DT 27981

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27981

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hola from the Vega Baja to where I returned yesterday from a very wet and windy Cornwall to find a sunny 18C at 1500CET, but this morning it’s raining!  My mother is now a nonagenarian, I hadn’t realized before but she must have been about 65 when she had me!

I’m pretty sure this is a RayT puzzle and I’m also pretty sure we’ll get the usual complaints of synonyms which push the envelope a bit and definitions which are a bit on the limit but I really enjoyed it. It may be a tad tricky in places, apologies if the pennies dropping woke you up,  but there are enough gimmes to get you in and with a bit of lateral thinking you’ll get there.  I’ll be interested to see what the usual suspects have to say about it.

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a           Means being enclosed in endless barrier (11)
WHEREWITHAL: You need a word used in formal letters to indicate that something is enclosed and put it into (in) a barrier without its last letter (endless). Not a good start for me. Not only did this not go straight in but it needed all the checkers before the penny finally dropped.

9a           Fruit variety with very big exterior (7)
ORANGES: A word for variety or scope goes into the two letters used to denote very big clothing (with ___ exterior).

10a         Pirouette gradually losing core speed (6)
GYRATE: Take all the middle letters out (losing core) of GraduallY and follow what’s left with another word for speed.

12a         Sovereign consumed by temper, originally (7)
EMPEROR: This sovereign is hiding (consumed by) in TEMPER ORIGINALLY.

13a         Pebbles unbroken round end of beach (7)
SHINGLE: Not Fred Flintstone’s daughter but the pebbles on a beach. Take a word meaning unbroken or undivided and insert (round) an H (end of beacH). I suspect this one might get a few complaints but it works for me!

14a         Light seen from church on mountain (5)
TORCH: One of the usual mountains followed by one of the usual abbreviations for church. This was my first one in, I told you there are some gimmes.

15a         Chinese characters, say, creating a grid some decrypted (9)
IDEOGRAMS: The word SAY is indicating that Chinese characters are just one example of these things.  They’re an anagram (decrypted) of A GRID SOME.

17a         Thought about love, inhibited about sex (9)
COGITATED: Start with a single letter for about and follow with O (love). After that you need a word meaning inhibited, as in confined in a Public School perhaps, placed around (about) the usual two letter word for sex.

20a         Fish held on board ship (5)
SHADS: A word meaning held or owned is placed inside the abbreviation for steam ship.

22a         Finding time’s flying (7)
TRACING: T(ime) followed by a word meaning flying as in moving fast.  Certainly it’s flying for me. Where did the last 10 years go?

24a         Fat detective’s gripped by a role (7)
ADIPOSE: The abbreviation for a detective is inserted (gripped by) A (from the clue) and a word which can just about mean role or a pretence. In my thesaurus role comes up as a synonym for the word you need but not vice versa. Does that make it a case of thesauritis?

25a         Flamboyant men turning over palm (6)
ROCOCO: Some men from the army (2) reversed (turning over) followed by an abbreviation for a coconut palm. I’d never come across this abbreviation before but the answer was obvious from the checkers – there aren’t many possibilities when you have _O_O_O.

26a         Natural gold and silver turned almost delicate (7)
ORGANIC: A word meaning natural that’s most commonly applied to food is a charade of heraldic gold, the chemical symbol for silver backwards (turned) and a word for delicate or pleasant without its last letter (almost).

27a         Sheer pants aren’t fashionable to have run in (11)
TRANSPARENT: An anagram (fashionable) of PANTS ARENT with R(un) inserted (in). And there was me thinking “pants” was the anagram indicator, d’oh!


2d           He painted swine with deceit, ending with hospital (7)
HOGARTH: Start with a swine (a pig, not a cad or bounder), follow with some deceit and then H(ospital) and you’ll get an English painter who lived from 1697 to 1764.

3d           Chains break cut by file (9)
RESTRAINT: Take a word for a break, from work perhaps, and insert (cut by) a file, as in a file of people or a retinue.

4d           What’s actually gained earning salary initially (5)
WAGES: A sort of nearly all-in-one. The answer is the first letters (initially) of the other words in the clue and they also make up the definition.

5d           Shaping metal around vase with top of gold (7)
TURNING: Shaping on a lathe perhaps. You need a common metal and put it around a container where you might find flowers, but more commonly tea, and then follow with G (top of Gold).

6d           Giant iguanas covering island (7)
ANTIGUA: This Caribbean Island is lurking (covering) in GIANT IGUANAS. There certainly are iguanas here as they are native to Central America and the Caribbean but whether they’re giant or not I’ve no idea.

7d           Head express keeping in charge of train (11)
DOMESTICATE: Take a slang term for your head and a word meaning express or say and insert (keeping) the usual abbreviation for in charge.

8d           Beggar you heard is wrapped in Telegraph? (6)
PAUPER: This person might not be a beggar but is certainly very poor. You need to insert the letter which sounds like (heard) the word YOU into what the Telegraph is an example of, indicated by the question mark in the clue.

11d         Unusually spine’s erect showing determination (11)
PERSISTENCE: An anagram (unusually) of SPINES ERECT.

16d         Try and goal always, we hear, follows (9)
ENDEAVOUR: Start with one of the usual goals and follow with some letters which aren’t a word but if pronounced would sound like a word meaning always. It’s also the Christian name of Kath’s favourite detective so here’s a piccy . . .

18d         Allure left French love after midnight (7)
GLAMOUR: L(eft) and the French word for love follow (after) the middle (mid) letter of niGht.

19d         Undecided purchasing endlessly expensive hat (7)
TRICORN: A word meaning undecided goes around (purchasing) a word meaning expensive without its last letter (endlessly) to give one of the silliest hats ever invented.  Often worn by Ross Poldark so here he is . . .

20d         Fly in bridge partners for a bit (7)
SMIDGEN: A type of small biting fly is between the letters for one of the two teams in a game of bridge. I always spell this with an I but apparently an E or even EO are acceptable alternatives.

21d         Trouble on Navy’s decks (6)
ADORNS: Deck as in decorate. It’s the usual trouble and then the abbreviation for the Royal Navy but don’t forget the ‘S from the clue.

23d         Band Queen in rise (5)
GROUP: Her Majesty finally appears! Another word for a rock band, Queen perhaps, is also the abbreviation for Queen placed in a phrase (2,2) meaning to rise.

Quite a lot of blue but favourite has to be 22a with 6d and 17a on the podium, all for their meaningful surfaces.

The Quick Crossword pun: rear+lust+hate=real estate


  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    3*/4*. Today’s Ray T offering presented a full spectrum of clues ranging from R&W to very tough. The NE corner went in with hardly a pause for breath, and the SE followed reasonably soon after. However a lot of the left hand side put up much more of a fight. 19d was my last one in with the common crossword hat taking me a while to unravel. 3d also took me some time to parse until I realised the specific meaning of file needed.

    Although it’s a difficult choice, 17a gets my vote as favourite as it shows it is possible to construct a brief Russian Doll clue!

    Many thanks to Ray T and to pommers. And a thought for Kath to whom I offer a virtual tissue for 16d.

  2. dutch
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    This all went swimmingly until I got to the fish (20a) which took me forever and was my last one in.

    Perhaps a coconut is a nut from a coco? this one (25a) took me a bit too long as well.

    20d (fly) raised a smile, and I liked 12a (sovereign), 17a (thought about love), 7d (head express..) and 23d (band..) – but my favourite is the simple and elegant 22a (Finding time’s flying)

    Many thanks RayT(?) and pommers for the entertaining review

    • Una
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Me too with regard to the fish , and I found 25a also took a long time.

      • Michael
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        Me too, me too – 20a was my last one in about an hour after the rest it, 27a also caused me a bit of grief before I realised what made up the anagram.

        An interesting solve with a real assortment of clues, maybe the compiler wanted to go through his repertoire – who knows!


  3. Spook
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Cor that was tough. Needed quite a bit of help, luckily didn’t need to “click here” to reveal solution but still some “doh” moments, so many many thanks to Pommers. SE corner for me the hardest and favourite clue 15a.
    Thanks to Ray T as well, a varied selection of clues to tax the old grey matter and it’s getting older.

  4. Young Salopian
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    3*/4* for me too. 20 across last one in, 17 across my pick of many fine clues. This was for me almost the perfect crossword – reasonably difficult, fairly clued, some laugh-out-loud moments and hugely enjoyable. Thanks to Ray T, if was he, and Pommers for an enjoyable run through.

  5. Beaver
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Laborious start for me today , and a scatter gun solve as the clues gradually unravelled , it did become easier as I moved south , or maybe I tuned in to the setter-Ray T I believe. Can’t quibble with a ***/****,and the most difficult-and cleverly clued- puzzle of the week so far.17A my favourite, as i like charades .Funny , when I see ‘hat’ in a crossword, I always think firstly of tricorn, and trireme for a ship! Thanks Pommers for the blog and pics ,thought Morse might make an appearance.

    • pommers
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      The hat for me is Derby or Fedora and the ship, especially if it says old ship, is the Argo.

  6. Hanni
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Completely agree with ***/****.

    Gosh I made hard work of this! Not helped by my inability to read my own handwriting. Quite a few clues were bunged in and just waited for the blog to check I had them right. Particularly 24 and 25a. There was nothing else they could be but still struggled with them. Completely missed all the hiddens too.

    Plenty of smiles though with 27a making me laugh. 17a gets a mention too.

    Family day at child type things school this morning…oh the noise!. Had to drive to the Gare after for some quiet…beautiful waves and ripples and boats. All interrupted by people on jetskis, (is that one word or two)?

    Many thanks to RayT and to Pommers for a great blog.

  7. Paso Doble
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    We agree with the *** difficulty rating from most of the above comments and also **** for enjoyment. We might have finished earlier if Paso had spelt ‘persistance’ correctly…haha.
    Many thanks to Ray T and to Pommers for the blog.

  8. Penky
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Certainly ***\**** for me. . Got 23 down from the checkers ,couldn’t see why until read the blog. 1a took some puzzling over also. However a nice way to spend an hour in front of the wood-burner.

  9. JonP
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m usually able to get on RayT’s wavelength (it’s his alter-ego Beam I tend to struggle with). Today was no exception and I found it to be a steady solve and most enjoyable. Thanks to pommers and to RayT **/****

  10. Clarky
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    The right side went in smoothly but the left proved more tricky for me until I 17a and all became clearer.
    Not heard of the fish before.
    Rather liked 20d being relatively familiar with the insect.
    Thank you setter and Pommers.

  11. MOH
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure I understand the explanation for 23d – get the first part but not the second part?

    • Posted December 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog MOH

      I haven’t solved this one yet, so I’ll let someone else answer your query.

      • pommers
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        Dave, you have a treat in store http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • andy
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      R (Regina) = Queen in GO UP = rise

      • pommers
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        Ta Andy. I was having a bite of lunch.

      • Merusa
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        Good luck with new dog, let us know! How is Lupa doing? Is he settling down with his new family?

        • andy
          Posted December 10, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          Hi Merusa, Lupo is totally settled now and enjoying life living in a country pub with lots of fuss and attention. Leia is proving challenging as can be quite aggressive with men especially but is noticeably improving and only rarely now shows any issues with other dogs. Fingers crossed…

          • Merusa
            Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

            So glad to hear about Lupo. Keep us UTD with Leia, good luck.

  12. Gwizz
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this puzzle immensely. There were some excellent clues… including 17a which was my favourite. I too rate this 3/4*.
    Thanks to RayT and to Pommers for his review.
    Now for yesterday’s…..

  13. pommers
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Off out to get some wine and a bit of food and some new boots for pommette. See y’all later.

  14. Kath
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I agree with pommers – 3* difficulty and 4* for enjoyment.
    1a and 7d took ages so didn’t provide all the starting letters they could have done if I’d been a bit quicker.
    I’ve decided recently that I’m going to beat all these masters of the hidden answers and become a mistress of finding them – it’s not looking good so far.
    Very few anagrams today – I made it three but sometimes I can’t count . . .
    22a had to be ‘tearing’ (flying) didn’t it? It took me so long to sort that out – really dim.
    I’d never heard of 15a but at least it was one of the very few anagrams.
    I liked 10 and 15a and 7 (eventually) and 20d. My favourite was either 22 or 27a.
    With thanks to Ray T for the crossword, pommers for the hints and the 16d piccy, and RD for the much needed virtual tissues. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

  15. Brian
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    A word of encouragement to those who also found this puzzle to be a complete waste of good newsprint, the Toughie is very well clued, great fun and very doable so don’t waste anymore time here, make your way over to an enjoyable puzzle. Sorry for those of you on the iPad, I know the DT doesn’t consider iPad users worth bothering with..

  16. Collywobbles
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I think that I’ve regressed with RayT. This was 4* for me with much help from Pommers for which many thanks

    • Posted December 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      At least you tried!

      • Collywobbles
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Yes BD and I will keep on trying until I master them which is why this blog is so helpful

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

      On the other hand, I’ve progressed! While I needed lots of help, I did quite well on the right-hand side. The left side was a complete mystery except for 2d and 9a. Maybe next time I’ll progress to three quarters solved!

      • Una
        Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        Well I slogged through to the end and I wasn’t a happy bunny.

  17. Framboise
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Failed with 20a, drat! Otherwise much enjoyment and tickling of the grey cells. Could not justify my answer for 12a as I had totally missed the lurker, double drat. My first one in was 11d, a very worthwile quality which the crossword solver needs. My favourite was 2d among several clever clues. A pleasure all round. 3*/5*. Many thanks to setter and to Pommers for the review – helped me to understand quite a few of my answers. Returning to Sussex on Sunday but before a quick hello to Jean-Luc tomorrow for lunch at Le Jardin….

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Look forward to seeing you.

      • Framboise
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        A demain! Bises

  18. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    The fish in 20a was also new to me. But with the three checkers in place, it was quite easy to get.
    Always a pleasure to solve a RayT.
    Favourites are the same as Pommers.
    Thanks to both.

  19. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    ***/****. Excellent crossword with so many good clues – 10,17,24&27a, as well as 7&20d. Thanks to Pommers for the review and the setter for a great workout.

  20. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Good fun to be had with this puzzle on a dark, wet and blustery afternoon in Shropshire. Not too many risqué clues but the rest of the trademarks are there so it’s fairly certain it’s a Ray T – plus Brian didn’t like it http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

    Also thought of Kath when solving 16d (I haver a friend ex RMP who’s the spit of Mr Thaw), so I shall offer the virtual tissue as well http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    I will go for 23d as my favourite among many others as it was my last one in and I couldn’t for the life of me parse it – until the penny dropped. D’OH!

    Thanks to Ray T for the puzzle and pommers for the review

    PS – pommers, could you please drop me a reminder of covering dates for the blog? I seem to have misplaced them – either email address wild do. TVM http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Kath
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the much needed tissue!
      I’ve just forwarded the dates for covering the blog when I desert you all for seven weeks.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Kath – received and stored safely.

      • Hilary
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        The down side is no pithy Kath specials, the upside is we can have as many favourites as we like without getting our legs smacked.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 10, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          I have had strict instructions on the matter http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

          On another matter – where’s the banter gone? Are we all weary of Christmas already?

          • Jane
            Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            Yes – weary of Christmas already (at least, the drip-fed shop carols, TV ads and internet ‘Christmas specials’) but definitely not short on banter. Can we banter some more about Poldark and wine? Speaking of which – put me down for any more ‘red’ recommendations, please. As I write I am working my way happily through a bottle of Oyster Bay merlot. Not quite up to Cloudy Bay or a decent malbec, but not bad!

            • Hanni
              Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

              I was going to say I can’t drink until tomorrow but I’ve just remembered I’m driving this weekend anyway…designated driver for friends. Does this mean I should have a drink this evening?

              • Jane
                Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink


              • Shropshirelad
                Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

                Absolutely Hanni http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

                Jane – I will try to have some red recommendations after this weekend. You obviously enjoy the big hitting reds so I will try some of them on your behalf http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

                • Jane
                  Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

                  I appreciate the sacrifice you’re making, SL. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

                  • Shropshirelad
                    Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

                    What about a nice Rioja Reserve?

                    Btw – do you like my new car?

                    • Hanni
                      Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

                      It’s a lovely VW SL.

                    • Jane
                      Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

                      Sounds good to me, SL. As for the car – I will demur from repeating on the blog the title that is given to red cars purchased by men. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

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

                I love being the “designated driver” you can drink as much as you like and you have a complete amnesty from prosecution. What a great idea.

                • Hanni
                  Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

                  Yup. I’ll remember that this weekend MP. Have you ever thought of writing Top Tips for Viz?

                  • Shropshirelad
                    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

                    You mean you don’t know that he already does? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

                    • Shropshirelad
                      Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

                      Drivers: Save money by putting much larger wheels on the back of your car. That way you will always be going downhill, thereby saving money.

                      mp Downtown LI

          • Kath
            Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

            I do trust you to maintain standards, I think! We’ll just have to see what has happened by the time I get back. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

        • Kath
          Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

          Oh dear, no! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

  21. mre
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon everybody.

    A joint effort today. Mostly straightforward with just a couple delaying matters. Last one in was 20a which was new to us but pretty clear from the clue.


  22. Dr_Bob
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    What is there not to like about this puzzle? Some gimmes to get you going, tricky little monkeys to get you scratching your head, smilers galore.

    Third cracker on the trot this week.

    Agree with ***/**** and also those who think 17a was wonderful.

    Thanks to Ray T and Pommers.

  23. Heno
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Ray T and to Pommers for the review and hints. A super puzzle from Ray T as usual. Was quite a few short after the first pass, but whittled them down until I was left with 7d. I may have invented a new word. Potenticate. Which was mistakenly derived from my incorrect wordplay of “ic” inside potentate. Needed the hint to get the correct answer. Favourite was 17a. Was 3*/4* for me. Great fun.

  24. Jane
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow – two of my favourite men in one day! Mr. T with a divine puzzle and Ross Poldark just looking ‘divine’.
    Only slight hold-ups caused by the need to confirm the words at 15&20a, still done in 2* time with 4* for enjoyment.
    All the clues mentioned by others can crowd onto the podium but I’ll give top spot to 1a (brilliant!) and word of the day to 20d.

    Devotions to Mr. T as ever and many thanks to Pomers for pandering to the taste of at least two of the ladies who comment! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • pommers
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      I thought some of the ladies were keen on Aidan Turner and I was trying to make up for the gratuitous illustration for 27a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Jane
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        It was much appreciated, Pommers. Perhaps, if the next puzzle you blog has to unravel any clues concerning crops or harvesting, we could have a glimpse of him in scything apparel? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        • pommers
          Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          Did I mention something about “gratuitous”?

          • Jane
            Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

            Yes you did. So……….?

            • pommers
              Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

              Your wish is my command. I’ll just have to keep eyes well peeled for a suitable opportunity, and I can be quite inventive on that front http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

              • Jane
                Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:37 pm | Permalink


                • Hanni
                  Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

                  Who’s Aiden Turner.

                  • Jane
                    Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

                    You wouldn’t like him, Hanni. Swarthy, dark-haired and could possibly manage a ponytail at a pinch. In other words – HANDS OFF! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

                    • Hanni
                      Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

                      Yup. The mention of ponytails has immediately put me off.

      • Kath
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        I’ll stick with 16d – so lovely!

  25. Hilary
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I seem to have conquered my fear of Thursday crossword but they are still not R and W, pencil akimbo and electronic supertoy at the ready but I got there before reading Pommers masterly review. A couple of silly mistakes because I misread my writing, thanks to all concerned. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  26. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    We do so look forward to RayT Thursdays and this one certainly lived up to our expectations. Excellent stuff from start to finish and, like pommers, that last one was 1a. Word count perfect once again.
    Thanks RayT and pommers.

  27. silvanus
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Not the easiest of Ray T puzzles, it needed quite a lot of 11d but was well worth the effort. LOI was 20a, it took longer than it should have to come up with the appropriate fish!

    I liked 7d and 19d quite a lot, but I’m with RD (not for the first time) in nominating 17a as the clear favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr. T for a very enjoyable struggle, and to Pommers for his entertaining comments.

  28. Una
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks pommers for the blog , I needed several hints today. 19d is in my opinion a toughie type clue,as was 26a . The homophone in 8d is stretching it a bit.
    With thanks to pommers and setter.

  29. Sheffieldsy
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    We’re on a real roll here this week. Yesterday’s back pager, done too late to post, went in without much trouble. Today’s was much the same – no major hold ups, steady pace throughout and no bung-ins to check although definitely not read and write. Good exercise for the brain. That all means next week will feel impossible! Favourites were 5d and 29d (just for the fly!). 2.5*/4* for us. Thanks to Ray T and Pommers.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:47 am | Permalink

      It’s never too late to post. I should know

  30. Jaylegs
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Hoorah ? I actually completed a Thursday puzzle, very smug? I found it quite tricky ***/*** 26a was new to me and I did make the mistake of googling “coco” I did my best
    to explain it away! ? Favourites 1a & 7d Thanks to Pommers for lovely blog and to Ray T (if indeed it were he)

  31. RayT
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Evening all. My thanks to pommers for the review and to all for your comments. I’m glad that most people enjoyed it.


    • pommers
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Thanks to you Ray. 22a was quite apposite as my Ma, who turned 90 last Sunday, was heard to remark that years only seen to last a couple of months nowadays http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Jane
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mr. T – thank you for the official time off from homework, I had to do a bit of it today for 15&20a!
      Absolutely loved 1a – hadn’t ever considered that the ‘enclosure’ could form part of another word.
      Keep ’em coming! When are you up next (in whatever guise)?
      Maybe you could bring a ‘special’ with you to the Birthday bash……..http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Jane
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Come on, Mr. T – I know you look again. Repondez s’il vous plait?

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      Good to ‘see’ you make an appearance Mr T. Thanks again for the puzzle http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  32. pommers
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Wine bought and in glass, food bought and in pan and pommette now has new boots, and a pullover and some thermal tights. Well, she is back to the UK in early January so she’ll probably need them.

    • Hanni
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Yup. Just looked at the forecast for this weekend. Rain, turning to sleet, turning to snow, whilst being battered by the wind.

      • pommers
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        Is that what’s known as “situation normal”? Just about to tackle your quiz after the end of Masterchef.

        • Jane
          Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

          Good luck with that, Pommers. I think Mr. Google could be a little weary by the time I’ve finished it! Not too bad on the ‘run up and tell me’ section and the ones that were passed across from the blog, but as for some of the others….http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

          • Hanni
            Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

            Oh blimey! Like I said it’s only a first draft. Can adjust it. The ‘run up and tell me section’ is funny…as quiz master anyway.

            Pommers on the moors this is mild. Some years we’ve had snow on the ground constantly (in patches) from November till April.

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

              Haven’t received a copy of the quiz yet. I’m still up for a test run if required.

              • Hanni
                Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

                Yes definitely. I’ll ask the Spanish contingent to forward it.

                Edit…feel free to critique to pieces.

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

                You have mail!

                • Hanni
                  Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

                  Got it and replyed. Thank you both. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

              Got it – OK to reply to your email?

              • Hanni
                Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

                Who’s, mine or Pommers? It’s fine to reply to mine. Jane’s doing well so far.

                • Shropshirelad
                  Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

                  Probably your’s, I think. I’ll send a test to see If I’ve got it right.

                  • Hanni
                    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

                    Got it and replied.

                    • pommers
                      Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:53 am | Permalink

                      Thank God you guys have sorted that out! I am now about to immerse my head in a bucket of Ice-water – I’ve tried Hanni’s quiz . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

                    • Jane
                      Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:11 am | Permalink

                      Even Mr. Google has had enough at this end! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif
                      Think it was the bonus round that really got to him.

  33. Salty Dog
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    A nice little workout: 2*/3.5*. Favourite clue? 21d, I think, but 7d and 20d came close as well. Thanks to Ray T, and thanks (and a dose of wet and windy Cornish weather for being so smug!) to Pommers for the review.

  34. Hrothgar
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Phew, that was hard.
    Very hard
    Just 20a to go which I’m saving up.
    Sometimes do that.
    Too many brilliant clues to single out one.
    Many thanks Ray T and pommels for the review.

    • Jane
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      ‘saving up’ – I just love that! Sounds so much more professional than ‘at my wits end’, ‘tearing my hair out’ or simply ‘crying over’.

    • pommers
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      20a is simples if you’ve heard of the fish. Very difficult, but not impossible, if you haven’t.

      • Hrothgar
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        Got it.
        Worked it out.
        I’m quite brilliant.
        Had – Ha Ha – never heard of this fish.

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

          Must say it was very misleading.
          Sometimes “on board” just mean between two “S” so I thought another ship was in the middle. Thought of “cat” for catamaran and ended up with “scats” which are also fish.

  35. Jane
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Wondering whether any of our Sudoku fans have had a go at the GCHQ puzzle in today’s DT. Makes no sense at all to me! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

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

      I have failed with the Sodoffoduku again today Jane. I have the letter N twice in row four.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        That’s because you need a ‘Z’, two 7,s and a % symbol. The number 6 appears too MP.

        • pommers
          Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:02 am | Permalink


          • Shropshirelad
            Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:27 am | Permalink


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

      Yes, I had a quick look at it and had no idea where to start – not a clue – maybe I’m just not cut out to be a spy!

    • ezfer
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      I’ve done the GCHQ puzzle – looks like it is a QR code and I don’t have any equipment to decode such a thing so will have to ask a friend! Start with the lines that add up to 25 (the number of boxes in the line), counting 1 between each number (for the ‘at least 1 white space’ between each black space). Then look at the next highest ‘count’ lines, then gradually it ought to slot into place using logic about what must be blank and what must be coloured. I used O (for white) and X (for black) to fill each box once I’d worked out what it must be, and ticked off the numbers on the row/column once I’d found that whole black section. Hope that helps!

      • Hanni
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

        Not had a proper look yet. QR was a thought…get the feeling that I’ll be looking for Zebras though.

  36. Organum
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Ouch – that’ll teach me to look forward to Ray T puzzles! Ground to a halt after putting in 16 answers before resorting to the hints, at which point it became clear that I’d only put 14 in correctly. I had to rewire a few internal circuits in the course of this puzzle. Thanks to ponders for the help, without which…

    • Kath
      Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      Blimey – I’ve heard him called lots of things before but never ‘ponders’ until today! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif
      I think that should be his new name! Joking, pommers, you’re great. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

      • Organum
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear, that pesky iPad auto spell thing strikes again, sorry.

      • pommers
        Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        Actually “ponders” sounds OK. I spend a lot of time pondering http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif Mostly over RayT crossword clues!

  37. Drapdor
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I liked this, especially 1a and 25a.
    I got 17a but needed the review to parse the second part of the clue – ‘gated’ and ‘it’ made me smile!
    I didn’t get 20a and 24a without the review.
    Interesting that both this and today’s toughie have words for ‘fat’ and ‘a bit’.
    Thank you to Ray T and to Pommers for the review.

  38. Miffypops
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Perfect puzzle. Thank you Ray. Perfect revue. The standard has definitely risen in recent months. Thank you pommers.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      Nice to see you’ve spelt ‘ definately’ corektly this time mp http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:55 am | Permalink

        Just a poorly schooled orphan boy

        • pommers
          Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:58 am | Permalink


  39. ezfer
    Posted December 10, 2015 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Slow but steady I got there in the end, apart from 20a – had worked out wordplay correctly but never heard of fish. Favourite was 20d, though I’m sure if I were ever to write it down it would be with an i as last vowel. A very good challenge – many thanks to Ray T and Pommers et al for blog

    • Thebear
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      Never heard of the fish but then learning something new is always good…the whole puzzle took up most of the evening but worth ithttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  40. Jane
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Hi for TS. How strange for a young girl to decide to call herself Lionel – even more strange that her parents agreed to let her do so! However, I personally have known two Lionels and they were both quite exceptional. One was my slightly eccentric Godfather who spent his latter years living in a static caravan in Seaton. He gave me my first introduction to poetry, classical music and the art of scoring tennis matches. The second was my elderly neighbour who, when I was living as single parent with two small daughters, proved to be an expert on everything from repairing bicycles to clearing out drains! Both of these gentlemen smoked pipes filled with aromatic tobacco – maybe Ms. Shriver does the same?
    Mr. Bridge is now finished – sadly. Possibly Mrs. Bridge has the edge as a novel, but perhaps it depends upon which one you read first? I’m now about 100 pages into The Cider House Rules – reserving judgement but I fear I may conclude that John Irving isn’t for me.
    Now then – about this shirt situation. I dread to think how you manage with only two shirts and no iron. Perhaps the wedding would be a good time to splash out on a new one? Just a thought……..

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 2:05 am | Permalink

      In person, LS is sharp, witty and worryingly thin – so thin, in fact, that she makes a rake look like Hattie Jacques. I too smoke a pipe with aromatic tobacco (it’s called American Delite (sic) and comes from the Lake District. I get it from Lords in Stratford-upon-Avon and stock up every time I go to the theatre). CHR is nowhere near my favourite JI, but I can see why they decided to film it as opposed to any of his others. Do you like Thomas Hardy?
      On the shirt front, I wear T-shirts when not at work and polo shirts when working. I used to wear suits and ties and all that malarkey in other places but I’m far too fat for them now and they’ve all gone to Oxfam (apart from one gorgeous Christian Dior wool job that I can’t bear to part with). I use the tumble dryer in the laundrette, and if you fold quickly, the iron is redundant. Same goes for the chinos.

  41. oddjob
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    hi everyone, still taking the pills.

    • oddjob
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      Apologies to everyone I offended who was not on the same wavelength as myself, before my surgery oj.

  42. Tstrummer
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    This was hard, even by Mr T’s standard. I got there in the end and was a worthwhile struggle. An exact photo-finish between the inseparable 1a and 7d for best in show, with 23d making do with the yellow rosette. Thanks to Ray and Pommers for an entertainingly and gratuitously illustrated review. 3*/4*

  43. fortis
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    as for 20a, i have never ever heard of SHADS, i am pretty well up on fish, and when i was a keen fisherman we had SHAD, NEVER EVER plural with an S

    • pommers
      Posted December 12, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      From Collins:

      Word forms: plural shad or shads