DT 28082

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28082

Hints and tips by Kath

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating — Difficulty ****Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone. This is not a Ray T Thursday – I have my suspicions as to who it may be but, for the moment at least, I’m keeping them to myself. I found it very tricky – I’ll go further and say that I don’t remember the last time a back page crossword took as long as today. I know I’ve said before that I find it hard to judge difficulty or enjoyment when I know I’m doing the hints so I’ll leave it up to all of you from now.

The answers are hidden under the things that say (ANSWER) so only do that if you need to see them.


1a            Hit Parade EP entered (8)
APPEARED — An anagram (hit) of PARADE EP

5a            One goes spare being out around very loud clubs (6)
OFFCUT — Take the word ‘out’ from the clue and inside it (being around) put the two letter abbreviation that means very loud in musical terms followed by the one letter denoting clubs in a pack of cards.


10a         Half-cut boxer who’s unfit to fight without whisky (3,4,3,5)
ONE OVER THE EIGHT — If a boxer is too heavy he is over ****** – the first letter of the last word is the one that in the phonetic alphabet is whisky so remove that (without whisky). I’m not ever so happy about this one – if anyone has any better ideas feel free . . .

11a         Queen’s about to encounter controversy, one that’s circulating again (7)
REISSUE — Reverse the two letters for our Queen (Queen’s about) and follow that (to encounter) another word for controversy or argument.

12a         Stock put back on plate? (7)
RESERVE — A stock or hoard of something could mean to dish up again or put back on a plate.

13a         Church processions showing lack of power games in party? (8)
CHARADES — Begin with one of the many two letters for Church and follow them with some processions or marches without their first letter (lack of power).


15a         Ring for Charlie among principal letters for residential property (5)
ABODE — Back to the phonetic alphabet – begin with the first five letters (principal letters) and take out the one that stands for Charlie replacing it with the letter that looks like a ring (ring for Charlie).

18a         Film in Dorking or Orpington? (5)
LAYER — This film is a thin covering – if you don’t know what Dorkings and Orpingtons are examples of then the best hint that I can give you is to look them up. I spent ages hunting for a lurker or hidden answer before I remembered.


20a         Born Democrat taken in by backward glance but a long way from out of his depth (4-4)
KNEE-DEEP — The original name of a woman (born) is followed by D(emocrat) – put this inside (taken in by) a reversal of (backward) a word meaning a glance or a quick look.


23a         Touring Sweden, I dip in crackers with bland flavour (7)
INSIPID — An anagram (crackers) of I DIP IN which contains (touring) the IVR code for Sweden.

25a         It’s unending hell checking mite, mind (4-3)
BABY-SIT — Think of a word that means hell, or the supposed water-filled cavity under the earth, and remove its last letter (unending) – put that inside (checking) another word for a mite or a small amount of something. We’re supposed to be fooled into thinking that the ‘mite’ is a small child – it isn’t, well not here anyway.

26a         Ignore one crummy drunk’s response to being taken advantage of? (2,4,2,4,3)

27a         Space suit gives cover (6)
ENCASE — A printing term for a space is followed by a suit or legal action.

28a         Bully using web the wrong way to nurse broken heart (8)
THREATEN — A reversal (the wrong way) of a web or mesh contains an anagram (broken) of HEART.



1d            Row abated finally after seaman embarked (6)
ABOARD — Begin with one of the usual two letter crosswordland abbreviations for a seaman and follow them (after) with a verb meaning to row or propel a boat with paddles – finish off with the last letter (finally) of (abate)D.

2d            Model veils hype in a petulant way (9)
PEEVISHLY — An anagram (model) of VEILS HYPE

Girl misses at the window

3d            Without secrets now and then local newspaper may give up agony aunt? (7)
ADVISER — Start off with a common name of a local paper – I’ve never actually known one called this but whatever – remove (without secrets now and then) the alternate regular letters of sEcReT. This one took me for ever.

4d            Unnatural note with English — not British — cheese (5)
EERIE — Begin with a musical note, follow it with E(nglish) and then follow those two with a well known four letter French cheese without its first letter (not B{ritish}) This one took me ages too.

6d            Iris is complimentary on most of old Eastern country (7)
FREESIA — A word meaning complimentary, as in for nothing rather than flattering, is followed by (on) three of the four letters (most of) an old country that is now called Thailand. I know that I’m no good at most sports but I can usually ‘do’ plants – I had no idea that the answer is of the Iris family.



7d            Disastrous upset — no time for celebratory smoke (5)
CIGAR — A reversal (upset) of a word meaning disastrous or terrible without its T (no time)

8d            Article on temperature in Times gutlessly went amiss in rags (8)
TATTERED — Begin with the one letter abbreviation for T(emperature), follow that with the indefinite article (article) then two of the letters that mean T(ime) (Times) and finish off with a verb meaning went amiss or strayed without its middle letter (gutlessly). Phew!


9d            Hypocritical person is a peer surprisingly — hard to figure (8)
PHARISEE — An anagram (surprisingly) of IS A PEER and H (hard to figure).

14d         With the exception of a masked duo cast landed parts (8)
DUKEDOMS — An anagram (cast) of MASKED DUO without the A (with the exception of A)

16d         Responsibility for lapse (9)
OVERSIGHT — A double definition.

17d         Possibly bitter about one in clan breaking up marriage? (8)
ALLIANCE — The bitter is a kind of beer – it contains (about) the letter that looks like a one and an anagram (breaking up) of CLAN.

19d         Stories concerning tantrum coming up (7)
REPORTS — The usual two letters meaning concerning or about – not on but the other one – and than a reversal (coming up) of another word for a tantrum or fit of temper.

21d         Fiasco as the Spanish half-heartedly took a taxi heading north (7)
DEBACLE — A reversal (heading north) of the Spanish word for ‘the’ and a verb meaning ‘took a taxi’ without its middle letter (half heartedly). The answer was clear but could I see why – no – in desperation I emailed the Kiwis so thank you to them for bailing me out. No flowers around any more but the thought is there!

22d         Tarry rope attached (4,2)
STAY ON — Tarry here is a verb rather than an adjective meaning covered in tar. You need a rope or tether followed by a word meaning attached or connected to.

24d         Rising French creator of novel spice (5)
SUMAC — A reversal (rising) of a 20th Century French novelist who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1957.


25d         Piece of furniture one found in flowerpot with companion (5)
BENCH — Back to childhood now – you need one of the two little men who lived at the bottom of a suburban garden – follow him with the two letter abbreviation for C(ompanion) of H(onour). They also had a friend called ‘weed’ but she’s not the companion here!

I liked 15 and 18a and 16d. My favourite was either 25a or 25d (which made me laugh)

The Quickie Pun :- (AWE) + (TUM) + (ATTIC) + (ALLEY) = (AUTOMATICALLY)


  1. George
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I would agree with this one being tricky. I stared at a grid with just 5 answers in for quite a while! But slowly it was filled in. Some anagrams that took a bit of effort. Then a few bung-ins that made little sense.

    After the tough puzzle on Tuesday then the easy one yesterday, an up and down week for me!

    Anyway, I would agree with the rating of 4*/3*.

  2. Senf
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    A bit of a stinker – ***/** for me – with considerable amounts of head scratching. Least favourite (for a change) was 8d – extremely convoluted, and, so far, no clear favourite. I look forward to reading the theories on the setter. Thanks to whoever it is and to Kath.

  3. Gazza
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    This was about as tricky as back-pagers get, I thought, but really enjoyable. So congratulations to Kath on sorting it all out and thanks to our setter (I’m pretty sure I know his identity). I liked all of Kath’s “likes” but I’ll plump for 26a as my favourite.

  4. Jezza
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I loved this one – best backpager for a while in my humble opinion. 3d took me ages to parse, 25d made me smile.
    Many thanks to setter (PJ is my guess), and to Kath for the excellent review.

    • John Pidgeon
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Fair cop, guv.

      • Jane
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Yeah – got it right for once!
        Thanks for popping in, PJ, it was a great puzzle.

      • Hanni
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for dropping by PJ. Loved it.

      • Kath
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for your crossword and for ‘popping in’.

  5. Beaver
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Just put my pen down-phew for me too ! was going for a ****/**** before I went to Kath’s blog.8d was last in, answer correct but couldn’t quite work out why until Kath explained, the sort of clue you get in a toughie. Certainly the most difficult solve for a while-reminded me of the old Friday crosswords. Hard to pick a favourite , still in recovery mode. Thanks setter and Kath, time to get some work done.

  6. Alan
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Yet another cringe factor 5. Contrived and ugly in general. Thanks and deepest sympathy to Kath for having to decode this farrago.

    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I take it you didn’t enjoy this puzzle – but please remember that your opinion is only that, an opinion, not a statement of fact. As you can tell by the comments, others have different opinions.

      • Alan
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        I find your comment surprising. Nowhere do I state that I am handing down anything other than an opinion, a somewhat vehement one I will allow, written in what I would describe as Glasgow noir. BTW congrats on solving the server problems.

        • Ora Meringue
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          I thought Big Dave was a bit harsh with you.

          I did not enjoy this puzzle either …..but then I am ‘entry level’ and ‘one of the many who needs the hints’

          • Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            I wasn’t going to go into detail, but I will now. Here is a summary of Alan’s recent comments under various aliases:

            Truly horrible puzzle. Laboured, ugly cluing as usual from this setter. Cringe factor 5.
            DT 28075
            2016/03/30 at 12:30 pm

            Yeeuch. Ugly, ugly puzzle. I do so hate it when I solve a clue and am left feeling slightly nauseous at the frayed logic to the cluing. Thanks to Gazza for the review.
            DT 28068
            2016/03/22 at 3:06 pm

            …. As regards the crossword I am afraid I regard RayT’s efforts as 5d
            DT 28004
            2016/01/07 at 12:38 pm

            My normal reaction to a Jay puzzle. Solve a few clues, grimace at the awful wordplay then cast the Tel into the bin. Wainscot, for the love of God and I am a Glaswegian. I know many enjoy his efforts and I respect their views I just don’t.
            DT 28003
            2016/01/06 at 3:02 pm

            The most appalling bilge again. Contrived wordplay mixed with obscurity. I have said before I appreciate that some people like this and I respect that but this is getting beyond a joke. Even when I can figure out the answers more often than not it is with a feeling of, surely not rather than anything else. I just find this ugly.
            DT 27473
            2014/04/25 at 8:44 pm
            + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
            Not one pleasant word, so perhaps now you can see why I for one wouldn’t miss his contributions.

            • Expat Chris
              Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

              I don’t understand why he does the DT puzzles since he seems to despise all the setters.

            • Ora Meringue
              Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

              Maybe not so harsh then…..

              • Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

                This thread is now closed and any futher comments on this subject will be deleted. I am happy for people to express views for and against a puzzle but not to provide a platform for those inveterate moaners who never have a good word to say about anything – you know who you are.

            • alan
              Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

              This is another Alan

              • Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

                The different avatar gives you away. You are welcome here any time.

  7. bifield
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Definitely a tricky one today. Couldn’t parse 3d, needed the hint to put my mind at rest and I did not know the spice at 24d. A real headscratcher for me today but quite enjoyable. Thanks to setter and to Kath for the enlightenment.

  8. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Oh well, glad it’s not me. Have made a start, but this looks like a three-pipe problem!!!
    I have not read the hints yet Kath, but I hope Alice Cooper has put in an appearance for 26a!!!

  9. Karen Addison
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Our local paper was delivered this morning – it is called the Rugby Advertiser.

    • Gazza
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, Karen.

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Welcome from me too. I’m glad to know that there is such a local paper – we have the Oxford Mail, a daily local paper, and the Oxford Times which is weekly. Where I grew up we had the Malvern Gazette etc etc.

      • Ora Meringue
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Our local paper used to be called the Courier and Advertiser…but they dropped the Advertiser bit a few years ago at the same time as they started putting the news on the front page rather than just adverts.

    • Miffypops
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Welcome from me Karen. We have The Long Itchington bugle

      • Hanni
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Is that a newspaper or do you play Reveille on a horn each morning to wake the sleepy residents of Downtown LI?

    • Hanni
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Hi from me too Karen. We have the Moors Messenger twice a year. It’s great. Stuff about the library in a phone box , Red Kites and the discovery of a rare skep knife. I didn’t know what a skep knife was. I do now.


    • Hilary
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Southwold edition of Lowestoft Journel weekly, Southwold Organ (free) and Southwold Gazette 70p monthly.

  10. Jane
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Like Kath, it was 3,4&21d that took the most head-scratching. Does anyone actually use the word for ‘took a taxi’?
    Also like Kath, it had never occurred to me that 6d is a member of the lily family.

    Plenty to choose from here – I particularly liked 10,15&25a but favourite has to be 25d.

    Many thanks to the setter (PJ?) and to Kath for what I would imagine was quite a long night’s work!

  11. Hanni
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    3/4 of this went in just fine..and then I got to the SE corner (I’ve just had to check that I mean SE…I do), gosh I struggled with that. I could see what 21d was going to be but it took me an age to figure out why. On first pass I also tried to make an anagram of ‘bully and ‘web’ (the wrong way) for 28a. Never did figure out the first bit of 25d, just waited for the blog and now I feel a tad daft.

    Also looked for a lurker in 18a and ended up Googling Dorking and Orpington as I didn’t know they were hens. Hens are hens.

    All anagrams were solved with letter circles apart from 23a which I solved in my head and now have this urge to write out a circle on general principle.

    Thought this was great fun.

    Many thanks to the setter (PJ?) and to Kath for a great blog.

    Another cold day on the moors but I have had a quick ride out…and what fun that was.

    Oh favourite is 25a.

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      One of the setters I test for is very keen on including obscure hens in his puzzles – I’m becoming quite the poultry expert

      • Hanni
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        I love that CS! Learning about obscure hens because of crosswords. It is odd the things we learn because we do puzzles though. I wonder what is the weirdest thing someone has learnt because of it?

      • nubian
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink


        • crypticsue
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

          Welcome back – how is the soignee Mrs N?

          • nubian
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            She’s encore la meme C Sue, I couldn’t resist that request for new words posted by Hanni. I’ve learned a lot more since then but you never forget your first !

            • Hanni
              Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

              Hi Nubian,

              Can you remember what the clue was? I’m still trying to think of some of mine. And there are a few!

              • nubian
                Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                Hi Hanni, probably more than three or four years ago now, Big Dave had only been going a short while. Foreign words used to get me really riled up but Dave settled me down and taught me how to appreciate the novelty.

                • Hanni
                  Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

                  I came across a word not so long ago in another publication that was Hawaiian and remember thinking, “Who on earth is going to know that?”..it wasn’t ‘aloha’ though. ;-) . But I quite like that they are part of crosswordland. And I can’t remember what the word is now. I’m sure it was something to do with peas?

                  Thanks for the link CS. :-)

                  Edit…BD I don’t have to post via the proxy anymore…just in case you are still dealing with the plugins. Again, tremendous effort!

                  Wonder if Barrie is still around?

              • crypticsue
                Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
                • Kitty
                  Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

                  Thanks for that, Sue. An interesting little window into blogs past.

                • Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

                  Does Barrie’s avatar on this post remind you of anyone?

                  • Kitty
                    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

                    I was going to end my above comment with “I wonder what happened to Barrie?” – but decided not to stir things up …

                  • florence
                    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

                    A character in the ‘Magic Roundabout’ ?

                  • Shropshirelad
                    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                    Yes, there aren’t many contributors who have an avatar of a Porsche Boxster :)

                  • Hilary
                    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

                    Coo what a coincidence, wonder if he will own up.

                • nubian
                  Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

                  Good gracious, that takes me back, I’m 65 in a couple of months and was only 58 when I complained about ‘soigne’, nice to see you still have your finger on the pulse C Sue.

          • silvanus
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            A lady is soignée, as J-L will no doubt confirm, a gentleman is soigné!

        • Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          And welcome back from me – your last comment was almost exactly two years ago.

          • nubian
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Dave.

    • Woodpecker
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      “Hens are hens.” Not so. Hens in the NE are ducks in N. Staffs and neither has feathers!

      • Hanni
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        I’ve often heard that some hens are ‘pets’ in the NE. ;-)

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        We do have a few ‘me ducks’ in my part of Shropshire, but the prevailing colloquial term used in Telford is ‘Aye Up Jockey’.

    • Hanni
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Right….after some digging I’ve found my weird word which I forgot almost straight away obviously.

      The clue read..

      French veg with dishes from Hawaii (4)

      I also learnt the meaning of CHOUT recently.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Pois :)

        • Hanni
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Spot on!

          POI is ‘a dish made in Hawaii from the root of the taro or kalo plant, by grinding, mixing, and allowing it to ferment’

          Cause everyone knows that don’t they. Well I bet lots of people in Hawaii do.

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            Believe it or not – I have cooked and tasted the Hawaiian dish. It has the look of an aubergine pulp and is what I would call ‘an acquired taste’. I’m quite glad that there seems to be a lack of Hawaiian restaurants in this country. :)

  12. Kath
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks everyone so far – I’m just hugely relieved to find that it wasn’t one of those “just me” days. I think that I’d probably up the enjoyment level to 4* but was in such a tizzy thinking I was never going to finish it let alone write any hints that at the time I have to admit I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think I know who the setter is too.

    • Hanni
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Definitely not a “just me” day Kath. Fantastic blog.

  13. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Last ones in were 8d and 15a. Guessed the answers from the definition but took a while to parse. In hindsight 15a is quite clever.
    Thanks to the setter for a good workout and to Kath for the wonderful review.

  14. Harport
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    If I complete today’s crossword unaided do you think I might qualify for a job at GCHQ? Mind you, I might have more success if I hadn’t written the answer to 9d in 8d.

    • HoofItYouDonkey
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      More like Bletchley Park for WW3!! I believe they used a crossword competition to select people for that famous institution for WW2

      • Hanni
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        They did. BD put a link on to the puzzle they used last year I think.

        • Kitty
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          Yes. I meant to try it but never did, so thanks for the reminder. One for the weekend I think. The link is here.

          • metman
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

            I did this puzzle Kitty when it was published. Managed to finish it(but not in under 12 mins, which I think was the standard expected for Bletchley. What threw me was that it was a very different puzzle to the ones we enjoy these days and was a mixture of cryptic and GK clues. Todays offering was a bit of a head scratcher and I had to resort to Kath’s hints to disover sumac! Quite enjoyable though.

  15. pete
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Kath deserves a medal for deciphering this puzzle. I have been doing the telegraph crossword for several years now and for me this is by far the most difficult I have encountered. Absolutely no enjoyment factor whatsoever. I thought Tuesdays offering was bad, many more like this and I will give this up as a bad job.

    • Merusa
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      No, this doesn’t even come into Tuesday’s orbit for impossible-ness!

  16. Heno
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the setter and to Kath for the review and hints. Only managed to solve 4 clues. Completely impossible. Was 6*/1* for me.

  17. Young Salopian
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Not quite as difficult as Tuesday’s offering from Shamus, but this in its way was equally demanding although slightly more solvable. I felt it was more enjoyable though, as the clueing was fairer and there were not too many obscurities. Both puzzles were about as hard as I have ever seen on a back page in a single week, so I extend my sympathies but also my encouragement to all those feel hard done by or, like Pete above, want to give up.

    4*/4* from me, favourite 25 down, with thanks and congratulations to Kath and PJ if it is he.

  18. Bluebird
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    You know when you try to get ketchup from a bottle that is a bit gunged up at the top and then, after squeezing for ages, it all shoots out in a rush?
    Well, this was like that.

    Sterling effort by Kath and a qualified thanks to the setter.

    Were the number of multiple steps required within multiple clues, and the competing indicators, like a Toughie, would regular toughie solvers say?

    • Senf
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      That is a good metaphor for this (and many other) puzzles. I just hope that the ketchup does not splash onto the medium (paper, I-pad, etc) that the puzzle is being solved on.

    • Physicist
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      “Shake, oh shake the old sauce bottle
      First none’ll come, and then a lot’ll.”

  19. Brian
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    This is way above my pay grade. I think whoever usually sorts out the crosswords at the DT is on holiday and some joker has got hold of all the Toughies..
    Not nice at all
    Thx for the hints

    • Hilary
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Cheers Barrie.

  20. Heno
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Without doubt, the hardest back pager I’ve ever seen. I just looked at the hints, and after looking up the answers, I managed to get another 4 solved. Which made a total of 8. Congratulations to Kath, I don’t how you managed it, but very well done. I thought 8d was tatters, but couldn’t think of tattered. 24d was a complete mystery, I’ve never heard of the spice or the author. Favourite was 18a, nice picture :-)

  21. Kitty
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Phew! This took me an age to get into. Once I did, I worked up slowly from the bottom. There were several which took a lot of beavering away at, but I enjoyed the ride and got there in the end.

    I so wanted count as the last word of 10a that it caused me one of today’s many hold-ups.

    I was further hindered by a case of anagram blindness which is afflicting me increasingly often these days. I wonder what has caused that.

    In 21d the verb for took a taxi had to be that, but I was a little incredulous. It’s there in the brb though (but says it’s chiefly US).

    I could name lots of clues, but I think it would be rude to have multiple favourites today, so I’ll just go for my last one in which was a fitting end: 15a.

    Thanks to PJ for the workout. If I have inadvertently thanked the wrong person – well, sorry setter, but you’ll just have to come and reveal yourself.

    I always smile when I see the name “Kath” on a review, and this was your usual quality. Lovely. Thanks and well done to you. :)

  22. Wahoo
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    We seem to be having easy/difficult days consecutively! Agree it was tough last night but very satisfying to complete. ****/**** .

    Didn’t know the hens but once 17d went in and I had the other chuckers (sorry checkers) 18a could only be what it was. Same with 25d starter giving 25a – I was looking for something with bug (mite) in the middle for ages. 27a was last one in and even then it was a bung in I’m afraid to say as I had forgotten the printing term – so thanks for that Kath and well done throughout.

    So overall I thought it another great puzzle where it all builds together with some perseverance!

    Favourite? Probably 10a, just beating 15a.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and Kath.

  23. Ora Meringue
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    This was far above my pay grade.

    My electronic assistant is red hot and I still needed the hints for some of the answers.

    Has anyone ever used sumac?

    As I have said before, there’s clever clueing and there’s showing off.

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Yes – husband uses sumac quite often.

      • SheilaP
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        The only sumac I’ve heard of was a Peruvian soprano called Yma Sumac. Well done Kath for decoding this puzzle.

        • nevercrossword
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          A sumac tree grows in our neighbours’ garden.

          • Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            You’ve lost a letter from your alias!

            • Jose
              Posted April 8, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

              BD. You do realise that your comment here is a pretty good cryptic clue for nevercrossword’s new, reduced alias. The “lost a” from your comment/clue = never(A)crossword. Was it intentional?

        • Domus
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          I believe she was called Amy Camus, and reversed it

    • Vancouverbc
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      ****/**. Mrs Vbc reminded me what sumac was having tried Samud (Dumas) without success. I only know Sumac as a rather pleasant BC wine. As to the puzzle well done Kath. I got all the right answers but couldn’t explain several with any degree of certainty so kudos to you. To me there were too many contrived clues so not my favourite. Thanks to the setter for the scratch marks on my head.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Sumac is lovely with chicken, I have several recipes – but don’t let Hanni know.

    • Ora Meringue
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, should have thanked Kath profusely for the hints.
      Would not have got anywhere without them.
      Well done.

  24. crypticsue
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    This took me about the same time as I’d take for an average Giovanni – although at the time, I did think I’d spent a lot longer solving than I actually did. Having read all the comments so far, I’ve looked through all the clues again and there are only four that I’d put into the extremely difficult bracket. I do wonder whether our setter is telling us something with 26a?

    thanks to the setter (I’m not saying anything today as I was wrong on Tuesday) and to Kath too – I only have one favourite today 25d because I loved the ‘one found in flowerpot’.

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Me too with 25d.
      Which clue was it that made you wonder if our setter was trying to tell us something and which four would you put into the extremely difficult bracket?

      • crypticsue
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Sorry I got my numbers wrong – 26a was the message from the setter.

        As for the difficult ones – definitely 25a 3d and looking at my other two again, perhaps they aren’t quite as difficult as I thought.

        • Kath
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          Ah – I see what you mean about 26a.
          I certainly had a lot of trouble with 3d but not so much with 25a – oh well, we’re all different.

  25. stanXYZ
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    The most difficult back-pager since Tuesday(?)

    I enjoyed them both!

    Thanks to the unknown (?) setter.

    And a special mention to Kath for the blog- it must have been quite scary seeing the clock ticking down before publication time – rather you than me! Well done!

  26. pommers
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’m going to give it ****/**** which is a first!

    Rather liked the one found in flowerpot but favourite was 18a.

    Kath, it’s days like today where you earn your pay, well you would do if you were getting paid :-) Well done.

    Thanks to the setter, gotta be PJ hasn’t it, and to Kath for a sterling job.

    • Miffypops
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Ditto to the above from me too Kath. Very well done.

  27. TheTeesdale2
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Certainly 4*/4* for us today, thank you Kath for hints and enlightenment with parsing, you may need a lie down now!
    Going to have a look at the Toughie for a rest! Thanks to the setter for the cerebral work-out.

  28. HoofItYouDonkey
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    A lot of head-scratching in rainy South London…
    Firstly, well done to Kath for decoding this, you are definitely on the list for Bletchley Park at the start of WW3.
    For a relative beginner like me, to plagiarise Lady Bracknell, to find one like this is unfortunate, to find two looks like carelessness.
    All I could do, is go through the hints and hope that something has sunk in.
    A quick question…is this the same setter as Tuesday????
    Again, well done, Kath, you must have felt that you had drawn the short straw!!!!

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. No, I don’t feel as if I’ve drawn the short straw one little tiny bit – it’s the luck of the draw and a difficult crossword makes for a fun blog. One of the things that’s best about doing hints on Thursdays is their total unpredictability.
      I’m about as sure as I’ve been about anything today that this is not the same setter as Tuesday. Tuesday was Shamus – most people think that today’s setter is Petitjean – known as PJ.

  29. silvanus
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Challenging certainly, but much more enjoyable than Tuesday’s puzzle, and full of some extremely clever and, on occasion, ingenious cluing. The NE corner proved the hardest to crack, but it was a very satisfying solve overall.

    Ray T it definitely wasn’t (over half the clues consisted of nine words or more), even if Her Maj made an appearance in 11a. I don’t mind a few wordy clues in a puzzle, but I thought 20a was in need of the long-handled pruners. The surfaces in 8d and 25d were somewhat questionable too.

    Normally I would tick one or two clues as standing out, but today eight are deserving of that accolade (10a, 15a, 18a, 26a, 28a, 3d, 14d and 17d). Living not far from Orpington and knowing that it always means a bird that lays in Crosswordese, I just had to check that Dorking was in the same boat. The two long crossing anagrams were brilliant I thought, and 15a exceptionally clever.

    Many thanks to our setter and to Kath for not having the easiest job today, well done indeed.

    • silvanus
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Oops, 10a isn’t an anagram of course (RD would have picked up my mistake for sure), but it’s still a brilliant clue.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        I was going to comment silvanus – but you pulled your socks up sharpish. Having said that, I have made a note to inform RD of your initial faux pas on his return. :)

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink


          I’m just back from Dubai after a 7+ hour flight, and this was a very hard puzzle to tackle while suffering from jet lag. Much of the cluing was too verbose for my taste, and I’m sure regulars can guess my opinion of using cab as a verb.

          There were however several excellent clues, and as usual I find myself in agreement with Silvanus. In addition I too live not far from Orpington, and, as we have never been seen in the same room together, I wonder if we might be the same person??? No, that can’t be right – I certainly didn’t think 10a was an anagram.

          Many thanks to PJ and to Kath.

          • Hanni
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            Welcome back RD!

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            I met and chatted with you both at the last Birthday bash in Little Venice. I can’t recall you both being there at the same time but I can say, without fear of being contradicted, you are not the same person. Welcome back RD :)

          • silvanus
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            Welcome back from me too, Kath told me you’d completed the necessary paperwork prior to leaving, so all’s fine there!

            Yesterday’s Jay puzzle would have been much better to tackle than today’s if suffering from jet lag, but all credit for not shirking the challenge. Some of today’s fellow solvers possibly felt just as weary without leaving terra firma.

            Near neighbours, eh, who would have thought it!

          • Kath
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

            Welcome back from me too – I have to say that this was a hard puzzle to tackle even without jet lag.
            As for cab as a verb – well, . . . if in doubt blame the Americans . . .

  30. bridgenut
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    A testing offering today and all the more enjoyable when success finally arrives after a hard-fought struggle. ****/***** for me.
    The best back-pager in a while.
    Well done to Kath and congratulations to the setter.

  31. Shropshirelad
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Best back pager for some time. I started off with a level head and nothing on it – I finished wearing an outrageous fascinator and I’ve lost a few marbles along the way. Loved the cracking anagram at 26a, the lovely convolution at 8d (well done Kath in parsing that one), and quite a few others. The only one I wasn’t too keen on was 1d, purely as the clue had ‘abated’ in it, but that’s only a minor quibble.

    Thanks to our mystery (?) setter for the puzzle and to Kath for a splendid review. If you do another one like this, BD will be after you to become a member of the regular reviewing team.

  32. Colin
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I retired hurt after completing about half of this puzzle, found it very difficult.

    But looking at the review…thanks Kath, I should have got more. Some answers I wouldn’t have got in a month of Sundays.

    Thanks to the setter, I’ll try wearing a different hat for your next tester.

  33. Expat Chris
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was quite challenging in places, but very fair. I liked 18A, but my favorite is 25D. thanks to the setter and to Kath for another great blog.

  34. Florence
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Kath you are a star for reviewing this. I didn’t need the review but good job we don’t talk about how long it takes us to finish. I made a cup of tea…it went cold. Made a coffee..it went cold. Filled in NW corner, then got stuck again. Disappeared into the kitchen to chill, literally, by cleaning fridges out,and came back to the cw with a different hat on. Finally got my head around the rest of the clues and managed to finish. I filled in 18a because of checkers, but appreciated your picture Kath. My husband would have got it straight away. I rate this 4*/4*. Thank you Kath and setter. I still consider myself entry level, but I really persevered today. I think that some people just give up far too easily. If I could do today’s puzzle, then there’s no reason for anyone to complain.

  35. Exilis
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I managed to complete this puzzle on my own! However I did not understand the reason for many answers so couldn’t wait for the review to explain all.
    Thanks Kath for the review, this blog is Amazing! And thanks to the setter for taking me into new crossword territory.
    I didn’t enjoy some some of the clues, even when I ‘got’ them, I don’t see how I would have ever have worked them out without checking letters.
    My favourite was 18a because It was nice and simple once the penny dropped.

    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Welcome back – you used a different alias last time (in December 2014).

  36. Owdoo
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Found this one quite a struggle but on completion somehow it didn’t quite feel as much fun as the Tuesday puzzle from Shamus so it gets a 4*/3* fom me today. I was unfamiliar with the spice and it took ages before I realised why 2d was what it clearly had to be. 25d raised a smile though, bringing back some of my earliest memories of Watch with Mother in the 1960s.
    Thanks to the setter for the challenge and to Kath for the tricky blog.

  37. fran
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    For me the most difficult solve of the week . I just couldn’t get going in the top right hand corner . I guessed 8d (thanks to Kath for reasoned explanation) I enjoyed the hints as much as the crossword itself ; thanks again Kath. Favouite was 26a followed by 24 and 25d ****/** Thanks to the setter

  38. Howitzerx3
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Really hard work for me but got there in the end with more than a bit of help from Kath. However really enjoyed this level of difficulty for once and learnt a lot again and surprised myself at actually working out the majority of answers.
    Thanks Kath for the real help with 5a/25a/14d/22d. Two months ago prior to joining this blog would probably have managed to complete about a quarter. Enjoyed it much more than Tuesday.
    Favourite clues 26a / 7d
    Rating 5 / 3
    Thanks again for the blog BD and the setter.

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      If you’ve managed to do far more than you would have been able to do two months ago i.e. before joining the blog then BD will be a happy man – this was his intention. BD – I am right aren’t I?!!
      Oh, and by the way I quite like being useful too – justifying my existence is good for the ego! :-)

      • Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Of course you are right – I am always pleased to hear success stories.

        • Miffypops
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

          The success stories are from those who admit to struggling on my he back pagers who then start commenting upon The Toughies. Always makes me smile.

        • Banksie
          Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:19 am | Permalink


          Not sure I’d go so far as to call this a success story but I’ve been using this blog for a few years now and improving accordingly.

          I finished this one and I’d say that’s probably, no, definitely because of your efforts and of all those who help you.

          many thanks to all of you.

          • Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

            Well done.

            Yes, that’s definitely a success story.

      • John Pidgeon
        Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        This seems an appropriate place to add my thanks for the slog I put you through, Kath.

        • Kath
          Posted April 8, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

          No – not a slog but I have to admit that it was a bit on the scary side when I wasn’t even sure that I was going to be able to finish the crossword let alone write any decent hints.
          Thank you for your comment – if I possessed a hat I’d take it off to you. :-)

    • florence
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Well done H3

    • Hanni
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Good stuff!

      • Howitzerx3
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        Yes but have been trying under my own steam to get to this stage for about thirty five years. Then suddenly it is starting to happen with some bits of the jigsaw finally coming together thanks to all the help from the blog. Best of all i am really enjoying it.

        Thanks again it’s a great spirit on the blog.

        • pommers
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for that comment Hx3. It’s what makes all the blogging worthwhile. I hope I can be of some assistance next Thursday but one day you’ll find you don’t need the help at all.

        • Kath
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          So what’s the hurry? You say that you’re enjoying it all – surely that’s the most important thing.
          Yes, there’s a great spirit on the blog – lots of lovely people who are very supportive.

          • Miffypops
            Posted April 8, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink

            I love being helpful. The blog is a great success. A good memory is helpful and a sense of humour is essential

  39. Jaylegs
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    A proper Thursday puzzle 😩 Too difficult for me, thanks to Kath for her lovely blog 😍
    *****/** You obviously have to be of a certain age, and nationality, to solve 25d! Like 15 & 20a. By the law of averages tomorrow should be un promener en le parc 😉 Thanks to setter who ever it may be

  40. Una
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Very tricky indeed.I must have enjoyed it , otherwise I would have quit.
    I appreciate it more in review than while actually doing it.
    20 a is my favourite, and like a good many other clues, I could parse it only after stumbling upon the answer.
    Well done Kath for unraveling it.Thanks to the setter for ratcheting up the level.

  41. Janie
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was a great crossword – very clever. Difficult to start with but then sort of fell into place. I had the answer to 25 across but couldn’t understand why so thanks for the explanation. My problem is that on my computer the answers are all revealed on the blog

    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Janie

      What platform (operating system / browser) are you using?

    • florence
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Welcome Janie

  42. Merusa
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    This was very, very hard, but not a patch on Tuesday’s.
    I did manage to finish, but many of my answers were put in without any idea why they were correct; e.g., 25d, the gent in the flowerpot was not part of my growing up.
    The top half was not as difficult as the bottom, 10a went in immediately and helped a lot.
    Fave was 15a, how clever was that?
    Thanks to setter and congrats to Kath for unravelling that lot.

  43. Hilary
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Having got beaten up by dentist this morning who managed to save my broken tooth I decided to go for the total martyrdom by attempting this crossword. Not the best idea so a big thanks to Kath for pointing me in the right direction – I used hints to fill in some answers and gradually light dawned but I would be eternally grateful for some respite tomorrow.

  44. cat
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I found this really difficult but gradually got into it and finally managed to complete it. I didn’t understand quite a few though so many thanks to Kath for explaining it all.
    Btw, the answers were showing again for me, this has happened several times now and I stopped using the blog for a while because of it. However, no one else has mentioned it so perhaps it is just me.

    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      What platform (operating system / browser) are you using?

      By the way this is, as far as I’m aware, the only crossword blog that does hide the answers.

      • cat
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Windows 7 /Google – is that the right information?

        • Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          I don’t actually know what is causing this, but it is worth changing your nameservers as per this article:
          Personally I would use the Google nameservers which are and but you could also try those in the article. You may also need to flush your dns, although rebooting is probably easier if you don’t want to use command prompts.
          I don’t know if this will work, but it certainly won’t do any harm and you can always return to the existing values by repeating the process and selecting “Obtain DNS server address automatically”.

          • Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

            I should have added that if anyone does have any better ideas, please let me know.

            • cat
              Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

              Thanks BD, not sure I understand all this but will have a go.
              I think this site is brilliant, I don’t often post anything but enjoy reading it and seeing everyone’s comments.

  45. Miffypops
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    The best puzzle since Tuesday and a real humdinger. A total delight from start to finish. Thanks to Kath for the review and thanks to the setter (PJ). More of the same please. I was rather hoping Merusa would explain about the EN and EM and the one I have forgotten but is the width of the letter I. We have kept Buff Orpington hens for years. The cockerels are magnificent. We lost Buffy One to a fox a few years ago. I waited for him with a shotgun the next night but when he appeared he was so beautiful I didn’t see him off. Too soft by half.

    • Merusa
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      EL. These measures don’t matter today as the computer does the adjusting, but if you were a secretary in the 1960s and using an IBM Selectric typewriter, you had endless problems with them unless you were a faultless typist, which I was not. To correct something, you had to know if it was a one space, two space, or three space, then you had to adjust by half spaces – forget it, it was just too complicated and thank goodness we don’t have to deal with them today. God bless computers.

      • Miffypops
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        I remember you explaining it all some time ago Merusa. I found it interesting. Thank you

      • cat
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        I remember this, it was a bit of a nightmare initially – I was good at shorthand but not too good at accurate typing – but got the hang of it. Also, spacing everything out, centring headings, and working out tabs. They have it so easy today!!

    • Tstrummer
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 2:05 am | Permalink

      An en is half an em. An em is one-twelfth of an inch. To avoid confusion, an en is known as a nut and an em is a mut. An em is also known as a pica. In hot metal days, these were vital instructions to printers. Type was often set NES or MES (nut each side, mut each side) which meant that both margins were indented from the edges of the column – vital if instructing a WOB (white out of black, so beloved of tabloids). The black would be flush to column edges, the White-out text indented on both side within it. Computers do all that sort of stuff these days.

  46. MalcolmR
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I found this very difficult. After my first reading of the clues I had only four definite answers. An hour later I had about half, but then ground to a halt. I had to use electronic means to get going again and then come here for the final couple. The Toughie today was a doddle in comparison. This rated ****/** for me.

    Personally speaking, I only come here when I have a problem solving the puzzle, so I am more likely to post a negative comment. I wouldn’t come here and boast “Well today’s was dead easy.”

  47. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Certainly a significant challenge for us and it is very apparent that we were not alone in this view. The long anagram for 26a gets our vote for clue of the day. An enjoyable puzzle to solve.
    Thanks Petitjean and Kath

  48. Salty Dog
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Well up to Toughie standard. Well, it does us good to be brought up with a round turn occasionally, and this puzzle certainly did that. 3*(although it felt harder)/4* is about right. 18a and 25a were very good, but there were plenty of other well-crafted clues to enjoy. Thanks to the setter, and well done to Kath for reviewing it!

  49. RichardW
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    On solving time and number of resorts to electronic help, slightly easier than Tuesday’s I thought. Pretty tough going though, pleased I finished it!

  50. Framboise
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    A revenant! Not DiCaprio but me. Although I have tried to keep up with solving the Cryptic daily haven’t had the time or inclination to blog. Illness and death in the family. Here I am back today and what a challenge today’s offering was! Was completely stumped by 25a and 25d. Kath, your review is a star and well needed it was. 26a took a bit of pondering but solving it was most satisfying – my vote for the best clue.

    • Hanni
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      So sorry to hear that Framboise. Take care.

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry about the illness and death in your family but glad to see you back. Today’s offering was certainly a challenge!

    • Merusa
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      My sympathies to your family. I hope your problems are now over.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      I was hoping so much that your silence wasn’t linked to any of the ordeals you’re going through.
      You have all my sympathies and give my best regards to John.

    • Jane
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      Hi Framboise,
      Missed your comments and wondered where you’d got to. Nice to see you back and very sorry for the reasons for your absence.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      Welcome back. You have been missed.

  51. Jon_S
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Mmm, definitely tough for a DT back pager, though not as tough as the Toughies get. It felt overall more like a Times puzzle, but with no real obscurities. A pleasure to solve from start to end, even if it did take an unexpectedly long time.

  52. Sam
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Too hard for me. Are you quite sure it’s not one of Ray T’s?!

    • Kath
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely 100% sure . . .

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Have a look at comment 4 Sam – you’ll se a certain setter owning up to today’s puzzle. It is most certainly not Mr Terrell (Ray T). :)

  53. Kath
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    OK all – I’ve about had it for today. Thanks so much to everyone for all the really lovely comments – so much appreciated.
    Night, night zzzzzz

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      Well done Kath – ‘night.

  54. Tstrummer
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    After the first pass yielded only two answers I knew it had to be PJ, one of the setters I have the most trouble with. However, screwing my courage to the sticking plate I persevered and achieved something of a glow of satisfaction after limping across the line with 8d, my LOI. Some terrific challenges were met along the way – 10 & 26a – but I’m going to give the Crackerjack (Crackerjack!) pencil to the delightful 15a. Well done to Kath for mistressing such tricky puzzle and to PJ for the struggle. 4*/4*

  55. Sheffieldsy
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    A very tough cookie for a back-pager. We got the top half yesterday evening but had to wait until our heads cleared to make further progress, to completion (yaay) this morning. It’s very rare to need such a break, so it definitely merits 4*/4*. Like Vancouverbc, the spice was entirely down to Mrs Sheffieldsy

    25d was our clear favourite – we both laughed out loud.

    Many, many thanks to Kath, whose blog was a tour de force, and to PJ (can we have more soon, please?)

  56. jan
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Bringing up the rear, and probably too late, but had to say thank you to Kath. Don’t know how you did it, and I certainly could not have done without you.

    • Kath
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      No, you’re not too late at all – thank you.

  57. Sh-Shoney
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Just finished this swinish puzzle! Is it me or have the back page puzzles got harder than the toughies? 3d was a bit savage by any standard and 26a had me in knots on the carpet. I’m due at the doctor’s at 3pm – I wonder if he has anything to help tortured brains. Many thanks to all concerned for this superb effort. Sh-Shoney.

  58. fortis88
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    i didn’t find it all that difficult but perhaps i have been doing crossword puzzles for too long i do three a day however i have to say i thought the clue for baby sit was not very clever, there wasn’t anything else that it could be looking at the letters already filled in from the down clues. however, the saving grace was the overweight boxer clue which i found particularly amusing, hats off to the setter whoever he or she may be

  59. Posted April 10, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I ended up giving up on this one as it wasn’t enjoyable, I’m afraid. Clues were too convoluted and overall a bit ugly. Thanks for the solutions and explanations, though. This is a most useful site when my head hurts from bashing it against the last one or two!

    • crypticsue
      Posted April 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog