DT 28508 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28508

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28508

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Morning all and welcome to a non-RayThursday.  The weather here continues to be stonking hot and it seems to have fried what’s left of my brain because I had a bit of a struggle getting into this one.  However, it all came together eventually after just creeping into *** time.  It will be interesting to see how many of you thought it was a doddle.

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 so don’t click on them unless you really want to see the answer.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Daffy  bird? (6)
CUCKOO:  A word meaning daffy or slightly mad is also a species of bird.  Gets easier when you stop thinking it’s got something to do with Daffy Duck!

4a           Eurasian city, Byzantium’s capital embraced by sultan, I gathered (8)
ISTANBUL:  Start with a B (Byzantium’s capital) and around it (embraced by) put an anagram (gathered) of SULTAN I to get a city in Turkey which is, apparently, the 7th most populous city in the world..  Clever clue as Byzantium is an old name for the answer.

9a           Religious teachings, plain coarse (6)
RIBALD:  One of the two letter abbreviations of religious teaching in school followed by a word meaning plain or hairless.

10a         Star reading different script, ultimately (3,5)
RED GIANT:  Anagram (different) of READING followed by a T (scripT ultimately).

12a         Friend friendly, though not at first (4)
ALLY:  A word meaning friendly without its first letter (though not at first).

13a         Question  cook (5)
GRILL:  Double definition.

14a         Queen in Italian necklace (4)
ANNE:  This Queen who reigned from 1702 to 1714 is hiding in Italian necklace.

17a         Author, William the Conqueror’s postman? (6,6)
NORMAN MAILER:  A Pulitzer prize winning American author sounds as though he might be a postman from northern France.

20a         Runs 101-200? One is the best! (6,2,4)
SECOND TO NONE:  Split the answer (6,3,3) and it’s the one after the first hundred and then ONE from the clue. One of those that’s easier to solve than explain.  Here’s a few highlights of Joe Root hitting a double ton against Sri Lanka in 2014.


23a         One’s inclined to use force and power (4)
RAMP:  This might be an incline for wheelchair access and it’s a word for force or push followed by P(ower).

24a         Made of metal, little boxes never for opening (5)
TINNY:  A word for little is put around (boxes) an N (Never for opening).  Strange, the word might mean made of metal, which should be strong, but in common usage it means cheap or shoddy, unless you’re Australian when it’s a can of beer or an aluminium dinghy.

25a         Kerfuffle in prison (4)
STIR:  A slang term for prison is also a word meaning kerfuffle or commotion.

28a         Plant where flowers grow, perfect in recess (8)
GARDENIA:  The area by your house where flowers grow is followed by two letters for perfect or at least very good but they’re reversed (in recess).  In my case it was more like weeds than flowers.  However, a weed is only a plant growing where you don’t want it.

29a         Two nil in cup, leaders in luck eventually (6)
COUPLE:  The letter that looks like nil or zero is inserted (in) into CUP (from the clue) and is followed by LE (leaders in Luck Eventually).

30a         Liberal or Attlee to put up with (8)
TOLERATE:  Anagram (liberal) of OR ATLEE.

31a         Artist — neither winner nor loser? (6)
DRAWER:  This is possibly a double definition.  If there’s no winner or loser what’s the result?


1d           Death in short, a terrible sin (8)
CURTAINS:  A word describing a person who is short or abrupt followed by A (from the clue) and then an anagram (terrible) of SIN.

2d           They’ll fix up pumps and platforms — with mules? (8)
COBBLERS:  This one becomes fairly straightforward once you twig that pumps, platforms and mules are all types of shoe.  These are the chaps who mend them.

3d           Greasy ornamental mat, top wiped (4)
OILY:  A sort of ornamental mat that my granny used to serve cup cakes on loses its first letter (top wiped).

5d           Engrossing period obligatory (12)
SPELLBINDING:  A charade of a word for a period of time (5) and a word meaning obligatory (7).

6d           Mythical ship moving slowly, heading off (4)
ARGO:  Jason’s ship is a musical term for slowly without its first letter (heading off).

7d           Clever article in the main (6)
BRAINY:  A rather old-fashioned slang term for the sea (main) has an indefinite article inserted.

8d           Bits of rubbish, little ones? (6)
LITTER:  This is another that might be a double definition.  The little ones might be a brood of puppies or kittens.  Here’s one for Kitty . . .

11d         Jumper is important when shivering around end of April (12)
TRAMPOLINIST:  An anagram (when shivering) of IS IMPORTANT around an L (end of ApriL).

15d         African carrier has me in a state (5)
CAMEL:  A beast of burden used in North Africa is ME (from the clue) inserted into the abbreviation of a western US state, the one Arnie was Governor of.

16d         Devil in protest, ending in heaven (5)
DEMON:  The usual protest followed by N (ending in heaveN).

18d         Boxer getting up to wash potty (8)
SOUTHPAW:  This boxer is probably left-handed as he leads with his right hand and his stance is right foot forward. Whatever, he’s an anagram (potty) of UP TO WASH.  I say “probably” left handed as our ‘enry Cooper was left handed but he wasn’t one of these.

19d         Doubly hard part of corn, I agree! (4,4)
HEAR HEAR:  H(ard) followed by the top part of some corn repeated (doubly).

21d         Horror film’s beginning satisfactorily (6)
FRIGHT:  F (Film’s beginning) followed by a word for satisfactorily or correct.

22d         Test before noon is not ethical (6)
AMORAL:  Split the answer (2,4) and you’ll get a phrase which might describe a spoken test carried out in the morning.

26d         Raise  tail (4)
REAR:  Double definition. 

27d         Swine — dull person, it’s said? (4)
BOAR:  This swine or male pig, sounds like (it’s said) a dull person.

Some very nice stuff here but my favourite was 4a with 10a and 14a up there on the podium.

Quick crossword pun:     JUNG     +     HAT     +     TART     =     YOUNG AT HEART


72 comments on “DT 28508

  1. An amusing test – certainly hard enough and a few ‘doh’ moments but didn’t need the hints today. 18d my favorite. Agree with Pommers on the markings – ***/**** from me.

    Oh for some hot weather, Pommers, – heavy rain for a few hours again this morning in the Peak District.

  2. Pretty difficult – I struggled all the way through – the top left hand corner was very tricky. My last one in was 15d.

    It was like hitting myself over the head with a hammer – it’s great when it stops!

    1. It just shows how different we all are, I found the NE the easiest bit, the rest a struggle!

    2. Re 15d, I wish setters would stop using cal as an abbreviation for a state. It should be CA……..or, in the old days, Calif. or Cali if attached to Mexi.
      I may be being thick, (a common occurrence) but, apart from the short names of a couple of universities…….it is not normally used.

      Now, I’m not a native, although I do have family there, but I’ll happily defer to any of you from the west coast.

      1. Likewise Florida is FL not FLA, although I think that was used before we arrived from across the pond in the early 80s. Perhaps CAL was used in distant past?

  3. 19d Pommers – definitely not a doddle for me either. In fact I threw in the towel with not much more than half resolved and resorted to hints for which thank you. Qualified thanks “noRay Thursday”! Didn’t know the 10a star. Favs 17a and 2d.

  4. I agree with Pommers and other bloggers on the puzzle’s level of difficulty. Having got through all the tricky long clues I was held up by 15d for a while. Might have twigged earlier if the said beast had been alluded to as an Arab carrier. The second part of 17a seems to equate the sender of letters to the deliverer. Is this correct? My favourite was 20a. Thanks Pommers for reminding us of Joe Root’s prodigious talent. I am not an England fan but will acknowledge and applaud excellence wherever it is found.

  5. Really good day today, grandchildren got A level results and have got into their first choices. Then to cap it all puzzle was nearly a write in except for 22d which for some reason took a while.
    Thanks to Pommers and setter.

  6. A bit of a curate’s egg (and not a doddle) which needed some head scratching to complete at a fast trot – ***/**. I did think that the construction of some of the clues was questionable – 22a for instance; test and before noon ‘back to front.’

    Favourite – 17a.

    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

    1. Hi Senf,
      I had the same thought about 22d until I looked at it as a ‘morning exam’ which could describe a test that was carried out before noon.

    2. I thought the same about 22(d?)

      I really really enjoyed this – some delightful misdirection (although I knew I was on the wrong track – I couldn’t get nodding donkeys, and other oil and gas type things, out of my head for 2d – probably my COTD)

      Same for 15d, (although surely African? Or African or Asian)

      Needed the hint for 16d – my last one in.

      Many thanks to setter and blogger for the entertainment.

      1. Of course, if you’re a shoe addict ( I’m not the only one, I’m sure…), then you would never have thought of anything else when you first read that clue.

  7. All went well once I’d accepted that Daffy Duck wasn’t going to feature in 1a and that I was never going to sort out the parsing of 20a – which I’m still finding hard to accept despite Pommers explanation.

    No question about my favourite – 17a wins hands down with 1d close behind.

    Think I’m tempted to put Mister Ron in the frame for this one but that probably means that it wasn’t him given my recent track record. Whoever it may be, he is certainly ‘Quickie pun’ to come up with this one!
    Thanks to the man of mystery and to Pommers for a comprehensive review. One query – did your Granny actually refer to ‘cup cakes’ – I thought we only latched onto that expression in more recent times, courtesy of our friends across the Pond.

    1. Lady Jane – as Mister Ron claimed being the stand-in for Rufus on Monday, wouldn’t two in a week be unusual?

      1. Yes, I think it would – but maybe the poor fellow’s a bit short this week?
        OK – that was lame, but I can’t come up with anything better. Probably means that I should have kept my thoughts to myself. When in doubt etc………..

    2. 20a, I thought it was something to do with the 4×100 relay race! 101-200 would go ******

      1. I understood your hint, Pommers, but still can’t make sense of the clue. Must be having one of Kath’s dim days………

        1. If 0-100 is the first ton, (100 runs) then 101-200 must be the second ton…….?
          I think I get your point….that it isn’t a ton until the 100 or 200 is actually completed. But it seemed straightforward to me while I was doing it…….

          1. Thanks, Bluebird – I think I can see what you’re driving at, maybe I’ll just have to settle for saying that I didn’t like the clue very much!

  8. Managed in ** time with **** enjoyment. Lots of refreshingly different clues which had me thinking in other directions to begin with. Put wrong sort of questioning/cooking at first for 13a (roast)! which caused a brief headscratch. Top left last in and therefore give 1 and 2 down as favourites. Quick crossword took nearly as long today! Thanks to ‘Non-Ray’ and Pommers.

        1. I thought of that as well, although, strictly speaking, a roasting is more of a telling off, whereas a grilling is more of a strict interrogation.

          I wonder how many more culinary terms describe being uncomfortably talked to?
          Broiling sounds like a combination of boiling and roasting, but it actually means grilling or frying on a charcoal grill, or Jospered.

          ” How did your interview go?”
          ” Ooh, they gave me a right good Jospering….”

          1. I wonder where that term comes from? I’ve never heard of it and neither has the BRB by the look of it.

          2. On my US oven they don’t use the term grill, instead it is broil. Grilling is strictly used for the outside barbecue type of cooking.

  9. Good quality crossword which was a pleasure to solve. 18d was my favourite. 3/4* overall.
    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for his hot review.

  10. Shamus admitted to being on Thursdays the other day (Tues 8) so must be him today.
    Really enjoyed it.
    Loved the author in 17a
    Pommers comment in 18d brought some fond memories. Don’t want to brag again but our ‘enry’s granddaughter Lily was born around the same time as my daughter Charlie and we used to spend quite a lot of time with mother and child as we all lived around bohemian Crouch End at the time.
    Thanks to Shamus and to pommers for the review.

    1. Hi JL,
      If it is Shamus then I’m going to get really cross with him – not a mention of a leprechaun AGAIN.

  11. I really liked this although I needed hints for the top left corner.
    I liked 17a and 19d.
    Thanks to Shamus ( ?) and pommers.

  12. I’ve driven to Hertfordshire to play cricket only to open the batting and get out for a daffy duck.

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle and was going to ascribe it to Shamus.

    Many thanks to whomever the setter is and to pommers.

  13. Guessed it was not Ray T as I managed to finish **/*** 😃 Last in was 24a which I did not like 😳 Liked 17 & 20 across and 7 down. Thanks to Pommers and to the compiler

  14. I absolutely loved it! One of the best puzzles of 2017 in the opinion of this solver, and almost certainly the one with the most humour.

    17a was hilarious, and was awarded a double tick alongside 29a, 7d, 11d and 18d.

    Huge thanks to Mr Marlow (if it is indeed him?) and to Pommers.

  15. A bit on the tricky side.
    I was so attached to the idea that D should be the first letter of 1 across and down, that my brain was hurting.and I never did get 9 or 24a. Oh dear…..

    But I did love 17 and 20a and 19d.

  16. Hi there Folks! Haven’t commented for some time,but felt this one needed some input. I found this very difficult and just couldn’t get to grips with it………thank goodness for my handy electronic gismo or I would still be scratching my head…..a lot of guess work involved too. I did like 17a when I finally solved it….I got stuck for quite a while trying to make Harold Pinter or Jeffrey Archer the answer! Anyway, finally got there. ****/***

  17. Just into 3* difficulty time for me and I thought it quite an amusing puzzle to boot.

    Thanks to pommers and setter ***/****

  18. Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, which wasn’t much. Needed the hints for 17&20a and 1,11,15,18d missed two anagrams. Just couldn’t get on the wavelength. Was 5*/2* for me.

  19. Add me to the ‘wrote Shamus’ on my piece of paper ‘gang’

    Enjoyable if not as tricky as some people seemed to find it

  20. I thought that this one was both ‘user friendly’ and entertaining – so well done Setter! North West corner was a slight hold up – thanks to my belief that ‘daffy’ must have something to do with ‘duck’ (I suspect that the right answer to 1a is probably a chestnut – am I right?). I think that 17a was the favourite, although I have to admit to having made a guess and working backwards from there! Approximately a 2* rating.

  21. Another cracker today. I thought the best clues were in the top left, which made it the trickiest corner.

    Loved it.

  22. 3*/4* for this tricky-in-places but never dull Thursday puzzle. After a lot of thought, I decided that 20a was the COTD, although I am sure many will disagree. I also really enjoyed 4a as an alternate favourite.

    Many thanks to whomsoever compiled this, and to pommers for his review.

  23. I, too, found this pretty tricky but most enjoyable. I never did get 18d and last in was 31a.
    I was not confused by 1a as I solved 1d early on. I did solve 20a but had no idea why it was right.
    Lots to like here, 4a and 17a are neck and neck.
    Thanks to setter and to pommers for explaining the mysteries.

  24. Tough but managed to complete despite some of the clues making little sense. Not come across RI for the teaching in 9a, it was RE in my school. 20a is one of those daft clues that seem to amuse the setter and the construct of 24a is clumsy.
    Thx for the explanations. Did like 17a but my favourite was 18d.
    For me ***/*** (would have been ***/**** but for the clues listed above.)
    Thx to all, nice to have a Thursday puzzle that is enjoyable.

  25. I really loved this one.
    I was slow to get going and the style felt unfamiliar, to me anyway – once I got started everything fell into place.
    Been wrong too many times but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I don’t think it’s a Shamus, if only because I usually find him more difficult.
    I didn’t understand my 20a although it had to be right – I know pommers has tried really hard with the hint and it’s not his fault, or for lack of trying, but I still don’t really get it.
    I liked 1, 9 and 24a and thought that 11d was a good anagram. 1d made me laugh so it’s my favourite.
    With thanks to whoever set today’s crossword and to pommers for the hints and pics.

    1. I think that we’re both terminally thick with crickety things, Kath, I don’t think anyone will be able to explain them to us.

  26. Hi all. I’m a very occasional contributor because I do the crosswords in arrears, but I’m posting today with a query, hope it isn’t out of place.
    Is it possible to contact bloggers directly, I’d like to mail one from about a fortnight ago?
    And while I’m here, BD’s site has transformed my crosswording life. Thanks to him and all the other contributors.

    1. Send your query to Big Dave and he will pass it on to whomsoever you want it to get to

    2. molly – you can use the ‘CONTACT’ tab at the top of the page to send the message to Big Dave with a request to ask him to forward it to the blogger concerned.

    3. Molly

      As WordPress does not offer a PM service, the next-best option is that I can forward your details – it is then up to the recipient to respond.

    4. If you send the message to BD I’m sure he will pass it on and then the blogger in question can contact you.

  27. Ok. Everybody can have a good laugh. I am quite clearly the only person to put ‘looney’ into 1a. That really did give me problems with the NW corner. I did manage to put 29a straight in though, so I’m quite pleased with myself for working that one out. Just got back from lunch in London and now I have to go to a Silver Wedding Anniversary party. Too much for one day. Many thanks setter for a lovely and fun puzzle, and thank you Pommers.

  28. We also started off with ROAST for 13a which made a couple of the down answers difficult for a while. Really good fun and we’ll go with 17a as our favourite. Our thoughts on the setter. Shamus was the first option but then we remembered that some time ago we were all fooled when we had a Dada puzzle on the back page and it occurred to us that maybe he is back again. Perhaps whoever it is is just waiting to see all the guesses before poking their head over the parapet.

    1. Didn’t he make a comment on social media before the last back-pager he set? No-one has mentioned that about today’s – I do hope the ‘guilty’ party puts in an appearance.

    2. Dada did occur to me while I was munching my dinner and it seems more like one of his than a Shamus – but I’m usually wrong. :sad:

  29. Well this gave me a run for my money, and in pre blog days I would definitely have thrown in the towel and been quite fed up with myself. However with Pommers hints to the rescue everything was pretty obvious. Thank goodness for this web site. COTD was 17a.

  30. No problems with this today, I thought 17a was brilliant, and favourite.
    If it’s a Shamus, I am delighted as I usually find his crosswords a struggle.
    Thanks setter and Pommers for s great blog.

    1. I agree about Shamus – that’s why I don’t think it’s one of his. Now I’ll just duck . . .

  31. This felt pretty difficult throughout, but I am solving later than I like, which probably didn’t help. Finish time about ***.

  32. Really enjoyed today’s crossword. Favourites 17a, 19d and 20a. 9 across gave me problems and I needed the hint to solve it, otherwise easier than I expected on first viewing.

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