DT 28712 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28712


Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28712

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs on yet another filthy wet day.

This puzzle took me a little longer than usual, principally because there are some clues which appear to me to be inaccurate – which is most unlike our usual Friday setter. The overall style still feels to me like a Giovanni, but I do wonder whether this was indeed by him. (The error at 20d has been fixed in the puzzles site version).

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


1a           Being in last stage at home secured by lock (10)
TRENDINESS – A lock of hair wrapped around ‘last stage’ and ‘at home’.

6a           Son and daughter outside house wearing trainers, say? (4)
SHOD – The abbreviations for Son and Daughter placed either side of an abbreviation for HOuse.

9a           Drunk aims a clout, bringing dire results (10)
CALAMITOUS – Anagram (drunk) of AIMS A CLOUT.

10a         What is said to be sort of average appearance (4)
MIEN – another word for ‘appearance’ or ‘bearing’ which sounds like one of the types of average (not the median or the mode, another one).

12a         Bad treatment is accepted by one providing inspiration (6)
MISUSE – One of the nine Greek goddesses who inspired artistic endeavour wrapped around IS (from the clue).

13a         What sounds like something for cleaning old carriage (8)
BROUGHAM – A one-horse closed carriage named for an 18th– century peer, which sounds like something for sweeping up with.

Image result for brougham

15a         Certain traders misconstrued as harsh breed (12)
HABERDASHERS – Anagram (misconstrued) of AS HARSH BREED.

18a         People close to the monarcha couple of PMs? (12)
CHAMBERLAINS – Double definition: some senior royal servants; or a plural of the UK Prime Minister before Churchill.

21a         Carp after agent is seen as disgrace (8)
REPROACH – A short form of a commercial agent or traveller, followed by a fresh water fish which is a member of the carp family.

22a         Sympathetic article penned by cardinal once (6)
HUMANE – The surname of a former cardinal archbishop of Westminster (died 1999) wrapped around one of the forms of the indefinite article.

Image result for basil hume

24a         Greeting or shower of abuse? (4)
HAIL – Double definition, the second being a metaphorical use of a shower of ice crystals.

25a         Messenger facing difficult situation — will letters arrive here? (10)
PIGEONHOLE – A bird used as a messenger followed by a difficult position (as in ‘I’m in a —-‘), giving a place where mail may be found in an office or college common room.

Image result for pigeonhole

26a         Wise man from the east, an astronomer? (4)
REES – Reverse (from the east) a wise man or prophet, and you get the surname of the Astronomer Royal.

Image result for martin rees

27a         Chain store is awful for those seeking solitude (10)
ANCHORITES – Anagram (awful) of CHAIN STORE.


1d           Volunteers taking care of mother in US city (6)
TACOMA – Put together the initials of the former volunteer reserve force of the UK, an abbreviation for ‘care of’, and a short word for ‘mother’, and you get a US city near Seattle, best known elsewhere for having had a bridge which blew down in spectacular fashion in 1940

ARVE Error: need id and provider

2d           Recruit with English name is grabbed by army officer (6)
ENLIST – Put together English, Name, and an abbreviation for a military rank wrapped around IS (from the clue).

3d           Somebody OK’d a new survey of our land (8,4)
DOMESDAY BOOK – Anagram (new) of SOMEBODY OK’D A – a tax survey ordered by William the Conqueror.

4d           Some secret, one turning up in short letter? (4)
NOTE – Hidden in reverse (some … turning up) in the clue.

5d           Not an all-round bargain? (6,4)
SQUARE DEAL – Cryptic definition – a fair trade which is not ‘all-round’ because the adjective used definitely has four corners!

7d           Raise an even number, protected as chicks? (8)
HEIGHTEN – An even single-digit number protected, as chicks are, by having the chicks’ mother wrapped around it.

8d           Andrew spinning something a bit foggy as a sort of philosopher (8)
DYNAMIST – This seems to be an anagram (spinning) of a short form of ‘Andrew’, followed by a light fog. The trouble with that is that it looks to me suspiciously like an indirect anagram, which is generally frowned upon. If ‘spinning’ indicated a straightforward reversal of the short form, it would probably be OK, but that would give YDNA as the first part of the answer.

11d         Something to get a science student fired up? (6,6)
BUNSEN BURNER – Cryptic definition of the usual source of heat used in a science lab.

14d         Criticism means upset editor must get a grip (10)
DETRACTION – Reverse (upset) the abbreviation for EDitor, then add the sort of grip required to pull a trailer.

16d         It’s almost 20, dear, in Paris — not a day for an overcoat! (8)
SCORCHER – Another way of expressing ‘twenty’ with its final letter removed, followed by the French for ‘dear’.

17d         Holiday location has aspect I’m fussed about (8)
CAMPSITE – Anagram (fussed about) of ASPECT I’M.

19d         Food with bit of cloth not to be considered (6)
RAGOUT – A scrap of cloth followed by ‘not to be considered’, as in ‘That’s (ruled) —‘.

Image result for ragout

20d        Paper (and early online) version:  Goddess beginning to cavort before American (6)
CEREUS – Put together the first letter of Cavort, a poetic word for ‘before’ and an abbreviation for ‘American’. This is intended to give us the name of a Roman goddess, the equivalent of the Greek Demeter, but what we actually get is a type of cactus.

Revised online version: Cactus goddess planted outside university (6)
CEREUS – The Roman goddess of fertility and crops wrapped around University

Image result for cereus

23d         Little woman often seen following Eliza (4)
BETH – One of the protagonists in Louisa May Alcott’s novel, the second half of a name of which ‘Eliza’ might be the first.

The Quick Crossword pun SPECK + TACKLE = SPECTACLE

74 comments on “DT 28712

  1. Before escaping to choir practice, I must confess that I am gutted to have confused a goddess with a cactus. Even a careful brain sometimes slips into bypass mode. I hide in shame and will let him that is without sin cast lots of stones while I retreat! Very sorry!

    1. So heartening to know that even Giovanni can make mistakes, but I’ve written it into my blue book under “6 lettered Goddesses” so perhaps we could coin a Giovanni Goddess & save having to scrub it out😂

      1. You’ve previously used a different alias and, since ‘Jane’ is already used by one of our long-standing commenters, it would be helpful if you used a variant instead of just ‘Jane’.

    2. In 20d the wordplay led straightforwardly and directly to the answer – it couldn’t have been anything else. I never bothered to check whether the answer was a goddess or not. A bit of an understandable slip, but hardly the sin of the century.

  2. I was held up more by the ? I wrote by 8d (for the same reason as DT outlines above) and because I couldn’t find a goddess to match the solution of 20d as clued in the newspaper version

    I did like 23d

    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT

  3. I was about to put a scathing comment not only regarding 20d which totally flummoxed me and on which I wasted a lot of time, but also about the indirect anagram. However, I see that our esteemed setter has already apologised profusely for the former.

    So I’ll just say apology accepted with thanks. Thanks too to DT, particularly for explaining 7d which I couldn’t quite get my head around.

  4. Very enjoyable with a considerable amount of head scratching (including 20d), which resulted in completion at a fast canter – ***/****.

    While 20d had to be what it was, and it was ‘accepted’ on on-line submission, I could only find the cactus, so I was a little mystified.

    Candidates for favourite – 10a, 13a, 25a, and 16d – and the winner is 16d.

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT, especially for resolving 20d between them.

  5. Mostakes happen, and the couple here have already been covered. I am not without sin. I used a little electronic help.

    24a feels rather appropriate for today. My favourite is probably 7d.

    Thanks to Giovanni and Deep Threat.

  6. Well as Mr Mc Enroe used to say you can’t be Cereus, well not in crossword land. Like a few others 20d was the last in and I thought the name was probably an alternative spelling for Ceres!
    Anyway a **/*** for me today 26a and 22a tested the general knowledge thanks DT for the pics.
    Liked 16a and 13a,the wordplay of 25a and generally enjoyed the solve.

  7. A combination of 20d, 8d, 7d and the GK references made this puzzle difficult to enjoy for me. *** / **

    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

  8. Very enjoyable today Same problem with 20d as you others. Nice of the Don to confess so quickly. He must be human after all. **/****. I like a bit of general knowledge, it adds another dimension to the puzzle. I liked 16d, 1d, 7d, 8d, 22d with 25a in top spot for me.

  9. Filled in 8d and 20d as to my mind they couldn’t be anything else. Glad they were correct. The amended clue for the latter makes more sense! Thought I was going potty for a time. 25a for some reason foxed me and I needed the hints. Thanks to the Don and DT. Ps checked this post carefully for typos!

  10. I have to admit, I gave up on this one, when about 75% completed. The 8d and 20d problems didn’t help, but the fact that 10a and 13a were homophones of two words I have never heard spoken in my life raised my blood pressure further. Also I have never heard of either 26a or 27a.

    It’s far too late for me to get better educated, so I’ll just label this one as “Not My Cup Of Tea”, and put the kettle on.

    Thanks to all.

  11. Never mind Giovanni’s error, we all make mistakes but the subsequent blogs are hilarious. Thank you to all for a good laugh.

    1. He’s probably working out an anagram of it as we speak. Oh, it’s 17 letters long….phew 😂

      1. He could always spread it over several lines! 🤔

        Shakier Oak comes to mind for a start.

  12. This was another pleasant trip with Giovanni. 8d had to be although I missed the abbreviation and 20d threw me completely apart from the American ending. SE corner last to fall mainly due to silly hold-up with 19d and the aforementioned 20d. My Fav was 16d. Thanks to the Don and DT.

      1. After looking at the Chris/DT comments I had requested my own be erased but unfortunately it seems to have survived. 🤭

  13. Cor! Who needs 15 rounds with Iron Mike at the end of a week when you have The Big G in your face?

    “Drinks o’clock” can’t come fast enough.

    Extremely enjoyable, though.

    Happy sloshing, one and all.

      1. Exactly MP, the sun (?) was over the yard-arm long before Sir Linkalot’s. No.19 comment and presumably many of us are ignoring the Cambridge/British Heart Foundation warning that each unit of alcohol above 14 units per week shortens life by 15 minutes? I have stopped counting! 🍷

    1. Drinks o’clock has just arrived here in the east – a little early but a justified reward for finishing at last.
      No problem with 13a for someone who was a Georgette Heyer addict in their teens . . .
      Enjoyed the GK learning curve of 8d and 27a. ‘Nuff said already about 20d. Wasn’t sure about answer for 21a equating accurately to the definition.
      All splendid fun though and enjoyed all the good-natured joshing in the blog. Many thanks to Giovanni and DT.

  14. A pity about the goddess/cactus mix up, it’s a shame that avoidable errors like that tend to colour one’s judgement of the rest of the puzzle, but it’s to the setter’s immense credit to front up once again as he has. Well done to him. A bizarre coincidence that the last Friday faux pas (on Good Friday) also involved 20d, perhaps Giovanni needs to pay special attention to that particular Down clue number? Ironically, the wording of 14d might seem more appropriate now than it did at the time of compilation!

    My three ticks went to 9a (lovely surface), 18a and 16d (it produced the widest smile). I also raised my eyebrows at “Andrew” in 8d (what was wrong with merely Andy?).

    Many thanks to Mr Manley and to DT, and a good weekend to all.

  15. Apologies to all for the goddess/cactus confusion. My notes from solving the puzzle (some weeks ago) simply say that Cereus is an alternative spelling of Ceres; obviously this isn’t the case, and I have no idea what made me reach that conclusion. Hopefully the Friday the 13th gremlins don’t strike again.

    1. I was 13 on Friday 13th Chris so those gremlins have never worried me. It is Mondays puzzle I am now worried about. I will be in Lancashire so it is even scarier.

  16. Was going well at a brisk canter until I got to the SE. 22a 25a and the aforementioned 20d remained unsolved. With 22a I couldn’t get my mind away from cardinal=red. 25a similarly wouldn’t come to mind until I read the hints. Thanks to DT. Enough has been said about 20d and Thanks to Giovanni for an excellent puzzle and the mea culpas from G and our Ed. Let he who is without sin…
    16d COTD for me by a nose from 27a which lost on the nod as I seem to recall it appearing quite recently elsewhere.

    1. “At a brisk canter”….”by a nose”…have you contracted Senfitis, my apiarian chum, or are you getting in to the spirit of this weekend’s festivities?

      1. Bit of both I suspect. There has been little else but horse talk at work and I noticed quite a few Sloggers and Betters in the sweep.The Dutchman, Virgilio etc. in the end I got Tiger Roll which I suppose Kitty might go for. Seeyouatmidnight might be one for a blogger who wants an early start at writing the hints. I am just glad I didn’t get Bee(ves) as he appears to be a bit of a donkey.

        1. At the risk of repeating myself, do not bet on Landfill because somebody suggests you do. It is a rubbish tip.

  17. Well, until I read the blog I didn’t realise there was a problem (or two). So I’ll ignore them as they hadn’t affected my pleasure in complete the solving.
    25a was my top clue and 2/4* overall.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to DT for the review.

  18. Really enjoyed this puzzle but needed help with 22d – wanted it to be Runcie! – and 19d. Parsed 20d correctly, thought that ‘cereus’ was another version of the Goddess’s name Ceres. Favourite was 18a. Quite a difficult exercise for me all round but most enjoyable, so 3*/4*. Was not aware that the online version puzzles have sometimes different and more difficult clues than the paper one… Many thanks to Giovanni and to DT.

  19. No probs really. My online puzzle had 20d beginning ‘Plant’ which of course was quite solvable. 7d took a while mainly because I went for ‘average’ rather than appearance! Anyhow thanks Giovanni.

  20. Found this tough but managed it somehow. Stuck in SE corner with 20d and others and just seen Chris L post ‘re the clue. Doing the puzzle online the answer fitted with the checkers and I assumed it must be a godess so “bunged” it in. However also know it is a night cactus, and being last in, checked the blog and all was revealed! Full marks to Mr L for putting his hand up these things happen remarkable it’s today of all days. Regardless of the problems enjoyed the challenge and pleased to have completed.

    Clues of the day: 25a / 8d

    Rating: 3.5* / 4*

    Thanks to DT and Giovanni. Wish I’d looked at the blog earlier?

  21. ***/***. Lots of electronic help needed to verify my bung ins. 8d and 26a were good examples. 20d was as many have commented a bit of unintended misdirection 😀. I did however enjoy the puzzle and liked 13a mostly because I actually remembered this from some recess in my mind. Thanks to Giovanni and DT. It’s hissing down again so a very wet walk for the dogs.

  22. Is this on the right page ? I found the left hand side a real struggle , although I eventually “got ” 7d and 8d , I didn’t like these clues at all , throw in 20d and 13a and it really proved difficult. Having said all of that , only 26a eluded me . Thanks to DT and the setter ****/**

  23. I needed help with the cactus/goddess and Rev Hume. I thought I didn’t know the cactus, but Hx3 reminded me that in Jamaica we knew it as night-blooming cereus, so no excuses.
    I needed electronic help for a couple, but, as usual, when I need to look up more than a couple, I lose interest.
    My fave was 7d, but I did like 13a a lot, my first in!
    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT for his help to complete.

  24. Well.. however l spun Andy or Drew as l had got the d start letter l remained in a complete fog with 8d..
    Thank goodness 20d was a boob,I puzzled for ages

    Apart from that a really good work out for the old brain.

  25. This took me longer than the usual Friday back-pager. I’d like to blame that entirely on 8&20d but confess that I also didn’t know the lovers of solitude at 27a.

    Podium places went to 25a plus 5&16d.

    Thanks to DG and to DT for the blog.

  26. So i got there in the end but found some of the clues a bit obscure and requiring the wrong sort of GK!!! Of course i can’t really complain because none of them were of the golf cricket or football variety!!!!

    So anyway I had to look up words after the event to find out what the clue was on about. I didn’t know the city in 1D, the astronomer in 26a or philosopher in 8d. Or the goddess in 20d – which was the last one in because googling what i thought was the answer just came up with a lot of stuff about plants.

    Favourite clue was 13a which I had no problem with !!

    Thanks to all

  27. Just read all the previous comments – now i understand that my problems with 20d were shared – the revised online clue makes a lot more sense and is eminently solvable. Among the comments the reference to McEnroe and to Weetabix made me smile – a lot!

  28. Both the astronomer and the cardinal were new to us and needed Google to confirm but we had worked out what we were looking for. No comment on 20d but surprised that there is no comment yet from setter or editor on the 8d indirect anagram.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

  29. Got stuck with 25a and 20d otherwise O.K. Maddening not to have made it without the 2 hints. Nevertheless lots of fun..

  30. Started off strong with the first seven across clues going straight in. But my GK let me down after that as I didn’t know the archbishop, the astronomer, the goddess/cactus, and 8d and 27a were new words to me. But did love 15a as I used to love going into their stores to buy a yard of this and half a yard of that. Are they even around any more? Thanks to Giovanni for stretching my brain cells and to DT for rescuing me.

  31. Solved late at night while tired, so I clocked up something like a ***** for difficulty, not helped by confusion regarding 8d. That’s my excuse anyway. :-)

  32. Despite the confusion of 20d (the last in with DT’s help) this was nonetheless highly enjoyable. [***/****]
    Not sure how I feel about the construction of 7d, but interesting enough to earn top clue today.
    Thanks to Giovanni and DT!

  33. These days I usually tackle only the Saturday puzzle so I’m way out of practice, needed the hints for nearly half of this one! Agree that some clueing was not accurate enough.

  34. Another great puzzle from G, surely the most consistently good back-page setter. I had no problem with the so-called “indirect anagram” in 8d. I think setters should be praised for being a tad unconventional, stretching the “rules” within reason and giving us solvers some innovative devices to cogitate over. 3* / 4*

  35. Under yesterday’s Quick Solution in the paper it says:

    Crossword 28712: Apologies for the problematic 20 Down in yesterday’s puzzle. The clue should have been ‘Cactus goddess planted outside university’

  36. Didn’t know the goddess or the cactus in 20d but knew the university.
    So much so that I put it at the end of 20a thinking the cardinal was called Tutu.
    Remembered the carriage in 13a from BD’s mine of knowledge and wondered if two Chamberlain in 18a would have been better than one.
    Slowly catching up on my backlog and always a pleasure to read review and comments.
    Thanks to all concerned.

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