DT 27985

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27985

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This is a decent puzzle with a couple of long anagrams (which some people will like). I’m torn on the inclusion of an actor and actress both of whom died more than a quarter of a century ago – on the one hand they’re of my generation (and some current “celebs” would be unknown to me), but on the other hand is this the way to persuade young people that crosswords are not just for wrinklies? What do you think?

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

Across Clues

1a Bring fellow to eat out (5)
FETCH – the abbreviation for fellow followed by a verb to eat out or burn into.

4a Place to put pens etc? (8)
SWANNERY – cryptic definition. As well as pens you’ll probably find cobs and cygnets here.

10a Actor, one featured in musical (7)
OLIVIER – insert the Roman numeral for one into the title of a Lionel Bart musical.

11a Second book more than enough as illustration (7)
EXAMPLE – the abbreviation for the second book in the Bible and an adjective meaning more than enough.

12a Way east’s cut off in disorderly retreat (4)
ROUT – cut off the abbreviation for east from a way or course.

13a Fully developed road ultimately’s restricted (5)
ADULT – hidden (restricted) in the clue.

14a Nudge for daughter (4)
PROD – a preposition meaning for or ‘in favour of’ is followed by the abbreviation for daughter.

17a Gate left in horse-racing maybe (9,5)
SPECTATOR SPORT – charade of the gate (i.e. the total number of people paying at the turnstiles) and the naval word for left.

19a Type of rule in golf events men violated? About right (4-10)
SELF-GOVERNMENT – an anagram (violated) of GOLF EVENTS MEN contains the single-letter abbreviation for right.

22a Revered figure putting lake first as somewhere to swim (4)
LIDO – start with a revered figure or object of worship and move the L(ake) to the front.

23a Recover  a series of shots (5)
RALLY – double definition. The second is what may happen occasionally in a tennis game if a) the server manages to get the ball into play, and b) the opponent gets it back over the net.

24a Counter  sword (4)
FOIL – double definition, the first a verb to counter or thwart.

27a Brainy cooks with India’s capital dish (7)
BIRYANI – an anagram (cooks) of BRAINY followed by the capital letter of India.

28a Atmosphere old boy found in province and capital (7)
NAIROBI – insert a word for atmosphere and the abbreviation for old boy into the abbreviation for a province of the United Kingdom.

29a Neat code unravelled in short story (8)
ANECDOTE – an anagram (unravelled) of NEAT CODE.

30a Senior figure in party linked to foreign money (5)
DOYEN – a festive party and a Far Eastern currency.

Down Clues

1d Ray perhaps hiding scowl gets to prosper (8)
FLOURISH – what a ray is an example of in the marine world contains (hiding) a verb to scowl or look sullen.

2d Positive testimony that’s hackneyed about British university (7)
TRIBUTE – an adjective meaning hackneyed or clichéd contains the abbreviations for British and university.

3d One getting estate publicity, we hear (4)
HEIR – this sounds like a word meaning publicity or exposure.

5d Fiddling alleged, wherein will be manipulative practices (7-7)
WHEELER-DEALING – an anagram (fiddling) of ALLEGED WHEREIN.

6d Marine attendants partly missing water? (4)
NEAT – hidden (partly) in the clue is an adjective meaning undiluted.

7d Penguin, perhaps, a figure of authority (7)
EMPEROR – double definition, the first being the largest breed of penguin.

8d Give up and return (5)
YIELD – and another double definition. The second is the financial return that you get from your investments.

9d Conservative duke in characteristic leaning to protect Hebridean island (14)
TRADITIONALIST – insert the abbreviation for duke into a characteristic or idiosyncrasy and add a nautical term for a leaning or heeling over. All that contains (to protect) an island in the Inner Hebrides.

15d Crew finding sun on Welsh river (5)
STAFF – the abbreviation for sun followed by (on, in a down clue) Cardiff’s river.

16d Second long part of hardback? (5)
SPINE – the abbreviation for a second and a verb to long or yearn.

18d Follow largely with element of pride horse (8)
STALLION – a verb to follow, possibly obsessively and in a sinister way, loses its final K (largely). That’s followed by something that’s part of a pride. I think that the surface here could be improved by using a couple of commas.

20d Northern actress Diana in middle of week is back (7)
ENDORSE – the abbreviation for Northern and the surname of the actress and sex symbol who was born Diana Fluck go inside the middle two letters of week.

21d Firm coming into money devised cheaper travel, say (7)
ECONOMY – the abbreviation for a firm is inserted into an anagram (devised) of MONEY.

22d African country in past beset by revolutionary trouble (5)
LIBYA – an adverb meaning past (as in ‘a cyclist went past’) is contained inside the reversal (revolutionary) of a verb to trouble.

25d Charge for section of hospital (4)
WARD – double definition, the first a person (usually a child) under the care of a responsible adult.

26d Take care of what’s kept by chum in department? (4)
MIND – our third and final lurker.

The clues which I liked best were 4a, 30a and 22d. Which ones hit the sweet spot for you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: WASTE + BANNED = WAISTBAND


  1. JonP
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I scrabbled around trying to find a place to start when I was initially unable to get underway in the NW (which is my preferred starting area). However, once I got going it all fell into place without too much trouble.

    Thanks to Gazza and setter **/***

  2. Miffypops
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I too sighed when I put DORS in Gazza. Otherwise an enjoyable romp. Ta to all

  3. dutch
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Many thanks Big Dave for the festive additions to the web site. I happy that after last year, I now know it’s snow, and I need not worry there is something wrong with my eyes or my laptop.

    Many thanks Gazza for the review. I knew Olivier, but not Diana, though I wish I did. I enjoyed the hidden words (these often have nice surfaces) and the long 17a (gate left..), nice split, and 5d (Fiddling..) – a great anagram and all-in-one character. Also quite liked the story about the senior party figure (30a)

    LOI was 23a, wouldn’t come to me and finally realised it was an old friend.

    • dutch
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      and thank you setter!

  4. Brian
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Found this far easier than yesterdays offering, perhaps managed to get on the right wavelength for a change. Some tricky clues in 17a and 4a (clever though), struggled with 11a couldn’t see why Ex then looked up the bible list, why is it abbreviated?
    The long anagrams were also not easy.
    All in all a very enjoyable outing.
    Thx to all.

    • Brian
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Just read Gazzas lead in spiel. I agree with his comment about the age of the audience crosswords seem to appeal to. I get the impression perhaps incorrectly that most of the setters are of a mature persuasion hence have a more dated viewpoint. Are any of them retired clergymen?http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • Jose
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      11a. It’s abbreviated as EX[odus]AMPLE. Otherwise the clue/answer wouldn’t work.

    • dutch
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Ex. is a standard abbreviation for the book exodus. It’s in brb.

  5. Jose
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I’ve just been to collect my new specs from Specsavers and have come into the museum to read the blog on a computer. All I can see is white dots floating about all over the place. I’m taking the ruddy things straight back! ……………. :-)

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      Shouldn’t have gone to Specsavers

  6. Steve in St A
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Gazza’s point is correct. I started doing the Telegraph crossword early on in my career with a group of workmates lunchtime. I came back to it more recently via the next to impossible Guardian. It has always been a great test of ones problem solving and language in the face of setter’s cunning rather than obscure language and facts. Loved spectator sport – very clever clue!

  7. Jose
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Gazza, re your comment at the top of the page. I’m 63 and have been doing the DT crossword almost every day since about 1970. I think being eclectic is the best – a mixture of old and new and plenty of inbetween. I still listen mostly 60s/early 70s music – Jimi Hendrix, ELP, Joni Mitchell, CSN+Y, Bob Dylan, Johnny Winter, etc., etc. But I also think Ed Sheeran and Janelle Monae are great (well, by today’s standards anyway). So don’t worry – it’ll help those young dudes to learn a bit of modern history……..

    • Hanni
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      You have excellent taste.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      I’m with Hanni on this one. ELP are still my favourite band to listen to when I need a lift – Brain Salad Surgery being the best.

      Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends……..I can just about remember all the words http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      I was lucky enough to see Jimi Hendrix, ELP, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan (and many other brilliant acts) live at the Isle of Wight pop festivals in 1969 & 1970. Surprisingly Joni Mitchell was disappointing, but ELP were particularly good.

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        I think ELP made their debut at TIOW festival. Second gig at The Poly in Coventry

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          And also at the 1970 event Jimi Hendrix bade us farewell.

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

        I was at the IOW festival in1969 – if I remember rightly Jimi Hendrix was due to come on at about 10 pm but didn’t show until about 2 in the morning – we sat through John Sebastian going through every song he’d ever heard of – I fell asleep and woke up half-way through Jimi’s set!

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Michael, Hendrix and Sebastian appeared in 1970 not 1969. Dylan was there in 1969. He too was several hours late in performing.

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

            It must have been 1970 then – where has the time gone?

    • Hanni
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Speaking of CSN+Y, American Dream came on the phone the other when I was driving. Completely forgot I had even downloaded that!

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      ELP? No, I don’t think so. Not then. Not now. Not ever

      • Jose
        Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        One man’s meat and all that………

        • Kitty
          Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          I like one man’s meat.

          When I was at the George in October I refused point blank to discuss music, to the bemusement of the Times for the Times bloggers. They would understand if they followed comments on BD.

  8. Young Salopian
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I can honestly say this is one of if not the easiest DT backpagers I have ever attempted over the years. Unlike yesterday, when I took longer than I should, this was a genuine R & W for me and it was over far too quickly on this dank day. I have never marked a puzzle 0.5* for difficulty before, so this is a first. The enjoyment quotient was thus reduced to 2* as a result. Nevertheless, thanks to the setter and of course Gazza.

  9. Slim
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    As a frequent reader of this blog, and Telegraph solver I loved this puzzle. Especially 27a. Very clever I thought. I will try to comment more often, but only complete 3 a week on my own. Been trying since the 1980’s. Getting there slowly.

    • Jane
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Worry not, Slim! Plenty of folk who comment here admit to needing the hints (and the odd reveal) to get through a puzzle. Doesn’t make your remarks any less pertinent or interesting – and there’s always someone around who will help out with anything you can’t make sense of. Keep commenting. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      • Young Salopian
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Re my comments above and in relation to what you two have said, I fully expect to get totally creamed by the next few puzzles. That is the nature of solving these crosswords. Just when you think you’ve cracked it, fate will deliver a portion of humble pie.

  10. neveracrossword
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I bunged in the answer to 22d but needed Gazza’s explanation to understand it. Much if this was straightforward, though 4a had me scratching my head for a time. 8d seems to crop up frequently. Thank you setter and Gazza. I didn’t notice any white spots until Jose mentioned them – just as well I’m collecting my new spectacles this afternoon.

  11. Jane
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this one – 2*/4* for me but, golly, it’s difficult to find enough space around the puzzle to draw anagram circles for such a large number of letters!
    Loved your hint for 23a, Gazza. Long rallies – oh yes – those were the days when tennis was a really great 17a. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif
    4a and, as a result, 6d, were my last ones in. Silly, because I’m sure 4a is an old chestnut in one guise or another.

    I was more than happy to see the actor and actress – can’t imagine why! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif Speaking of actresses – I had completely forgotten, until I read an article recently about the ‘Unforgotten’ TV series, that the excellent actress who played the grieving Irish mother (Frances Tomelty) was formerly married to Sting and is the mother of his two children.

    However, I digress. I was going to tell you a sad story about Emperor Penguins as well, but I’ve rambled on quite long enough for this time of day on the blog.
    Rosettes are going to 4&17a plus 9d.
    Thanks to Mr. Ron and Gazza and also to BD for the snow!

  12. Beaver
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Quite a tough puzzle today and agree with a ***/***, assumed ‘ex’ was an abbreviation of the second book, but never really impressed with this sort of clue; d,oh moment for me when I twigged what place1a was, and the key answer in completing this taxing solve.
    Knew I could trust Gazza with a suitable illustration for the lovely Miss Dors -she was very underrated in my opinion. 9d was a charade and a half !

    • Gazza
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      … underrated and, indeed, underwired. :D

      • Beaver
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        What goes up must come down!

      • Michael
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        When I was at College I spent one summer working behind the Bar at Butlins in Pwllheli (a right knocking shop – but I digress!) – we used to have a Cabaret on in the Bar and Diana Dors was one of the ‘artists’ in the weekly rota – I saw her act once a week for six weeks and every time she apologised for having a cold which affected her voice.

        She didn’t have much of an act but she was was quite entertaining and was still a real ‘looker’ in 1970 (or was it 1971 – I don’t suppose it matters much!) – she did like a drink!

  13. Hanni
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink


    Enjoyed this very much. The anagrams amused my pencil, didn’t spot the hidden in 13a, nothing new there and it took me an age to see why 11a was correct. Favourite is the lovely 17a.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for a great blog. Loved the penguin picture, I like penguins.

    I’m amusing myself making the snow change direction. I forgot it did that. I should maybe do some work.

    • Jane
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that, Hanni. I realised that the snow does change direction but it never occurred to me that I was responsible for it! Heck, if you hover over the ‘A’ in ‘contact’ it falls straight down as well. Oh dear – I’d better get back to the cleaning now…..

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        The snow hasn’t made it to my windows phone.
        Mind you, with the temperature being so high for the season, it would melt before it hits the ground.
        Haven’t switched on the heating yet and not likely to do so before January.
        We have a saying in France:
        Xmas on the balcony, Easter by the fire.

        • Hanni
          Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          It sounds like you’re suffering J-L? I needed extra heating this afternoon. The radiator in my office is broken so got extra warm on the sofa.

        • Posted December 16, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          It’s not turned on for mobiles – apparently it increases battery usage.

          • Kitty
            Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            Our BD is ever thoughtful. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    • stanXYZ
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      I’ve found the way to change the direction of the snow … but is there any way to turn it OFF?

      My optician advises me not to visit this site until it stops snowing.


    • spindrift
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      I never knew you could do that with the snow & it’s been a feature now for a number of years. On another note I’ve got toothache, today is the 29th anniversary of my 30th birthday & it looks like I’m going to lose a contract in the new year. But hey ho, life goes on…

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

        Gosh, Spindrift, you are having a bad day. Congrats on the birthday anyway and get that toothache seen to before it ruins your Christmas. As for the contract – maybe it won’t be lost or, just maybe, something bigger and better will take its place. Keep moving the snow about, it’s actually quite relaxing! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        • spindrift
          Posted December 16, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          thank you to both you & Hanni for your kind words. It wasn’t so bad yesterday as Mrs S announced that she has booked us 2 holidays next year – a week up in our favourite cottage at Sandsend & a week in Jersey at a v posh hotel. As far as the contract is concerned then if I do lose it (as a result of a merger) then it will prompt me to finally retire – yea!

      • Hanni
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Happy birthday Spindrift…I echo everything Jane said.

  14. Penky
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I agree that there is a tendency for some clues being easier for those of us of a certain age. Found this fairly straightforward, last one in was 16d, as the digital version has ‘book’ rather than ‘hard-back’ , a bit more obscure.

  15. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The bottom half went in faster than the top. Apart for 19a where I couldn’t get open tournament out my head even despite the fact that it didn’t fit all my checkers.
    No real favourite but enjoyable solve.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review.

  16. Bob H
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    What interesting comments today. Very amusing. Found this straightforward compared to yesterday. Needed one hint for 20d. As far as I know DD lived in Swindon. My motherinlaw saw her one day going about her shopping with her mother in tow. So was confused about the reference. Anyway thanks to all. And please, no football or modern group clues.

  17. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    **/***. I enjoyed this puzzle which was easier than I thought after a first pass yielded too little. I liked 17&22a and 6d which brought a smile when the penny dropped. Thanks to the setter and Gazza for the review.

  18. Paso Doble
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Got the snow swirling around – like some others, not our favourite solve of the year but we got there in the end. Lovely review Gazza and thanks to Mr Ron.

  19. Heno
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review and hints. A very nice puzzle. A lot of it went over my head. Needed the hints to parse 17&22a and 3,5,22d. Still don’t understand 3d. What word means publicity that sounds like heir? Favourite was 7d. Last in was 30a. Was 2*/3* for me.

    • Gazza
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink


  20. Hilary
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Apropos of yesterday’s nativity play I thought that I would share this with you.The American writer had four small children in the play. Her daughter playing Mary got into a fight with one of her brothers as a shepherd and had to be separated by the angel, all then calmed down awaiting the arrival of another son leading the wise men. Dressed in a dressing gown with a magnificent gold paper crown he marched up to the manger and announced ‘We are three wise guys and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur’. The congregation dissolved into laughter and the pageant got a standing ovation. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    • Angel
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Oh good you’re still there!

    • Hanni
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Love it Hilary! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Jane
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Nice to see you haven’t totally switched off, Hilary. Wonderful story!

  21. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Fairly straight forward (definitely more so than today’s toughie) but a pleasure to solve. All seem to be fairly clued and getable without the need to know the 2 thespians in 10a & 20d I thought. I’m sure I’ve seen ‘spectator sport’ recently but that just might be my age.

    Thanks to Mr Ron & Gazza.

  22. Kath
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I liked this one so 2* or 3* for difficulty and 3+ for enjoyment.
    I missed two of the three lurkers for a silly length of time and one of the long anagrams took ages – 5d.
    I’m probably being too picky here but I don’t think that ‘bring’ and ‘fetch’ are the same thing.
    I liked 4 and 17a and 22d. My favourite was 27a.
    With thanks to Mr Ron for the crossword, to gazza for the hints and piccies, and to BD for the snow.

    I think that the actor and actress in this crossword are famous enough to be classed as general knowledge.

    As Bob H pointed out in a previous comment the actress came from Swindon. When she was newly famous she went back to open a church fete. The vicar was warned about her original surname and was very aware of being careful what he said in his introduction, “. . . and now I’m pleased to introduce you all to Diana Dors – some of you may remember her better as Diana Clunt’.

    Now to see if I can post this comment without my surname in it which seems to keep putting me into moderation.

    • Kath
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Oh good – seem to have succeeded in getting rid of surname. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif
      How it got there in the first place remains a mystery. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Gazza
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 7:06 pm | Permalink


  23. Angel
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Great fun and not too testing – thank you Mr. Ron and Gazza. Agree with J-L re bottom half being less demanding than the top. Fav for its misdirection was 4d. I wonder in fact how many of today’s really young people read the DT and/or do the crossword (Let’s hear from you!). Personally I am always happy to find a few solutions relevant to us “golden oldies”. ****/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink


      • Shropshirelad
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Does that ‘me’ reply mean young or old Miffypops?

    • Hanni
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Define young? I’m younger than MP and older than my friend Lisa and she is older than Ameila who is younger than Sophie.

      Not sure what the average reader age will be. I started reading it at 15.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        In the words of Bob Dylan in the excellent My Back Pages, “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”.

        • Hanni
          Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          The logic is impeccable…to me anyway. Going to have to find one of my Dylan CD’s now.

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

            Oh dear – I didn’t think you liked Dylan http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

            I have no problem with any of his lyrics, I thing his song writing is brilliant – but (and it’s a big but)..does HE have to try and sing them ?

            Over to you MP http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

            • Hanni
              Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              I think I just heard MP’s head explode! Yes I like Dylan. Had some on earlier when I was working/playing with the snow.

              • Rabbit Dave
                Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

                My Back Pages is best known as a Byrds’ song. The only time I have heard Dylan sing it is on the Bob Dylan & Friends 30th Anniversary DVD, which illustrates that Roger McGuinn performs it much better. That live version also contains a short but exquisite guitar solo from Eric Clapton.

                That DVD confirms Shropshirelad’s opinion (with which I totally concur, although I suspect MP will disagree) that Dylan is a truly great songwriter but his songs are so much better when performed by others.

              • cat
                Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

                I used to get a lot of stick from my family about Leonard Cohen, in the early days he made Bob Dylan sound good, but they like him now. He’s changed his style several times over the years but I love his poetry and his word play.

                • Hanni
                  Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

                  Yup…like Cohen too, have some of that on the ‘phone that doubles as an ipod’.

            • Jane
              Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

              My thoughts exactly, SL. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
              By the way, thank you for the wine link which Hanni sent on to me. I rather fancy a few bottles of the thirty-odd pound red if you’re offering? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

            • Tstrummer
              Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:45 am | Permalink

              Nobody – and that includes everybody – can sing Dylan properly, except Dylan. They lack the sneer. The Byrds turned acid into saccharine. Listen to Bob sing “I can’t even touch the books you’ve read” and try to imagingine McGuin and Crosby getting even close. Listen to Planet Waves in its entirety and realise that Robbie Robertson is the guitarist Clapton tried (and failed) to be. Listen to Joan Baez ruining every BD song she ever covered. And finally, listen to “Most of the time” on The Oh Mercy album (not the bland version on YouTube) and hear the greatest Dylan song sung by the greatest Dylan singer.

              • Jane
                Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:57 am | Permalink

                You’re quite correct, TS. Nobody ‘sings’ like Dylan – at least, I hope not.

                • Tstrummer
                  Posted December 16, 2015 at 1:29 am | Permalink

                  Many try and many fail – Mark Knopflee springs instantly to mind. He writes for his voice and, more importantly, his phrasing. Only Van Morrison comes close

              • Jose
                Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

                On the same subject, Matthews Southern Comfort released a passable cover of Woodstock in 1970, but it wasn’t a patch on Joni Mitchell’s beautiful original from Ladies of the Canyon.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      If you cannot understand high end music then enjoy pop pap. There is plenty about.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        What……You’re telling me that ELP, CSN+Y, early Pink Floyd (way, way before DSOTM) and Sweet (not to mention the original Mud) are pop pap! As per the on going duel between Clive and that damned American Cyrus on Alex, I will meet you at a venue of your choice to swap lyrics at ten paces!

        May the best singer win http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

        Anyway, I still think you’re brilliant even with your dodgy taste in music http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

        • Tstrummer
          Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:48 am | Permalink

          I don’t understand how you can mention CSN&Y in the same sentence as those pretentious Englishmen, especially Stills and Young.

  24. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    2*/3*. I did enjoy this – a fair challenge with mostly brief cluing and smooth surface readings (except for 18d as mentioned by Gazza).

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza.

  25. silvanus
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable solve, I thought it about equal to yesterday’s in terms of difficulty, i.e. not too tricky, but not quite a read and write either. Favourite was 9d, very cleverly constructed and without using an anagram too!

    In terms of the actors involved in today’s puzzle, shame on anyone of any age who hasn’t heard of Laurence Olivier frankly. Diana Dors (Mrs Alan Lake at the time of her death) is more excusable not to know, and there is probably a clear age divide between those who remember her and those who have no idea who she is. The lack of general knowledge amongst large swathes of the young is actually quite startling. There was a recent survey which revealed that more young people associate the name “Churchill” with the dog advertising insurance than with our great wartime leader. Extremely depressing.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

  26. Jaylegs
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Another nice crossword but I failed with 6d, did not see the hidden word ? And I always add a few tear drops to an occasional malt. In desperation I put in Niad, Water Nymph (Naiad) Marine Attendant partly missing? Thanks to Gazza for a neat blog and to Mr Ron Favourites 4a & 9d ? **/***

  27. Sheffieldsy
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable enough, **/*** for us. Favourites were 27a and 6d. As for Gazza’s question, I notice lots of modern references creeping in to things like troll, iPad, LAN, PSV and so on, which makes me think there is a good balance. If we’re to eliminate older figures, we’d surely start debating about whether some historical figures could be used (I remember a reference to Nell Gwynne recently). I think the answer is that setters and solvers both need to move with the times, but not throw out the accumulated wisdom. Thanks to Gazza and the setter (any idea whose this was?)

  28. Drapdor
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    This was enjoyable, though some of it rather tricky.
    On Gazza’s point, there are some quite retro elements in clues, an example that springs to mind is ‘pi’ (for pious/good) – experienced solvers must be used to it but it amused me when I first saw it as I’d only seen it before in books of a certain era. Overall I think there is a good mix of different references and I wouldn’t want to get rid of the older ones, and certainly not classics like Olivier – which also happened to be the first clue I got today!
    Thank you to the setter and Gazza

  29. Una
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Definitely challenging but very enjoyable.Lots of misleading clues, such as 4a and 7d.
    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

  30. mre
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon everybody.

    An unexpected joint effort today that seemed to be at the easier end of the spectrum until being foxed by 4a and 6d (should have spotted that one at least).

    Subsequently completed the undoubtedly tricky puzzle in another place so a modicum of pride was restored.


  31. Salty Dog
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    A perfectly fair puzzle, which I score at 2*/3*. 4a was my favourite: it perplexed me for some time, and then went in with a dull “thunk”. Thanks to Mr Ron, and to Gazza.

  32. Kitty
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    This went down nicely with breakfast. I agree with those who think that the two actors are acceptable general knowledge – certainly Olivier is. The fact that Ms Clunt (thanks Kath!) totally slipped my mind is the fault of my own pea-brain.

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

    Thanks also to BD for the snow. I made a snowman. My hands are cold.

  33. Kitty
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    P.S. 7d brought to mind my favourite Christmas card of the year (sadly now sold out or I’d post the link to buy them).

  34. Gwizz
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Lovely crossword and yes, a lovely Christmas card. Regarding the latter why do I always see the best card around shortly after I’ve bought mine? Oh well.
    Regarding the crossword a nice selection of clues and the long ones weren’t as easy as I anticipated. In fact I had HEALING as the second part of 5d for ages until the penny finally dropped!
    IoW…hmmm, Stones in Hyde Park anyone?
    Thanx to Mr Ron and to Gaza.
    Ps. Kath! Really! Mark you I did like it…..http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      Stones in the park. I was there

  35. dutch
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    am feeding my dad shropshire blue on crackers – pretty good stuff, methinks

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Started off in Inverness c. 1970 I believe. Why it’s called Shropshire Blue I have no idea. Same could be said of Stilton I suppose. Nonetheless, both are excellent cheeses to be enjoyed, not only with a good quality water biscuit, but a super port. My port of choice is Warre’s 10 year old Otima Tawny – it must be saved chilled. The port that is NOT the cheese http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • dutch
        Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        thank you – i was kinda hoping you’d respond

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

          You’re welcome Dutch. Hope to see you in January if you’re attending. The port recommendation should have, of course, read ‘served chilled’.

          Will your friend Neil be coming along?

  36. John
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Must admit I was surprised to see a 3* for this. Just about the easiest one we’ve done in ages….but it’s often the case that I find the “easy” ones hard!

    Can’t agree with Gazza’s opening remarks re age. True, young’uns may have struggled with Ms Dors and Larry, but on other days how many of the more mature solvers are stumped by references to t’internet or other modern technology? Can’t please all of the people all of the time and besides, is it not good to learn new things from these puzzles?

    • dutch
      Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      i like that – plenty to learn for everyone from all these puzzles….

  37. Grahame
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    My goodness, I honestly think that this blog was more fun than the crossword. I struggled a bit but with Gaza’s help managed to finish. What really heartened me was the talk of elp. I drove my lorry full of frozen food round the m25 last week listening to welcome back my friends. Brilliant. Is it too late in the day to mention genesis, obviously before Peter Gabriel left.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:53 am | Permalink


      • Jose
        Posted December 17, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        We’ve cracked it! How to repel Tstrummer – just brandish a Genesis or ELP album at him…….. :-)

  38. ezfer
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Don’t know if I count as young, but as a forty-something, I had no problem with actor (my first one in) or actress (didn’t come to mind immediately but once I had all checkers and worked out definition, I recognised her in the wordplay) – as others have said, should be part of general knowledge. I did have trouble today with a couple of the lurkers (13a & 6d – LOI). 4a was my second last – I knew pens was a ‘trick’ word but couldn’t get field of sheep out of my head for ages! Was confused about the wordplay for 22d but eventually worked out the ‘trouble’ then saw ‘by’ written in clue and used that, conveniently forgetting about the ‘in past’ bit! Favourite was 9d. Many thanks to setter (I enjoyed the pangram Quick Crossword too) and Gazza (for answering my few queries I had, e.g. about ‘Ex’ and ‘Gate’).

  39. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Very late commenting again as we have been away out of computer range. Did get the puzzle done though and enjoyed it.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

  40. Michael
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    ‘Lour’ was a new word to me in 1d – the rest of it was fairly straightforward – I do like an anagram!


  41. Tstrummer
    Posted December 16, 2015 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m just tired, but I did find this harder than usual for a Tuesday. It was also most enjoyable, with plenty to smile about: 17a and 20d get mentioned in dispatches, but The Force was with 6d, my last one in.
    As regards us oldies versus those with years ahead of them: I think a mix of ancient and modern is great, but setters have to be careful with the moderns, because some of them are mere flashes in the pan who are long forgotten before us geriatrics get a chance to hear about them. I would no more expect to see a clue involving Dappy from N’dubs than I would Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders.
    Thanks to Gazza and the mysteron. 3*/4*
    Mention on Joni earlier inspires me to add this, my favourite version of my best-loved of her songs: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iAb6Jgb41mo

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 16, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      I will click the link later Ts but I bet it is Coyote. Possibly The Last Waltz version

  42. Wychie
    Posted December 16, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I kind of agree with you about the age but Olivier being used in cryptic clues I can’t ever see changing. I think the hardest thing to pick up is the knowledge of Latin often required for some clues. I know that my school had almost removed it from the curriculum when I was there 30 years ago. As a teacher its pretty much gone in most schools now.

  43. Gwizz
    Posted December 16, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    That Joni clip of her in her heyday just makes it all the more poignant regarding her present problems. Very sad indeed.