DT 28406 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28406

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28406

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Hola from the Vega Baja on a bright sunny morning.  I’ll stake my non-existent reputation as a setter spotter on this puzzle having nothing at all to do with RayT, even though it is his turn this week.  Some parts of the puzzle are quite good but for me it’s slightly spoiled by too many uses of very similar or even identical elements of wordplay, on two occasions in consecutive clues. I’ll interested to hear your opinions.

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Perks with scary novel that has lots of American’s stories (10)
SKYSCRAPER:  Anagram (novel) of PERKS SCARY with a slightly cryptic definition.

6a           Vehicle returned at eleven (4)
TAXI:  TA (returned AT) followed by the Roman numeral for eleven.

9a           Felicity’s mouth organ is roughly pitched? (5)
FLUNG:  F (Felicity’s mouth) followed by an organ used for breathing.

10a         Came first or came after? (9)
SUCCEEDED:  Double definition.

12a         Divine being female! (7)
GODDESS:  Cryptic (?) definition.

13a         Floods in Somerset I’d escaped (5)
TIDES:  The floods are lurking (in) in Somerset I’d escaped.

15a         Offers from artist to leave extra borders (7)
EXTENDS:  Remove (to leave) the usual artist from extra and follow what’s left with some borders as in extremities.

17a         More corrupt detective runs bank (7)
DIRTIER:  A charade of Detective Inspector, R(uns) and a bank, of seats in a theatre perhaps.

19a         Recipe class given by university west of Los Angeles (7)
FORMULA:  Another word for a class in school and U(niversity) are placed before (west of in an across clue) the usual two letters for the city of angels.

21a         When lids should be closed? (7)
BEDTIME:  Cryptic definition of when your eyelids should be closed.

22a         Jockey‘s dire, thrown before start of race (5)
RIDER:  Anagram (thrown) of DIRE followed by R (start of Race).

24a         A crime engineered by a country (7)
AMERICA:  Anagram (engineered) of A CRIME followed by A (from the clue). A bit sloppy methinks to have essentially the same construction in consecutive clues.  Anyway, here’s a choice of musical illustration . . . 


27a         Former prison abutting part of hospital in capital (9)
EXCELLENT:  Capital as is very good. It’s the usual two letters for former, a prison or at least part of one and the initials of the hospital department dealing with bits of your head. 

28a         Former lover I left, meeting European in bar (5)
EXILE:  We get the same two letters for former as in the last clue, but this time it’s a former lover, followed by I (from the clue), L(eft) and E(uropean).  Sloppy again!.

29a         Irritating proverb we’re told (4)
SORE:  Something irritating sounds like (we’re told) another word for a proverb.

30a         Pastures made from marijuana plants (10)
GRASSLANDS:  A slang word for marijuana followed by a word which can mean plants as in places.  The word for marijuana’s fine but I’m not sure about the second half.


1d           ‘Mellow   Yellow‘? (4)

SOFT:  Double definition.  Not sure about yellow really being this.

2d           Kid‘s toy gun’s broken with little hesitation (9)
YOUNGSTER:  Anagram (broken) of TOY GUNS followed by one of the usual two letter hesitations.

3d           Locked up composer with daughter (5)
CAGED: An American composer followed by D(aughter).  This is the guy who wrote 4’33’’. A piece of “music” where the musicians just sit there for four minutes and thirty three seconds and do absolutely nothing, enjoy . . .   


4d           Returns what you’re looking for? (7)
ANSWERS:  Returns as in replies is also what you, as a solver, are looking for.

5d           Fifty per cent of ex-cons applied to be let off (7)
EXCUSED:  Half of EX-CONS (50% of) followed by a word which might mean applied.

7d           Viper with new tail attached (5)
ADDED:  The other name for a viper with its last letter changed (new tail).

8d           Ancient civilisation taxes businesses (10)
INDUSTRIES:  Ancient civilisation, or at least a river around which there was an ancient civilisation, followed by a word for taxes as is stretches.

11d         Went in hospital department with foot in bandage and inflamed (7)
ENTERED:  We’ve got that hospital department again! After it you need an E (foot in bandagE) and then the colour of something inflamed.

14d         Actors for each previous scene, initially (10)
PERFORMERS:  Three letters meaning ‘for each’ followed by a word meaning previous and an S (Scene initially).

16d         Indifferent ale — turn groggy (7)
NEUTRAL:  Anagram (groggy) of ALE TURN.

18d         Disadvantage to lose top copy (9)
IMITATION:  Think of a word for a disadvantage or weakness and remove its first letter (to lose top).

20d         Ham and game served up — a friend looks down on that (7)
AMATEUR:  Ham here is a non-professional radio operator and not a lousy actor. Reverse the initials of the game played by gentlemen with odd shaped balls and before that (looks down on in a down clue) put A (from the clue) and a friend.

21d         Exchanged the bras for pants (7)
BREATHS:  Anagram (exchanged) of THE BRAS.

23d         Medic purchasing green colour scheme (5)
DECOR: Take one of the several two letter doctors and insert (purchasing) a word for green as in environmentally friendly.

25d         I hand out cards best (5)
IDEAL:  I (from the clue) followed by a word for handing round playing cards.

26d         Where men might eat  dog’s dinner (4)
MESS:  A place where soldiers (men) might get their dinner is also a dog’s dinner, or breakfast if you prefer.

A few good ones but my favourite was 22a with 17a and 13a on the podium.  Which one’s floated your boat?

The Quick Crossword pun: bar+lea+whine=barley wine

103 comments on “DT 28406

        1. Tell them to be prepared for the world to be very bright on one side after the op. If I close my left (operated on) eye, everything is quite yellow on the RH side !

        2. I had both eyes done, a month apart, a few years ago. Absolutely wonderful. Just need to wear dark glasses outside for a bit.

  1. Pommers is right that this is certainly not Ray T – disappointing when it is his turn for a Thursday back-pager – and I agree with pommers’ 2*/2* rating. In fact that hides what was for me a very mixed bag in terms of difficulty: three quarters were R&W but I found the NW corner quite tough, not helped by the US spelling of stories (albeit clearly indicated!)

    The repeated use of crosswordland’s favourite hospital department was a bit sloppy.

    26a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to pommers.

  2. Yet another straightforward solve, completed at a gallop, with a couple of oldies but goodies, and some ‘neat’ clues – */** for me.

    Short favourite 1d, long favourite 8d – a new ancient civilisation for me.

    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

    1. I can’t find any reference to “Indus” being a civilisation. There was an “Indus Valley Civilisation” which flourished from around 3300 – 1300BC in the basins of the River Indus in what is now Pakistan.

  3. I have mixed views on this one, most was a R&W & a few that took a bit more brain power. My favourite was 4D which in my opinion was very clever,many thanks to all concerned.

  4. I agree with Rabbit Dave, very straight forward apart from the NW corner, really struggled with 1d and 9a but got there in the end. Many thanks to the setter and to Pommers

  5. Not very taxing or much fun really. Agree with Pommers re repetition.
    Also noted a high “e” count (28 I made it). Would think that above, if not well above, average.
    Thanks to setter & Pommers for the review.

  6. I’m with others on this one. Repeated use of the hospital department? The Indus? Yellow? Not a very satisfying solve this morning I’m afraid. Mind you, I’m still struggling with yesterday’s Toughie!

    Thanks to the setter, whoever you are, and Pommers.

  7. I assumed the soft/yellow connection was as in “stop being so soft” or “soft lad” meaning weak or sentimental. I guess other people thought the same, but I agree that it’s some way from being cowardly…….

    I don’t get the proverb synonym…….

    And ‘mouth’ and ‘feet’ were used as first and last letters, which I either didn’t know or had forgotten.

    Learning points in every puzzle, I suppose.
    Thanks to Pommers for the guidance.

    1. Hi Bluebird,
      You need a homophone of your answer to 29a which, if you check in the BRB, is an alternative (old fashioned) word for a proverb or saying.

      1. Oh thanks. I just looked it up online and I can see that I’d heard of all the synonyms for proverb except that one……….🤓 Who knew? (Well, you guys,,obviously…)

        1. Saw = adage is a very old chestnut, often used in cryptic clues. Shouldn’t it be featured in Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?

  8. Perhaps I was simply disappointed that it wasn’t Mr. T today, or I could have just been grumpy following the unequal battle I’ve fought with Osmosis on the other side, but this one didn’t really hit the spot for me.
    As others have said, the repetitions showed rather poor cluing and, like Pommers, I wasn’t very happy with the definition of yellow at 1d.
    Felicity’s mouth organ raised a smile as did the green colour scheme and the returns I was looking for in 4d.

    Thanks to Mr. Ron – sorry not to be more enthusiastic – and to Pommers for the well illustrated review.

    1. Jane and others – soft is in the listing for yellow in the Small Red Book. My interpretation is that the two words are synonymous when used in a behavioural sense.

      1. Thanks, Senf – I’ve also now found it as a synonym in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary.

    1. One of the BRB definitions for foot is ‘the base’. Alternatively you could think in terms of a footnote being a comment at the bottom of a page. Works OK for me.

      1. Yes, Jane, but the E is not at the base or foot of the word ” bandage” , but at the end.

        1. OK – I can see that I’m not going to convince you! Maybe, if he’s around, Gazza can come up with a better example.

          1. It’s all based on the slightly dubious convention that words such as base, bottom, foot, south etc. can be used in a down clue as a tail indicator even though the word that’s being referred to is written horizontally in the clue and doesn’t actually appear in the grid.

        2. Perhaps it is because it is a down clue, e would be at the base of “bandage” written downwards. That is how I saw it

  9. Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for the review and hints. I didn’t really enjoy it much. I’m probably pining for a Ray T. Nevertheless there were some good clues. I completed the bottom half first, then the top half eventually fell into place. I liked 1a&4d, but my favourite was 17a. Last in was 12a. Was 2*/2* for me. Best wishes to Dave on a speedy recovery.

  10. Sorry to say, I thought this a very poor puzzle. Not in any way up to standard. */* from me

  11. I would agree wth most of the earlier comments about this mixed bag of a puzzle. The NW corner was the last to yield its secrets, and pushed up the solving time accordingly, so 2.5*/2.5* overall. No outstanding clue for me today, so I’ll just offer my thanks to the Thursday setter and to Pommers for his review.

  12. I really disliked 1D and 21A, but on the bright side I did tick 1A, 30A and 4D. Thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  13. I agree with Pommers not Ray T as I managed to complete it 😳 **/*** I agree that there were some slightly dubious clues especially in NW corner but I liked 1a and 21a. Thanks to Pommers and to the setter 😃

  14. It’s gratifying to see that I’m not alone for once in spotting repetitive devices! The second “former” in 28a could quite easily have been changed to “old” I thought.

    I did like the use of “mouth” and “foot” as first and last letter indicators respectively, it’s surprising that we don’t see them more often.

    My two ticked clues were 10a and 21d (nice to see “pants” not used as an anagram indicator this time!).

    Thanks to today’s setter and to Pommers.

    1. Like many others I got stuck in the NW which is appropriate I guess as I live there. No particular favourites today so thankyou for the hints and to the setter.

    2. Like many others I got stuck in the NW which is appropriate I guess as I live there. No particular favourites today so thankyou for the hints and to the setter.

  15. Third successful completion on consecutive days so probably due for several where I don’t get much more than a couple of words. I agree east was easier then west although west did not fight back for long. As I completed it has to be just * for difficulty. No particular doh moments so would agree with ** for enjoyment although always pleasing to complete. Went for elderly persons health check today and agreed memory was fine, then had to reach for BRB to check spelling for 12a. Given overall OK bar alcohol levels then nearly passed out when blood sample was taken. Can’t see why they need so much. A whole life history and ancestry can be traced from a drop on the carpet so why take three bucket loads! Thanks to Pommers and others for the explanations of 29a which I had written in correctly and assumed correctly why it was correct without knowing the obscure meaning of the word. Thanks to the setter for permitting a hatrick.

    1. At least, if you’re new to this, you can’t say that solving crosswords drove you to drink…unlike me….oh dear.

      1. An old girlfriend drove me to drink when I was twelve years old. I wish I knew where she lives now. I would love to thank her.

  16. I liked it, but do agree about the repetition. Fave was 22a, with 27a runing second.
    Thanks to setter and to pommers for his hints and illustrations!

  17. It hadn’t occurred to me that it wasn’t a Ray T – it’s his week and I suppose I didn’t really think about it but now I see what you all mean.
    Lots of the clues are longer than is usual for him, not all the quickie clues are single words and no Queen, not that she always turns up.
    I liked 6 and 30a (although I agree that the last part is a bit dodgy) and 11 and 21d. My favourite was 9a.
    Thanks to whoever did set this one and to pommers.

    1. Can’t believe that you of all people could have assumed that this was from Mr. T – wash your mouth out with soap, Kath!
      As for 30a – one of the BRB defs. for plant (v) is ‘to settle’ and I guess that if you land on something you settle on it?

      1. This is, to me at least, a case of what BD calls ‘thesauritis’ If PLANT = SETTLE and SETTLE = LAND it doesn’t necessarily mean that PLANT = LAND.

        1. I’m not convinced that is the intention; pastures indicates lands, marijuana indicates that it’s grass ones.
          Think the clue needs a question mark to indicate a semi all-in-one. That’s how I interpreted it anyway.
          I can’t believe ‘plants’, by any stretch of logic or licence is intended for ‘lands’.

          1. I was merely telling Jane she was suffering a bout of thesauritis. I dont’t think that’s how the clue works at all. You can plant a punch or land one. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that but it’s just a tad tenuous. If it was RayT it wouldn’t get a mention.

              1. RayT is the most infected methinks but there are worse things a crossword setter can get up . . .

  18. I’d have annoyed this more had I not been looking forward to a Ray T, which it clearly wasn’t.

  19. A slightly curious puzzle – I thought it was just me. Some good clues and some scrappy ones – leaves me neutral overall.
    Most of the discussion over the less good clues has already been had so I’ll just pick 10a as fave. **/**
    Many thanks to setter and to Pommers.

  20. Breaths not Bathers😱😱😱

    Floods = Tides?

    Mellow = Soft?

    Quite enjoyable though

  21. 1A should be spelt as Storeys – Stories are tales/lies. There was no clue to this, Been doing DT Xwd for 40 odd years & standards seem to be slipping a bit.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Gaspo.
      Chambers gives both storeys and stories as valid plurals for storey.

    2. Hi Gaspo,
      In the clue, American’s preceded “stories” so the spelling was an allowable misdirection & OK as I saw it.

      1. OK but there seems to be more and more North American based clues. Used to be if it wasn’t in Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary then the answer was not going to be right…

        Oh and I know we are now in a different century . Thanks fir the response.

        1. Don’t think I could cope with a 21st Century Dictionary. I still use my pocket Oxford bought by my Grandfather when I went to Grammar school in 1953.

  22. Somewhat middle of the road but pleasant enough although devoid of Fav candidates. Privation seemed to make sense for 18d but that messed things up for me. IMHO 1a is too clever by half with dubious confusion of storeys/stories. Thank you Mysteron and Pommers.

  23. I could see immediately it wasn’t a Ray T as there were multi-word clues in the quickie! A dead giveaway.
    As for this one, no great problems so I think for me **/**.
    I can only finish by saying that Mrs B is highly disappointed as I left her to do this on her iPad whilst I played golf and she was so chuffed to finally complete a Ray T for the first time EVER! I haven’t had the heart to tell her😍
    Thx to all.

  24. When we started we noted that there were only single word answers, a RayT characteristic, but once we got going, counted the number of words in the clues and got the feel or wavelength of the setter we decided that RayT was probably not the setter. Bathers had a short spell for breaths in 21d until they would not work with the checkers but most of the rest went together without too much fight.
    Thanks Mr Ron and pommers.

  25. Any day when I only need hints for less than 4 hints is a good puzzle in my book, so I enjoyed today’s offering. Agree that 1d was a dubious or weak clue, re yellow and soft. Not really egg like, as they are yellow whether hard or soft. 29a also caused some head scratching. Favorite was 10a followed closely by 21a. Thanks to Pommerx for helping me finish.

  26. Enjoyable, and pretty easy, except for 1d and 9ac that held me up for an age. The latter my fault, the former I thought quite tough. Especially liked 1ac today.

      1. Yay Janice. Hello from Miffypops. Hang in there. There is much to learn with lots of fun and frustration on the way

  27. Like others, I was looking forward to my biweekly joust with Ray-T. This had some good clues and also some strange ones as detailed above.
    12a was a bit weak.
    29a, the word for proverb was new on me
    30a, the second half of the clue does not work for me, though I am sure it’s in the BRB.
    1d, could not see that
    Not sure I can find a favourite.
    Thanks to Pommers and Mr.Ron.

    Great to see the video of the Nice with the late, great Keith Emerson.

  28. Completely stuck in the NW corner, needed lots of hints for that and still cannot believe 1d is a synonym of yellow…but I suppose if it is in some of the books I will have to give in and admit I must be wrong.

    The homophone at 29a does not work for me…homophones often don’t for us from North of the border…..

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the much needed hints.

    I see from the Toughie review that Big Dave’s op went well….hurrah! Hope the recovery is speedy and uneventful.

  29. Could someone inform the Telegraph setters that the plural of “storey” is not “stories”! That’s not the first time they stymied me with that error.

  30. 2/2* overall for a very run of the mill puzzle I’m afraid. The repition was too obvious and therefore annoying. 4d was probably bestest clue. Sorry to be so negative; I must always remind myself that I couldn’t put a crossword together….. sigh.
    Thanks anyway to the setter who can, and to Pommers for the review.

  31. I had other things to occupy my attention over breakfast so did this on my phone during my walk into work. Thus the gentleness suited me, and any notice of repetition was lost to the quacking of the ducks and avoiding the 26d on the path while taking care not to be mown down by cyclists.

    So like BD’s eyes, I’m out of sync because I quite liked it.

    I actually thought any discussion would be of the 29a definition and that the 7d tail change is not explicitly given (I have seen this before but also seen it questioned).

    I remember stories/storeys getting me in the not to distant past (the Americanism may not have been indicated then) so 1a went straight in this time. It’s satisfying when that happens. (What a shame I’m not so good at learning from past failures when it comes to real life…)

    1d has divided opinion but I had no trouble with it and it made me smile. My favourites are 9a and 21d.

    Thanks to the setter (though I rather hope the poor soul didn’t check out today’s blog) and to pommers.

  32. Well I blooming well liked it at silly o clock this morning. A lovely start to the day. I just solve the things with one finger on an iPad. I tick no clues nor niggle at clueing devices. I would say ” well set one yourself” to the dissenters but thanks to Rookie Corner most of them have done so. Anyway, thanks a lot to today’s setter. You are welcome back on my iPad any time. Thanks to Pommers for the hints which I always enjoy reading whosoever writes them. Thanks to all who comment wether or not I agree with you. Yellow = Soft. Yes yes yes.

  33. I’m grateful to our mystery setter for an easy ride after another very long day at several coalfaces. However, I agree with most of the previous quibbles except those querying 1a. It is clearly indicated by the word American. No one seems to mind US spellings when reading a novel by an American author, so why should it be any different in crosswordland. I’ll go for 9a for the Crackerjack (Crackerjack!) pencil and 1d gets the cabbage. Gracias a nuestro amigo en la Vega Baja y el (La?) compilador(a). 1*/3*

  34. Mmm is it curious that Donovans song was used to advertise coca cola’s soft drink 🙏

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