DT 28254 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28254

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28254

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

What is the shortest length of time known to man? Some say the Nanosecond. Some say the length of time it takes the chap behind to beep after traffic lights turn green in France (which is lots faster than a nanosecond) I think it might be length of time it took Big Dave to say yes when I asked if he wanted me to take on today’s blogging duties. After yesterday’s problems with this website I cannot blame him. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle twice over. Once during the solve and again writing the review. There are some lovely clues, some wit and something to make me remember the days before I became orphaned

The hints and tips below may or may not help you to solve or understand today’s puzzle. They are the work of an amateur.

The illustrations may or may not have anything at all to do with clue.>

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


8a    Plain glass in American wagon (7,8)
PRAIRIE SCHOONER: Plain here is what the large expanses of land in America are called. The places where the buffalo roamed. The massive acreage of land given over to wheat farming. The glass might hold sherry. Together they form a covered wagon used by the 19th-century pioneers in crossing the North Americas. Looking at my illustration I can see where the second word came from

9a    For every forward, time must run out (3)
PER:  Find a synonym for the word forward (attractive lively or cheeky) which is usually used to describe a young woman and remove the letter T as instructed by the words time must run out

10a    I am no tall fizzy party drink (11)
AMONTILLADO:   Anagram (fizzy) of I AM NO TALL followed by our usual suspect for a party

11a    Compass showing north in storm (5)
RANGE:   Place the letter N(orth) inside a storm of anger

12a    Like small talk, perhaps? Phoney does, truly (9)
DESULTORY:  Anagram (phoney) of DOES TRULY

15a    Wise crossing America in a banger? (7)
SAUSAGE: Place a word meaning wise around the initial letters of United States of America 

17a    Dreary broadcast about tail of urban fox (7)
REYNARD: Anagram (broadcast) of DREARY placed around the final (tail) letter of urban

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

19a    A leading lady in the cinema? (9)
USHERETTE: The lady with the torch who leads you to your seat at the cinema.

20a    Singer, for example, appearing in Pisa (a cappella) (5)
ISAAC:  A lurker. A word hidden in the clue and indicated by the words appearing in. As usual you can ignore all punctuation in the clue.  The singer in this clue is not a singer of songs with a fine voice like Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan. It is Isaac Merritt Singer who was an American inventor, actor, and entrepreneur. He made important improvements in the design of the sewing machine and was the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. You all knew that didn’t you?

21a    Weepy guys seen parting in latest shot (11)
SENTIMENTAL:  A word for guys, chaps, blokes or males is placed inside (seen parting) an anagram (shot) of IN LATEST

24a    Wife English duke married (3)
WED:  The initial letters of the first three words. Why? I do not know. It just is.

25a    Unsurpassed wit — foster-father cracks up (2,3,5,5)
OF THE FIRST WATER:   Anagram  (Cracks up) of WIT FOSTER FATHER. A phrase I have been familiar with for ever as it was how my dear Mother described her engagement ring which was bought for £25 during WW2 from a titled lady


1d    Plenty required to support carnival? I agree (4,6)
FAIR ENOUGH:  This common phrase can be deduced by using a determiner or pronoun meaning as much or as many as required (plenty). This supports (placed afterwards in a down clue) or holds up a word for a carnival with merry-go-rounds and helter-skelters. 

If the above doesn’t help this might.

There was a fairy
His name was Nuff
Fairy Nuff

2d    Sophisticated city, Estonia’s capital (6)
URBANE:  This word meaning in relating to or characteristic of a city appeared at 15d in yesterday’s puzzle. It needs to be followed by the first (capital) letter of Estonia 

3d    Back to win against silver medallist (6,4)
SECOND BEST:  To back, here, is to support as in a vote or as those in a boxers corner. To win is to get the better of or outwit somebody. Together they describe those who didn’t win but didn’t come third either.

4d    Improvised singing from jazz enthusiast following Shaw’s intro? (4)
SCAT:  An outdated term for a jazz enthusiast follows the initial letter (intro) of Shaw’s

5d    Treacherous conduct in revolting dramatic work (4,4)
FOUL PLAY:  A word meaning revolting together with a word meaning a dramatic work in the theatre 

6d    Woman appearing in upcoming article after article (4)
ANNA:  This lady’s name can be derived by using the form of the indefinite article when used before a vowel and then using it again but reversed (upcoming 

7d    Religious building in earlier year (6)
PRIORY:  This small monastery or nunnery can be found by placing an adjective meaning coming before in time and then using The abbreviated form of the word year 

8d    Pays up for recycling, putting in right kind of paper (7)
PAPYRUS: An anagram (for recycling) of PAYS UP also contains the letter R from the word R(ight)

13d    Cover tax trial in Hollywood? (6,4)
SCREEN TEST:  This cover is a fixed or movable upright partition used to divide a room, give shelter from draughts, heat, or light, or to provide concealment or privacy.  The trial is a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, especially before it is taken into widespread use.  Together they make a filmed piece to ascertain whether an actor or actress is suitable for a film role.  Sometimes that person just does not want to know.

  ARVE Error: need id and provider

14d    Equal to duck and Thai prawn mixture? (2,1,3,4)
ON A PAR WITH:  Begin with the duck. It doesn’t float on a pond. It is a cricket score. Use the letter that looks like this number. Now add an anagram (mixture) of THAI PRAWN. I like this clue it calls up an image of a blissful afternoon in the sun watching a village cricket match eating fine food and drinking champagne 

16d    Rows follow broadcast showing companies with sky-high charges (8)
AIRLINES:  The companies with sky high charges are those who schedule aeroplanes to fly about all over the place making a noise and polluting the atmosphere. Use a word meaning to broadcast and a word meaning rows. Not arguing or propelling boats but neatly arranged like schoolchildren after playtime waiting to go back inside.

18d    Drink after Edward’s put over point that settles things (7)
DECIDER:  reverse the shortened form of Edward (not Ted. Even shorter) and add a drink made from fermented apple juice.

19d    Result of increased dose (6)
UPSHOT:  Take a two letter word meaning increase and add a word describing a dose of medicine usually administered by injection

20d    Relatives legally separated, initially (2-4)
IN-LAWS:   Ones husband’s or ones wife’s relatives.  Two words that mean legally and the initial letter of the word separated

22d    Pay attention to short statement (4)
NOTE:  An easy double definition 

23d    Long story from chimney-sweep I contacted (4)
EPIC:   Our second lurker of the day. Playing hide and seek inside the letters of the clue. The word from should prompt a search for a lurker. Seek and ye shall find.

Phew. Some of these clues were far easier to solve than they were to explain.

The Quick Crossword pun: thyme+stable=times table

86 comments on “DT 28254

  1. A straightforward Tuesday puzzle – the only question raised in my mind being whether I’ve ever seen a short list of Across clues and the Downs starting in the same ‘row’ as is the case in today’s newspaper.

    Thanks to the stand-in for standing in and to the Mysteron for the crossword

    1. Only twelve across clues today Sue. There are sixteen down clues so while I don’t remember them being typeset like that before I can see why it is that way.

  2. No problem today so have yet to read MP’s hints for which I thank you. Only sorry it was all over so quickly. Was unaware of 8a although the glass did give a lead. 4d also new one on me. No Fav. Thank you Mr. Ron. */**.

  3. Two days running! You’re a star Miffypops!

    My rating today is 1*/2.5* for a straightforward but reasonably enjoyable puzzle apart from 20a which I thought was a bit obscure. 4d was a new word for me and had me reaching for my BRB. I particularly liked 8a, 10a & 25a.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Miffypops.

  4. **/** for me, and, because of travelling, I managed to solve on-line without my Small Red Book (not small enough to fit into an overloaded suitcase) and with only a small amount of electronic assistance. Conclusion, Tuesday continues to be the easiest day of the week (for me).

    8a and 25a were new to me, even with watching all those episodes of ‘Wagon Train’ years ago for 8a, but easy enough to deduce.

    Favourite 19a which was my last one in, but is it now a non-PC word?

  5. Only needed help with 2d which eluded me for some reason….never been sophisticated I suppose……

    Thanks to the setter and to Miffypops .

  6. Fairly straight forward but nonetheless enjoyable. I found 8a and 25a easy enough to work out, but cant say I have ever heard of either of them before.1.5*/4* Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Miffypops.

    1. Yes it is Happy Days. There is no wordplay to tell us that though. We just have to accept it. I don’t like that sort of clueing

  7. Lets start with a 1.5*/*** ,and I agree with RD’S comments. Miffypops should receive an award for parsing 20a, a clear case of its the Singer not the song ! Will have to play Bob’s screen test when I get home as no sound allowed on the works computers – for Factory/ Velvet Underground fans, its three years since Lou Reed died- loved Herbie Flowers base on’ that record’.

  8. North v South day for me. North fairly straightforward, South less so. Hadn’t heard of the expressions in 8a & 25a, Spotted the lurker in 20a but thanks to MP for the parsing. Watching a TV program from Paignton only last week where they went to Oldway Mansion (the pile he built / renovated) Even then I didn’t make the connection.
    Some nice clues & enjoyable solve.
    COTD 19a, probably an old chestnut to some.
    Thanks to setter & MP. The bit about “amateur” was tautological, only amateurs volunteer for an extra shift & are accepted without protracted pay negotiations.
    Echo thanks to BD for getting rid of the gremlins.

  9. All fairly straight-forward for me, given that I had never heard of the vehicle in 8a nor the phrase in 25a. Tuesdays do seem to be getting easier. **/**

  10. So my wife and I decided that we were going to learn how to do cryptic crosswords about six weeks or so ago. I’ve subscribed to the telegraph site and I print out his ‘n hers crosswords in the morning then we compare notes after we’ve come back from work. We’ve gone from getting less than a third to completing a couple of them in the last few days. To say that we’re slow would be somewhat of an understatement.

    Many thanks to the helpers on this site – we found the various tricks of the trade absolutely baffling at first.

    Out of interest, is there a concensus about what is a fair solve and what’s regarded as abit cheaty? Are you allowed any aids at all in the solving competitions?

    1. Welcome from me. It sounds as if you’re making pretty speedy progress with the crossword solving – well done.
      I don’t think that you can cheat yourselves so there’s nothing wrong in using dictionaries or asking that nice Mr Google for help if you need it but others may disagree.
      I’ve never entered a solving competition and wouldn’t ever dream of it so have no idea about what’s allowed – I’d suspect nothing but I’m sure crypticsue will know.

      1. I agree with you Kath. To each his own/ chacun à son goût. I am afraid I don’t have a conscience about crossword solving. I do them for the fun of it.

    2. When you say ‘solving competitions’ do you mean the prize puzzles that appear in the weekend, or an event like the Times Crossword Championship? If the former, then no-one will know apart from you and your conscience. If the latter, then no aids whatsoever, and you have to turn your mobile phone off too as if it rings you are automatically disqualified.

      1. I am so impressed CS. Glad the question has been raised, and that you have answered it. I’ve been thinking about it since Saturday.

    3. The Rules. Rule One. There are no rules. Rule Two. If in doubt see rule one. Many years ago i would sit with the newspaper and a pen. To hand would be: A notebook for working out anagrams and charades. A dictionary. An atlas. A book of quotations. A book of biographies. A crossword solvers book of lists (Rivers, Ports, Mountains, cities, flowers, animals etc.etc. I would solve what I could and await the next days paper to check what I had not got and see if I could work it out. Gradually more of the grids got filled and I relied less and less on the aids that surrounded me. Now I solve with a finger on an I pad. It is a long time since I checked a dictionary or any reference book

      I think you should use whatever aids you need but always be striving to use them less. However long it takes. Of course this site is here to assist.

      Blogging today’s crossword I had to explain 1ac. My brother in law who lives in the states calls his 4×4 by that name and I assumed it referred to those sort of vehicles. Thank you Google for putting me right. At 20ac we had a Singer. I had no idea but again google saved the day. The rest I did all my own self. (Thanks Kath) As I said 25ac was known to me but it may be obscure to others.

      I have no idea what the word tax is doing in the clue at 13d

        1. CS, I’d be really grateful if you could explain why ‘tax’ and ‘trial’ are both together in 13a. I think one is a verb, the other a noun, but is one of the words superfluous? Your reply above to MP made me look at the clue.

            1. Thanks Dutch. I made the mistake of looking at the clue on paper and not checking back over MPs review, which underlines the definition as you stated. I just saw the words tax and trial and thought that they were both a test, so repetitive. Apologies to all.

    4. In the USA, there is a question and answer for classical musicians:

      Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall (a famous concert venue New York)?

      A: Practice, practice, practice.

      In my experience, the same applies to solving crosswords; so, keep the faith!

      1. In respect of practice and proficiency read “Bounce” by Matthew Syed. Not to be off-putting but the future for top class (a Crypticsue?) Is 10,000 hours!

          1. Having seen your Toughie reviews your definition of mediocrity differs from mine (and the BRB). Cat lovers in my experience are invariably happy. So you must be the exception that proves the rule.

        1. Which is one of the (minor) reasons I have moved back to Canada where the Queen’s English prevails.

  11. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Miffypops for the review and hints. A very nice puzzle. I managed to get 8a, but I totally misspelt the first word, so couldn’t get 2d. Favourite was 18d. Was 2*/3* for me.

  12. First the crossword starts appearing on the inside back page. Now the Down clues don’t start at the top of the column. I am shaken by these developments and fully expect the world to stop spinning on its axis very soon.

  13. I agree with anyone who’s said enjoyable and not too tricky which proves a crossword doesn’t have to have you tearing your hair out to be fun.
    If I’ve ever met 8a before I’ve forgotten it.
    To begin with I missed the anagram indicator in 17a and thought it was a homophone (broadcast) of a dreary weather forecast – rain ‘ard – oh dear. Got there in the end.
    Even though I have a very old Singer sewing machine the first ‘singer’ I thought of for 20a was Isaac Hayes.
    I liked 10 and 25a and 14 and 19d. My favourite was 5d.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to Miffypops – how lovely of you to do the hints again and give BD a bit of a rest.
    Thanks also to BD for sorting it all out.

  14. Many thanks Miffypops for an excellent review, and for highlighting Mr Singer, which I just bunged in assuming he was, well, a singer.

    Thank you setter for an enjoyable puzzle. I hadn’t come across the expression for 25a before meaning unsurpassed. I had first bunged in A FISH OUT OF WATER, but then I realised (1) that didn’t mean unsurpassed (2) it didn’t fit the enumeration and (3) it didn’t fit the anagram fodder, and so it was probably not right.

    I also liked the Thai Prawns and the sky high charges.

    1. Before I asked Mr Google what he knew about an Isaac Singer, I was thinking that Mr Ron was a fan of Mr Hayes:

  15. What an overall ghastly crossword. 13d and 3D awful!. Never heard of the phrase in 25a or if I have it is long forgotten, 12a is clumsy as is 9a.
    For me **/0.5*
    Only clue I enjoyed was18a,
    For me a puzzle best forgotten.
    Thx for the explanations in the hints.

    1. I think you should blog a puzzle or two Brian. I would pay to read your hints, tips and comments.

    2. I didn’t enjoy it either, Brian, and there are others I could add to the clumsy list. I guess it’s all a matter of personal preference.

      However, I am obliged to point out that there is no 18A. Perhaps that why you enjoyed it.

    3. 25a: I’ve never heard of that either, but it couldn’t be anything else from the fodder. It must have been said on Flog It or The Antiques Roadshow, but I have missed it. I’m glad I’ve learned it though – going straight into my little red book…

  16. 14 down my favourite in this fairly straightforward yet enjoyable offering from Mr Ron. My knowledge of sewing machines is limited to a Singer, as we have an antique model on display on our landing, but I didn’t know the inventor’s first name.

    Thanks to MP for a fun review and to our Tuesday setter. 2*/3*.

  17. What a charming puzzle. Having not filled in anything on the first pass I began to worry but all fell into place relatively quickly. So many great clues, really liked 8a having travelled to the Midwest and seen the Oregon ruts a couple of years back. I confess I’ve not heard of the phrase 25a but I worked it out from the check letters. Thanks to Mr Ron and mp.

  18. Delightful crossword, started to think it was R & W but then there were a few that I found tricky 🤔 e.g. 2d, 10a & 9a ( I was thinking (pertemps without the “temps) silly me 😳 **/**** Favourites 18 & 19d. Big thanks to MP (is he going for a hat trick?) and to the setter 😜

  19. Straightforward but very enjoyable cluing. One of the better back pagers of recent times. As for outside help, I don’t use the tips shown here (sacrilege I know) as for me they’re just too much of a helping hand. However I do enjoy reading through them afterwards and adding my two pennyworth. Thanks Setter and Reviewer alike.

  20. Some of these phrases are just nonsense -‘ of the first water?’

    Some lovely clues today mind – suspect a stinker tomorrow for the experienced puzzlers and not for the amateurs like me.

    1. From the BRB under water:- class, quality, excellence, especially in the phrase ‘of the first or purest water’

          1. I had heard the expression, oddly I think it was from OFAH when Del and Rodney turn into diamond smugglers!!!

  21. I had lots of fun today with this puzzle. I needed some fun. Spent the day taking down curtains, pictures and photos and moving furniture ready for decorating. Discovered that the plaster has blown on a wall, and I now await a plasterer to arrive at 5.00 to take a look. Sitting doing the crossword has given me a great deal of pleasure and removed the stress. I loved 8a as it reminded me of my time in Wyoming with husband and children, going up into the hills for a cookout. I cheated with 25a and put the words into an anagram solver. I would never have got it on my own as I’ve never heard of the expression. Thank you setter and Miffypops.Thank you too BD for all the effort you put in to keep the site up and running.

  22. 20a – I didn’t spot Isaac Singer as the sewing machine inventor but solved the clue because I HAD heard of the novelist Isaac Bashevis SINGER. All that trivia comes into play eventually.

      1. Thank you for the courtesy Big Dave. I have been a fan for some time and have recommended this site to others. Excellent stuff; compensates to some extent for the horrible things that take place on the ‘net.


  23. I knew 8a and 25a and bunged them in on first run through, but the shorter ones held me up, as did 2d. Cary Grant was often described as 2d, but I wonder if I’m going back too far!
    My fave was 8a, but I must give a mention to 16d as I spent most of my life working with them.
    Thanks to the setter for a fun start to the day, and to M’pops for stepping in to give BD a well-earned day off.
    I must give BD a special shout out for keeping this site so well oiled so as to give us addicts our “fix” every day.

  24. What is there not to like about today’s offering? An enjoyable exercise with some good clues. 8a was my favourite, really because I hadn’t heard the expression for ages.
    25a was a new one on me so Mr G had to lend a hand there, but otherwise no problems.
    2/3* overall.
    Thanks to Mr Ron, and the double dose man for his review.

  25. Good afternoon everybody.

    Mostly straightforward. No idea who the Singer was in 20a and the phrase at 25a strikes me as gibberish. Such is life. Favourite clue was 11a. Simple but effective.


  26. I rarely have many brain cells left available to help me fill in Tuesday’s back pager, so this was just about right. Just meaty enough to keep my brain ticking over until a socially acceptable bedtime, at which time I will suddenly feel alert and full of energy. I met a few more new things than normal at this stage of the week: I don’t think I knew 8a or 10a, I wasn’t sure about 17a, and I definitely didn’t know the 20a Isaac or the 25a phrase. In all cases the wordplay was clear enough to enable me to get to the end without cheating, which is a nice way to do it.

    My favourite today is 14d. I do like a good duck.

    Thanks to the setter and Miffypops.

  27. An excellent puzzle, not that difficult but with commendably succinct and elegant cluing.

    25a was a new phrase to me (surely almost everyone these days uses “order” as the last element, don’t they?) and the anagram in 10a was somewhat contrived, but otherwise I found it very enjoyable.

    Good to see today’s setter following Rufus yesterday and keeping us supplied with chestnuts, after all it is Autumn! 8a tends to crop up occasionally, but 19a (my favourite) is such a lovely clue, I don’t mind how often it appears.

    Thanks to Mr. Ron and Miffypops and to BD for resolving yesterday’s gremlins.

    1. of the first water
      Of the finest quality, as in That was a play of the first water. This idiom refers to a grading system for diamonds for their color or luster (compared to the shininess of water). The system is no longer used but the term, used figuratively since the early 1800s, has survived it

  28. Loving doing the crosswords in my old age. The latter has it’s benefits as today’s 25 a was a very familiar phrase. My mother used to use it to describe the diamonds in her ring! Many thanks to all.

    1. Welcome and thank you from me. As I said in my review that is how my mother described her ring.

  29. Good stuff from Mr Ron & ditto for Miffypops. We ate a thai prawn mixture last night
    and we’ll be eating Magret de Canard tomorrow….

  30. Sorry to be late in – gadding about day!
    Seems to me that we have our American setter in the chair again today – very enjoyable but a few unknowns for me such as the wagon, the first name of Mr. Singer and the improvised singing (although fortunately I remembered the jazz enthusiast from a recent puzzle).
    25a was finally dragged up from the depths of the grey cells but only after the first three words were in and there were few alternatives left to be made from the remaining letters!
    Plenty of ticks – 13,16&18d with 15a&19d getting the smile award.

    Thanks to Mr.Ron and to MP for doing a double shift to give BD a well-earned rest. Loved the 17a clip, steered clear of the one for 13d!

  31. An enjoyable, pretty straightforward puzzle that I solved bottom to top. If I’d known the drink and the wagon then it would have been quicker still. 17ac is one of those words I’d not heard of before I started solving crosswords, and never seem to stop seeing since.

  32. Well that was good fun even though I was kind of rushing it, and looked at more of Miffypops hints than I should if I had just thought a bit more. Thing is, our South Florida weather has suddenly become livable with highs in the low 80s, and not a blast of humid air from an open door. So hurrying to get outside and catch up on chores. Favorite was definitely 19a for nostalgic reasons, doubt if younger folk will know what she did, and reminded us of the ice cream lady who came round with her little torch selling choc ices etc.

  33. Huge thank you to BD for his endeavours with this site. It brings such pleasure, and has given immense confidence to have a go. Thank you too to today’s setter and to Miffypops for his usual fun hints.

  34. A very nice little puzzle – say 1*/4* by my reckoning – just the job after a day in sunny Truro down among the pointy-headed folk. I enjoyed 10a and 15a, but as a Masefield devotee with a particular affection for that poem, my favourite was 17a. Thanks to the Mysteron, and to Miffypops.

  35. Not too many problems, though I did find some of the clues a bit uninspiring.
    6d was clever and my favourite.
    Thanks to MP and BD, as ever…

  36. A straightforward and rapid solve, but good fun was had along the way. I’d never heard of 8a, but a quick look in the book of words confirmed my guess. 25a was once a very common expression – my father used it all the time – and like others I thought of every Isaac except the sewing machine man: Chris Isaac, Isaac Hayes (saw him at the Rainbow in 1976), Oscar Isaac, Isaac Bashevis Singer etc. For me, the clue that is 25a is 10a, if only because it reminds me of the Monty Python sherry song. Thanks to the inimitable MP, BD and the setter. 1*/3*

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