DT 27998

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27998

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Hola from the Vega Baja from where I have the honour of blogging the last back pager of the year.  As you might expect there are a few clues relevant to the occasion but for me they rather spoiled things as their answers were so obvious.  The rest of the puzzle is pretty good though.

Before going on to the hints may I wish a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all setters, bloggers, commenters and lurkers.  Feliz Año as they say around here.

À propos de rien (yesterday’s Toughie) we are a diverse lot on this blog.  For example, if any of you were sad enough to want to visit all three of the Thursday bloggers, Kath in Oxford, Falcon in Ottawa and yours truly in Almoradí, you would have to travel almost 10,000 miles!  Enough of that – on to the puzzle . . .

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           Delivery man who may darken your doorway tonight (5-6)
FIRST FOOTER:  This is a not very cryptic allusion to the, preferably dark haired, man who enters your house after midnight tonight and delivers good luck for the coming year.  Depending on which part of the country you’re in he’s supposed to bring a silver coin, bit of coal, bread or whisky so definitely a bit of a delivery man. In some places a fair woman would bring bad luck with her so is to be avoided at all costs!

9a           World-weariness that is holding a French knight back (5)
ENNUI:  Take the Latin abbreviation for that is and insert (holding) the French indefinite artilcle and the chess abbreviation for knight.  Then reverse the lot (back).

10a         In our time, military is deployed after one’s left naval department (9)
ADMIRALTY:  Two letters for the current time followed by an anagram (is deployed) of MILITARY but without one of the I’s (after one’s left).

11a         Quiet resort hit by rumour of zoo animal from China (4-3)
SHIH TZU:  Two letter for (be) quiet followed by an anagram (resort) of HIT and then two letters which aren’t a word but if pronounced sound like (rumour of ) ZOO. Split that lot (4,3) and you get a breed of dog which originated in China and whose name means “Little Lion”
shih tzu

12a and 15a: Why nary a peep exchanged in timely greeting? (5,3,4)
HAPPY NEW YEAR: Anagram (exchanged) of WHY NARY A PEEP.  I didn’t even check the fodder but just wrote in the answer.

14a and 19a: Cast laud Spooner’s chanted lyric in topical song (4,4,4)
AULD LANG SYNE: Anagram (cast) of LAUD gives the first word.  The next two words are a Spoonerism of two words which might mean chanted lyric but the second is actually misspelled so for me the clue doesn’t work. I think with this one you don’t need the dodgy wordplay as just the definition and enumeration are enough to make the answer obvious

15a         See 12a

17a         Journalist provided with cool, complex organisation (7)
EDIFICE:  Start with the usual journalist and the a two letterword meaning provided and finish with a word which can mean to cool and you get the complex organisation. It’s a word more commonly used for a large or imposing building.

19a         See 14a

20a         Lustier dancing — Romeo gets closer (8)
SULTRIER:  Closer as in the weather not location. It’s an anagram (dancing) of LUSTIER followed by the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

21a         Me sporting tailored sateen? Kind of right (8)
EASEMENT:  This is a right of access to your property by crossing a neighbours land and it’s ME (from the clue) inserted (sporting as in wearing) into an anagram (tailored) of SATEEN.

23a         International alliance judged and ignored (7)
UNHEARD: An International organisation followed by a word which can mean judged or tried. Does this really mean ignored?

25a and 27a: Big-hearted punters try wild celebration somewhere in Scotland (9,6,5)
EDINBURGH STREET PARTY:  An anagram (wild) of BIG HEARTED PUNTERS TRY gives you a celebration in Scotland which probably is a wild one.
street party

26a         Honour reflected by fine online publication (1-4)
EBOOK:  Reverse (reflected) an honour bestowed by the Queen and follow with two letters meaning fine or not bad.  I know another phrase which fits this honour’s initials.

27a         See 25a


2d           Relief turns up in leading democracy (5)
INDIA:  A large democracy is formed by reversing (turns up in a down clue)  a word for relief or help and putting IN at the start (in leading).

3d           Man in charge of course, photographer needs another snooze (7)
SKIPPER: You need a word for a photographer and replace the part of it which means someone having a snooze with another word meaning someone having a snooze.  This doesn’t work for me as it’s about a person snoozing not the snooze itself and I don’t see what the “of course” is there for.

4d           Around Leamington Spa’s outskirts, jolly 1950s youth showed off (8)
FLAUNTED: Take the first and last letters (outskirts) of Leamington SpA and around them put a word for jolly, not a Royal Marine but a good time.  Follow this with the usual 1950’s youth.

5d           Nameless theatrical awards for items used in play? (4)
TOYS: Take the common name for the award for excellence in Broadway Theatre whose full little is “The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre”  and remove the N(ame) (nameless). Don’t forget to put an S on the end as it’s all plural.

6d           Stimulate anew to download another 26? (8)
REKINDLE:  If you’ve got 26a this one’s easy. If not I guess it’s well nigh impossible.  You also need to know a common brand of machine on which you might read a 26a and put RE at the beginning to indicate you’re doing it again.

7d           First of all, I’m not intending to idle about like last year. That’s to begin with… (9)
INITIALLY:  Take the first letters (first of all) of the next nine words in the clue.

8d           Gum evidently endlessly chewed — there’s an admission (11)
DIVULGEMENT:  Anagram (chewed) of GUM EVIDENTLY but without the Y (endlessly).  Admission isn’t in my thesaurus as a synonym of this word but I guess it’s near enough.

12d         Flawed heroes sully games manual (6,5)
HOYLES RULES: Anagram (flawed) of HEROES SULLY.  The full title of the games manual has OF GAMES after the answer.

13d         Fighting soldiers’ rations? (7)
WARFARE: If the answer were split (3,4) you would have a cryptic definition of what soldiers may eat during a battle.

16d         Mutton dressed as lamb might appear in this majority (9)
ADULTHOOD: Majority as in being over the age of eighteen. Split (5,4) you have a cryptic description of a youth’s article of clothing being worn by said person in their majority.

17d         Pinpoints signs of jewellery? (8)
EARMARKS:  These signs might be of piercing in order the wear a certain item of jewellery.

18d         Rusty saw perhaps that’s dropped by tree (8)
CHESTNUT:  Double definition.  The first one’s a bit cryptic.

19d         Sea cub master knocked back bottles … a hangover in waiting? (7)
SAMBUCA:  This is a lurker and its hiding (bottles) in SEA CUB MASTER but it’s reversed (knocked back). Personally I can’t stand this stuff so it  could never drink enough for it to give me a hangover.

22d         What’s near end of 31st? (5)
NIGHT:  What’s at the end of the 31st or any other day is an old- fashioned word meaning near followed by the last letter (end of) of 31st.

24d         Pet, we hear, is shy animal (4)
DEER:  Pet as a term of endearment not a teacher’s favourite.  This shy animal sounds like (we hear) another term of endearment.

Oh well, that’s it for another year. I wonder what 2016 will bring.

The Quick Crossword pun: prom+missus+yew+wont+adhere to= promises you wont adhere to


  1. Angel
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    North was straightforward but tougher in the South not helped by struggling with 12d with which I needed help – I’m not a card player. Enjoyed the festive undertones. 25a proved a bit of a hassle until more crossings fell into place. Fav 13d. Have fun tonight everybody – Cheers! Happy New Year. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

    • Angel
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      My apologies to Mysteron and Pommers for failure to thank them, respectively, for last of the year puzzle and hints. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif. ***/***.

  2. Gazza
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Thanks and Happy New Year to Mr Ron and to pommers.
    I thought that the definition in 3d was ‘man in charge of course (i.e. sea journey)’ but with only 3 letters rather than 6 having to be replaced (i.e. ‘nap’ for ‘kip’).

    • pommers
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      You’re probably right about the snooze Gazza but the man in charge of the course would be the navigator, at least it was on my boat.

    • Pentirebob
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Happy New Year to you, pommers, and to all who provide us with guidance on the Telegraph crosswords on a daily basis. Re your comment on 3d, I solved it using the same rationale as Gazza. For me, it was 11a that needed your input!

      • Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        You’ve changed your alias since your last comment (in June 2014)!

        • Hanni
          Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          Hi BD,

          Do you have the site stats for 2015? The one about how many people view the blog. Am sure you said last year and it was an amazing figure!

          • Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
            • Hanni
              Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

              That’s it. Oh my goodness!!!! Nearly 6 million views this year!!!! What have you created? That’s so impressive. Thank you. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

              • Young Salopian
                Posted December 31, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

                I echo your thoughts. An astonishing number of hits.

            • Rabbit Dave
              Posted December 31, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

              Come on fellas! The top three bloggers in 2015 were all ladies. Let’s show them what we can do in 2016.

              • Jane
                Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

                Just goes to show, RD, that despite your moniker – you simply don’t rabbit on sufficiently!
                Nobody mentioned a prize for heading the leader board – does BD need my address again? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

                • Hanni
                  Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

                  Absolutely Jane. I should be working but I am tempted to open another spreadsheet and break those stats down further.

                  Maybe not.

            • Jane
              Posted December 31, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

              In the interests of sparing you all the trouble of going through the archives – the puzzle that received the most comments was:-
              a. A Mr. T production.
              b. Reviewed by Falcon who pictured a beautiful young lady clad in millions of dollars worth of undies.
              c. The day of the formation of the Loopy Corner.
              d. The occasion when Brian commented ‘More fun watching paint dry’.

              Not too many surprises there, then!

  3. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Where is Ray T when you need him? What a disappointment to finish the year.

    I found this to be a real curate’s egg of a puzzle with some good bits and some bad bits, but my overall opinion was strongly influenced by being unable to solve 16d & 17d for a considerable time having put in “untried” for 23a. It seems to me that my answer fits the wordplay perfectly, and is probably a better answer for the definition. As all my six across answers in the SW corner looked valid I went through the slog of by perming the checking letters from the three across clues which spanned both 16d & 17d before the penny finally dropped for 17d which then allowed me to finish.

    My rating is 4*/2*, but without the last two clues it would have been 2*/3*.

    Thanks to the setter and to pommers, and a very Happy New Year to everyone for tomorrow.

  4. Miffypops
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The themed clues were all a bit dearie dearie me in their obviousness. The quickie took longer and so would the other sort of quickie

    • Paso Doble
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Glad to see that you are making up for Ray T’s absence today, MP!

  5. dutch
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Took me a bit longer than usual, couldn’t remember the word for the visitor in 1a (but guessed the darken had something to do with coal), had not heard of the manual in 12d but guessed from the anagram, and I was trying to find a panda name to fit in 11a.

    19d made me laugh and is my favourite – we had somehow gotten into black sambuca Sundays at the pub, not a good idea – certainly don’t do that anymore!

    I took 3d to mean just replacing the 3 letters that do mean the sleep, so I think it’s ok.

    I thought 25/27a was pretty good, and I thought 7d was clever.

    I found it hard to imagine 6d being used in the downloading sense.

    Many thanks pommers and thank you setter

  6. Spook
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Greetings from north Cornwall it’s been a wild few days, found this pretty challenging.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif
    I think 3d man in charge of course would be navigator or skipper if the navigator was asleep the result might be as illustrated. A bit convoluted but solved in the end.
    This has been a year of discovery finding that you can do cryptic crosswords with help from the bloggers.
    I will raise a glass tonight to all bloggers, setters, commenters and lurkers, we look forward to a new year, let us hope the weather improves mightily let’s hope for some peace.
    Many thanks to Pommers.

  7. pommers
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I’m now wondering if this puzzle is by Elgar!

    The thought did cross my mind while solving it but now I’ve noticed that it’s Enigmatist in the Graun, IO in the FT and Nimrod in the Indy so it’s looking likely!

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      He only set 50% of the Indy – Eimrod means half Eimi (the indy Crossword Editor) and half Nimrod.

      I’m currently trying to get to grips with the FT and then the Graun to follow.

  8. Graham
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Not my cup of tea unfortunately nothing more to be said apart from wishing all a very happy new year,and thanks to Pommers for his review.?

  9. Jane
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Sorry to disagree,Pommers, but I smiled all the way through this one and didn’t object at all to the ‘easy’ bits – it is NYE after all!
    2*/4* for me with the leader board showing 6,17&18d with a special mention for the great anagram at 25/27.

    Re: 3d. I took the ‘skipper’ to be the man in charge of a boat’s course and did the wordplay as ‘snapper’ for the photographer in which you replace the ‘nap’ with another type of snooze – a ‘kip’. Does that work for you?

    Many thanks for the fun to Mr. Ron and all the best for the New Year to you, Pommers, along with thanks for today’s review.

    • pommers
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      See Gazza at #2.

      I didn’t say it wasn’t enjoyable just that 1a,12/15. 14/19 and 25/27 all went in without a millisecnod’s pause and that accounted for 7 of the thirty lights – almost a quarter of the puzzle. As I said the rest of it was pretty good and would have got ****for enjoyment but as it’s only 3/4 of the puzzle . . .

      • dutch
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        I’ve yet to come across an Elgar that would allow that…

        • Kitty
          Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          I was confident I knew who the setter was before I came here. I will say nothing now other than I didn’t think of Elgar.

    • Jane
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Just spotted that several others have chimed in over 3d whilst I was still typing!
      I bow to the superior knowledge of you seafarers but still feel that the skipper is in overall charge of a ship’s whereabouts.

  10. crypticsue
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year to all including the grumpies who won’t have liked this back pager having a fairly obvious theme.

    Can I highly recommend the treat that is The 2015 Toughie “Micawber’s unique take on the year” . The time spent waiting for the pennies to drop is worth every minute.

    • Jane
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      I’ll give it a whirl, CS – but I’m sure you can imagine only too well what my chances are!
      A very happy New Year to you and many thanks for all your hard work on the blog during 2015.

      • Jane
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Update on the above. The Micawber is excellent and, as I’ve completed it, everyone else will be able to do so!
        Do give it a try. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  11. Kitty
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    A fitting puzzle to end the year. Thanks to the setter and pommers.

    I shall take this opportunity to wish you all happy end-of-year celebrations. May next year be heaps better.

  12. pete
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Very disappointing puzzle to end the year with. Agree with Rabbit Dave with regards to some of the answers being very difficult to solve, hopefully back to normal tomorrow. Happy New Year to everyone.

  13. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the tips, pommers.
    I agree with many of your comments…I am new to this blog, so I hope I don’t tread on anyone’s toes…
    1a – The answer is a new one on me and as you say is very regional
    11a – Spent ages trying to find the name of a Panda!! The clue didn’t work for me, the ‘be quiet’ is 3 letters, minimum. Beginners, eh!!
    14a/19a – Yes, agree the spoonerism doesn’t seem to work, fortunately the first word is a give away.
    23a – Agreed, surely ‘ignored’ is a concious ‘choice’, whereas the answer is not.
    3d – Agreed
    6d – Grrrrr,
    7d – Excellent
    16d – ?????
    18d – Don’t understand the first bit
    19d – Best clue
    Thanks so much for the time taken to put the blog together…and to the setter…

    • pommers
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Hi HoofItYouDonkey

      Apparantly 1a is a Scottish and Northern English tradition but I reckon it’s spread to most places by now. We certainly did it in Manchester when I was a lad.

      18d A saw is a saying or adage and a rusty or old one might well be called an old chestnut as in the way we describe clues which should be consigned to the retirement home for tired crossword clues.

      • HoofItYouDonkey
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        1a – Obviously has not invaded South London then yet!! Knock on the door at midnight it’s usually the Police!!
        18d – Noted
        Have a good new year!!

        • Angel
          Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          In my experience dark males have adopted the tradition of delivering symbols of prosperity, food, flavour, warmth and good cheer to homes even Down South in England since time almost immemorial.

          • Michael
            Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

            It was a dark male delivering a lump of coal – Andy Stewart on the telly for umpteen New Years has stuck in my mind!

            Q; How do you drive a Scotsman mad?
            A: Nail is feet to the floor and put on a Jimmy Shand record!


            • Angel
              Posted December 31, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

              Ditto – those are among my memories of N. Y. Eve too but it was certainly better than the rubbish the various channels dish up these days.

  14. Kath
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I thought this was quite difficult and I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it all that much.
    I got completely fixated on pandas for 11a – I think I now know the names of most of the famous ones.
    7d had to be what it was but I never did quite get as far as working out why.
    I thought 19d was a plant – I’ve got one in the garden – have looked it up now – wrong – sambucus! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif
    I’ve never heard of the 12d rules.
    Now that I understand it my favourite is 7d.
    With thanks to whoever set this one and to pommers.
    Happy New Year to all of you.

  15. Hanni
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I think I liked this. Never heard of 12d so had to wait for the checkers on that and look it up. I thought that 3d was in charge of a boat, but given my sailing skills what do I know?

    On general principle I used my pencil to solve all the anagrams.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Pommers for blogging.

    Happy new year to all.

  16. stanXYZ
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Feliz Año to pommers and pommette!

    A very disappointing end to the DT cryptic year.

    ps (I only popped in for help with the Quickie Pun! Nudge! Nudge!)

    • stanXYZ
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Finally resolved the Quickie pun (the first five clues are italicised in the paper).

      My last day of smoking and drinking (until next year!)

      • pommers
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Sorted – and I don’t usually do the quick crossword.

      • Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        I don’t get the paper, but by the time I had finished the quick crossword I was rapidly losing the will to live. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Digby
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      In the paper the first 5 clues in the Quickie are italicised.

    • Angel
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      In any case the not very clever Quickie pun is grammatically incorrect ending as it does with a preposition. Tut tut! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

      • stanXYZ
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink


        Welcome to Pedants’ Corner.

        In any case, I think your comment is lacking a comma?

        • Jose
          Posted January 2, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          stanXYZ. You and Angel both seem to have missed the most obvious solecism – whilst wont is correct in the crossword, it should be won’t in the pun answer.

  17. Paso Doble
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    We’re not going to moan about this, even if it was obvious in parts it was still enjoyable. A very happy new year to Pommers and the setter and to all our friends on the blog.

    And something for Kitty ……

    • Kitty
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Aww, thanks PD! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

      Reminded me of these:

      • Paso Doble
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. Poor old Henri!

  18. Harport
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I had confidently written ‘unrated’ for 23a so there was no hope of my completing the SW corner.
    Happy New Year, everyone.

  19. pommers
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Bar prices in village hall bar tonight are gin & tonic 3€, bottle of wine 2€ and half of beer 1€.. Looking like it’s the wine methinks http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  20. Franny
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I was so pleased to hear from Mary when I emerged from my long lurk before Christmas, that I’ve decided to write in more often.
    I enjoyed this puzzle and send thanks to the setter and Pommers. Wishing a Happy New Year to one and all.
    Bonne Année!

  21. bigpratly
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Worst crossword I can remember for a long time. 25a and 27a , 8d and 20a, nearly encouraged me to set a New Year resolution to skip it. Would have felt suicidal but for Big Dave. Thank you.

    • Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Bigpratly

    • Brian
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Fully agree with you.

  22. neveracrossword
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Did 11a remind any else of a Tim Vine joke? Miffypops perhaps?

    • Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      I thought Tim Vine joke was an oxymoron.

      • Michael
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        ‘Crime in Multi-Story car parks – that’s wrong on every level!’

        Now that’s a Tim Vine joke – I like it – but I’ve always liked Schoolboy humour – never grown up I suppose!


        • stanXYZ
          Posted December 31, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          Q. Why do Frenchmen only have one egg for breakfast?
          A; Because in France one egg is un oeuf


          • neveracrossword
            Posted December 31, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

            I went to a zoo. They only had one dog. It was a shih tzu.

            • pommers
              Posted December 31, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink


        • Michael
          Posted December 31, 2015 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

          – ‘I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I’ll tell you what, never again.’
          – ‘The advantage of easy origami is twofold…’
          – ‘I was in the Army once and the sergeant said to me ‘What does surrender mean?’ I said ‘I give up!’’
          – ‘I had a dream last night that I was cutting carrots with the Grim Reaper… dicing with death!’
          – ‘So I rang up British Telecom and said ‘I want to report a nuisance caller’ He said ‘Not you again’’
          – ‘I saw this bloke chatting up a cheetah and I thought ‘He’s trying to pull a fast one’’
          – ‘I was taking the motorway out of London. A policeman pulled me over and said ‘Put it back’’
          – ‘I’ve got a friend who has got a butler whose left arm is missing; serves him right’
          – ‘Albinos; you can’t say fairer than that’
          – ‘So I said to this train driver ‘I want to go to Paris’ He said ‘Eurostar?’ I said ‘I’ve been on telly, but I’m no Dean Martin’’
          – ‘Beware of Alphabet Grenades; if you throw them, it could spell disaster’
          – ‘I saw this advert that said ‘Television for sale, £1, volume stuck on full’ I thought ‘I can’t turn that down’’

          I could go on but I feel the Pub calling…. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

          • Posted December 31, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

            I rest my case.

          • Jane
            Posted December 31, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

            It’s the way you tell ’em, Michael. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
            A very Happy New Year to you.

  23. Graham Wall
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I should like to take this opportunity to wish a happy new year to all the setters and solvers and fellow participants on this site. I do not have as much time as I would wish for to do the crossword and post my remarks, however I do look in most days and comment when I can. I am not a professional lurker I just help them out when they are busy. Having said that, these past few weeks I have been accessing the Toughie blog as I am determined to attempt more of them in 2016. A special thanks to Big Dave as without his effort and dedication none of this would be possible. It is very much appreciated. May 2016 be good to you all.

  24. Michael
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Well, what can I say – I finished it without resorting to outside assistance BUT there were a few I couldn’t work out from the clue – 10/10 to Pommers for doing his best BUT again I’m still at a bit of a loss :

    11a – it’s a right mish-mash of a clue and doesn’t work for me!
    14a – I get the first part but the Spoonerism bit doesn’t work on any level!
    16a – The ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ bit referring to a youthful mode of dress – well I’m lost for words – talk about obscure!

    Lot’s of anagrams and one lurker so fairly straight forward apart from my gripes – 12d was a new one for me but that’s only my own ignorance!

    Finally, I enjoyed it but was left feeling a bit unsatisfied!

    Roll on the New Year – Seasons Greetings and best wishes to you all!


  25. Young Salopian
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Like Pommers I felt that the themed nature of the puzzle took the edge off the enjoyment. Having said that, I would have been surprised had it not been themed. Anyway, it took a bit of thought to complete it, which is after all the idea, and It brightened up what has become a thoroughly wet and windy afternoon here in the Marches. 2.5*/3.5* from me with grateful thanks to our mystery setter and Pommers.

    A peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year to you all.

    • Young Salopian
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I meant to add that I deducted a half point off the enjoyment due to the rare appearance of the wretched doctor. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

  26. EJL
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I managed to complete this without any help but found it hard going in places, so ***/*** for me. Thank you to Pommers and HNY to all.

  27. silvanus
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Not the first time, I tend to agree with Rabbit Dave – this was a very mixed bag indeed to end the year.

    I didn’t care for 16d at all and didn’t warm to “dropped by” in 18d, and also felt it was a pity that the topical references were too easily signposted. Against that, I did like 20a and thought 11a quite clever. That old 18d 9a reared its head once more I see!

    My take on the 1a tradition is that it is very closely aligned to Hogmanay (which most Scots seem to celebrate much more than Christmas), but it is far less common – and in most cases invisible – down South.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Pommers and best wishes to everyone for 2016.

  28. Brian
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Dear me, that was hard! My brain hurts. I was determined to finish but it took far longer than usual and most of the answers were a real fight!
    I suppose I should feel satisfied to have completed it but it truth I just feel exhausted!
    Very little fun, just a damned hard slog. Still don’t really get 25a and 27a, could see the anagram but not familiar with the celebration if indeed it is one.
    Don’t enjoy these ‘leap of faith’, I like clues that are neat and tidy and supply the whole of the answer in a cryptic manner as a Giovanniuzzle does.
    Thx to pommers for the clue which I didn’t look at on principle today.

    • Jane
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Hi Brian,
      25/27a is a sight to behold – usually some TV coverage of same during the New Year celebrations.
      A very happy New Year to you and Mrs. B – looking forward to your condemnation of most of the puzzles in 2016. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

      • Michael
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Of course it’s a celebration, it’s massive and really lively – it’s normally referred to as the ‘xxxxxxxxx Hogmanay xxxxxx xxxxx’ – tickets this year are £25 – we’ve been on a couple of occassions and had a brilliant time!


  29. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Well, made a mess of this one. And my spelling of 11a would only appear in the urban dictionary. SE corner was a real problem for me and needed Pommers help for which much thanks. To the setter thanks also and you defeated me on the lest puzzle of this year. To everyone who enjoys this site a very happy and peaceful new year.

  30. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Fairly straightforward and the theme came as no surprise – especially with lots of the clues spread over the grid. My favourite of the day and last one in was 19d – well hidden lurker I thought.

    Thanks to Mr Ron for the puzzle and pommers for his review.

    I wish all setters, reviewers, commenters etc… a Happy & Prosperous New Year. See you in 2016 http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  31. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    We seemed to make heavy weather of this one. Spent time trying to identify pandas for 11a and 8d took a long time to emerge. Yes the themed answers all went in very easily but despite this we spent much longer completing it than usual.
    Happy New Year everyone.
    Thanks Mr Ron and pommers.

  32. Expat Chris
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it was that bad….apart from 16D, which was truly dreadful. I’m torn between feeling insulted and throwing my nice comfy hoodie in the trash but I’ll need it come snow shoveling time to keep my ears warm. I didn’t mind the topical clues at all. I didn’t have anything checked off as being of particular merit today, but that’s OK. It’s hard enough, I’m sure, to come up with original clues and some are bound to fall flat once in a while.

    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers, and a happy and safe New Year to all.

  33. Bob H
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this. Probably because I managed to finish it in 2* time. Unlike you more experienced solvers I’m reasonably happy with a couple of low hanging fruits. For those that found it hard : My experience for what it’s worth is that luck plays some part in the solving. None if us has infinite knowledge, but sometimes what we know is incorporated in the clues, making it “easy” on that particular occasion. So thanks to all.
    P.s. adding my contribution ups the male quotient.
    Pps. Have now got to get ready for a tedious new years party. With any luck we can be home before 1am.

  34. Snape
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I managed most of this OK, apart from the very top, not having heard of 1a, and struggling with those nearby. I always assumed that a Spoonerism implicitly allowed homophones, so ‘sang line’ was fine. Is this not the case?
    Happy New Year to all, and thanks to the setter and Pommers.

    • pommers
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      If sang line = lang syne I will give up cryptic crosswords. Spoonerisms have no place in cryptic crosswords even when they are fair.

      • Snape
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        Ah, so it’s the fact that they don’t actually sound like each other that’s the problem, point taken. I disagree that Spoonerisms don’t belong at all, though, as they can be witty and give a good penny drop moment, and the wordplay is always clearly indicated. Like all clues, though, there can be bad examples, but why do you think that they have no place, other than you don’t like them?

        • pommers
          Posted December 31, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

          Because they are getting very close to secondary anagram territory. Also 90% of the attempted ones I’ve come across are anything but amusing. End of story.

          • Jose
            Posted January 2, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

            May I respectfully interject? I’m not a massive fan of Spooner clues, but the occasional one is OK and this particular one is fine by me. Homophone use is perfectly acceptable. They are another “type” of quizzical/cryptic word puzzle clue just like any other. I don’t think that they are all necessarily meant to be “amusing”.

  35. Cryptor
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    **** difficulty for me, but I enjoyed the challenge. Thanks and Happy New Year to all. Amazing stats BD, well done and thanks.

  36. Gwizz
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Like RD I too thought this was a curate’s egg of a puzzle. There were some very good clues like 7d which I considered to be a mighty example of that type. So that’s my favourite sorted. Now the themed stuff although obligatory was a bit forced to my mind. Never mind, it was the last crossword of the year so it can be forgiven!
    2/3* overall and thanks to Mr Ron and to pommers for the review.
    And BD, those stats are humongous; well done sir.
    Happy New Year to all.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  37. mre
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Good evening everybody

    Found this puzzle about one third completed (I think by my sometime crosswording partner) when the paper found its way to me.

    I thought it was going to a fairly difficult solve but the solutions went in steadily enough helped by an abundance of anagrams. I had to correct 26a which, for reasons I can’t fathom, E-MAIL had been written in.

    I’d say this would have been at least three star for me without the start. Not as enjoyable as usual as I’m not very fond of themes, over long anagrams and multi word solutions.


  38. Merusa
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Well, I didn’t mind the themed puzzle.
    I knew 12d as we had a copy when I was young, long time ago.
    I must have too many Scots friends as I was familiar with 1a and 25/27d, “Lang may your lum reek”.
    Thanks to the setter and to pommers for his review.
    Wishing everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year. I can’t stay awake until midnight, so I’ll sleep through all the noise.

  39. Heno
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Pommers for the review and hints. I didn’t enjoy this at all. I found it very tricky apart from the themed clues, except for 1a which (as I come from the South) I had never heard of. Favourite was 6d, made me laugh. Was 4*/2* for me. Thanks to Big Dave and all the bloggers for all their hard work throughout the year. Happy New Year to all.

  40. pommers
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    OK, I’m off for the festivities now as there are only a couple of hours to go for us on CET.

    Hope you all have a great evening, whatever the time is where you are, and I hope to “see” you all on the blog next year.

    Feliz año a todos.

  41. Jaylegs
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    A quirky puzzle to end the year ***/*** some strange clues but some very good, liked 6d, 13d and 18d (once I managed to figure it out!) ? Muchas gracias to Pommers & the setter ? Happy & a healthy New Year to you all

  42. Florence
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Just finished.What a mix of clues. Now the fun starts. Off to sort out the fireworks.. Thanks to the setter and to Pommers. I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

  43. Jane
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:44 am | Permalink

      Right back at you Jane ……….and to the rest of you – welcome to 2016 http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  44. John sharpe
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    The man in charge of the course directs the course or navigation. That explains the of course.

  45. F1lbertfox
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    A very disappointing end to the crossword-ing year. I really disliked 25 & 27 across. All best wishes to everyone for 2016, let’s hope for a peaceful one.

  46. judetheobscure
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this one – in part because I don’t expect to enjoy Thursday offerings and in part because the seasonal theme gave me that little toe in the door. Only one clue I didn’t much like, 16d.

    Happy with 3d – don’t skippers set the course simply by steering the wheel or tiller?
    Happy with 23a – if someone is unheard (and usually unseen also) in the corner, then they are ignored, whether deliberately or not?

    Favourites were 3d, when the penny dropped – last in, 10a – second to last in, and 5d – lovely surface reading for a short answer.


    Happy New Year to all and a big thank you to all the setters, reviewers and especially Big Dave http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  47. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Still stuck in 2015.
    And stuck on 1a for which I needed the hints. Was looking for some kind of night fitter or something of that order.
    And cashewnut in 18d was just no go.
    I really need to get back home to print the grid properly. But I am in Clermont for another few days.
    Really enjoyed reading the blog. Glad to see everyone is having fun.
    Thanks to Michael for the jokes.
    Thanks to the setter and to pommers for the review.

  48. Maarvarq
    Posted January 15, 2016 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    The themed clues would have been obvious Down Under (except for 1ac which is definitely not an Aussie tradition) if it weren’t for the 2 week delay in publication, I.e. solving them in mid-January.