DT 28304 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28304

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28304

Hints and tips by Kath

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

Hello everyone and a very Happy Christmas to you all. I’m not much of a gambler but if I were I’d probably have a small flutter on today’s crossword being a Shamus. I thought it was really good but very difficult – maybe just me as at this time of year my brain turns to complete mush.

In the hints the definitions are underlined and the answers are under the bits that say ANSWER so only do that if you want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on today.


1a            Reportedly take out attractive women as festive adornments (6,5)
SLEIGH BELLS — The first word is a homophone (reportedly) of take out, as in bump off or kill rather than go somewhere nice for dinner, and the second is another homophone, this time one for attractive women, or beauties.

9a            Legendary British paintings mostly damaged by Scotsman (9)
ARTHURIAN — Begin with a general term for paintings, then all but the last letter (mostly) of a word that means damaged or harmed and finish that off with the very useful first name of a Scotsman – not Mac, the other one.

10a         First person cut solitary fruit (5)
MELON — The first person as an object is followed by most of (cut) a word meaning solitary or sole.

11a         Republican commercial about victory for believer in survival of the fittest (6)
DARWIN — A reversal (about) of the one letter abbreviation for R(epublican) and a shortened form of a commercial or an advertisement is followed by a victory or a success.

12a         Christmas month, an endless period — it’s useful to hold one’s drink (8)
DECANTER — The abbreviation for the month in which we are now (Christmas month) the AN from the clue and then most of (endless) a period of time.

13a         Mass with incense is focus of time-honoured scene? (6)
MANGER — Incense is a verb rather than the wafty aroundy smelly stuff and it follows the one letter abbreviation for M(ass).

15a         One who followed a heavenly star? (8)
DISCIPLE — A spot of misdirection here – we’re supposed to think of the three wise men but I think the ‘heavenly star’ is Jesus. I thought that I might be missing something so I asked the Kiwis and they agreed – thanks to them.

18a         Seasonal accessory possibly shown so close to tree (4,4)
SNOW SHOE — An anagram (possibly) of SHOWN SO and the last letter (close to) of treE.

19a         Decorative item wrapped by aunt in sellotape (6)
TINSEL — Our first lurker, or hidden answer, of the day (wrapped) – it’s hiding in the middle of the last three words of the clue. I spent far too long wondering what on earth aunty was wrapping up in sellotape.

21a         Female police relocated by Yard — it’s officially recorded (4,4)
FILE COPY — The abbreviation for F(emale) is followed by anagram (relocated) of POLICE and finished off by the abbreviation for Y(ard).

23a         Paratrooper is Hebridean fellow, we hear (6)
SKYMAN — A homophone (we hear) of someone from the largest island of the inner Hebrides.

26a         Role to get clock put back? (5)
REMIT — A reversal (put back) of a clock or timepiece.

27a         Traditional place for hops? (5,4)
DANCE HALL — These hops are not ingredients for beer – they’re social occasions.

28a         Tubby tailless dog having eaten bounds around unguarded dessert (4,7)
PLUM PUDDING — Now then, I hope you’re all concentrating – begin with a five letter word meaning tubby or a bit on the chubby side and then you need four of the five letter word (tailless) for an Australian wild dog – in between those two (having eaten) you want the first and last letters (bounds around) of U(nguarde)D. Oh dear – not the greatest hint in the world. I had such trouble with this one – just couldn’t see how to account for those middle two letters so thanks again to the 2Kiwis.



1d            Government department traitors rising in renown (7)
STARDOM — Begin with the government department which is the headquarters of the armed forces and then some traitors or betrayers and then reverse the whole lot (rising).

2d            Advent errand, purchasing record (5)
ENTER — The second lurker – this time the answer is in the middle of the first two words of the clue.

3d            Architect’s put on cape to give showy display (9)
GAUDINESS — A Spanish architect is followed by (put on) a cape or headland.

4d            Starter with bread sauce a minor error (4)
BLIP — The first letter (starter with) of B(read) is followed by a short word that means sauce or cheek.

5d            Basques fit this designation, French in origin (8)
LINGERIE — Basques are a form of underwear rather than the people inhabiting the Western Pyrenees in Spain and France.

6d            Set of steps taken in by Swiss ambassador (5)
SAMBA — and just when I thought I was safe we have another lurker – the answer is in the middle of the last two words of the clue.

7d            Worry and run, even, after disorder (7)
UNNERVE — An anagram (after disorder) of RUN EVEN.

8d            Aquatic creature, a sort almost visible in addition (8)
PLATYPUS — The A from the clue and most of (almost) a word that means sort or kind are inside (visible) another word for in addition or extra.

14d         Light needs minute fitting in plan one devised (4,4)
NEON LAMP — An anagram (devised) of PLAN ONE which contains (fitting in) the abbreviation for M(inute).

16d         Young bird, tiny, heading for daffs — it’s unwelcome in garden? (9)
CHICKWEED — Begin with a young bird or fledgling, follow that with a short word meaning tiny or little and finish off with the first letter (heading for) of D(affs).

17d         Former President making pledge for all to see after ceremony (8)
POMPIDOU — A pledge (1,2) made at a marriage and the one letter film rating that means it’s suitable for any age come after a ceremony or ritual.

18d         Orange shade for fans is developed (7)
SAFFRON — An anagram (is developed) of FOR FANS

20d         Stage in event that’s extended one in field (4,3)
LONG LEG — Part of an event or contest that has been extended or elongated. Cricket!

22d         Severely criticise workers’ organisation, conceivably (3,2)
CUT UP — A reversal of the national trade union centre – the reversal is indicated by the second part of the answer. One of those that’s easier to do than to write a half-decent hint for.

24d         Note foreign friend in US city (5)
MIAMI — The third note of a musical scale is followed by the French word for (foreign) friend.

25d         Photograph unexpected wintry spell (4)
SNAP — A double definition.

I liked most of these so just a few are 19 and 28a and 4 and 17d. My favourite was 16d.

The Quickie Pun:- SAN + TURK + LAWS = SANTA CLAUS

69 comments on “DT 28304

  1. 3*/1*. I found this rather disappointing and quite tough in parts. The definitions for 9a & 15a seemed a bit iffy to me & 25d doesn’t work because the unexpected wintry spell comprises two words not just the answer. 22d is an unindicated uniquely American expression, and I can’t see anything at all cryptic about 5d. 28a is a tortuous clue for a tasty answer!

    I added to my woes by wrongly assuming that the Hebrides were part of Ayrshire and initially putting “airman” for 23a. I’ve never heard of the answer before but it is in the BRB.

    Sorry if that all sounds a bit moany, but there were some high spots in there too, e.g.: 1a, which was my favourite.

    I see that Petitjean has put in a posthumous appearance in today’s Toughie so I shall look forward to tackling that later.

    Thanks to the setter. I’m generally lousy at identifying the different Mr Rons, but I enjoyed the last offering from Shamus so much that it’s hard to believe that this is one of his. Even though this was not to my taste I hope others will have enjoyed it and I never underestimate the considerable effort needed to compose these puzzles. Thanks too to Kath.

    1. Hi RD – think you’ll find the Hebrides are a tad further north than Ayrshire. My favourite set of Isles :)

      1. They are both north of Hadrian’s Wall, aren’t they? :wink:

        Actually I hadn’t realised until today that Ayrshire now comprises three different “bits”: North, South & East.

        1. As I’ve said before, I was born and bred in Kilmarnock – but was somewhat taken aback to find that it is now in ‘East’ Ayrshire. As it’s only about 9 miles from the coastline – I do wonder where ‘West’ Ayrshire has gone.

  2. I enjoyed this a lot and agree with Kath’s ratings – thanks to Mr Ron and Kath and a Happy Christmas to both. I liked 12a and 20d but my favourite is 1a.
    Wot, no pictures for 5d?

    1. I did hunt for a pic for 5d but they were all a bit OTT and there are limits!
      Happy Christmas to you too, Gazza.

  3. I thought 1 across was an outstanding clue and it was easily my favourite. I found this a tad harder than usual, but still enjoyed the challenge as a result. I would echo RD’s comments in his final paragraph about the effort and skill needed to compose these marvellous puzzles.

    2.5*/3.5* overall with grateful thanks to whomsoever conceived today’s crossword, and to Kath for her review.

  4. Great crossword really stretched the little grey cells, especially little in my case, I agree with Young Salopian about 1a easily a masterful clue. Last one in 7d I just couldn’t see the anagagram.
    Not sure about “skyman” though. I hope everybody has a great Christmas, I’m getting my greetings in early.
    Thanks to Kath and setter.

  5. enjoyed all the themed clues and answers

    Also liked 18d :-)

    the Petitjean is definitely worth a look

    Many thanks Kath and setter

  6. Nice to have a bit of a theme but not to feel the setter’s hand was forced by it. A nice workout this morning and everything solved satisfactorily. I certainly enjoyed it more than Rabbit Dave though, on reading his criticisms, I find I agree with all of them! I suppose, because they solved reasonably straightforwardly, I was more inclined to be forgiving. Both 9a and 15a are tenuous – though it’s clear what the setter was aiming at.

    I think I’ve given COTD in the past to 5d or something very similar in construction. Otherwise it would be high up there. 4d is very neat – perhaps starter ‘of’ rather than ‘with’ might have been more correct – though easier to solve. 17d is smooth and reminded me of first visiting the amazing Centre in Paris. But top marks, as for other commentators above, go to 1a which conjures up such an unlikely Christmas image.

    Thanks to setter and to Kath for review.

  7. This felt to me a bit like a harder than average Saturday crossword. 28a took some unravelling and 23a was new. I don’t think 22d is uniquely American and neither does the brb.

    The clues for which I have a special preference are 1a and 12a.

    Thanks to the setter and to Kath.

    1. Mmm…

      The company from which I retired was taken over in 1999 by an American firm. My US colleagues used 23a with that meaning a lot, but prior to that I had never heard anyone in the UK do so. When I was solving the puzzle I didn’t have my BRB to hand but found a couple of references on line to it being American usage only. Now I have checked my BRB and it says it means “severely criticize”, which spelling would seem to imply it must be American!

      P.S. I like your use of “special preference”.

      1. It’s true that I’m much more familiar with 22d as in definitions 1, 4 and 6 in Chambers. I think you have provided conclusive evidence that the meaning here is N American!

        1. Just the thought of working for an American company scrambled my brain to the point where I typed entirely the wrong clue number. Thank goodness you knew what I meant. I must go and lie down now.

            1. That’s very true, Merusa. I know lots of great Americans. I even had an American girlfriend for a while in the 90s, but working for an American company is another matter entirely…

              Merry Christmas to you too.

          1. Worked for 3 America corporations over 25+ years and can’t say they were any worse or better than the English companies I worked before before we were transferred across the pond. Now the paucity of vacation times is another matter, and a real culture shock after generous U.K. holidays.

            1. Hear, hear BusyLizzie
              I too worked for U.S. companies in New York/Boston for several years and had no problem with their modus operandi indeed those were very happy and satisfying times for me. I appreciated their energy at a time when business in the U.K. was on go slow. I personally can’t believe the amount of vacation time granted by employers in the U.K. these days.

              1. I think it’s reasonable to want to have a little bit of a life outside work (especially for the majority not lucky enough to have a job that they enjoy). As someone of a generation who doesn’t expect ever to be able to retire, holiday time = life.

  8. Gave myself problems by bunging in ‘shepherd’ for 15a – yes, I know it was the three kings who followed the star, but they wouldn’t fit!
    Then I had trouble parsing 28a because I had a tailless ‘tubby’ (PLUM) followed by a dog (PUG) which left me with a random 4 letters that would almost make ‘dined’…………..

    All sorted out in the fullness of time and I would agree with others that 1a stole the show. I also rather liked 17d and the Quickie pun.
    Thanks to Mr. Ron (umm, maybe Shamus but not sure) and to Kath for her wonderfully unique style of blog – loved the ‘wafty aroundy smelly stuff’!

    1. It’s a good job Magi hasn’t got 8 letters or else I would have bunged that it for 15a. I too initially followed the tailless tubby route for 28a followed by a pug surrounding an anagram of dined without the “e”! It’s amazing how easy it is to convince yourself of complete rubbish if you try hard enough!

  9. Found this easier than usual – concentrated on the Christmas themes!
    Ashamed to say I did not get 11 across………………!

    1. That’s where my husband comes in handy, as he solved 11a right away, whereas the clue was lost on me…

  10. This was the easiest of the year so far and took only ************ – what am I going to do for the rest of my lunch break!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Lobster.
      Please read the comment etiquette (under the ‘Contact’ tab above), in particular the request not to discuss solving times.

  11. Very enjoyable with a lot of fun clues. It was starting to look like a pangram before I got the answer to 1a (was trying to make ‘jingle’ fit until I came to my senses). I really liked the ‘lurkers’ but I’ll go for 15a as my favourite of the day.

    Thanks to our setter (I think I’ll go with Kath’s idea) for the puzzle and to Kath for her splendid review.

    Off to do the Toughie from our old friend PJ :(

  12. What a brilliant puzzle, full of really clever clues such as 1a and 18a.
    I was really on the right wavelength today. My favourite was 6d. Made me smile.
    For me ***/*****
    Thx to all. So nice to have a Thursday I could enjoy.

  13. Still have lots of Christmas chores to do so was pleased this wasn’t too exacting. There were a few slightly far-fetched clues but the overall yuletide theme was good fun. Unlike RD I thought 5d was nicely cryptic. You did valiantly Kath with your hint to the cumbersome 28a which I had bunged in without fully parsing. My Fav was 15a. Thank you Mr. Ron and Kath. ***/****. ⭐️ 🎄 ⭐️

  14. We solved this steadily, but not spectularly. At one stage I seriously considered looking in the BRB for ‘mannoy’ (13a), but thankfully Mrs Sheffieldsy brought me to my senses. 2*/3*. Some nice clues and the theme wasn’t overdone.

    Agree with other contributors that 1a was a fine clue, but we feel 4d and 18a were contenders for COTD too.

    Thanks to Kath and Mr Ron.

    1. Our daughter arrives from Manchester in the next hour with her boyfriend and their two cats. That’ll be the end of any peace for four days!

  15. Thanks to Kath and (the 2Kiwis) for the blog.

    Still trying to work out the time difference between Oxford and Wellington? Hope you didn’t wake them up!

    1. We are 13 hours ahead of UK at this time of the year. The key to finding out who keeps who awake lies in working out when Kath chooses to solve puzzles for blogging. That’s her secret. :smile:

      1. Not any more it’s not!
        :good: and :rose: to the pair of you – so comforting to know that when it all goes wrong there’s someone wide awake on the other side of the world who is ready, willing, and able to help.

        1. I am 50 miles away and in the same time zone. My difficulty in refusing when help is needed is what got me into the blogging chair and made me set a puzzle for Rookie Corner. It also made me an hour late tonight when I gave a lift to a young couple struggling with far too many packages.

  16. As a relative novice this was a bit tricky for me and I wouldn’t have solved it but for a couple of hints from above.
    It’s hard for me to comment as to whether the clues were clear or nor, but I got some solutions without properly understanding why, and some of the hints above have shown what I was thinking was wrong anyway!
    Still, one never improves if one doesn’t push oneself. Thanks to the setter and Kath for lifting the mist!

  17. A very entertaining puzzle that took me far longer than usual. I did enjoy the tussle though. Too many excellent clues to single one out from so I won’t. I got stuck in the top left corner and eventually used Kath’s excellent hint to solve one down which led to the rest of that corner going in very quickly indeed. Thank you Kath a (and the 2Cs) for your help. Your blogs always make me smile and I just love your honesty (28ac for example) I have doubts that this is Shamus. I think Shamus is trying to find a signature like that of RayT . I have an idea what it might be and it doesn’t appear today. Of course I could just be wasting my time and talking rubbish. I usually do. Thanks Setter. Thanks Kath

  18. I thought this was tremendously entertaining, easily the best puzzle of the week. Unusually I ticked as many as eight clues – 1a (of course), 13a, 19a, 28a, 3d, 5d, 22d, and my overall favourite,17d, for its cracking surface. Overall, the puzzle was full of invention and had a cosy, seasonal theme to boot.

    23a was new to me, I was glad that the cluing didn’t involve Rupert Murdoch at all.

    I don’t normally have a go at the Toughie, but today I shall make an exception as a mark of respect to Mr. Pidgeon.

    Great stuff, many thanks to the setter and to Kath.

  19. An enjoyable tussle. Just as I thought I had ground to a halt the little grey cells saved the day 1a was fave and overall 3/3*.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Kath for her lovely review.

  20. I found this a steady solve requiring a bit of thought along the way. I got there in the end unaided except for requesting a list of architects from Mr Google so I could complete 3d. I really should have remembered him. With the grid filled I had 5d and 22d still to parse. I tried to find some clever wordplay lurking in 5d before deciding that it was just a rather weak cryptic definition. After some head scratching I realized, with a smile, how to parse 22d. I’d never heard the expression used to mean “severely criticize” before but I still liked the clue. I also enjoyed unravelling the clever constructions of 17d and 28a. The latter was rather good for a seasonal clue. 23a seemed an unlikely word, but it’s right there in the BRB. I suppose if a space traveller can be a starman……

    Solving 18a made me realise that I’ve never actually seen any of those seasonal accessories in the shops.

    Thanks to the setter and to Kath.

  21. Good afternoon everybody.

    First look at the Telegraph puzzle after a few weeks away and annoyingly unable to complete, partly because I stupidly started 2d with ‘S’, making the second part of 1a unfathomable, while also failing on 5d and 15a.

    Must try harder…


  22. Crikey, this was hard! I never did finish the NW corner, having four blank answers. I needed Kath’s hint to get 1a, but once I got it, I picked it as my fave.
    Never knew the 5d meaning of Basques, new to me, and I can’t find the answer to 26a meaning “role”, but the answer was obvious. 23a was another new one.
    Thanks to the setter, and many thanks to Kath for unravelling some clues for me.

    Off piste for a second, I do hope that my namesake storm doesn’t disrupt the Christmas holidays for you, it sounds a corker.

  23. What an enjoyable puzzle. Not easy but worth persevering. Held up a while because i had inserted 24a in reverse for reasons i dont understand. Favourites were 8&17d. Thanks to Mr Ron and Kath for the hints. Merry Christmas to one and all and a Happy and peaceful New Year. Back in 2017.

  24. Too hard for me I’m afraid…..but I didn’t help myself by putting in Melchior for 15a, which unfortunately fitted with 16d so to my mind had to be correct.

    I have never heard of 23a and am inclined to think of 18d as yellow rather than orange…but that’s just me.

    Thanks to the setter and to Kath for the much needed hints.

      1. Yes indeed but the saffron robes worn by Buddhist monks are of course distinctly orange – different crocus?!

  25. 1a was stand out favourite for us. As we found with yesterday’s puzzle, a nice sprinkling of seasonal answers scattered through the grid. We agree with Kath’s guess as to who the setter is but we are not as convinced as we sometimes can be with Shamus puzzles. If it is he, I expect we will have him dropping in soon.
    Good fun.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Kath.

  26. I didnt find this puzzle as difficult as some seem to have, but having said that, it was pretty disappointing. I am not a big fan of themed crosswords, too many yuletide clues for my liking. 2.5*/1* Many thanks to the setter and to Kath.

  27. I agree with Kath a tricky enjoyable puzzle ***/**** 😄 I think it was the same compiler as yesterday 🤔 But what do I know! Big thanks to Kath for the blog ( I note everyone is choosing just one favourite) and to the setter 😳Favourite 1a

    Happy Christmas to cruciverbalists everywhere 🎄🍷and a not too puzzling 2017 😬

  28. Yes he did once nail my head to the floor, he was hard but he was fair – as I remember Michael Palin in Monty Python I think. “Hard but fair” was how I felt after finishing this one! So pleased to see Kath’s rating and others comments.

  29. Just dropping in to thank Kath as ever for her entertaining blog and everyone for comments. 25 down is actually intended as a triple definition using three different parts of speech (but double possibly does the trick anyway!) A very Merry Christmas and happy solving in 2017 to everyone connected with BD’s blog from Shamus Towers!

    1. Well I never! You had me fooled, but the brighter ones on this blog read your fingerprints all over it.

    2. Thank you for calling in, Shamus
      I’m so sorry that I missed the 25d triple defintiion – oh well, and oh dear.
      Don’t ask me why but the two clues that made me think you were the setter were 1a and 8d.
      The other give away was how difficult I found it.
      Happy Christmas to you.

  30. Totally agree with Kath’s ****/**** rating, tough but enjoyable. Favorite was 1a. But isn’t 18d yellow rather than orange?

  31. For the most part I found this fairly straightforward, but then got stuck at the end on 5d / 15ac, and 23ac / 20d. 23ac is a new one on me, and 5d felt a little weak, but the rest was entirely fair and enjoyable. Favourite clue today 22d.

  32. Just into 2* time by my criteria, and 4* for satisfaction. Can’t decide between 1a and 9a as my favourite clue. Ta to Shamus and Kath.

  33. Needed a couple of hints to keep going.
    Great puzzle, so much easier and more enjoyable than yesterday.
    Thanks Shamus and Kath for the hints.
    Like others, was looking forward to a picture for 5d.

  34. Loved it.
    The paratrooper was also new to me.
    Nice to have a French President for a change. And he did so many wonderful things for the arts. Very avant garde.
    Favourite 11a.
    Thanks to Shamus and to Kath.

  35. Yes, hard but fair just about sums this one up – with the rider “hugely enjoyable”. I’m glad Shamus dropped in to prove me right on my stab at the setter. When he’s away from Toughieland I find his puzzles stretching but most enjoyable (apart from 23a). Far too many excellent clues to pick a favourite, but if you put a gun to my head I’d go for 17d. Gratitude to Kath for an entertaining blog at a busy time of year and to Shamus for brightening my evening after the public transport debacle that is Southern rail. 3*/4* (without 23a, it would have been 5*).

  36. This was excellent – best of the week by a fair margin. Good cluing, challenging and enjoyable. 3.5*/4*.

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