DT 27990

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27990

Hints and tips by “And Miffypops”

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Good morning. This will be my last review before Christmas arrives so a very Merry Christmas to one and all of you. Christmas came early for me last night with a fine performance from Sir Van Morrison at Nell’s club in London. Thank you Nell for sorting seats out for Sharon and I and thanks to your Dad just for being himself.

Thanks to Rufus for the Monday challenges throughout the year. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I am not convinced that this one is from you so I will hold fire just in case.

I hope you all get lots and lots of whatever it is you need. Wow!

Quote from the blog

“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”.

Todays hints and tips have been lovingly created by “And Miffypops”. Definitions are underlined. Together they should lead you to the answers you may be struggling with. If you are completely bamboozled befuddled and bewildered click on the greyed out box to reveal the answer.

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    He’ll let you have lots at knock-down prices (10)
AUCTIONEER: The geezer with the gavel who says “Going, Going and Pfff, It’s Gone” at houses such as Christies and Sotheby’s

6a    Compete with Western opinion (4)
VIEW: Take a verb meaning to compete eagerly with someone and add the W(estern)

10a    An indication of approval backing Italian lady (5)
DONNA: The name of my niece who is not Italian can be found by lifting the AN straight from the clue and adding the verb meaning to raise and lower one’s head briefly as a signal of assent. We now need to reverse the whole as indicated by the word backing

11a    Talks continuously disconcert offspring (7,2)
RATTLES ON: Split 6,3 we have an informal verb meaning to make someone nervous ,worried or irritated, followed by a male relative but not your daught

12a    Extinct animal may still make raid on us (8)
DINOSAUR: A jumpoutatcha anagram (may still make) of RAID ON US

13a    This may light up the game (5)
MATCH: An implement for lighting a fire is also a sporting contest between two teams.

15a    Untidy serving men eat here (2,1,4)
IN A MESS: A double definition. The serving men may be in the army.

17a    Catchphrases put new gloss over a nation’s leader (7)
SLOGANS: Anagram (new) of GLOSS and including the initial letter (leader) of N(ations)

19a    Haul fish around these islands? (7)
LEEWARD: As in 4ac we have to reverse (around) what the clue yields to find the name of these islands in the West Indies. Split 4,3 We first need a verb meaning to pull or drag something just as a dentist might do with a tooth. We then need the name of a three lettered fish. fish. Take your pick from these: Bar, Bib, Cod, Char, Dab, Eel, Gar, Ged, Ide, Par, Ray. Roe, Sar, and Tai

21a    Give credit? You need faith to do it (7)
BELIEVE: Another double definition. Rather easy I thought

22a    Drops of water (5)
FALLS: Pistyll Rhaeadr and Aira Force are two examples of such water drops

24a    Repeatedly hit on the forehead to intimidate (8)
BROWBEAT: Another one to split. This time 4,4 The first being another word for your forehead and the second meaning to hit, like a drum perhaps

27a    Rings and stones are processed (9)
RESONATES: Anagram (processed) of ARE STONES. I thought this should end in a D so I put one in. You would think that would teach me to use pencils and check my anagrams. It won’t though.

28a    Country taking in reciprocal support (5)
INDIA: Our third reversal of the morning. Lift the word In from the clue and add a word meaning support or help but reversed or reciprocated

29a    Unauthorised retreat (4)
NOOK: This retreat or cranny is only unauthorised when split 2,2

30a    Not even a gymnast would use such bars (10)
ASYMMETRIC: A full stop after the word even might give the game away here but it would ruin the surface reading. These items of gymnastic equipment are not parallel. Careful with the spelling or 21d becomes impossible


1d    Military assistant gives help on a point (4)
AIDE: Use the same three lettered word for help or support that we used at 28across and add one of the points of the compass

2d    Frank had a meal, but he hasn’t yet a seat (9)
CANDIDATE: Yet another split. This time 6,3. A word meaning frank or open followed by the past tense of eat

3d    State I had found uplifting with love (5)
IDAHO: This American potato growing state is known as The Gem State. To find it we need the letter I from the clue. The word HAD reversed (uplifted) and the letter which depicts a love score in tennis.

4d    Points about unusual Roman invaders (7)
NORMANS: Place two compass points around an anagram (unusual) of ROMAN

5d    Threatens to get money (7)
EXTORTS: A double definition

7d    Not flush, but accepted by social clique (5)
INSET: Spit the answer 2,3 to find the social clique.

8d    Gunner’s school? (10)
WINCHESTER: This school founded in 1382 is also the name of a repeating rifle. The Gun That Won the West

9d    Important shipping line (8)
PLIMSOLL: A line painted on a boat to indicate when it is fully laden.

14d    Resolution not to be broken (4,2,4)
WILL OF IRON: A burning determination that cannot be stopped or hindered by anything

16d    Passing of time with pleasing novel (8)
ELAPSING: Anagram ((novel) of PLEASING

18d    A heroic swimmer accepting kiss from a great man in history (9)
ALEXANDER: Bear with me. This may take some time. Long ago and far away this lad whose name you need to solve the clue fancied this girl called Hero who lived in a tower across the sea. He swam across every night and made sweet love to her guided by a light she set atop the tower she lived in. Presumably he swam home every morning. This went on all through the summer months. When the winter came he swam through a storm but the wind blew the guiding light out and he lost his way and drowned. I am not surprised. The poor lad must have been all washed up and wasted. What with all the swimming, tower climbing and endless nookie that he had endured. When Hero saw his dead body washed up on the shore she threw herself from her tower and died so that they could be forever together. There are easier ways of doing things. Bouncy Castles. I met Saint Sharon on a bouncy castle.

To solve the clue we need to put the name of this soft lad after the letter A from the clue and insert one of his sweet kisses to get the name of an historical figure known as The Great.

20d    Let dates be set for discussions (7)
DEBATES: Anagram (set) of DATES BE

21d    Flower blooms, the last to come up around the start of spring (7)
BLOSSOM: Last one in for me due to an incorrect spelling at 30 across. Move the last letter of the word BLOOMS to the left within the word (or up in a down clue) and add another S from the start of s(pring). Once the final checker was corrected the answer was obvious. I then tried to justify an anagram of BLOOMS and an S but could not figure the wordplay.

23d    Catch results in girl getting duck (5)
LASSO: A word meaning a girl and the tennis score for love will give another word meaning to catch with a lariat.

25d    She has reached match point (5)
BRIDE: This girl is dressed up like a meringue and is about to meet her 13ac and say “I Do”

26d    Mineral used in ancient alchemy (4)
TALC: A lurker hiding away within the confines of the clue

RIP Jimmy Hill. Coventry loved you.

The Quick Crossword pun: anon+knee+mouse=anonymous


  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    0*/2.5*. Although this had all Rufus’ usual trademarks I found it less enjoyable than usual for a Monday simply because it was so easy. My writing speed was the limiting factor!

    30a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Rufus and to MP.

    • williamus
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      The “what’s not to like…?” wasn’t a challenge to your post RD, just that I hadn’t seen yours when I posted mine…

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        That happens, Williamus. I didn’t take it as a challenge, just a slight difference of opinion. I’m a huge fan of Rufus, and I did like this but, unlike the other 50 Mondays of the year so far, it was all over too quickly for me.

  2. williamus
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    What’s not to like about this puzzle? It won’t be tough enough for some here, but for me this was one of the best Monday puzzles I’ve yet to do. Misdirection, loads of humour and the usual clever surfaces and clue construction. Almost too may gems to pick a favourite (e.g. 2d, 4d, 18d, 30a) but I’ll go for 25d. Proof, if proof were needed, that a puzzle doesn’t have to be a brain strainer to be outstanding. Ticks all the boxes for me, so */*****! Thanks to Mr Squires, Miffypops and to BD for the blog.

  3. Kath
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    2*+ difficulty for me because I made a real pig’s ear of the bottom left corner and 3* for enjoyment.
    All went really quite well until I got to 29a and 14d – couldn’t get either until inspiration struck and I put ‘AWOL’ for 29a – oh dear!
    Everything else was pretty straightforward.
    I liked 1 and 30a and 9 and 18d. My favourite was 24a – I’d call that very intimidating.
    With thanks to Rufus and to MP.

    • Ridgerunner
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I too got held up with same two clues after pencilling in AWOL . Made the crossword a bit of a disappointment since most of the clues were unsatisfyingly easy.

      • Kath
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Oh good – thank you – so comforting to know that I’m not the only one. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    • KiwiColin
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      If you weren’t so far away I would accuse you of peeping over my shoulder when I was solving this and copied the AWOL that I had lightly written in 29a. Took a little while to sort out before I could make any sense of 14d. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Kath
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        . . . just you wait until I’m really peeping over your shoulder while you’re doing a crossword – in about five weeks. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        • KiwiColin
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          Looking forward to it already.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        • Miffypops
          Posted December 22, 2015 at 12:03 am | Permalink

          I worked out today that Saint Sharon and I could get first class return flights to Australia for about £10,000 each if we book well in advance. I thought about this for a while and looked into business class. We can get return business class flights for about £3,000 each. Then I thought about it properly and realised that for just £10,700 I could fly first class and Saint Sharon could travel in cattle class. Result.

  4. Molly
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I find the explanations of the clues very helpful.

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Welcome Molly

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Hi Molly. Welcome from me too. I am glad that you find my hints helpful, they are incomprehensible to me.

    • Hanni
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Hello from me too.

  5. Hanni
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I cannot give this a difficulty rating because it wasn’t difficult, it just sort of wrote itself in. With the exception of letter circles. I wrote lots of them on general principle. I might write some more later working on anagrams of “andmiffypops”.

    Back to the puzzle. I think this was a Rufus and thought it was fairly enjoyable. Although after yesterdays Times puzzle from Dean who knows what my brain thinks anymore. Liked 30a very much.

    Many thanks to Rufus and to And Miffypops for a tip top blog.

    I am off shopping soon where I shall not be buying turkey. I will be buying Lego and some Baileys that I will not drink.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Dippy man’s off round to see Green Man’s Landlord http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Hanni
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        I’m now sat in traffic wondering about drinking the Bailey’s. Is posting on a blog illegal whilst in a car?

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Only if you’re on drugs http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

          Rethink – Dippy man’s off round to see Saint Sharon’s other half

          There is so much material to be had from ‘andmiffypops’

          • Hanni
            Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

            I could stand a drink now, I’m back too late to ride out. Enjoy your Campari/Snowball/Pina Colada etc.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          Btw amp, forgot to agree with you re – Jimmy Hill. I’ve never been enthralled by many people involved with ‘the beautiful game’ but JH did make a huge contribution to the sport he loved and he will be sadly missed.

          £20 wage cap? How times have changed.

        • Kath
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          I’d quite like to be really picky here because it’s something that bugs me all the time – I suspect that RD and possibly a few other pedants will agree with me. You’re not sat in traffic – you’re sitting in traffic.
          Whatever – I hope that the traffic jam clears soon.

          • Hanni
            Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

            Duly noted. I was sitting in traffic debating about drinking some Bailey’s whilst posting on the blog and ringing someone about the horses. I am now sitting on a big sofa with a hot bean bag on my knee, drinking some water and doing some work that came in whilst I was sitting in traffic. However as it near Christmas, I may attempt to turn the water into wine and proclaim it to be a Saturnalian miracle. I shall celebrate this miracle by sitting on the sofa and drinking the whole lot. I shall no doubt remain sitting if I do that, as a whole ‘miracle’ of wine would render me unable to stand. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  6. silvanus
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Back to the more familiar read and write Rufus after four weeks of something slightly trickier on Mondays.

    Superbly crafted clues as one would expect, even if several (like 13a and 21a) were remarkably easy.

    I’ve ticked three particular favourites – 19a, 7d and 25d. Struggling to see the logic behind 12a, if an animal is extinct, how can it make a raid?

    Many thanks and a very Merry Christmas to both Mr. Squires and MP.

  7. dutch
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Merry Xmas Miffypops and thanks for the music.

    straightforward and enjoyable puzzle today. I liked 19a and 29a.

    Many thanks Rufus for a great year

  8. Richard Donovan
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Blimey! Probably my fastest solve, and would have been 15 minutes faster if I hadn’t put RAMBLES ON in 11 across, making 5D an unnecessary problem! For some reason I didn’t spot the Anagrind in 16D so ELAPSING went in last.

    0 for difficulty but 3 for making me feel more clever than I actually am!

  9. Sheffieldsy
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Pretty straightforward solve for us. Only 19a gave us any real pause for hard thought. 19a therefore becomes our favourite. We rated it 1*/3*. Thanks to ‘And Miffypops’ and Rufus.

  10. Paso Doble
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    We finished this fairly quickly owing to the circumstances. We are sitting in A & E at Moorfields because poor old Doble has got a rather unsightly eye infection. Thanks to Rufus? and Miffypops

    • Graham
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Hope it clears up soon,nasty things eye infections.?

      • Paso Doble
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Graham. We spent five hours there and polished off the Guardian Rufus puzzle which was slightly trickier than todays Telegraph.
        The eye infection is actually Shingles so Doble is looking forward to a complete recovery over the festive period.

        • Kath
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          Oh dear – Shingles is (are ?) horrid. I do hope that she feels better soon.
          A little http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif for her.

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

          Get well soon Doble. Christmas is a horrible time to be ill. Best wishes.

        • Hanni
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          Oh no. Hope you feel better soon.

      • Paso Doble
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Thanks so much everyone for your kind wishes. I am just relieved that it hasn’t spread to my actual eye – it was worth the 5 hour wait at Moorfields to find out!

  11. Ann Atkinson
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    29a answer was a new definition for me, thesaurus gave me the answer which you confirmed, thank you and Merry Christmas

  12. Cryptor
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Plain sailing until 14d and 29a, which took as long as the rest put together. Missed the 2, 2 factor of 29a even though put the answer in. Was no OK for me, so **/*** Thanks to Rufus and And Miffypops.

  13. Jaylegs
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Pretty straightforward R & W but very enjoyable ? */*** Liked 8d & 19a. Thanks to MP & Rufus and a Merry Christmas ? Thought the clip accompanying 12a a little unkind, he still manages to top the charts despite all the youthful talent ?

  14. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    **/***. Two schoolboy errors held me up. Both spelling mistakes for 9d and 30a. Dipstick! Anyway, got there in the end. Thanks to the setter and MP for the review.

  15. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Glad this was not too difficult as my brain is frazzled by Dean Mayer’s Christmas Prize Crossword in the Times. Yes, I know it’s not the DT, but it’s well worth a mention if you’ve not seen it.

    Anyway, I must confess that this didn’t quite have the ‘feel’ of a Rufus production even though there are a lot of trademark clues. To me it was very like the April Fool stunt played out on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show a few years ago with the OTT Nutter who is Rob Bryson. However, I’m sure that I’ll be proved wrong. No particular stand out favourite but being an ex matelot, I found 15a amusing.

    Thanks to Rufus (?) for the puzzle and ‘Andmiffypops’ for the usual amusing review http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Hanni
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Yup. Dean’s puzzle is worth a look. The traffic still hasn’t moved.

  16. Michael
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I misspelt 30a, this really held me up – once I’d realised my error it all went swimmingly – I think it was six anagrams which is food and drink to me – very enjoyable but over too quickly!

    I had to do two tours of the Waitrose car park before finding a spot – I was under orders to get a couple of Christmas essentials – what a performance – the shops are open again on Boxing Day – we’ve laid in enough to survive a siege – she will not be told – anything for a quiet life!

    Arsenal v Man City tonight – should be a good one!


    • Miffypops
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      She will not be told? You would never hear me say such a thing

      • Michael
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        …… when I say ‘she will not be told’ it’s just a turn of phrase – you don’t know my Missus – she’s the Boss and I’m more than happy with the situation! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

  17. judetheobscure
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Not a big fan of this one. Too many clues that just didn’t seem cryptic (5d, 9d, 14d), were very easy (30a, 8d), or that otherwise jarred (29a), and three points used.

    The good news is that it was completed in double quick time so 1*/2* for me.

  18. Killer Watts
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyabl puzzle for a Monday, just what I needed. */**** rating. I thought 9 down was very clever, a smile crossed my otherwise stern face as I got this one.
    Thanks to all as usual.

  19. Ralfy
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Merry Christmas to all of the big Dave crew!!! When my my mates big tel & (big) tony can’t sort it out I know you are always there for me!! Always been a tradition in my family to have cryptic clues for the presents and I’m rAther pleased this year to make an anagram of champagne truffles!! Ralfy????

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Welcome Ralfy

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Hello Ralfy from me too.

  20. Merusa
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I agree, this was Rufus at his easiest.
    Fave was 22a, but lots of fun clues.
    Thanks to Rufus and to M’pops for his review.

  21. Brian
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Not difficult but very enjoyable. All the better as I have been struggling with Rufus puzzles as of late. Great start to Christmas week.
    Thx to all.

  22. KiwiColin
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    The only hold up was in the SW corner but did not delay me for too long. Pleasant enough.
    Thanks Rufus and Miffypops.

  23. Boltonbabs
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    This was a read and write in the main. My main reason for posting is to thank Big Dave for such an excellent blog throughout the year, keep up the good work in 2016. I may be a “lurker” for the most part but really enjoy my visits.
    Hope everyone has a good Christmas and a happy new year.

  24. mre
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Good evening everybody.

    An unexpected joint effort today but completed readily not much into two star time. No praiseworthy clues for me. Thought 29a was a weak clue.


  25. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Same back to you Boltonbabs and many more of them http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  26. Heno
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops for the review and hints. A very enjoyable but very straightforward puzzle. More or less read and write, except for the SW corner. Last in was 19a. Favourite was 8d. Come on the Gooners at 8pm. Was 0.5*/3* for me.

  27. stanXYZ
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Don’t miss “Only Connect” tonight on BBC 2 @ 20:30 … Cluesmiths vs The Railwaymen.

    One of the Cluesmiths is a DT Toughie setter!

    Micawber – I think?

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

      Yes – Micawber – thanks for the reminder. I thought they’d been knocked out.

      • silvanus
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        They did lose in an earlier game, but as with University Challenge it’s still possible to progress from the earlier rounds without having an unblemished record. They’ve won two out of three I think.

        Tonight though a defeat would mean elimination!

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          Talking of UC – I’ve just tuned in to BBC2 in preparation to watching ‘Only Connect’. Have you seen how much Paxman’s chair wobbles when he’s asking questions – it’s really quite disconcerting. Don’t know if it’s a built in massager or a nervous twitch. I’ve got 5 questions – really – 5 correct http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

          EDIT – 7, yes 7 correct. I must be entitled to some honorary degree (somewhere) ?

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

            Congrats to the Cluesmiths – well done http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

            • Kath
              Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

              Thank you – our recorded thingy cut us off about two minutes from the end – I blame husband but he, as always, says this kind of mistake is a mystery to him.

              • Jane
                Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

                Maybe Chris’s fault, Kath, but I seem to go through phases of getting the same problem – only with ITV programmes as a rule. I’m told that’s it’s the TV companies not ‘getting their act together’ but I suspect it’s more likely to be an evil plot to make sure that we watch everything ‘live’, including the adverts! At times, the only answer seems to be to record both the programme you want to watch and the one immediately afterwards. Fair enough – unless you want to record something else at the same time!

                • Hanni
                  Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

                  If you are both on Sky you can manually add extra recording time to programs. Not sure about Virgin/Freesat etc. The irony of my knowing that is wonderful given that I rarely if ever watch TV.

                  • Jane
                    Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

                    Sky?!!! Sport, films I’ve already seen + pay for the privilege – no thank you! Freesat is fine.

                    • Hanni
                      Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:50 pm | Permalink


                      And yet I am still paying for it. Without being able to name one program I watch. I suppose I occasionally watch cricket but that’s just the highlights.

                • Shropshirelad
                  Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

                  Sorry Jane – you can’t blame ITV on this one. BBC all the way. I know I probably pay through the nose for the service but what a Godsend modern ‘boxes’ are with their instant click and record everything you wanted to view.

                  Gone are the days when you had to scan ‘recording codes’, digital numbers ‘et al’

                  Even if you do b***s it up there’s always:

                  Catch up TV and the rest of the repeat channels that you can watch a programme whenever you want to.

          • Florence
            Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

            Gosh, yes I did notice Paxman’s chair wobbling. Really put me off watching. He must have been jiggling his knees under the table.

  28. Salty Dog
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable doddle – just the job to start the week. Call it 1*/3*. Favourite clue was 18d until I twigged the nautical context of 9d, which I was trying to over-complicate by inserting an “l” in a word meaning “important”. Thanks to Rufus for this and all his other offerings, which I always enjoy, and to Miffypops for a cracking review.

  29. Badger
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    ………for Sharon and ME!!!!!!

  30. Kitty
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t doubt this was a Rufus, but the lack of a theme makes me think that Gazza’s prediction of another one of his on Christmas day will come true.

    I daren’t make any more predictions. I thought I had a couple more days before the start of the invasions. I don’t. C’est la vie.

    Thanks to Rufus. And Miffypops too.

  31. Jane
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Would have been R&W if I hadn’t gone to pieces over 14d&29a and had given up sooner on the attempts to find an alternative spelling of ‘isometric’ to fit 30a! Oh yes – I also toyed with ‘rambles on’ for 11a.
    Not knowing the history of the ancient bloke in 18d, I came up with what seemed to be a decent alternative. ‘A’ from the clue, followed by the name of the Serbian Olympic swimming champion ‘Lender’ into which is inserted ‘kiss from a’ – XA. Any objections, MP?
    Best for me were 15a plus 2d.
    Thanks and Merry Christmas to Rufus (?) and MP.
    Comments on the review? Top marks for the Auctioneer’s song and the delightful Olga and a rueful smile for the dinosaur (definitely past his sell by date when that must have been recorded, but still packing the punters in). As for The Bachelors – least said the better.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      The musical choices were all made with you in mind Jane. I can only work with the words that are given. I hope every week for Dylan, Waits and Morrison opportunities with a bit of Neil Young and Leonard Cohen but get disappointed most weeks

  32. Anthony M
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    30 across – I can’t spell either. Caused me problems.

  33. Una
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Great fun ! The only difficulty was how exactly to spell 9d. As it happened , I was right first time, to my surprise.
    “Untidy serving men eat here”, also reads , to me ,” serving untidy man, who eats here”. Let me put it like this , some retired lawyers just can’t bear not being surrounded by lots of paperwork.Could be worse , I suppose.
    Thanks Miffypops for your entertaining blogs and wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas.Updates on your grandson would be appreciated.
    Thanks also to Rufus.

  34. Gwizz
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Well I raced through the top half only to come to a shuddering halt in the lower section. Spelling PLIMSOLL wrongly certainly didn’t help and then I decided NOOK couldn’t possibly be correct. And as for 25d….oh dear oh dear. Thanks MP for helping sort me out – on a Monday! For heaven’s sake….
    Because I just wasn’t with it today 25d was my favourite and overall? Well, for me, 2/3*.
    Thanks to Rufus and ‘andMP’ http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  35. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Well. Put an “E” at the end of my plimsoll line too, misspelled 30a and penciled in “rabbits on” in 11a.
    Apart from that it went smoooothly.
    Liked 13a ( this may light up the game) and 25d (she has reached) but favourite is 24a (repeatedly hit).
    Thanks to Rufus and to MP for the great review and pleased to see all the bloggers coming to visit BD for the festive season.

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

      Hi JL – I love the new Gravatar http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      As I am an art philistine – who / what is it all about?

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

        It’s a long story.
        My daughter wants to do some kind of design studies and I reminded her that when she was at nursery school, she came back home talking about painters who produced works with houses in them. One of them was Hundertwasser. How she could remember that name at the age of 5 was beyond me. She couldn’t remember the incident and I showed her some of his work and had to record the picture to send it over to her phone.

        • Hanni
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

          Clever girl! What sort of design stuff is she looking at?

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted December 22, 2015 at 12:02 am | Permalink

            She wants to do advertising design. But the road is long.

            • Hanni
              Posted December 22, 2015 at 12:29 am | Permalink

              Wow. Yes that will be a long road but the fact that she remembers Hundertwasser at at five must count for a lot. Good luck to her. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

              Will you see her over Christmas…just seen SL’s post, it’s like an interrogation over the blog tonight?

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 22, 2015 at 12:15 am | Permalink

          Very impressed with your daughter’s ambition JL – what age is she now? Had a quick look at Hundertwasser’s profile, I’ll investigate further in the morninng. If we don’t speak again before the big day – Joyeux Noël et bonne année.

  36. Florence
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Relatives due to arrive tomorrow for Christmas, so haven’t had time to print the puzzle off yet. Just wanted to say a massive thank you Miffypops for all your reviews this year, and have a terrific Christmas. I’ll be lucky if I get access to any puzzles over the coming days. My 89 year old mother-in-law usually has the cryptic finished before I clear the breakfast dishes. A constant reminder I have a long way to go.

  37. Mcmillibar
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Quite liked this one but was held up a bit by falling asleep on it. My fibre-tip lowered at the same rate as my eyelids leaving a blot. My refreshed state later was not quite enough to sort out 21d with my mis-spelled 30a. Ahem. Once you had cleared that up, MP, I rather liked the clue. Thank you. Not bothering with ratings etc today. Thank you to all you Bloggers and Setters alike for all the fun through the year.
    Joyful Christmas everyone!

  38. Jane
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Hi TS – guess that you will be around ‘ere long. Continuing with my literary education, I have now re-read Tess of the D’ and The Mayor of C. as a prelude to reading Jude, which arrived this morning. The ‘old-fashioned’ and doubtless regional wording took a bit of getting used to again and brought up at least one question. When and why did we start to use ‘neither’ and ‘either’ only in relation to two of something? Hardy uses it repeatedly in Tess where at least three are involved.
    I may be improving my mind, thanks to your tutoring, but have to confess that I’ve just spent a couple of hours watching a ‘Chick Flick’ starring Hugh Grant and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sorry if that disappoints you, but it made me feel really happy!

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Good point about either/either etc. Fowler says: “The proper sense of the pronoun (or adjective) is ‘not the one nor the other of the two’. It sometimes refers loosely to numbers greater than two; but none or no should be preferred.”
      Nothing wrong with liking a chick flick, by the way. Although I love an arty film with subtitles more than most, I’m partial to the running-about-and- shooting genre and also to reading the odd thriller (Simon Kernick, and Coventry’s finest, Lee Child).

  39. Tstrummer
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    This all slid in smoothly like a hot knife into deep-fried Camembert until I was left with 21d, which I thought must be a flower I’d never heard of. I did that running the alphabet through my head thing, hoping for a lightbulb moment, but none came. Only then did I regain my presence of mind and look up 30a and discovered, like quite a few others, that I had misspelt 30a, I’m ashamed to admit, seeing as I do spelling for a living. Once that was sorted 21d was obvious. Many many thanks to the mega crossword brain that is MIffypops (who also has better musical taste than the rest of you put together – except me, of course) and to Rufus for a year of crossword heaven. Merry Christmas to you both and Lang may yer lum reek.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 22, 2015 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      Thinking about losing my presence if mind brought this flooding back – still hilarious after all these years. If you listen to one clip this year, make it this one …

  40. Young Salopian
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Gentle start to week but no less enjoyable. 1*/3* from me with thanks all round.

  41. Unicorn
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t get my telegraph until late Monday so did the crossword on Tuesday. Definitely 1* for difficulty as I completed it without electronic help. Last one in was 29a although I needed BRB to get it. Enjoyment was probably 2* as there were not enough doh moments and rather a lot of straight write ins. Thought the quick crossword was more difficult as I had never heard of 17a.