DT 28657 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28657

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28657

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Hola from the Vega Baja.  I’m pretty sure this is a RayT production but it’s very much at the benign end of his spectrum.  It would have been only * difficulty had I not seemed to run into some speed humps in the SE corner.  Still, it fell nicely after a brief struggle so ** it is.  There again, perhaps I was just on the wavelength this morning and it really is a tricky little rascal. I’ll interested to see what you all made of it.

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           Manservant nevertheless left Queen (6)
BUTLER:  A word for nevertheless is followed by L(eft) and the usual two letters representing Her Majesty.  Here’s a famous bit from Rhett of that ilk . . .

4a           Throttle and start to reverse in street corner (8)
STRANGLE:  Nothing to do with a car’s accelerator.  Start with the usual street and then a corner, of a triangle perhaps, and insert an R (start to Reverse).  The reversing in the street corner did get me thinking about cars at first.

9a           Perhaps copper should arrest useless relative (6)
COUSIN:  What a copper might be an example of has the usual two letters for useless inserted (should arrest).  Another nice bit of misdirection methinks having copper and arrest together.

10a         Stop killjoy touring European capital after vacation (8)
PRECLUDE: Vacation here means emptying out so do that to the word CapitaL and you’re left with CL. Put this next to E(uropean)  and around it all (touring) put a killjoy

11a         Raincoat flash capturing the man’s masculinity (8)
MACHISMO:  Start with a short word for a raincoat and a flash as in short period of time.  Into that (capturing) put a word meaning “the man’s”.

13a         Wife awfully riled getting more livid (6)
WILDER:  W(ife) followed by an anagram (awfully) of RILED.

15a         Natter with eminent characters broadcast in show (13)
ENTERTAINMENT:  Anagram (broadcast) NATTER with EMINENT.

18a         Location sent out about large group of stars (13)
CONSTELLATION:  Anagram (out) of LOCATION SENT placed around (about) an L(arge).

22a         Drive inspiring sex over reason (6)
MOTIVE:  The usual euphemism for sex is reversed (over) and inserted (inspiring) into a word for drive or shift.

24a         Plain china, black with white exterior (8)
PALPABLE:  Plain as in obvious. One of the usual chinas, not mate but the other common one, is followed by B(lack) with a word meaning white, or at least lacking in colour, placed around it. 

26a         Private and fancy aren’t in line (8)
INTERNAL:  Anagram (fancy) of ARENT  IN followed by L(ine).

27a         Drunkenly put, it’s free swill! (6)
SLUICE:  Not easy to explain.  It’s swill as in to clean the floor by pouring large amounts of water over it.  To get it you need a synonym of free and then think of how a drunk might say it’s ???  You probably heard me bashing my head with a tea tray when the penny dropped on this one!

8a           Fairly religious assuming sanctuary (8)
HONESTLY:  Take a word for religious (4) and insert (assuming) a sanctuary or home for a bird.

29a         ‘Times’ taken past American customs (6)
USAGES:  A word for a period of time, don’t forget the S, is placed after (taken past) the usual two letters for American.


1d           Developed into flying insect around river (6)
BECAME:  A flying insect around the river which flows through Cambridge.

2d           Staff organise church in tense period (9)
TRUNCHEON:  Staff as in a stick or baton.  A word meaning to organise or manage and one of the usual abbreviation for church go inside (in) a T(ense) followed by a long period of time.

3d           Partly genteel, it is terribly snobbish (7)
ELITIST:  The first lurker. The answer is lurking in (partly) the next four words of the clue.

5d           Sailor seen on northern lake (4)
TARN:  One of the usual sailors followed by N(orthern).

6d           United in battle for sale (7)
AUCTION:  U(nited) is inserted (in) into another word for a battle.

7d           Eating our dinner, eating fruit (5)
GOURD:  Another lurker.  It’s hidden in (eating) “eating our dinner”.

8d           Damn! Previous programme’s ending on box (8)
EXECRATE:  The usual two letters for previous or old followed by E (programme’s ending) and then a box, usually a wooden one.

12d         Spirits man swallows alternatively (6)
MORALE:  Spirits as in confidence. A word for a man goes around (swallows) a two letter word meaning alternatively.

14d         Mother unfortunately overturned spice mix (6)
MASALA:  The usual mother followed by a reversal (overturned) of a word for unfortunately.

16d         Elevating one rising accepting new finery (9)
ENNOBLING:  ONE (from the clue) is reversed (rising in a down clue) and has N(ew) inserted (accepting).  That lot is followed by some finery as in flashy jewellery.

17d         Some seafood on empty shellfish is saucy (8)
SCAMPISH:  Similar construction to 10a.  You need to empty the word shellfish to leave SH and put that after some seafood.

19d         Servant working for hostelries (7)
TAVERNS:  Anagram (working) of SERVANT.  I’m surprised I’ve never come across this anagram before but if I have I’ve clean forgotten about it.

20d         Sticks and stones finally after demon drink (7)
IMPALES:  A demon or naughty child followed by a common crosswordland drink and then an S (stoneS finally).

21d         Nonconformists having dances, including bishop (6)
REBELS:  Insert a B (for Bishop in chess notation) into some country dances.

23d         Giant bird sitting on a nest’s top (5)
TITAN:  To get this giant you need not a giant bird but a very small one followed by (sitting on in a down clue) the A from the clue and an N (Nest’s top).

25d         Surround women with everything (4)
WALL:  W(omen) followed by a word for everything.

Mr T seems to have put his innuendo hat on today which was a bit of fun.  Lots of fine clues here but my podium is the rather splendid 27a with 11a and 9a.

Quick crossword pun:    SPAN     +     HULK     +     AWED     =     SPINAL CORD


72 comments on “DT 28657

  1. Well, that was quite a work-out. Ha! Work-out! Geddit? Oh, never mind.

    I have to give this another ****, the second this week, I think. I really didn’t think I was going to finish it; the top half flew in, the SW came along slowly but the SE put up stiff resistance. Last one in and therefore COTD was 27.

    Many thanks to Pommers and RayT if indeed it is he.

  2. I checked whether it was me on the wavelength today, or whether our setters were feeling fluffier than usual, and the conclusion was that it was the setters not me! 27a was my last one in and I can’t quite decide whether I just really liked it, or really liked it because it was so groan-worthy when the penny dropped. Thanks to Mr T and Mr P

    I highly recommend that everyone makes their way to the middle of the paper and does the crossword you will find there. Micawber on top form IMHO

    1. This shows the difference between you experts and the rest of us. I found the Toughie completely unintelligible and failed to answer a single clue. And probably quite right that I cannot. The Toughie is designed to challenge the experienced setter and not the journeyman.

      1. I’ve yet to look at the Toughie today, but I used to have a mental about them being too difficult. Some are, some aren’t. The trick is to convince yourself that you’re doing a back pager. Then you’ll be surprised what you can solve.

        1. I agree with you totally – as far as I’m concerned if something was called a Toughie then I knew that I couldn’t do it – after quite a long time I’m just about getting over that mental block, unless it’s Elgar, ProXimal, Sparks and quite a few others who are not coming to mind at the moment.

  3. What a wonderful week we are having!

    3* / 5* today for one of Ray T’s best ever in my opinion. I sailed through the top half but the bottom half put up quite a fight particularly in the SE corner taking me up to my 3* time.

    My podium consisted of 24a, 27a and, my favourite, 11a.

    Many thanks to Ray T and to pommers.

  4. Just as I was starting to get cocky by thinking this was going to be a walkover, I came up against 27a. I eventually bunged in a word that seemed to fit, but even with Pommers’ s hint I’m hard pressed to parse it. Otherwise an enjoyable enough solve and one of Mr Ray’s less demanding puzzles. Thanks to both RayT and Pommers.

  5. Pleased too see that after the last three days I had enough brain cells left to cope with this very enjoyable challenge. COD for me is also 27a – truly wonderful 😂

  6. Well I though it was really quite hard. Several bung ins. And had to read Pommers hints twice for 27a. The more clues you get the more obvious the answers but the parsing remained obscure. Still got there in the end.

  7. Typical RayT puzzle with 2 long anagrams and 2 lurkers to get started. Loads of innuendo as usual and 11 has still got me smiling so I award that clue of the day. Other clues of note were 3 7 9 13 16 22 and 27. I had trouble with 27 before the penny dropped!. Thanks to Ray for a very interesting puzzle with some fine clues.

  8. Having sailed happily through, I stuck at 27a where I have the right answer and still can’t see how . . Oh, no, I just did. Yes, it’s (!) a very good clue. Thanks RayT and pommers.

  9. Didn’t have any trouble getting 27a – maybe that speaks volumes about the company I keep!
    Mr T on the soft pedal I thought but still a gem of a puzzle with plenty of innuendo to keep us chuckling.

    Leader board here shows 11,22&27a with many others in contention.

    The usual devotions to Mr T and thanks to Pommers for an excellent blog – hope the sailors are OK.

  10. What a fabulous clue 27a is. When the penny dropped I felt compelled to do a circuit of the kitchen with a grin from ear to ear and make a strong coffee. Pure magic. Made my day. Thank you, setter and thank you Pommers.

  11. Like RD, the lower half of the puzzle raised the difficulty to *** and a **** for enjoyment-we are having a good week all round.
    Next to last in was 27a which needed all the checking letters, no chance without them, last was 23a which was my favourite.
    Thanks setter and Pommers- 11a pic amused.

  12. Very enjoyable with some subtle trickiness that resulted in completion at a fast canter. I am reasonably certain that there was a sprinkling of oldies but goodies – **/****.

    Candidates for favourite – 10a, 24a, 6d – and the winner is 24a.

    Thanks to Ray T and pommers.

  13. More a ***/*** for me today. 10a was the last one in – must remember killjoy/pr***. 11a was my favourite followed closely by 27a. Thanks all.

  14. I struggled quite a bit with this one but got there in the end with your help pommers and I was mopping my brow wondering if it had been worth the effort, when I went back over the clues and realised how good they are. I particularly liked the naughty 11a which must be COTD because it gave me a LOL moment. Thanks indeed to pommers and the setter.

  15. I thought this was Ray T being far from benign. It was a thoroughly good tussle, hugely enjoyable, and a joy to complete with a real sense of achievement at the end. So many terrific clues, but if I must pick one it will be 11a. 3.5* /4.5* overall from me.

    Many thanks to Ray and pommers.

  16. Like many the SE corner held me up for quite some time, but I got there in the end with 27a, again like many , being my last one in.

    Lovely crossword.

    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for his much needed help with the parsings.

  17. Ray T crosswords are always a bit of a challenge for me but think I’m getting it now after all these years! Thanks to pommers for splendid hints and to Ray T for a great workout. Now we have a new editor of the DT crossword, is there any hope we iPad users will be able to access the Toughie?

    1. I completely agree about having access to the Toughie. The price for the online version has increased, and although you get the Washington Post as an extra, I, for one, would rather get the extra crossword.

      1. Oh me too. I’ve asked about this before. I get the whole shebang at the weekend on my iPad so, why not the one we want during the week.

      2. Access to the Washington Post comes with the online DT puzzle subscription? That’s new to me. Is it automatic or does one have to do something?

  18. Just brilliant. Ta to all.
    If this works then this is how I envisage pommers after getting

    1. Pretty much :lol: It makes a satisfyingly loud noise but doesn’t hurt. You should all try it when you get a “D’oh” moment.

  19. Vintage Ray t. I didn’t find it particularly easy, indeed I’ve had a tussle with each of this week’s puzzles. This was without a doubt the most enjoyable though, from 11a to 27a. Thanks to all.

  20. After the three crosswords we have been treated to so far this week I thought today’s from Ray T suffered somewhat. It was good as his normally are but for me it lacked a bit of sparkle. I didn’t like 27a at first but I did grow to appreciate it, so that is my fave. 2/3.5* overall.
    Thanks to Ray T, and to pommers for the review

  21. I’m fully in agreement with RD, RayT at his very best. It may not have been at the tougher end of his spectrum, but it was all the more entertaining for that. All the usual trademarks and innuendo on display I was glad to see.

    My four ticks went to 9a, the hilarious 11a, 24a (my LOI and the hardest to nail) and 8d.

    Superb stuff indeed. Many thanks to Pommers and to Mr Terrell. I saw that Paris has just had its worst snowfall in thirty years so I hope our setter is not too inconvenienced currently.

    1. Au contraire!

      I normally start a RayT Crossword by “initially” looking for his trademark acrostic clue. Still haven’ t found it. And not a sw(e)theart in sight!

  22. An enjoyable ** for difficulty, with only a few problems on 27ac. A nice change of pace after a tricky few days.

  23. Gave up with about 2/3 done mainly because I lost interest.
    Ray-T’s crosswords float everyone else’s boat but not mine. His wordplay is far too clever for a thicko like me.
    Thanks all.

    1. Me too, I’ve just given up. I had thought I was getting there and then this turns up. Oh well, c’est la guerre.

    2. I always felt the same but perseverance has taught me to enjoy most of his but he does let himself down occasionally with awful clues like 27a.

  24. Well a Ray T completed and me on his radar that makes a change! Note Pommers comment that it was somewhat benign for a Thursday Ray T. Whatever, just pleased to have finished and enjoyed it, hope this is the start for understanding Mr T a bit better? SE corner again this week last to fall. Overall a good Thursday puzzle.

    Clue of the day: Liked both 4a / 14d.

    Rating *** / ****

    Thanks to Pommers and Mr T.

  25. Very enjoyable but for me a 3* for difficulty. Needed the hints to explain 6 clues where I had the right answer but didn’t know why (9a, 22a, 24a, 27a, 28a and 2d). 22a gave me motive for drive so the rest was tricky to get.
    I thought 2d was more than a bit contrived and not up to the usual Ray T standard. 27a dreadful clue, very poor IMHO.
    Best clue for me was 11a which made me smile.
    For me ***/****
    Thx to all

    1. Wash’s wrong wiv…hic…27a? Your shoelaish – if it’s loosch, you tigthen it up…hic… don’t you? I love you, you’re my besht friend, you are…hic…

  26. 27a was the stand out favourite for us in this top drawer puzzle. Clue word count spot on once again.
    Thanks RayT and pommers.

  27. Took me a long time and even then I still couldnt get 9A. My favourite- 11A and not least because of Pommers wonderful illustration! Thanks to all

  28. I wouldn’t say this was less than averagely difficult for a back pager, though I do agree about it not being this setter at his stiffest. 27a took a bit of thought. 11a is favourite.

    Thanks to RayT and pommers.

  29. Enjoyable, 2*/3*. LOI was 27a.

    Quite liked 16d but favourite today, no surprise, was 11a.

    Thanks to Ray T and Pommers.

  30. Brilliant – loved it – what a great crossword to come home to having been out all day with my little family in London.
    I agree with pommers about the 2*/4* and I’m so pleased to see that RayT’s naughty hat has turned up.
    I think it’s probably all been said by now.
    The minute I got the answer to 27a my first thought was, “Well, this one is going to divide opinion”.
    I enjoyed the whole crossword so will just pick out a few for special mention – 11 and 13a and 8 and 14d. My favourite was 27a.
    With thanks to RayT and to pommers.
    Having been out all day I’ve still got the Micawber Toughie up my sleeve for tomorrow.

    1. PS – I couldn’t make any sense of the Quickie pun so thanks for that – thought I must have got something wrong but I was just being dim, again!

      1. The pun took me a while. It was only when I twigged it might be three words that the penny dropped. The web site don’t tell you how many words are in the pun but perhaps our new editor could perhaps organise italicising the relevant clues on the web site, as they are in the dead tree version. Surely not beyond the wit of man or a crossword editor.

      2. I couldn’t do it even though I do the paper version so knew that it was three words. Oh dear! Oh well – never mind!

  31. Started well, and was getting quite chuffed and then fizzled. Finished but only with Pommers help on several clues. Didn’t care for 10a, 24a, 27a, and 17d is not a word I’ve ever heard in use. But I am rarely on the same wavelength as Ray T and this was easier than some this week.

  32. OMG my comment got lost in the ether again. Will have another go.
    This puzzle was not amongst my favourites but I got there in the end save for 27a which I was pleased to see troubled CS and several other bloggers too. Not sure the synonym for finery is quite à propos. 9a stupidly needed pommers’ parsing. My Fav was 11a and the hint illustration raised a chuckle! Thank you RayT and pommers.

  33. Evening all. Many thanks to pommers for the decryption and to everybody else for your comments.


  34. Thanks to Ray T and to Pommers for the review and hints. What a great week for puzzles, this one kept the run going, another delight. I liked 3,7,19d & 27a, but my first in and favourite was 11a, which made me laugh out loud. I must confess that I originally had “ullage” for 27a, but then realised that 16d should end in “ing”, so I went back to 27a and eventually got the right answer. Last in was 24a. Great puzzle, lots of humour. Was 2*/4* for me.

  35. Bit tough today. 28a caused a some bother. Had to use a lot of hints. Thanks Ray and Pommers.

  36. Split views on the difficulty of this one. I am in the harder-than-norm camp. I had to complete in two shots due to other things to do which is never the best. I thought the SE corner was going to defeat me but nailing 20d loosened it all up.
    Thanks RayT (and thanks for dropping in). Thanks to P too.

    Its been a hard week so far – Giovanni tomorrow for a breather (?)

  37. I wasn’t sure about this one I first thought it was very easy – I got all but four of the acrosses on first pass and I only missed one of the downs. Then the speed humps, but there were only two of them – namely 24a and my last one in – the dreaded 27a – that was a real test of lateral thinking. So most of the puzzle was <* and two clues were **** so I reckon ** is about right. Going to bed now as it's late here and, BTW, pommette's still stuck in La Gomera due to 40 knot winds.

  38. Most seem to be in agreement about this one. SE definitely last to fall, preceded by SW. I have circled 24 27 and 28a as favourites but having seen comments now reluctantly add 11a. I think 11a annoyed me as I could not get beyond macho. Could not parse 9a and 10a so thanks Pommers for that. Then find I am at one with Brian (for once) as I had not properly parsed 22a. I also have to confess making a silly error with 12d (seem to be on my own with that one). Wrong last letter. I was looking for a plural and failed to notice that my answer made no sense. Thanks Ray T and nice to hear from you. Finally, with regard to Wednesday’s I have not yet looked at the blog but entirely unusually me for I gave up after filling in only two answers. Perhaps I will have another go.

  39. Another splendid effort from Ray T, not his most difficult but certainly a decent challenge. Too many excellent clues to pick a favourite. Very enjoyable! That’s 4 really great puzzles on the trot this week – let’s hope that G keeps the momentum going with today’s (I’m sure he will). 3* / 4*.

  40. I simply want to say thanks. I do one cryptic crossword a week, mostly during my 3 half hour work breaks (I work p/t). I sometimes need your help to get me started, and I always come here to get those last few tricky ones. I was taught how to do cryptic crosswords 5 years ago by my mother in law. I’m still learning, and you are a big part of that. I like your blog and always like your picture clues. I loved the poem about being drunk 2 weeks or so ago.

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