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DT 27979

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27979

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty */**Enjoyment ***

This was almost a read and write for me and was heading for a single star for difficulty, but I needed to ponder over my last answer (18d) even with all the checkers in place, so I’ve given it an extra half. I thought that it was quite enjoyable. Do let us know what you thought and how you fared.

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

7a Work in outskirts of Tobruk on a very good film (7)
TOPKAPI – put the abbreviation for an artistic work between the outer letters of Tobruk than add A (from the clue) and an abbreviation meaning very good or holier-than-thou.

9a Lacking imagination, Ms Klebb in film? (7)
PROSAIC – the forename of Ms Klebb (the villainess with the pointy shoes in ‘From Russia with Love’) goes inside an abbreviation for a film.

10a Follow suit, holding hearts (5)
CHASE – a suit, of the legal kind, contains the abbreviation for hearts (as used in bridge and other card games).

11a Game to Israel, I suspect (9)
SOLITAIRE – an anagram (suspect) of TO ISRAEL I.

12a A problem wearing religious symbols? Take an irrevocable step (5,3,7)
CROSS THE RUBICON – this is a phrase meaning ‘take an irrevocable step’ or ‘burn one’s boats’ based on Julius Caesar’s act in marching his troops across a river in 49 BC. Put a problem (3,3), as identified by Hamlet, between two religious symbols.

13a 6, rose-red possibly (7)
REREDOS – this is an example of 6d found in a church. It’s an anagram (possibly) of ROSE-RED.

16a Anecdotes from leader of Scottish Conservatives (7)
STORIES – the leading letter of Scottish and another word for Conservatives.

19a Vet, Leo, with derringer, shot dog (6,9)
GOLDEN RETRIEVER – an anagram (shot) of VET LEO and DERRINGER.

23a Police officer in precinct keeping quiet (9)
INSPECTOR – start with IN (from the clue) and add a precinct or district containing the musical abbreviation for quiet.

24a Mouse-like creature, wily, no end (5)
SHREW – an adjective meaning wily or canny without its end letter.

25a Irritable Dickens character coming back to collect six shillings (7)
PEEVISH – the surname of a very ‘umble Dickens character is reversed and contains (to collect) the Roman numeral for six and the abbreviation for shillings.

26a Sherry in a musty room’s old (7)
AMOROSO – string together A (from the clue), an anagram (musty) of ROOM , the ‘S and the abbreviation for old.

Down Clues

1d Vehicle in street, a crock, reconditioned (5,3)
STOCK CAR – start with the abbreviation for street and add an anagram (reconditioned) of A CROCK.

2d Touched up a des res abroad, below Cape (8)
CARESSED – an anagram (abroad) of A DES RES follows (below, in a down clue) C(ape). I’d have said that ‘touched up’ meant something a bit more crude than the answer but Chambers defines it as ‘to ******, touch or molest sexually’.

3d Sample of fakir’s cherry brandy (6)
KIRSCH – hidden (sample of) in the clue. Although the definition could be ‘cherry brandy’ it’s not because that would have cherry doing double duty.

4d Large bath as focal point — too much inside (3,3)
HOT TUB – a focal point or core with an abbreviation meaning too much or excessive inside it.

5d Musical heroine, Greek character, street singer (8)
MARIACHI – put together the heroine from West Side Story and the twenty-second letter of the Greek alphabet to make a singer of traditional Mexican folk music.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6d Shelter made from loose stones found on bottom of tarn (6)
SCREEN – a word for the loose stones that cover a mountain slope is followed by the last (bottom) letter of tarn.

8d Artist under pressure to visit art museum (5)
PRADO – the usual abbreviation for a recognised artist follows (under, in a down clue) the abbreviation for pressure. We finish with a general purpose verb which, informally, can mean to visit or tour.

9d Missile‘s power staggered sailor (7)
POLARIS – the abbreviation for power precedes an anagram (staggered) of SAILOR.

14d Enjoys  sauces etc (8)
RELISHES – double definition, the first a verb meaning enjoys or delights in.

15d Withdraw with slight injury (7)
SCRATCH – another double definition with the first meaning to withdraw or pull out of a competition.

17d Neglect? Ring embassy (8)
OMISSION – the letter that resembles a ring or circle is followed by an embassy or representation abroad.

18d Bottle party in bar (8)
SCREWTOP – a party or group (especially one of sailors) goes inside a verb to bar or prevent.

19d Influenza under control? Almost (6)
GRIPPE – an old term for influenza comes from a past participle meaning under control or in a firm grasp without its final letter. This one should present no problems for our friends in Hyères.

20d Raised in crocodile? Yes, a fold of skin (6)
EYELID – hidden (in) and reversed (raised, in a down clue).

21d Danger that must include sappers (6)
THREAT – the word ‘that’ (given to us in the clue) contains the abbreviation for the sappers or army engineers.

22d Sign first of reports in Spanish port (5)
VIRGO – the first letter of reports goes inside a port in North-West Spain to make a sign of the zodiac.

I liked 12a best today. Which one(s) did you have a fondness for?

If you normally steer clear of the Toughie because you think it will be beyond you then today is definitely the day to stick your toe in the water.

Today’s Quickie Pun: TAPPED + ANSWER = TAP DANCER

133 comments on “DT 27979

  1. 2*/3*. I found this generally straightforward but nevertheless enjoyable. The cluing was mostly brief with lots of good surface readings. I knew the French word for flu in 19d but had to check my BRB to confirm that the same word was also used in English. Although the answer was easily derivable from the wordplay, I also needed my BRB for 5d which was a new word for me.

    Using Kath’s often carefully chosen words, my favourite today is either 12a or 25a.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza.

    P.S. I know ‘flu’ should have apostrophes at each end, but even I think that is a bit OTT.

      1. Absolutely right! I had originally typed “apostrophes at both ends”, and when I changed “both ends” to “each end” I forgot to add “an” and remove the “s”!

  2. Thanks to Mr. ron and to Gazza for the review and hints. An enjoyable puzzle that I thought was a bit GK. I think our younger solvers might struggle with 7a, I actually saw this at the cinema. Was pretty much read and write, but new words for me at 5&19d, which I managed to get from the wordplay. Favourite was 12a. last in was 19d. Was 1*/3* for me.

  3. Good morning from a temporarily sunny West Wales … even this miserable flu bug doesn’t seem too bad when you see the sun shining! struggled knowing the film at 7a and the heroine at 5d, not too good on GK!!! 3* for difficulty for me today and no real standout favourite, thanks for blog Gazza, not needed to finish but def for a few explainations … hope the sun is shining for all of you … aaaaaaatishoooooooo http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    1. Oh dear – keep taking the alcohol, Mary, whilst you’ve got a good excuse! Make the most of the sunshine – Anglesey seems to be heading into the next wave of storms.

      1. Speaking of waves, you should have seen some of the ones near me recently. Colossal. Fantastic though.

    2. You have all my sympathy as I know what you are going through, having it myself.We have sunshine here today as well and it does indeed help to look out at something pleasant.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  4. Uh-oh, a couple of references could upset our more militant anti-Religious brethren!

    But, I really enjoyed this one – I made a mistake of putting ‘oloroso’ into 26a but couldn’t understand the ‘wordplay’ – I realised my mistake once I’d got 21d, but 26a was a new one to me!

    I really enjoyed it!


    1. Hi Michael, How are you doing with the mini sodoffku. I have the number 7 twice in line three

      1. Far too busy today trying to fight my way through the pathetic West Ham Ticket Trader system – I’ve never seen a computer system put you into a queue – novel but frustrating – work after lunch – maybe!

        I’ve never thought about using 7’s – very sneaky!

  5. Oh THAT Ms Klebb! I got stuck on some TV series called Big School. I should have googled the full name.

    I found half a dozen or so answers that looked like movie titles, perhaps there are more, not sure if this is an intentional theme.

    I liked 10a (follow suit, holding hearts) 16a (anecdotes from leader of Scottish Conservatives) and 18d (bottle party in bar). All simple, but effective. I also liked the “I suspect” in 11a and the “Touched up” mislead in 2d. 20a was my last one in, I spent a while trying to squeeze a reversal of “line” into the answer – doh.

    Many thanks setter and Gazza

        1. Big School was puzzling. I checked. I was a good girl and didn’t wag. Although I did get drunk with three teachers once on a school holiday. They took pastoral care seriously in them days.

  6. Found this one to be rather an oddity and had to consult with Mr. Google about films, street dancers, sherries and influenza!
    1a caused grief as I’d earmarked ‘Pi’ for the film and I also spent a while investigating a Ms. Klebb who apparently appeared in a David Walliams’ series.
    We won’t dwell on my new found knowledge of the various leaders of the Scottish Tories.
    As for 19d – I could only think of ‘gripe water’ which would probably be fairly ineffectual in the treatment of flu.
    Over all it has to be a 3* for difficulty for me and a 2* for enjoyment.

    I’ll put up 12a plus 15&18d for mentions but my top spot goes to the ponytailed guitarist. Yes, I know it’s weird, but there’s something about swarthy men with ponytails! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    Thanks to Mr. Ron and also to Gazza – I thought 4d might bring a smile to your face!

    1. I don’t get the ponytail thing on men…it seems to be quite popular at the moment. My hair goes into a ponytail when I ride. I know it’s just me but feel men’s hair should be shorter than mine.

      1. Don’t talk about men’s ponytails and hair. Having watched the rugby this weekend I couldn’t believe Ben Foden’s (Northampton) new hairstyle, I still think that Jack Howell (Exeter) needs a serious talking to and now Andy Goode (retired) has gotten an implanted rug with a Donald Trump comb over.

        I despairhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

            1. Due to having various friends that follow rugby, I’ve been known to spend part of Saturday afternoons following the teams Twitter accounts to get the score. I’m sure they could check themselves mind! Years since I’ve actually been to any live rugby.

        1. You’re right about Jack Nowell’s daft Barnet. As a Sandy Park regular I can only give thanks that Luke Cowan-Dickie has at last seen the error of his follicular ways. Mind you, I’d put up with any number of loony hairstyles for an empty treatment room – especially with Clermont Auvergne home and away coming up!

          As for this puzzle, I agree entirely with Gazza’s scoring. My favourite clue was 9a, which raised a smile. Ta to Mr Ron, and Gazza.

          1. Hi SD. When I lived deep down the West Country, there was always a plethora of good rugby to watch and admire. I am now so pleased that that area is being represented by The Chiefs who are, IMHO, the success story of the Premiership. I really hope Mr Baxter manages to overcome his squad’s injury problems’

            Whoo, whoo – as Mr Waldrom would indicate. Bet the Tigers regret not keeping him but have spent so much to keep Tuilagi (who is still not fit)http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

          2. I was at Sandy Park 3 years ago when the Chiefs were well beaten by Clermont Auvergne but the Chiefs are far stronger now and I have high hopes of a victory at home (probably not away) this time. There are bound to be injuries at this stage of the season but we have strength in depth and will be ok (as long as Steenson stays fit while Slade is off).

    2. Ponytails are OK, as long as they are not a replacement for missing hair on top. However, in the case of Antonio Banderas, I would make an exception. He’d still be fine wearing an orange fright wig…..

    3. I remember being told that what you see when you lift the tail of a pony describes a man that feels the need to wear one. Pardon – who said that?

    4. I’m going to the O2 on Sunday to see Status Quo – you’ve never seen such a collection of grey hair and ponytails – mind I’m only jealous!


        1. Status Quo dispensed with their long hair quite a few years ago – it’s the audience members who’ve got enough hair to make a ponytail that I’m jealous of!


  7. I found this a lot harder than yesterday. Never heard of Ms Klebb or the answer for 19d. Why does the answer for 4d have to be a large bath? do they not come in all sizes?

    1. Apparently it has to be large. Chambers defines it as ‘a large bath, especially outdoors, kept filled with hot water’.

    2. You are obviously not a fan f the splendid James Bond movies where Rosa Klebb appears, I think in Thunderball.

        1. I’m quite glad that most crossword references are to the older Bond films because I stopped watching them when Shir Shean gave up (I made an exception for the one in which Diana Rigg appeared).

            1. Exactly, for me DC just hasn’t got “it” and he lacks the SC gentlemanly touch and indeed the walk! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif

      1. Only saw Skyfall the other day when it was on the box.
        Probably will have to wait a couple of years before I get to watch Specter.

  8. Wondered about the “large” in 4d, so thanks to Gazza for the enlightenment.
    And for explaining the parsing of 12a where I spotted the cross and the icon but couldn’t understand the middle bit.
    Favourite is 25a.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review.

    1. Hi JL. For the middle bit of 12a think Hamlet…’Aye, there’s the rub…’ In his ‘to be ir not to be ‘ sililoque….the rub being the …..the problem!

      1. Thanks Liz,
        Couldn’t get the nursery rhyme out of my head.
        Three men in a hot tub rub a dub dub.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

        1. Close but not quite:-
          Rub-a-dub dub
          Three men in a tub
          And who do you think were there
          The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick maker
          . . . and after that my memory deserts me – oh dear!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

          1. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker……..all jumped out if a rotten potato! That was how it went in our house!

  9. I agree with the rating but am puzzled by the use of ‘musty’ as an anagram indicator. The BRB define musty as Mouldy
    Spoiled by damp
    Stale in smell or taste
    Deteriorated from disuse or
    New wine
    Unfermented, or only partially fermented, grape juice or other juice or pulp for fermentation
    The process of fermentation
    None of which implies or infers mixing up or changing.
    Otherwise a vey enjoyable if rapid romp for a Tuesday

    Thx to all

    1. It didn’t occur to me when I was writing the blog but I think that musty is being used in the sense of ‘relating to must (the frenzy exhibited by bull elephants)’ so it means ‘in a frenzy’.

      1. Wow! I’m impressed, never occurred to me to have a word which leads to a word for an anagram indicator. Respect!

        1. … I knew there was something – last Friday (27th November) 24d – Frenzy brought by smell of dampness (4) answer – ‘Must’ – maybe it’s a compiler favourite – I’ll store this in the old memory bank.


  10. Not too difficult, though I had never heard of 7a (as a film as opposed to the palace)…..18d was last in for me too, clever clue I thought! ……anyway, all v enjoyable, so **/*** for me

  11. 2* difficulty and 3* for enjoyment.
    I found this one really difficult to start – got all the way down to 19a before getting an answer, and even that was an anagram.
    The down clues came to the rescue but for a while I thought this was going to be a piglet.
    I’ve never heard of 7a – no, Heno, I can’t claim youth as an excuse – and had no idea who Ms Klebb was – hate Bond films.
    I managed to drag 5d from the depths of the memory eventually but it took a while.
    I liked 23a and 8 and 18d. To quote RD quoting me my favourite was either 12 or 25a.
    With thanks to Mr Ron, whoever he or she may be, and to gazza – what a lovely little tribe of puppies in the piccy for 19a.

  12. A **/*** for us. An enjoyable Tuesday puzzle. Thanks Gazza for the explanation of 18d as we hadn’t a clue why it was right! And thanks to Mr Ron.

  13. **/***

    A pleasant solve with a couple of new things to look up. The first was the 7a film. The second was the Klebb woman. Like others I ended up reading about some kids program. That was wrong.

    My lovely red pencil was used to find the animal in 19a , gosh that took me awhile even though it was probably obvious to some.

    Having been completely tied up with work all morning this was just what I needed.

    Thought 12a was clever.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for a great blog. Quite a restrained picture for 4d.

    1. When a fifteen letter answer is split 6,9 Hanni and the word DOG appears in the clue just write that answer in every time. No further time need be wasted nor any of the earth’s valuable resources.

      1. Ahh MP. We don’t all have your talents. Twice this morning I’ve used a pencil for anagrams.

        However the irony of 19a is that opposite the crossword is an advertisement for a trip to India’s Golden Triangle on the train. In big letters. I wrote my letter circle over ad and still didn’t see the first word quickly.

        1. I didn’t know India had a Golden Triangle. The only Golden Triangles I know of are —- No. I am not going there. There lies trouble.

          1. You learn something new everyday. This golden triangle consists of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, the pink city. You can ride on elephants if you want…prefer the thrill of TB’s myself, hence riding out twice before lunch today.

                1. Her father bestows on the Pandava, probably for his son, seven thousand steeds swift as the wind, two hundred thoroughbred elephants, and many things .

                  They do so exist. i don’t know how to make things up

                  1. I read that passage and tried to find a picture of one. But there were no pictures. They are a mythical thing. They so don’t exist.

  14. A corker. Thank you setter. More of the same please. Good fun all the way through. I liked the historical theme at 1ac Robert Morley and Peter Ustinov are pushing up the daisies and have been for many years. 9ac Ms Klebb wil be at least 70 years old now. 11ac, 13ac (an old friend not seen recently), 19ac so very last century, 24ac, the way our cats are going they will be extinct in Warwickshire soon, 1d I loved watching those cars when I was in my early teens, Oh my god 3d another blast from my teens, 9d is also very last century along with 19d which may be even older. On the modern side 18d seems to have taken over the wine industry and may be drank in the 4d all year round. I have done my good deed for the day. Life is sweet. Thanks to the setter once more and thanks to Gazza for blogging

    1. Lotte Lenya (aka Ms Klebb) would actually be 117 now, were she still with us! She was 65 when From Russia With Love came out, and that was over fifty years ago now, incredibly.

    2. Rosa Klebb was a fictional character played by Lotte Lenya ( as in Mack the Knife) who died in 1971

  15. Like Jane, I found this one rather odd too, filled that it was with an abundance of foreign places/words and film references etc. It was decidedly more straightforward than yesterday however.

    I liked the snappiness of the clues, and favourite for me was 25a. 13a is one of those words that is seldom encountered outside of crosswordland, but is an old chestnut.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

  16. Over far too quickly unfortunately. I found this one of the easiest back-pagers for some time. 19d held me up and a couple of others had me dithering but not for long. 1*/3* for me, with thanks to Mr R and Gazza.

  17. I completely agree with Jane above on many points , most particularly 5d, and tall, dark, handsome young men with long hair.
    I am not familiar with the films in 7a and 9a but I did know the sherry.
    With thanks to the setter (after all it might be Ms Ron) and Gazza. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  18. An enjoyable and steady solve today – had to Google one or two things to check that I was on the correct path. Thanks to Gazza and setter **/***

  19. I am new to this so maybe Im doing it wrong.Also I dont get my paper till early evening so if I post it is late and no one has every replied to my question,how sad is that! The question is “What is a BRB “Please can someone tell me give one newbie a chance.

    1. It’s explained in the FAQ but to save your looking it up BRB is the Big Red Book (Chambers Dictionary).

        1. At the top of the page, beneath the pictures, find ‘FAQ’ (between the words ‘Features’ and ‘Links’) and double-click it.

    2. Hi Ginnniebd. We will welcome you along. Gazza has replied to your question. For some reason The Daily Telegraph Crossword office use the BRB or Chambers Dictionary as the Oracle. All clues must fit with what is in the BRB or BIG RED BOOK. It is not necessary to own a BRB. I say any dictionary will do. Or use Google definitions. Some others may well castigate me for saying so but I get by.

      Solving the puzzles should be fun and mostly this blog is fun to be on. If you have any query ask away, there is usually somebody around.

    3. If you’ve got an iPad you can get the Chambers Dictionary App (BRB) from the App Store for £8.99p – it seems to be really good, it’s never let me down – the actual BRB book is £40.

      You’re welcome! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  20. Rosa Klebb is our nickname for a domineering waitress in a restaurant we visit from time to time.

  21. A very well constructed crossword with short snappy clues for a change, remembered the 7A film and Ms Klebb – not a Bond fan, but I think this was the best film -and the river crossing was depicted in an old Pictorial Knowledge childrens Encyclopedia of mine, and had not seen not seen the old crossword ‘favourite ;13a for a while, A */*** for me.
    Liked the construction of12A.Thanks Gazza for the blog, picked up the Christmas tree, so can watch tonight’s champions league with the amassed brownie points!

  22. A virtual write-in, once I remembered the French word for ‘flu but enjoyable nonetheless. */***

  23. I agree with others, this was quite straightforward, and very enjoyable. Some good words too…grippe..haven’t heard that for years….prosaic…nice one…reredos…cross the rubicon…great stuff! I liked ‘peevish’ at 25a dont hear that term much theses days. L too got slightly thrown by 26a putting in ‘oloroso’ but soon realised my error once 21d went in! We have been quite fortunate with the weather here on the east coast of Norfolk, its when the wind is in the NE that we get problems. Thanks to setter and to Gazza 1*/3*.

    1. ‘Reredos’ – ‘red rose’ anagram – appears regularly, **enter into the memory bank**


  24. Very, very gentle but enjoyable nonetheless. Had to wait until I had all the checkers in place for the film at 7a – it’s one of those titles that just doesn’t stick. Mind you, one certainly does – Tora, Tora, Tora.. Back in the old days when we showed a film at sea we always ran it on a reel to reel projector. A screen was pulled down between the Junior Rates dining room and the Senior Rates mess and turns were taken as to which side it was shown from – If you’ve seen the film you can guess the rest http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    Sorry, I digress.

    Thanks to Mr Ron for the puzzle and Gazza for the review. I hope everyone has survived Desmond safely http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  25. Very straightforward but also quite enjoyable. Completed in just about record time for me!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif */***

    25a was my favourite. Nice surface reading. 5d was last one in and a new word for me. Got it from the word play (with the checking letters) but had to Google the word.

    Thanks to setter and to Gazza

  26. Well that took a little longer than normal. Not helped by the fact that I thought Rosa was Irma until Mr Google corrected me. I needed Gazzas help for a couple of these as well and definitely to explain a couple of bung ins. So thanks to G and the setter for stumping me today.

  27. What a smashing puzzle! I loved it.
    My first one in was 12a and 19a was so obvious, I then had two long answers which helped enormously.
    I remembered the film at 7a and the flu at 19d. There was a musical with a song that referred to “la grippe” but can’t remember the name, I think it had Carol Channing.
    If I have to choose a fave it would be 12a.
    Thanks to setter and to Gazza for the review.

    1. The song was Adelaide’s Lament from Guys and Dolls with the line ” la grippe, la grippe, la post nasal drip” !

      1. Thanks for that, Sally, it was driving me crazy. I have the DVD here, it’s going to be fun watching it again.

  28. Good afternoon everybody.

    Being out last night I was unable to report my abject failure with yesterday’s puzzle which I left with 12 clues unsolved – easily my worst attempt at a Telegraph puzzle for a very long time.

    Finished today’s puzzle with two unsolved (13a and 18d neither word being known to me) and also my stab at 7a turned out to be incorrect (my guess having A as the penultimate letter). Favourites were 9a and 5d. Enjoyable puzzle though.


  29. Late start today due to other demands but a very comfortable run through before dark. 18d was last in taking it into 2* for me but *** for enjoyment.
    Like Kath, I appreciated the puppies in 19a, and, (though possibly unlike Kath), the ones in 4d too. http://bigdave44.com/wp-
    Thanks to Setter and Gazza.

    1. I’ll stick with the puppies in 19a. I don’t have anything against the ones in 4d other than wishing I still looked like one of them! Oh dear! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  30. It all went together smoothly for us. Gentle and good fun sums it up.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

  31. A straightforward write in today but spoilt for me by having to Google both Grippe and Amoroso to see if they were actually words. Also, sorry to be picky but Uriah Heep is characterised by his obsequiousness, not his irritability – that’s my characteristic given clues like these!

    1. ‘Irritable’ is the definition and does not apply to Mr Heep who is just referred to in the clue as ‘Dickens character’.

  32. Straighforward and good fun. 25a was very clever. Had not realised that grippe was used in English. It seems that reredos has become an old chestnut… 5d was a new word for me.1.5*/3*. Many thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza.

    1. I’m not sure when grippe was last in common use, I’ve only seen it in older books, pre-1945 I would guess.

  33. A splendid crossword we thought. Favourite clue probably 7a, but only because it was the first in and was pleased as punch to remember it despite being too young (just) to have ever seen it. **/*** for us. Thank you for the blog, Gazza, and thank you, Mr. Ron, for a little jewel.

  34. I enjoyed this and found it easier than yesterday’s.
    I liked 12a, the appearance of Miss Klebb and of 13a – although I was trying to read it as a clue for ‘6’, rather than 6d!
    Two words were new to me – 26a and 5d.
    24a is rather misleading as wily is not the natural meaning of shrewish.
    I missed the zodiac meaning of sign in 22d – I am still finding it hard to think of signs of the zodiac although they clearly crop up a lot in crosswordland!
    Thank you to the setter and Gazza for the helpful hints.

    1. In 24a the synonym for wily is shrewd not shrewish. You have to take away the final D to get the answer.

  35. Wow, I’ve caught up! Helped enormously by a very gentle puzzle today I have to say.
    Lots of fun and 12a was my favourite. 2/3* overall.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for his review.

  36. Enjoyable and mostly straight forward ? **/**** loved a lot of the clues especially 9a & 13a ? 5d was new to me so thanks to Gazza for the musical clip and to Mr Ron for making a coach trip to the Christmas Extravaganza to Thursford so agreeable?

  37. Hi TS – I would imagine you’ll be popping in ‘ere long. My word, you are a flatterer! I don’t think we need to look much further to discover where the boy acquired his talent for chatting up the ladies! Speaking of the ‘boys’ – I trust that you are now fully kitted out with your bib and tucker for the New Forest nuptials, complete with accessories as doubtless specified by the bride? I do hope that they have a lovely day.
    Mr. Bridge arrived this morning – I’m already about two-thirds of the way through it. There is a rather good introduction written by one Lionel Shriver, whose thoughts certainly struck a chord. Towards the end of the intro. he bemoans the fact that Connell abandoned the novel form and states ‘Connell had mastered perhaps the most crucial skill for any fiction writer: he knew when to shut up’. I thought that was rather good. I am certainly enjoying this as much as I did Mrs. Bridge – I shall be sorry to reach the end.

    1. Lionel Shriver is a woman – and an odd one at that. She wears black elbow length gloves all the time. She’s American, which may explain it. Her given name is Margaret, but she changed it when still a teenager. She wrote We Need to Talk about Kevin, which many people think is a good novel. It won the Orange prize.
      As regards the New Forest nuptials, I may get my suit cleaned and ask a friend to iron one of my two shirts – one white, one cream. I don’t own an iron – that’s me doing my bit for the planet; that and the bags for life. I have so many bags for life that I may live to be 137.
      I’m glad you’re enjoying Mr B – if I had to choose, I’d go for Mrs B as favourite, but I love the audacity of telling the same story, episode for episode, all over again. What publisher would agree to that in Britain? Not one, I suggest

  38. I’ve been doing the torygraph xword for a few years, prob finish one in eight, some days get five. Your blog (which l only found couple of weeks ago) is fantastic, unfortunately if you have never heard of the word all the tips in the world don’t help. Having said that one can construct from the clues, but plants and Shakespeare screw me.
    Great stuff from you, thanks JP

    1. Welcome aboard John. I assume you’re not the formerTory education secretary, and I also assume that you’re fed up with people saying that, so forgive me. If you stick with this excellent site (and keep commenting, by the way, so we can offer encouragement) and pay attention to the mega crossword brains who write the reviews (and MIffypops) you’ll find that your solving ability will increase far more rapidly than you can possibly imagine.

  39. Well, 7a defeated me. I’ve never heard of the film and I’m still baffled by how the API fits in, although a bit of googling gave me the answer because I had so many letters. I also associate “mariachi” with street bands, rather than singers, but the answer was obvious. I nearly fell into the oloroso trap, but held off until I’d got 21d. 19d occurs in so many older novels – ‘flu is a relatively recent term for it (it doesn’t really need the apostrophe and certainly not two apostrophes as suggested earlier from the pedants’ corner. How many people – or dictionaries – use the apostrophe in ‘bus or ‘phone these days?) 18d 2d my funnybone. Thanks to Gazza and the mystery setter/setteress. 2*/3*

    1. In 7a the API bit comes from A (in the clue) + PI (short form of pious – meaning very good or devoutly religious).

  40. 2* / 3* from me today. Relatively straightforward, although I had no idea why “PI” means very good (7a). My dictionary on the computer suggests that it might be Informal British for “pious”. But this Brit has certainly not come across it before!

    Got 23a, but totally missed why it was what it was – although obvious now I’ve read the hint!

    Favourite 12a. I do like a fun phrase.

    Many thanks Gazza!

    1. Pi is indeed short for pious and means excessively devout. It crops up fairly often in crosswords so it’s worth remembering.

    1. For mariachi (as a noun) Chambers gives ‘any of a group of musicians playing mariachi music’ so I think it’s ok for a single singer.

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