DT 27999

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27999

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Happy New Year from South Staffs with a reasonably clear start to the day.

Assuming it wasn’t just the effect of the Crémant de Bourgogne with which we saw in 2016, Giovanni has started off the year with quite a testing puzzle, well into *** time for me.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ‘Click here!’ buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

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           A bit of fatty food, say, in B&B, given to everyone (10)
BUTTERBALL – A word meaning ‘say’ placed between two Bs, followed by ‘everyone’. A bit of fatty food, or someone who has eaten too many of them.

6a           This person backed Irish ruler (4)
EMIR – Reverse (backed) a pronoun for ‘this person’, then add an abbreviation for Irish.

10a         Revolutionary house name in French city (5)
NIMES – Reverse (revolutionary) a type of house followed by Name, to get a city in the South of France noted for Roman remains.

Image result for nimes

11a         Sunday’s social event — small, with calories cut down (9)
DOMINICAL – One of the usual crossword social events followed by ‘small’ (as in skirts or cars) and a truncated version of ‘calories’.

12a         Maybe Bangor’s act is in decline (8)
DOWNTURN – The Irish county where Bangor is to be found, followed by a stage act.

13a         Give everything needed to English queen, one with limited power (5)
EQUIP – Put together an abbreviation for English, an abbreviation for Queen, the Roman numeral for one, and the initial letter of Power.

15a         Bird seed by pile of hay (7)
PEACOCK – A leguminous seed, often sold frozen, followed by a small pile of hay.

Image result for peacock

17a         Sixties teenager in dance showing style again (7)
REMODEL – a Scottish dance wrapped around one of the warring tribes of 60s youth.

19a         Tense, with higher notes having to be sung? (5-2)
KEYED-UP – This expression for tense could also describe a piece of music being performed at a higher pitch.

21a         Spooner’s worry, notice, is no longer confined (3,4)
SET FREE – The good doctor makes his first appearance of the year. Take words meaning ‘worry’ and ‘notice’, and transpose their initial consonantal sounds.

22a         In the morning soldiers knocked over character in Athens (5)
SIGMA – Put together the letters indicating that a time is before noon and some American soldiers, then reverse the lot (knocked over) to get a Greek letter.

24a         Care is arranged, old boy being kept inside for exercises (8)
AEROBICS – Anagram (arranged) of CARE IS with the abbreviation for Old Boy inserted.

27a         At some stage a yellowish-brown bird will nibble worm’s head (2,3,4)
AS AND WHEN – Put together A (from the clue), a yellowish-brown substance or the colour named after it, and a female bird, then insert the first letter of Worm.

28a         City weeps when leader is lost (5)
LEEDS – Remove the initial letter (leader is lost) from a word which, figuratively, can mean ‘weeps’ – as in ‘my heart —— for you’, to get a city in Yorkshire.

29a         Lengths of cloth to dispose of, first to last (4)
ELLS – Take a word meaning ‘dispose of’ and move the first letter to the end, and you get these archaic measures of cloth, the actual length of which varied according to where you were.

30a         Fruit from old garden creating lump in the throat (5,5)
ADAM’S APPLE – Cryptic definition of a feature more prominent in the male body, referring to the Garden of Eden, and the forbidden fruit reputed to have lodged in the throat of the first man.


1d           Hairstyle that is a hit (4)
BANG – Double definition, the first being a female hairstyle with the fringe cut square across the brow.

Image result for bang hairstyles

2d           Portray me being silly — here today, gone tomorrow (9)
TEMPORARY – Anagram (being silly) of PORTRAY ME.

3d           German city being without Anglican church (5)
ESSEN – Remove the letters denoting the Church of England from the end of the core being of something.

4d           Hard cheese naughty lad fed to male rabbit? (3,4)
BAD LUCK – A male rabbit wrapped around an anagram (naughty) of LAD.

5d           Blow with awful rain as sheet upon sheet (7)
LAMINAR – A three-letter word for a blow followed by an anagram (awful) of RAIN.

7d           Three leading characters from Cambridge set up a university somewhere in China (5)
MACAU – Reverse (set up, in a Down clue) the first three letters of CAMbridge, then add A (from the clue) and University.

8d           Puddings making one poorly somehow? Stories! (4-6)
ROLY-POLIES – Anagram (somehow) of POORLY, followed by some untrue stories.

9d           In school period it amounts to pause (8)
INTERMIT – Put together IN (from the clue), a period of the school year, and IT (from the clue).

14d         Tool said to have succeeded getting in (10)
SPOKESHAVE – A word for ‘said’ and HAVE (from the clue), with an abbreviation for Succeeded between them.

16d         Experienced folk — arthritic strugglers when pen has to be put to paper? (3,5)
OLD HANDS – A figurative expression for people who’ve been in the business a long time, or literally what someone with arthritis who struggles to write might have.

18d         Hat priced ridiculously, attractive to potential buyer? (4,5)
DIRT CHEAP – Anagram (ridiculously) of HAT PRICED.

20d         Like many an egg taken illegally (7)
POACHED – Refers to a type of theft which is also a method of cooking eggs (or salmon).

21d         Tot crossing river in a South American country (7)
SURINAM – A word for ‘tot’ or ‘add up’ wrapped around River and IN A (from the clue).

Image result for surinam

23d         Good alternative to roads is what some look for (5)
GRAIL Good followed by a means of transport (when it’s not closed for engineering works), giving the object of Arthurian or Pythonesque quest.

25d         A thin flat piece turned over in wood (5)
BALSA – Start with A (from the clue) and a thin flat piece of stone, then reverse the lot to get a soft, light hardwood used in model aircraft and the Kon-Tiki raft.

26d         Fair one is in shipping bulletin I will broadcast (4)
ISLE – This sounds like (is broadcast) a contraction of ‘I will’. The Fair one comes between Bailey and Faeroes on the shipping forecast.

Now for the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna.

The Quick Crossword pun PANNED + AURA = PANDORA


  1. Brian
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Absolutely dreadful, by far the worst that Giovanni has ever put out in my opinion. Daft clues like 11a and 6a and weird things like 8d. Very hard and very little fun. The only decent clue for me was 27a. Please DT can we go back to some back pagers and leave the Toughies alone.
    Thx to DT for the hints.

    • Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Please don’t keep wishing puzzles like this on to the Toughie schedule – it doesn’t belong there either.

    • F1lbertfox
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      For crying out loud, It wasn’t that difficult to solve. Well at least it kept me amused on and off for most of this afternoon in between cooking a’Christmas Day type’ of New Year’s Day roast. 8 down was about the only clue that gave me any real headache along with maybe 27 across. Being dim it took me ages to think of a two letter word to go with ‘and when’. The last few clues fitted in to place quite nicely after we’d eaten and washed up. 14 down brought back memories of woodwork classes at school in the 1950s. Thanks to the Don – I enjoyed the puzzle.

  2. Kitty
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Haven’t looked at the puzzle yet. Just wanted to wish a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all you lovely bunnies.


    The crossword may have to wait until this evening so will thank Giovanni and DT now in advance: thanks muchly, guys.

  3. pete
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I thought yesterdays was hard, this was even harder. Ive never heard of the answer for 14d or the pile of hay in 15a. Not understanding the cryptic for 6a, some of the other answers leave a lot to be desired. All in All not for me.

  4. Spook
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Found this difficult but then have only been doing the cryptic for a couple of years. Some clues did seem a trifle off the wall, but isn’t that what makes them entertaining?
    Many thanks to Deep Threat and to Giovanni.
    Happy New Year to you all.

  5. Una
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Back to his bad habits. 11a, 29a and 14a.I know some will argue that crosswords are about increasing ones vocabulary, but I beg to differ.They are about word play.
    I liked 20d, 21d and 4d.
    A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    • Patski
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Well Giovanni must be the same age as me as I know all those words! Didn’t find it too bad at all despite it being the first crossword I’ve done for a few weeks having been stricken with a bug right up to Christmas.

      Not sure I understand the criticism of some of the clues but I’m fairly new here so maybe there are expectations I don’t have because I don’t know who sets what.

      Anyway a happy new year to one and all. And thank you Giovanni. I for one enjoyed it.

  6. bifield
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I found this one difficult but I agree with Spook, the off the wall clues makes it all rather entertaining. ***/*** for me today. Thanks to The Don and to Deep Threat for the review.
    Happy New Year to everybody.

  7. Graham Wall
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    This was a slog for me. Difficulty rating certainly 4* but the enjoyment was less than that. Some clues were picked from the awkward corner of the clue cupboard. Thanks to DT being there to sort them out. If any one is interested, on page 28 of today’s paper there is an offer for latest edition of the BRB. Happy new year to you all.

    • Kath
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      The offer on page 28 of the paper isn’t the BRB. The BRB is a much B(igger)RB and is a completely different animal.
      The book on offer is quite useful but is more of a thesaurus.

  8. Michael
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was good – a couple of obscure words but it’s not supposed to be easy!

    I needed my BRB app to look up a couple of words – the pile of hay, the Sunday one and the pause – very good.

    My heads a bit thick today – a bit of fresh air is required!


  9. Grahame
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this puzzle, one spelling mistake that was corrected by DT. It took a while but warmed my brain up nicely.
    Thanks very much to all and to all a very Happy New Year

  10. JonP
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t find this too difficult bar 14d where I needed electronic help – never heard of it and couldn’t fathom the wordplay.

    Thanks to DT and Giovanni **/***

    Happy New Year to all.

  11. Jane
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Hardly a bundle of fun for the first back-pager of the new year. 3*/2* for me.
    Obscurities such as 14d, little-used words (11a&9d), too many cities and a couple of old chestnuts (1&25d).
    Best of the bunch were probably 4&20d.

    Apologies to DG for not appreciating this one and thanks to DT for working hard on ‘the morning after’!

  12. George
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I am always intrigued that some folks find a puzzle easy while others find it difficult, yet on another puzzle the exact opposite occurs.

    I gave up on one last week in disgust and was surprised that others found it easy.

    I this one quite straightforward although I did look up a few words in the BRB to make sure I had interpreted the clue correctly.

    So I would give this one 1.5* for difficulty and 3* for enjoyment.

  13. Paso Doble
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Against the tide of opinion we rather liked this puzzle as we could parse all the answers as the puzzle was so well clued. We were helped by the fact that Paso used a 14d in woodwork at school. In Doble’s opinion we have had far more obscure bridge, cricket, rugby and Shakespeare clues that no-one’s complained about. Thanks to The Don for a great puzzle and to Deep Threat for the review. Happy New Year to All. ***/****

  14. Eeyore
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I found this the least enjoyable puzzle for a long time. Lots of clues seemed clunky and artificial. I needed help for 14d and 29a even though I’d considered the answer for the latter but rejected it. I put in ‘if and when’ for 27a which didn’t help.

    Very little made me smile – maybe a NYE hangover but 8d was the best of a bad bunch. 4*/1*

    To cheer myself up, on the advice of yesterday’s comments, I attempted yesterday’s Toughie. Absolutely brilliant even if I needed help on several clues. Completely restored my humour.

  15. Kath
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Not a load of laughs here and fairly tricky – 3* difficulty and 2* for enjoyment.
    I have met 14d but only in crosswords – don’t have a clue what it does – might look in a minute.
    The only Bangor I know is in Wales so was a bit stuffed with 12a until I checked.
    Not many anagrams – I made it three and a bit.
    I liked 27a. My favourite was 4d although I can’t help wondering how RD will feel about that one.
    With thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat and, again, Happy New Year to all.
    I’m in a terrible muddle with days. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      At least in this case the bunny is being fed and not eaten!

  16. RMGW
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    The first of 2016 but the last of the 27,000s
    I can’t say I enjoyed this one and needed a lot of help for the reasons that others have said. Perhaps the 28,000s will be better for me
    Happy New Year to all

  17. Giovanni
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    A happy new year to all my solving bloggers, whatever their assessment of this or any of my other puzzles!

    • Paso Doble
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      And a happy New Year to you!

    • Jane
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Best of new year wishes to you as well, Giovanni.

    • Miffypops
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Happy new year Mr Giovanni aka The Don. Your puzzles do it for me. Thank you.

    • dutch
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Happy new year Don, thanks for dropping in

    • Hanni
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Happy new year Don and thank you for your puzzles here and elsewhere.

    • Young Salopian
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Thanks from me too. Your puzzles can sometimes be hard but always fairly clued.

    • Heno
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Don, Happy new year to you. Enjoyed this one immensely.

    • Merusa
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Happy new year to you as well. I found this hard but, unlike others, quite enjoyable.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Happy New Year from this side of the world too.

    • HoofItYouDonkey
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes, HNY from me too…

    • Eeyore
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Happy New Year too and many thanks for your efforts.

    • Angel
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t find this one of your most entertaining but thanks nevertheless for the fun you have consistently provided for us over the course of 2015. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_heart.gif

  18. Nev
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    A quite enjoyable puzzle for my way of thinking, with 14d holding me up for ages, taking it to 3*/3* territory for me. Thanks to The Don and DT, and best new yearwishes to all in here.

  19. crypticsue
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I kept saying to Mr CS as I tried to solve this one that it was difficult to get into – although he was delighted to inform me (and then fetch it so I could see it) that he has an antique 14d! Who knew?!

    I think it was the crossword rather than me (sorry Giovanni) as the Toughie didn’t give me as many problems.

    Thank you and Happy New Year to Giovanni, Deep Threat and anyone else who hasn’t read my recent New Years Greetings in various places on the blog.

  20. Bluebird
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, you naughty setter!
    not my favourite, but managed in the end with a bit of help……nevertheless, you deserve a slap on the legs for the second half of 8d ? Which isn’t even a word…..!

    Thx to DT and HNY to everyone else.

    • Bluebird
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      I really wish I hadn’t gone and looked it up – I was forced to recall Mo and her dancing chums………….

  21. dutch
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    This went fairly smoothly with a modest number of new words that I have come to expect from Giovanni and do not create any ill feelings. They were fairly clued and I just had to check the answer. I didn’t know the tool in 14d or the small pile of hay, but I enjoyed finding out.

    An enjoyable puzzle to start the year, many thanks Giovanni and thanks DT for the review.

    And HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you.

  22. Rabbit Dave
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    3*/2*. An uninspiring start to the year, and I thought 21d was ghastly.
    I was helped with today’s puzzle as I have a friend with the surname Ells and another with the surname Haycock. I don’t think Kitty would be impressed by the latter.
    Thanks to setter and to DT,
    Happy New Year to all.

  23. Veronique
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    A happy new year to all and many thanks to BD for the not inconsiderable amount of work he puts in to keep this blog going throughout the year.

  24. Hilary
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    May I start by wishing everybody Happy New Year for 2016 with lots of lovely mind-numbing crosswords for us to puzzle over. I finished yesterday’s offering but as I could not decide whether I loved it or hated it I said nothing. Today I struggled but got there with a fair amount of electronic help so thanks to the Don and DT for an interesting ride. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  25. Young Salopian
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Phew! In common with the majority who have posted thus far, this was a bit of a slog. I guess I shouldn’t complain just because it was difficult. I cannot remember going into 4* time before, but the enjoyment certainly wasn’t watered down as a result, so 4* in both ledgers for me.

    Thanks to the Don and DT and a belated Happy New Year to all.

  26. mre
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Happy new year everybody.

    Thought this was going to be very difficult after seeing the first few clues. Got going at 13a and first pass yielded eight solutions. Second pass produced ten more and pretty soon found myself down to last four. 14d I dedicate to a hard earned grade C woodwork O level and 29a was new to me but having run through the combinations couldn’t be anything else.

    Overall an entertaining start to the year.


  27. ejl
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Only one word for this crossword-contrived. Some of the clues were just awful.

  28. Vancouverbc
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    ****/****. What a puzzle with which to start the year and equally satisfying when I eventually finished it. I thought 22,29a and 14,21&23d were excellent clues. Thanks to the setter and DT for the review. A happy and peaceful new year to you all.

  29. mebebob
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Quite enjoyed this, in a perverse way. Probably because I had extra time on my arthritics. Needed Wiktionary to confirm that 8d part 2 could be thus spelt. Most tricky was SW corner, especially as I considered ends (of rolls) to solve 29a, making 23d impossible. 3/3 for me.

  30. Heno
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. A super puzzle, great start to the New Year. Some very unusual clues. I had actually heard of 14d, used to use it as a misnomer for Shakespeare, and used one in woodwork class many years ago. Didn’t know a cock was a small pile of hay. Had a never heard of 11a, needed the hints for that and 13a&8d. Favourite was 14d, and 27a was a great clue. Was 3*/4* for me. Just getting over yesterday’s hangover :-(

  31. silvanus
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    A very tricky start to the cruciverbalistic year I felt. After a few fairly benign Friday puzzles in recent weeks, this one certainly seemed to revert to type with too many obscurities and some rather unsatisfactory clues.

    Three in particular grated for me – the disappointing spoonerism in 21a, the weak definition in 23d, and, unless I’m missing something, wasn’t 29a an example of “definition to wordplay”?

    One redeeming feature was 27a, which I really liked.

    Many thanks to Mr. Manley (and for taking the trouble to drop by), to Deep Threat and a very Happy New Year to everyone. Can we expect a special puzzle for number 28,000 tomorrow, I wonder?

    • dutch
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      29a – not necessarily – “to dispose of” = sell

  32. Badger
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely dreadful puzzle. Fully agree – DT let us have reasonable back pagers and leave Toughies to centre.

  33. Badger
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely dreadful puzzle. Fully agree – DT let us have reasonable back page puzzles and leave Toughies to centre.

  34. Merusa
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Really had to work for this one, needing to bring out the trusty gizmo for 14d.
    Unlike others, I quite enjoyed this, unusual for a Giovanni for me, even though it was a bit of a struggle. I thought there were some fun clues, e.g., 8d and 27a.
    I never did get 23d or 29a, but I should have.
    I got the Spoonerism at 21a on first pass, however, I still HATE spoonerisms.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT for his review.

    Happy New Year to all, health and happiness for 2016.

  35. Graham
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Happy new year all.
    Doubted some of my answers so had to check. Thanks, all good.
    Didn’t like 29; the free dictionary didn’t mention cloth. And 28; where I was looking for a city where having removed the first letter you got something meaning weeps.

  36. Toadson
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Beaten by ‘spokeshave’ today, but quite enjoyed the puzzle. Best Wishes to all for 2016.

  37. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    BRB had a bit of work to do helping us out with a couple of unfamiliar words or meanings but we expect and actually look forward to these in Giovanni puzzles. Not a quick solve, we would probably have given it 4* if we were blogging. No complaints from us, we enjoyed it.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

  38. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I found this very difficult.
    A few simple anagrams to get going, then I hit the wall.
    I feel a bit better as clearly a lot of more experienced puzzlers also found this tricky.
    HNY to all

    • HoofItYouDonkey
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Having reviewed the answers, total respect to anyone who completed this without the aid of the tips or an electronic gadget.
      I found this harder than some of the Toughies, but no complaints, no reason why it should be easy.

  39. Salty Dog
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I too found this quite testing, but nothing to complain about. 3*/3*, I think, and 8d my favourite clue. Not quite as good as spotted dick, but a splendid duff nonetheless. Thanks and seasonal best wishes to Giovanni, and to DT for doing the honours.

  40. Miffypops
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Got so far and then struggled for a while and then one by one they fell. Not keen on the arthritic clue or the Spoonerism but enjoyed this immensely. Thanks again to the Don. Thanks as ever to Deep Threat (see you at the end of the month). Happy New year to one and all.

  41. Rob Wilson
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I quite enjoyed this one. Made a couple of errors to begin with including putting dab as the first word in 16d. I was left with just 14d, which I hadn’t heard of – but then I never was a dab hand at woodwork!

  42. Gwizz
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    It wasn’t easy I agree, but then why should it be? I enjoyed the challenge in spite of making things more difficult by putting IF instead of AS in 27a. Overall I think 3/3* and 23d was favourite.
    I’m sorry but I have to say that calling a crossword ‘dreadful’ is to my mind a bit unfair and not really necessary. All crosswords are ‘doable’; whether they are a pleasure or not isn’t the point but there you go…
    Anyway thanks to the Don and DT for the review.

    • Patski
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Well said. Maybe the hangovers are making people grumpy…

    • Merusa
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      The odd thing is that when a puzzle is on the easy side, there are complaints that it wasn’t difficult enough! Makes one wonder what people really want.

  43. Jaylegs
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Trickiest puzzle for some time, made it feel like a Thursday ? ****/** 11a, 9d & 5d I did not like. I was happy with 14d, it took me back to woodwork classes at school, 21d taught me a new fact, although it is also spelt with a final “e” and 16d a phrase for elderly ladies also fits the criteria.? Liked 20d, 15a & 23d ? Thanks to DT and Giovanni for all of their endeavours

  44. Framboise
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, quite a testing of the fuzzy grey cells post New Year’s Eve celebrations! Gave up on 8d and 29a not to mention the fiendish 8d which we could not make head or tails of… We being myself and my friend Elaine who has come with her man to spend New Year with us in Sussex. She was my second in command in the French Department of our London Prep School and sometimes we used to solve the DT puzzle together during our lunch break. We enjoy solving it together… So coming back to Giovanni’s offering, I have to say that it was difficult for us and apparently we are not the only ones to have found it so. Had never heard of 14d but Mr Framboise came to the rescue! Liked 11a – we have the same word in French – and 4d. Many thanks to DT for the much needed review and to the Don for keeping us on our cruciverbalist toes. Happy New Year to all!

  45. Jon_S
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    A good puzzle, with most of the unknowns gettable pretty easily from the wordplay. 14d, though, I must admit defeated me.

  46. Angel
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Have been coming back to this on and off all day and I can’t really believe I made it in the end however I do have to admit that a considerable amount of research has been undertaken in order to complete. I had problems with – 12a, 22a, 29a, 5d, 8d, 14d and 23d. Somehow doubt Giovanni himself set this without outside reference but In any case I bow to his superior knowledge! Thank you DT without whom I was determined to manage today. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  47. Bob H
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one. However needed help on 25a 14d and 29a. Despite searching for a pile of hay the answer did not appear. Similarly no mention of lengths of cloth even though it was fairly clued. I’d heard of 14d but could not work out the answer. Using the first letter of a word is also problematic for me. I also have a beef about 21d. In all my searches it was shown as having an e as the last letter. Perhaps we should dump the BRB and use the Collins concise instead. There is no need for all those words. except spokeshave if course.

    • Jane
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Strangely enough, I would have been completely thrown if 21d had required an ‘e’ on the end! Haven’t been able to find out why and when the change occurred – obviously after my days of geography lessons!

  48. ClaireR
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Really great help. Thank you

    • Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Claire

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      Welcome from me as well – hope you’ll keep commenting. We’re quite friendly http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  49. Kitty
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Well I admit I didn’t finish without help, but did appreciate much of it. Like Jane I was underwhelmed by the city theme but Paso Doble make a good point about obscurities. In some ways it is comforting that Giovanni is maintaining his tradition of giving us a weekly vocabulary expansion.

    I enjoyed discovering the pile of hay, and the first part of that clue reminded me of Dorothy Parker’s parrot. Apparently she named him Onan because he spilled his seed on the ground.

    Thanks again to all.

    (Now that 2015 is well and truly dead, I shall celebrate by getting rid of the horrible tinsel.)

  50. Shropshirelad
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Sorry, but not one of my favourite crosswords from Mr Manley http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    The first 8/9 months of last year’s Friday / Giovanni puzzles were clever, albeit always a way of learning and adding new words to everyone’s crossword ‘vocabulary’ but perfectly fair from the construction. For that, I will always admire him – I even reviewed a couple.

    However, could we please see less of your very obscure terms and phrases that were on display in today’s puzzle? Even Brian, who is probably your number 1 fan on this site,found it not very enjoyable.

    Thanks to all involved http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

    • Patski
      Posted January 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      It’s odd how people differ in their appreciation. The terms weren’t at all obscure to me as a former seamstress with an Irish farming family background!

      Crosswords increase my vocabulary. The dictionary is full of obscure and archaic words. I love that crosswords keep them alive.

  51. Tstrummer
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    Been away from puzzles for a few days owning to an ongoing family crisis. Not feeling that great, frankly, but thanks to the Don for taking my mind off things with this hard but fair puzzle. My last one in was 29a. I liked 1a and 10a

    • Jane
      Posted January 2, 2016 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Hi TS – just about to go to bed but caught your comment. Wondered what had happened to you (blamed it on too much work and too much New Year celebrating) and so very sorry to hear that there is a family crisis.
      Wishing all the best to you for a reasonable outcome.

      • Tstrummer
        Posted January 2, 2016 at 2:43 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Jane. It’s all very difficult and worrying.

  52. Mikeyboy
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Hi there, my first comment on this excellent site.Like mebebob I had ‘ends’ for 29A so had no chance with ‘grail’!
    Thanks very much

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 2, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Welcome Mikeyboy

  53. Jose
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    BD. I want to ask a question please (I have looked in FAQs first): You will have read my recent conversation with Gazza about alerts and he has answered me fully. I understand that on a blog page the reviewer/expert blogger will get an alert to any comment posted. But when Gazza answers me, am I supposed to get an automatic e-mail alert to draw my attention? And if the answer is ‘Yes’, how does it manifest itself – a ‘pop-up’?

    • Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      The person who wrote the blog gets automatically advised of any comments. You need to check the box which says “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.” I don’t know if this sends you all subsequent comments or just those in the same “thread” – I think it is probably the former. This notification will be in the form of an email.

  54. Florence
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Running a day late again due to lots of relatives arriving yesterday. I absolutely loved this puzzle and found it fun and very straightforward. I think that Giovanni is my favourite setter. 15a was probably the best clue, followed by 11a. I only needed the review to check 1a. Thank you DT for the review.

  55. judetheobscure
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Running a few days late with this one and spread it out over two days. However, all completed without hints. I did refer to online sources for the obscure words – for me 11a, 5d, 9d, 14d but the wordplay had led me there – although had never thought of s as an abbreviation for succeeded – another one to file away in some part of my brain which will promptly become inaccessible next time I need it ;)
    I fall in the camp of enjoying having my vocabulary expanded so 3*/4* for me. Favourite was 8d with runners up 4d and 3d.
    Many thanks to Giovanni and DT.

  56. Posted January 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    A belated happy new year to you crossword fans, especially in England, just completed this, a stretcher it was, it’s 29th January here in Kenya.

    • Gazza
      Posted January 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      A Happy New Year to you, Chadwick. It’s 29th January here as well.

  57. Posted January 29, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Gazza, would have wished to be at Big Dave’s anniversary tomorrow to meet crossword buffs but can’t make it, will look at the pics of it later.