olio, made with pasta prepared freshly on the premises. It is like manna from heaven.

          • Kath
            Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

            No – not flour and water. I make my own and it’s flour and eggs.

            • Paso Doble
              Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

              We make our own too Kath and may even have a customer in the local Italian deli! They are giving us a trial this week – will keep you posted. Do you use an Imperia machine? Sometimes, for special occasions, 1 kilo of flour to 20 egg yolks – not to be eaten every day, however!

              • Kath
                Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

                Yes – Imperia Titania – my parents bought it in Italy forty plus years ago.
                I’ve never tried using flour and just egg yolks – I do about 100g flour per egg, very roughly as is everything here!
                Good luck with the deli trial and keep us posted.

                • Paso Doble
                  Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                  The ‘standard’ is one egg for every 100g of flour as you quite rightly say….However, in Italy where I lived for 12 years, many ‘chefs’ have different versions which they would be quite proud to talk about. I (Paso) tend to use 3 whole eggs and 5 yolks for 500g of flour. Temperature counts though, so you might need less or more of the ingredients involved. It’s also a therapeutic exercise to make the pasta with a rolling pin. Time consuming but satisfying.

                  • Kath
                    Posted December 7, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

                    Not just time consuming but space consuming also – need lots of “hangy things” or tables.
                    I remember rolling out a load of pasta and then our little tabby cat jumped on to the whole lot – everything stuck to her feet – she didn’t like it so she leapt around shaking bits of pasta off etc etc – sure you get the picture! I’m not a professional pasta maker!!

        • Hanni
          Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, don’t do pasta. Can’t think of any foods made better by it. Seafood linguine? Nope just eat the seafood. Though I’m currently eating a satsuma from the fridge and it’s delicious.

          • Miffypops
            Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

            Oranges are not the only fruit Hanni

            • Hanni
              Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

              Pfff! They are a wonderful fruit. Along with grapes and strawberries. I’ve ordered the update on that book.

              • Miffypops
                Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

                Good. That saves me buying it for you.

                • Hanni
                  Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                  That’s why I bought it. But I like Warnicks advocaat and eggnog too. I’d quite like some of that.

                  • Tstrummer
                    Posted December 7, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

                    Ugh. Eveninks and morninks I drink Warninks, the advert used to go. It’s only use was to make a snowball for girls I fancied when I was 14, with an added shot of brandy in the false belief that this would do the trick. It didn’t.

                    • Miffypops
                      Posted December 7, 2015 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

                      I never understood the necessity to find something to “do the trick” either you had it or you didn’t. I too had no success TS

              • Kitty
                Posted December 7, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

                They are indeed wonderful, Hanni. As are the other two you mentioned. I must also add kiwi.

        • Merusa
          Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Agreed. I have it often, deeelish stuff.

  14. Beaver
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    **/*** for me today as I was tuned in to the setter, there seemed to be quite a few crossword’ chestnuts ‘, like 1a/9a/22d. Favourite was the surface read of 4d.Thanks setter and Miffypops.Just been solving todays Rookie Corner ,not for the faint hearted.

  15. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    ***/***. Quite tough in parts and needed MPs explanation for my bung in at 14d – thank you. Liked 1, 10& 26a. Thanks also to the setter for getting the week off with a nice challenge.

  16. Jane
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid this won’t go down as one of my favourite Rufus puzzles – 2*/2* at best. 9,12&25a plus 4d rather spoilt it for me, but there were still some gems to be found. 11,13&15a plus 14d (once I’d seen BD’s note!) get the mentions today.
    Thanks (and apologies) to Rufus along with thanks to MP for the blog. The music at 16a made me smile – thoughts of that revolving platform with the various acts smiling inanely and waving whilst trying to keep their balance! Nice to have some ‘decent’ music today, although perhaps not my favourite DS performance of same and I reckon Mr. Sheraton would be turning in his grave at being associated with that particular chair!
    Obviously not a good day here – I wasn’t terribly charitable about the Rookie offering either. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I remember T Bone Axeman Jones ( or Colin as we knew him ) breaking his leg falling from the revolving stage at Cleckheaton Working Mens Club and missing out on a tour of The Americas than would have guaranteed everlasting fame and fortune for Coventry’s own Armpit Jug band. Oh the cruel hand of fate.

  17. pete
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Trickier than the usual Monday puzzle but really enjoyable, probably because I managed to finish it without any help.

  18. Brian
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Found this quite hard work but with some really good clues in 11a, 26a.
    Needed the hints to explain several inc 14d which I thought perfectly dreadful.
    Two odd words today in 12a and 25a. I suspect these odd words turn up when setters paint themselves into a corner and are desperately looking for a word that fits.
    For me ***/***
    Thx to all

  19. Heno
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, but found it very difficult. A new word for me in 25a, but got it from the wordplay. Couldn’t get 9,10,12,13a and 6d, needed the hints for them. Was 4*/3* for me. A nice light afternoon in Central London. Hope those in Cumbria don’t suffer any longer.

  20. Pedanticpete
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Liked this one but needed help. Learning more about indicators. Thanks.

    • Posted December 8, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Pedanticpete

  21. silvanus
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Continuing the run of slightly trickier than normal Rufus puzzles – I make this three in a row now.

    25a was a new one for me too, surprising not to have encountered it before.

    Favourite was 12a, even if it wasn’t perhaps the most common of the spelling variations.

    Many thanks to Mr. Squires and to Miffypops.

    • Toadson
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Yes .. I have also noticed Monday puzzles being more of a challenge recently.

  22. Paso Doble
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    If anybody is interested, there is a delightful, almost write-in puzzle from Rufus in the Guardian today.

  23. dutch
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed today’s Rufus quite a lot. Will try the Guardian one next

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Gosh that is a brief post for you Dutch.

      • dutch
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        brevity is the soul of wit

  24. Merusa
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Rufus is a favourite of mine and I’m usually on wavelength, as I was today.
    Never heard of 25a but easy enough to work out and Google.
    I eventually just bunged in 14d because it fit, so thanks to M’pops for the explanation.
    I agree with Kath re 5d, several isn’t really a few.
    Thanks to Rufus for the enjoyment and M’pops for the entertaining review.

    P.S. I always forget to write in my email etc.

  25. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Surprised to see that nobody remembered 25a. Sure we saw it in one of Giovanni’s puzzle not long ago. Will Google the site later.
    Remembered the idiom in 13a too.
    Very enjoyable solve.
    Thanks to Rufus and to MP.
    I love pasta. In every shape or form. Variety is the spice of life.

    • Jane
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Hi JL,
      There was a niggling thought in the back of my mind re: 25a – I think you could be right about its having put in a fairly recent appearance somewhere.
      Glad you picked up on 13a – did you have any success with getting the parsing of 9a in the MPP?

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes thanks.
        I did answer to your comment.

  26. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    We were wondering whether it would ever be possible to mis-spell 12a. There seem to be almost limitless variations. We also had to confirm 25a as a new to us. Enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks Rufus and MP.

  27. Popeye
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    All above agreed and I do like pasta. Especially a pasta bake with lots of chicken and crispy bits on top with cheese.. Enjoyable puzzle and amusing review from MP thanks for that and to Rufus. Favourite clue 9a. Head scratcher 14d and 10a.

  28. Young Salopian
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    A couple of new words for me – 1 and 25a – but got there in the end. 3* for difficulty is about right, and I don’t think I can go above 2.5* for enjoyment. Probably because I’m tired and haven’t had a drink yet. I’ll put that right now and say thanks to Rufus and MP.

    • Popeye
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      A strong G and T should do it. Works for me!!!

      • Young Salopian
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        I usually start with that then go on to wine in complete contravention of government guidelines. The more they say you shouldn’t do something, the more I shall do the opposite. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

        • Popeye
          Posted December 7, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          Unaware of any guidelines but I too also enjoy a glass of the red stuff after tea. In fact enjoying a nice Cabernet now.

          • Young Salopian
            Posted December 7, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            You know- no more than 4 units a day for a man? I square that particular circle by making up my own idea of a unit, be it a pint, a bottle ……….

    • Hrothgar
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Satisfying head-scratcher.
      Held up in top left hand corner.
      Did not like 9a.
      Many thanks Rufus and Miffypops for the review.

      • Popeye
        Posted December 7, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        9a had me for a while as well but thought it was a good clue when the penny finally dropped…

  29. Ginny
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable, as I always find Monday’s, if not most days. 25a was new, as was the spelling 12a, which had me looking up other exotic desserts initially. Thanks very much Rufus, and Miffypops. I love The Lady in the Van, and Alan Bennet for taking her in. I don’t mind brown pasta as long as it has plenty of olive oil, lemon juice and other fresh ingredients.

  30. Sheffieldsy
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    That was a bit of a struggle, mainly because we too blithely bungled in ‘incisors’. Think we were only saved by the r fortunately being correct and in the right place which sometime later led us to spot the error of our ways (mine really, Mrs. Sheffieldsy played no part in that nonsense). Debugging a crossword, eventually, can be satisfying in itself I think, especially for us ex-IT people. Agree with ***/*** and thanks to Miffypops and Rufus,

  31. Salty Dog
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    A strong start to the week, keeping up the standard of recent Monday puzzles. I was held up by the NW corner, which put me into 2* time before the penny dropped on 1a (until then I was thinking along cricketing lines). 9a furrowed the brow a bit too. Many thanks to Rufus, and to MP for the review.

  32. Kitty
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had a little break from crosswordland, and am only really resuming now as a ticket to commenting. Maybe I will have another one. Maybe not. Don’t send out any search parties. I will be back through the cat flap when I am hungry.

    Comments on the puzzle in no particular order:
    * 12a: the alternative spelling is a new one on me but not a problem.
    * 20d has been roasted rather often recently.
    * I thought the two definitions of 23a were a bit similar.
    * Kicking myself over 14d. Like MP, I should have seen it.
    * I too had incisors for 21a first. If I solved on paper I think I’d switch to pencils on Mondays.
    * I only know 26a from a previous crossword.
    * Thank you Rufus for not making 25a a double definition or a naked cryptic definition. I needed the wordplay.
    * I liked 17d for the surface.
    *The surface of 6d reminded me of this:

    *I could use some 11a.

    (You can tell I jotted down notes during the solve.)

    Thanks to Rufus and thanks to MP for the typically entertaining review, especially the hints for 13a and 26a. And possibly the videos, but I haven’t watched them yet.

  33. williamus
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Came to this late after a quick lunchtime pint… clearly my undoing. Relieved to find that some others found this more of a cerebral challenge than I’m used to on a Monday and I too got held up in the north-west. I know I should have known the word but 1a had me reaching for Col. Hill’s crossword dictionary. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have finished this one if I hadn’t come here so many thanks to Miffypops for the hints. First time I’ve ever scored a Rufus puzzle ****/*** too. Thanks for the work out Mr Squires…

  34. Jaylegs
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Pleasant start to the week **/*** ☺️ New word 25a, liked 10a, 13a & 5d. Thanks to setter and MP ?

  35. cat
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Glad i wasn’t the only one who thought 13a was jolly rather than fool’s (doh!) and although I worked out 12a, I hadn’t seen this particular spelling before. 25a rang a vague bell but was fairly straightforward from the clue. A very nice start to the week, thanks to Rufus and MP.

  36. Drapdor
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I started off with 11a and 13a, and things seemed to be going fairly well. I got a few more, then I ground to a halt, and needed help from the hints here to get going again.
    This was harder than usual Mondays, as everyone says.
    25a is there in the deeper recesses of the mind (perhaps from Trollope?), but I have never seen 1a before.
    The usual Mondays are more my level!
    Thank you to Rufus and MIffypops for the hints.

  37. Tstrummer
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I found it harder than usual, too. Struggled a bit here and there, but it’s been that kind of few days. I liked 1a. Ta to MP and Rufus. 3*/2*

    • Jane
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      Chasing you down the blog, TS, but you got here before me! Hope you’ve been duly noting my messages and am wondering how the boy is going on with his ministering angels? I reckon he can spin out the ‘cracked ribs’ long enough to at least get Christmas lunch laid on for him!

      • Tstrummer
        Posted December 8, 2015 at 1:16 am | Permalink

        He will get Christmas lunch laid on for him anyway. He’s that kind of boy. They flock to him in droves. When he had his first band, aged 14, I was roadie, guitar tech (and guitar buyer/supplier) and “responsible adult”. I remember one night, a gig at the Cartoon club in Croydon, where he was swept off TO THE BAR! by a pair of leggy blondes – I went and waited outside. When he eventually came looking for me to carry heavy stuff, I asked him who they were and he said: “I dunno. They just work there.”
        It looks like I may be going there in March for his birthday. Just may, though. He hasn’t yet given me permission.
        And yes, of course I’ve been duly noting your messages. They are one of the best things about this site, for me at any rate.

  38. Gwizz
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    One day I’ll catch up with everyone….but obviously not today.
    As has been said, a slightly more tricky Monday challenge with several head scratching moments.
    I liked 6d just because it was so simple once I stopped trying to be clever.
    3/3* overall.
    Thanks to Rufus and to MP for his effervescent review….