DT 28301 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 28301

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28301

Hints and tips by Miffypops

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Good morning from Downtown LI. Your poorly schooled orphan boy has reached the dizzy heights of social acceptance within the Crosswordland community and has a Christmas Card to prove it. Thank you to the sender of said card. You are the giant upon who’s shoulders I stand.

Rufus is today’s compiler. As usual the puzzle is at the kinder end of the solving range. Quite fun to solve with smiles and Doh! moments along the way.

Here are some hints and tips to help if you need them. They may contain a mistake or two but they should still point you in the right direction. I do my best as do my fellow bloggers but we are merely human.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Wrestling club that might get you hooked (9,4)
GRAPPLING IRON: Begin with an adjective that is a synonym for wrestling and add a club found in a golfers bag to find a device with iron claws, attached to a rope and used for dragging or grasping last used in Long Itchington to drag the body of Fatal Moore from the canal lock. Did he fall or was he pushed? We will never know.

10a    Alfresco dancing in opera (4-3)
OPEN AIR: Anagram (dancing) of IN OPERA

11a    Hide at one time found in California (7)
CONCEAL: Place an adverb meaning formerly or at one time inside the common abbreviation for the state of California.

12a    Awkward ones making negative votes (4)
NOES: Anagram (awkward) of ONES

13a    Evict wild and smelly cat (5)
CIVET: Anagram (wild) of EVICT. If this clue was in Rookie Corner a chorus would begin suggesting the words ‘and smelly’ were superfluous.

14a    Game of poker cut swotting (4)
STUD: Swotting here means reading such as one might do to pass an exam or university course When the last letter is taken away (cuts) we are left with a type of poker as in the card game.

17a    Trying to get something from the bank? (7)
FISHING: An all in one cryptic definition of what one does with a rod and line from the bank of a river. The River Itchen cuts through my land and NO you cannot fish it. The Chubb, Roach, Dace, Pike and Perch that live within the banks on our stretch of the river are happy fish. Let them stay that way.

18a    Highest place in the church (7)
STEEPLE: The tall pointy bit on a church. Sometimes called a spire. Is there a difference? I dislike this type of clue as it is not cryptic enough. Asked as a direct question a poorly schooled eight year old orphan boy would come up with the answer. Is it in the church or outside it. The clue says in. I say out.

19a    Beginning again, we learn afresh (7)
RENEWAL: Anagram (afresh) of WE LEARN

22a    Wine created by one artist (7)
MADEIRA: Begin with an adjective meaning to have created something. Add the letter that looks like the number one and the usual suspect for an artist or Royal Academician

24a    Kind and good man with a heart of gold (4)
SORT: Two usual suspects here. A good man or Saint. The heraldic term for gold. Place the gold inside the good man.

25a    School’s head hasn’t the power, being poorly supplied (5)
SCANT: Take the first letter (head) of School and add the shortened form of a contraction of two words meaning unable to do something.

26a    Backs plans for junk mail (4)
SPAM: reverse (backs) the type of plans one might see in an atlas.

29a    They count for nothing (7)
NOUGHTS: the plural form of a word meaning nothing, nil,zero,zilch, zip and bugger all.

30a    Itinerant craftsman and ancient poetic character (7)
MARINER: The craft of this craftsman is a boat. He is the subject of the only poem I know that contains the word eftsoons.

31a    Offer hospitality to all, though a cold thing to do in winter (4,4,5)
KEEP OPEN HOUSE: To offer such hospitality would suggest keeping one’s doors ajar and thus letting the cold in during winter time.


2d    They’re usually concealed in smoking jackets (7)
REEFERS: The jackets once worn by those who reef sails are also a term for cannabis cigarettes which need to be kept hidden as they are illegal.

3d    Quiet place for fun (4)
PLAY: Take our usual musical letter for quiet and add a verb meaning to put something down carefully

4d    Sporting poet has a grand finish (7)
LARKING: This most wonderful poet who was the librarian at Hull university needs the letter G(rand) adding to his name. I use the term poorly schooled because despite my obvious love of literature none of my teachers ever thought to suggest that I read this man’s verse, or that of TS Elliot or anything by Dylan Thomas. If you taught me at my senior school I suggest you return your wages and pensions as they have all been drawn fraudulently.

The Mower

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

5d    Metal machine operators in America? (7)
NICKELS: The silvery white metal with the atomic number 28 is the nickname for a five cent coin in America. These are the coins used in Fruit Machines called Nickel Slots. The equivalent of our Penny slots at the seaside.

6d    Island providing some inspiration, ascetically (4)
IONA: A word hidden deep inside the clue and indicated by the word some. The answer is an Island to the west of The Ross Of Mull and renowned for its tranquillity and natural beauty.

7d    Possibly prove to be superior (7)
OVERTOP: Anagram (possibly) of PROVE TO

8d    It’s cheap, and any number can get it apparently (5,3,1,4)
GOING FOR A SONG: A description of something cheap. The number here is a piece of music with words

9d    They beat transport strikes (6,7)
SLEDGE HAMMERS: A type of transport used to glide over snow followed by the plural of a verb meaning to strike as one might do to drive a nail into wood

15d    The prospects for wayward wives (5)
VIEWS: Anagram (wayward) of WIVES. The words wayward and wives do sit well together.

16d    Prepared to study before end of day (5)
READY: Use a word meaning to Study and add the last letter of the word day. The clue appears at 14 across wearing different clothes in an attempt at disguise.

20d    Foster child? (7)
NURTURE: To care for and protect something. To help and encourage somebody or something. To cherish.

21d    What a policeman does to a criminal is hair-raising! (5,2)
LOCKS UP: A double definition of sorts. The device used to secure the door of a prisoner’s cell is a word for hair

22d    A three-legged race? (7)
MANXMEN: The symbol or crest for this island has three legs. What is required is the name of these islanders

23d    Threatens to finish in bad spirits (7)
IMPENDS: Place a word meaning the finish inside a group of naughty children or sprites.

27d    Composer drops in for a bit of pork (4)
CHOP: Drop the letters IN from the name of a popular Polish composer and virtuoso pianist.

28d    River a group of sailors love (4)
ARNO: Lift the letter A from the clue. Add the R(oyal) N(avy) and the letter that looks like 29 across

Solved and blogged in silence for a change.

The Quick Crossword pun: missed+taken=mistaken

91 comments on “DT 28301

  1. Hmm, I thought this was a little more tricky than usual for a Monday. But maybe it is my cold that is dulling my brain somewhat…
    22d was my favourite although it is an old chestnut which I manage to keep forgetting….
    2/3* overall.
    Thanks to Rufus, and to TPLOB for his review.

  2. I was on track for a smooth but very enjoyable 2*/4* today when I was stopped short by the SE corner, which eventually took my total time up to 4*. I wasn’t helped having stupidly bunged in “Flying Pickets” for 9d based on the enumeration, one checker, and some sort of connection to transport and strikes!

    22d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Rufus and to MP.

  3. Well thanks for the hints but I must obviously being slow today as A. I still don’t understand ‘smelly’ in 13a, B) why the ‘power’ in 25a, C) Why is the Mariner itinerant, D) why are nickels machine operators?
    Just not on the setters wavelength today, found this a bit of a drudge and little fun.
    V little satisfaction in completing.
    So for me **/*

    1. 13a look up your answer
      25a because the last four letters of your answer mean that you haven’t the power
      Look up itinerant in the dictionary and you’ll see why the solution to 30 is itinerant
      Because Americans use them to operate slot machines
      And the wrong puzzle number on the blog is a typo which if our broadband doesn’t vanish, I’ll go and correct in a minute

      1. Ok can see that if you haven’t the power then you can’t and I did look up itinerant which was shown as travelling but aren’t sailers or mariners by definition travellers? Seems a redundant word to me. Ok now I get the smelly although it sounds pretty disgusting!
        With ref to 5d, the last time I was in the States all the machines only took quarters!
        Thx for the help, I can now go back to packing up the house prior to our big move.

    2. I get the ‘machine operator’ part of the clue – slot machines etc
      But I don’t get how it can be ‘metal’ singular?
      Nickels isn’t a metal.

      1. I think the whole clue is the definition – the metal is just there to show that the operators are made of it

        1. Thanks crypticsue – still not happy with it tho. Just doesn’t work for me.
          Perhaps I’m just being grumpy – feels like I’m the only one at work and everyone else is at home eating festive treats and watching rubbish telly!

          1. I haven’t got as far as checking out the rubbish telly yet, but have been making sure some of the Christmas goodies are edible – it is a tough job but someone has to do it. :yes:

            If it is any small comfort, I have had to answer two work related texts despite being on leave :(

            1. 30a is not sloppy. It would be it if sailor was in the clue. Use of the word craftsman is there to make you think you are looking for some other sort of travelling worker. 5d depends how you read it.

              1. Absolutely! 30a is not at all sloppy. As an adjective intinerant means travelling, journeying, roving, nomadic, etc – all of which are a pretty good descriptions of the life of any mariner or sailor.

      2. In the USA they have Slots which are the same as our Fruit Machines. Nickel Slots cost little to play and their payouts are small. The equivalent of Penny Slots at the seaside.

      3. 5d. The whole clue is a cryptic definition telling us that nickels are “metal machine operators” in America. Or phrased differently: Nickels are metal coins that operate (slot) machines in America.

  4. A good way to start what for many will be a hectic week, first time I looked at this I thought oh no but it soon fell into place.
    All in all ***/*** for me pretty middle of the road.
    Thanks to Miffypops for the usual entertaining blog and to Rufus.
    Of to Truro for the last couple of presents then all complete hooray.

  5. I never realised that there are two Itchen rivers you live & learn. Found this one slightly harder than normal Monday offerings, but managed to complete in *** time for me. Many thanks to the setter & to Miffypops for his entertaining review.

  6. Thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one a lot, a bit more gentle than usual for a Monday. However, I got 4d wrong, I had lording, as in lording over, wearing / sporting. Thought there must’ve been a poet called Lordin. All completely wrong :-) Apart from that, I had no other problems. Last in was 9d, which was my favourite. Was 2*/3* for me. Almost getting dark at 2pm, roll on past the shortest day!

  7. A nice gentle start to the week with nothing too taxing. Last ones in were 17a, where I was focused – inevitably – on the wrong kind of bank, and 9d, where – mindful of the sufferings of our contributors afflicted by Southern Rail – I was looking for something travel-related.

    I liked 1a, 25a, 31a. 2d is witty and clever. Runner up for COTD is 30a – very elegant – but the winner, for me as for others above, is 22d.

    Has anyone ever encountered, in any way, a 13a other than in a crossword?

    Thanks to setter and MP

    1. Put your solution into an internet search engine with the word ‘coffee’ after it – that’s how I know it mainly because No 2 son works for coffee companies.

      1. Gosh CS: I had no idea. Whoever thought of that? It puts one in mind of Jonathan Swift: “he was a bold man who first ate an oyster”.

        It’s clear that there are Big Dave subscribers dotted across the world; I’m sure someone will turn up who’s had one as a pet (a 13a, not an oyster!), eaten one, been chased by one…

  8. Pretty much standard fare from my close neighbour that gets the crossword week (for me) off to a good start. All answers went in fairly quickly with the SE corner the last to fall (it just didn’t ‘feel’ like part of the same crossword – almost as if he’d painted himself into a corner and had to quickly come up with some clues to fit the words).

    Anyway, I enjoyed the workout and nearly fell into the 9d trap of ‘Flying Pickets’ as well but felt that the likelihood of having 2 answers ending in ‘i’ was perhaps stretching it a bit. My favourite of the day is actually 9d – the song / video went through my head as I wrote in the answer and dear old MP has come up with the goods.

    Thanks to Rufus for the puzzle and to MP for his review. I presume your Christmas card was from the Monday Maestro?

  9. Season’s greetings to all ..

    For the past few months I have been a ‘lurker’ but now -at last – I feel embolden to ‘enter the website affray’ …

    In particular the explanations given by the solvers have made me feel somewhat capable – Albeit still a ‘Novice’

    Thanks Evonok

    1. Welcome. In my experience on the day after you have the temerity to think that you are no longer a novice you will realise that actually you still are. Good luck!

  10. Sailed along at first, then hit SE corner. I did manage after a while without MP’s hints but thanks to him anyway for letting me have a singalong to 9d – my favourite today. Thanks also to setter for an enjoyable puzzle.

  11. Sorry, not my cup of tea today. I agree with other comments, too many single definitions and some superfluous words. I bunged in another word for 17a which answered the clue perfectly, but threw my NW corner out. I also struggled in the SE.

    Only a **/* for me. Sorry.

    Thanks to Rufus and MP.

      1. Funny you say that about 18a, Merusa, the answer looked so obvious and un-cryptic that I ignored it for ages!!

  12. Ran like a piece of clockwork today, and a **/**** for me, excellent cluing and a high enjoyment factor to boot !
    22d reminded me of my first motor cycle helmet, an Everoak Racemaster suitably emblazoned with the I.O.M coat of arms-Quocunque Jeceris Stabit-which for some reason I have never forgot-sorry for the nostalgia trip.- and my neighbour is off to 22a for Christmas !
    Are Civets smelly ?.
    Thanks to Rufus and Miffypops

  13. I was, yet again, dead on wavelength with Rufus.
    Last in was 22d; why do I always forget those pesky three-leggers?
    There’s so much to like here, loved 8d and 9d, but I think I’m going to choose 22d, and I just hope I remember it next time.
    Thanks to Rufus, and to M’pops for his entertaining review.

  14. Thanks to Rufus and Miffypops for a magical start to my week, solved without any help as it just flowed from my trusty pencil. Perhaps it is because I had haircut this morning and it sparkled my thoughts into life. :yahoo:

  15. Thanks to Rufus for a nice easy & enjoyable start to the week */*** 😊 Thanks to MP for his beautifully crafted blog 👌 Being ultra picky the spelling in the answer to 22a (at the time of writing) doesn’t work 😳 Liked 17a and 11a 😉

  16. An ok puzzle from Rufus that to me seemed to lack his usual zing. I’ll be humming 9d all day now!

    1. I saw Peter Gabriel at Earls Court years ago, awesome concert, he sung 9d for his encore!!

  17. Well I enjoyed this. The clues were suitably cryptic for a cryptic crossword 😄 And some good misdirection. Favourites were 1&30a and 9d. Thanks to Rufus and MP for the review. Plenty of rain today which would have made a lot of snow had the temperatures not risen.

  18. I agree that is it was a tad more challenging than usual for a Monday, but there was nothing really to provoke any real head-scratching.

    My three ticked clues were 24a, 27d, and my overall favourite, 9d. I think “smelly” in 13a certainly helps the surface reading and is descriptive rather than superfluous.

    I have fond memories of 8d as a TV programme. It’s from a time when the BBC was happy to offer gentler entertainment and wasn’t the blatantly politically correct, self-promoting entity that it has sadly become in recent years. Last night’s SPOTY displayed many of its worst traits too.

    Many thanks to Rufus and Miffypops.

  19. Always wondered how one assesses happiness level for fish.
    And hedgehogs are not very clever. To think that rolling into a ball will protect them from everything is obviously not enough.
    Thanks for the poem, for Peter Gabriel and for the review.
    Thanks also to Rufus for the crossword.

      1. We have a hedgehog who visits our garden regularly, I don’t think he’s French though, a hedgehog would struggle to swim the Channel I think

    1. Ha ha….reading MP’s thoughts about happy fish was my first laugh of the day.

      If they looked like baby seals we’d all be struggling. Luckily, most fish look cheesed off at the best of times, so I have no problem scoffing them. But only those from the sea…….so called freshwater chaps just taste like mud to me, so, yes, leave ’em where they are.

  20. Thought 18a was a bit weak and would always have written 9d as one word but there was still much to enjoy in this one.
    Top two for me were 8&21d.

    Thanks to Rufus and to MP for the review. Don’t think that ‘poem’ is going to make me a fan!

    1. My Daughter had This Be The Verse by Larkin on her bedroom wall. Be careful the second word is the f word.

      1. Was it on a poster, or was it written directly on the paintwork in felt tip pen?
        Either way, it’s a message…….the latter being particularly pointed. In the case of our teenagers, it was Nirvana lyrics and other such grungy material………..

      2. My education was also sadly neglected. Larkin was never mentioned, in fact poetry was absent from our curriculum. Henry IV Part I was the sum total of my high school years. But then we did have an American chap teaching us English 🤗

    1. Welcome This was pointed out earlier in the comments and I think our poorly educated orphan has now corrected it

  21. I thought 30a was clever.I enjoyed this puzzle very much and Miffypops blog.
    Thanks to all concerned.

  22. The usual Monday fun. I particularly liked 2d and 9d. Enjoyed the video accompanying the latter.
    Thanks to Rufus and to MP for a most entertaining blog.

  23. Trickier than a usual Monday for me, I needed the hints to understand 4d, 5d and 22d. Not much fun in my opinion. 3*/1.5* Many thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops.

  24. I felt similarly grumpy about some of the clueing.

    The common abbreviation for Califirnia is Ca, rather than Cal.
    I thought sledgehammer should be one word rather than two.
    Either the foster child is limp as a clue or we’re all missing something very clever.

    Unfortunately, I am familiar with the extraction methods for both the luxury items from the civet, so that clue was OK by me.

    But I try not to moan, for the same reason I wouldn’t dream of criticising fine art (or poetry for that matter). I can’t do it and they can.

  25. Really enjoyed Rufus’s offering even though I went through a bit head scratching to solve the SE quarter. Mr Framboise helped to solve 22d remembering the three-legged symbol of the Isle of Man! 31a held me back as I had ‘keep open doors’! Once this was rectified I was able to complete the puzzle. Favourite clue was 30a. 2.5*/3.5*. Many thanks to Rufus and to Miffipops for a brilliant blog. Back in West Sussex, not overjoyed by the greyness of the skies but pleased to be close to our grandchildren. Merry Christmas to everyone!

  26. Not overjoyed with this, whereas we normally enjoy a Rufus. Thought, like many contributors above, that 18a was weak, still cannot understand Rufus’s thought process for 20d – what on earth is the relevance of ‘child’? – and 5d is just bizarre.

    9d was our favourite. Overall we give it 2*/1.5*.

    Thanks to Miffypops and Rufus

  27. I found the bottom bit harder today. Couldn’t really satisfy myself that 20d works, and agree about the high point of 18a. I wonder if it was a 13a that Phoebe from Friends used to sing about.

    My favourite today is definitely 9d.

    Thanks to Rufus and to MP for the review.

  28. Definitely one of Rufus’ trickier offerings, this took me quite a bit longer than I was expecting, but then again I do often struggle on a Monday. Onwards and upwards.

    1. Nice start after my week off, this golf stuff is getting in the way of crosswords – can’take have that. Good fun & not too taxing.
      Thanks to Rufus and MP for entertainment. Have to say the advent of LED tree lights has changed Christmas for ever. No need to try to find that one bulb that is stopping the lights coming on: now there are a zillion that light up every year.

  29. Not a bad wee puzzle: 1/2* difficulty and 3* enjoyment (in a spirit of seasonal generosity I am prepared to accede to my erstwhile Service being termed a “group of sailors”). My favourite was Nelson’s favourite tipple – 22a. Thanks to Rufus and Miffypops.

  30. Many thanks MP for the usual amusing hints.
    Like others, I found myself scratching my head at few of the clues 5,18 and 20. Like Brian says above re 30, why is ‘Itinerant’ in the clue?? Surely the definition is just a craftsmen??
    However, it was still very enjoyable, with some great clues.
    Favourite was 14a.
    Thanks to Rufus too…

  31. Agree, very enjoyable Rufus puzzle today, even if I do quibble about what is in or out of a church, definitely out, yes Miffypops. I had nickel straight away, but not enough letters so that stayed unsolved for a while until I bunged it unwillingly. Finished this over a cappuccino after my 3.5 mile walk at our wonderful Sawgrass Mills outlet, a great place for walking in the comfort of AC, although rather busy today with the Christmas shoppers. Another day, another crossword ☺️

  32. I was fine with 9d, it was 11a that threw me. I had the wrong sort of hide in mind– the animal variety, and I was trying to find it in California. Today I liked 17a, 8d and 31a. Thank you setter and Miffypops.

    1. Me too for 11a. I even worked out wordplay but didn’t write down so pronounced con-cee-al, which didn’t seem to be any kind of animal hide… Doh! Also had ‘Open your doors’ for 31a which meant I didn’t make any headway at bottom of grid until after I’d looked at blog for right answer – many thanks for the helping hand!

  33. As usual I did this pleasant Rufus crossword Tuesday morning. 22 down the outstanding clue of many and 2*/4* overall. Many thanks Rufus for cheering up a dank Marches morning before setting off to buy the anaesthetic for the forthcoming forced frivolities, and to MP for a most amusing review.

  34. Thanks to Rufus for making some of the regulars scratch their heads. Clearly too subtle for them.

Comments are closed.