DT 28877 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28877

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28877

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty *** Enjoyment **/***


Hello, everyone, and welcome.  In the hints below most indicators are italicized and definitions are underlined.  Clicking on the Answer buttons will reveal the answers.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Perhaps chicken soup to do: form of being treated after onset of cold? (7,4)
COMFORT FOOD:  An anagram (…being treated) of TO DO FORM OF comes after the first letter of (onset of) COLD

7a    Take offence at group's attitude (7)
MINDSET:  Put together a word meaning “take offence at” and a synonym of group

8a    Power shown by different black plant (3,4)
POT HERB:  The physics symbol for power is followed by (shown by) a synonym of different and the pencil abbreviation for black

10a   Quite  fresh (5)
CLEAN:  A double definition, with quite as an adverb intensifier and fresh as an adjective

11a   Sign letters written by conductor (9)
GUIDEPOST:  A charade of a conductor or leader and letters that come through the slot in the front door

12a   Records number to accommodate one manager of pop groups (7)
EPSTEIN:  The plural abbreviation for a type of vinyl record is followed by a number between nine and eleven that contains (to accommodate) the Roman numeral for one.  The manager of the answer is best-known for his work with the Beatles

14a   Seemingly endless point learnt afresh (7)
ETERNAL:  A compass point with an anagram (… afresh) of LEARNT

15a   Engine needing check in US state (7)
MACHINE:  An abbreviation for check is inserted in a US state that’s part of New England

18a   Send off wine wanted by eccentric type (3-4)
RED-CARD:  Join together a generic wine and an eccentric person

20a   Rash, king in ancient African city bearing westward (9)
URTICARIA:  The Latin abbreviation for king is inserted in an ancient African city, and that’s followed by the reversal (westward, in an across clue) of bearing or manner. The Wikipedia page about the answer is here

21a   Dog drinking drop of one's tea (5)
PEKOE:  An informal name for a small dog breed containing (drinking) the first letter of (drop of) ONE

22a   Pattern shown by former politician getting into drink (7)
EXAMPLE:  Cement together the usual short word for former and an alcoholic drink containing the usual politician (politician getting into drink)

23a   Sit near suspect, crying (2,5)
IN TEARS:  An anagram (suspect) of SIT NEAR

24a   Go back for a moment (5-6)
SPLIT-SECOND:  Gluing together go or leave and back or support gives a brief amount of time



1d    Becomes the winner, reportedly, in children's game (7)
CONKERS:  This children’s game is a homophone (… reportedly) of bests or ‘becomes the winner’

2d    Mother, very nervous initially, becomes a member of society (5)
MASON:  Assemble a (2) informal word for mother, a (2) synonym of very, and the first letter (… initially) of NERVOUS

3d    Figure old trick involving label (7)
OCTAGON:  The abbreviation for old is followed by trick or scam containing (involving) a label, such as that found on new clothes

4d    Joint highest team (7)
TOPSIDE:  Fuse together synonyms of highest and of team to get a joint of meat

5d    Getting better, continuously swallowing them (2,3,4)
ON THE MEND:  A (2,3) phrase that can mean continuously containing (swallowing) THEM from the clue

6d    Quieten doe unsettled in swirling wind (3,4)
DIE DOWN:  An anagram (… unsettled) of DOE contained in an anagram (swirling) of WIND

7d    Simple  Disney character (6,5)
MICKEY MOUSE:  A double definition, with the Disney character inspiring the first, an adjective meaning simple or crude

9d    Struggle to get clothes, soldier's uniform (11)
BATTLEDRESS:  Struggle or fight is followed by another word for clothes

13d   Special reforms, including work of bishops (9)
EPISCOPAL:  An anagram (… reforms) of SPECIAL containing (including) the usual musical work

16d   Old sailor's sword wounded girl (7)
CUTLASS:  Stick together wounded (perhaps with a sword) and another word for a girl

17d   Serious article penned by Shackleton, maybe (7)
EARNEST:  A grammatical article is contained by (penned by) the first name of, for example (…, maybe), polar explorer Shackleton 

18d   Existing on island, English cotton on (7)
REALISE:  Existing or actual comes before (on, in a down clue) a (2) abbreviation for island and an abbreviation for English

19d   Uncomfortable week in a room in hospital (7)
AWKWARD:  An abbreviation for week is inserted in the combination of A from the clue and a room full of beds in a hospital 

21d   Primate in European river, too far up (5)
POTTO:  Crosswordland’s favourite Italian river is followed by the reversal (up, in a down clue) of an abbreviation that could mean ‘too far’ or ‘to excess’.  The Wikipedia page for the primate is here


Thanks to today’s setter.  The unpolished surfaces of several clues and the puzzle’s reliance on general knowledge, especially in 20a where I had to Google the answer to make sure it existed and then Google the city to ensure that the parsing was correct, left me feeling lukewarm about this puzzle.  What did you think of it?


The Quick Crossword pun:  BASS + METTLE = BASE METAL

74 comments on “DT 28877

      1. And me. Although there are only 4 words that fit 21d so a bit of google revealed the primate. Favourite was 24a. Thanks to all.

  1. I did not know 21d either or 20a but get some satisfaction in learning something new – don’t feel so guilty in wasting time doing crosswords! Don’t recall hearing 11a much either, surely it is usually called by the first word in the clue? Very much enjoyed today’s puzzle and didn’t get stuck at all.

  2. Far from straightforward but fair wordplay and clueing made it very solvable. No real favourite but I did enjoy 18a.

    Thanks to both Misters.

  3. I surprised myself by eventually finishing this after a very laboured start. In line with above Commenters Nos. 1, 2 and 3 I was unaware of 20a, 21a and 21d so SE corner was last to fall. Not sure about ‘penned by’ in 17d. Fav 24a with 1d running up. Thank you Mysteron for a veritable work-out and MrK for hints.

    1. Penny has just dropped so I withdraw my comment about 17d. I always think of ‘penned’ as being written – silly me. 🤭

  4. Well I’ve got precisely seven answers and I have come to a grinding halt.

    My quandary is this. Do I methodically go through all the hints above, or do I just shout F*&^ it, and go shopping?

    Grudging thanks to all.

    1. “F*** it and go shopping” should probably be on a T shirt for your Christmas list.

      It is the opposite of Keep Calm and Carry On.

      1. I decided that I needed another cup of tea instead, but I’d run out of milk, so I had to go shopping.

        I’ll give it another go whilst watching Enland v Sri Lanka.

  5. Agree with the above, never heard of 21a and 21d, but won’t forget them now. Thanks for the tips.

  6. 3* / 1.5*. Another curate’s egg puzzle which, overall, I didn’t find particularly inspiring. Several of the surfaces were extremely iffy and some of the wordplay was rather convoluted which also led to the solve being quite challenging.

    I think 7d means amateurish not simple, although I suppose at a stretch they might be considered synonymous. The old city in 20a was new to me, but thankfully the answer was lurking somewhere in my brain; and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of 21d before.

    Off to tackle Excalibur’s final Toughie now, which I am certain will be more fun.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  7. I think that I had a good day today as after reading the blog as I made a note of **/*** after completion, I queried ‘quite’ in 10a, but true to form it was in a reference book.
    20a was new ,vaguely remembered 21d.
    Liked 24a and the surface of 11a.
    Thanks Mr K- no felines ! I was just reading about the save the wildcat project

    1. Hello, Beaver. I’m afraid that I’m not feeling like trawling the internet for cat images today because the wonderful feline that had been in my life for thirteen years had to be euthanized on the weekend. But the cute animal pics should return eventually.

      1. sorry to hear your about your sadness Mr K, I have been there a few times myself over the years.

      2. I’m so very, very sorry to hear that, it never gets easy to say goodbye to our special friends.

  8. Unlike yesterday, when l had to resort to the hints, l found today quite straightforward.
    I did know the tea ,but the primate was new to me.
    Has the setter been a bit poorly?
    Favourite today was 8a.

    1. 🧙‍♀️ Sorry to hear about your loss. You will have lots of happy memories I think. This was a baffling affair. I found 20 a quickly having had the misfortune to have the rash, being allergic to some plants. I was confused by the fact that the European river with ‘too’ gave the name of a tropical bird until my other half set me straight.

  9. This is a “committee” crossword. If 3or 4 of us get together, we’ll get all the GK answers between us.
    I knew the tea variety as in Orange P, but didn’t know the primate or the African place backwards (actually I lost the will to do the parsing because the answer could be bunged once you got a couple of letters and knew it was a rash).

    Did anyone actually know the primate? We’ve had a few of those in the last week or so.

    I agree about 6d. I think it means amateurish rather than simple and even the surface would have worked.

  10. I found that considerably easier than yesterday, but lacking a bit of yesterday’s sparkle.
    I didn’t know 21 across and down. The rash was a bung-in, I have never heard of the city or the actual answer. Once it started with ‘u’ I was convinced that ‘ur’ was involved somehow.
    Thanks to Mr.K and Mr.R

  11. Shot through this well within my target time, but then came to a grinding halt with 21d. I had the river, but in the wrong position which was right, but wrong! And I couldn’t parse 24a even though the answer was obvious! No especial favourite today.

    1. It’s “quite” in the sense of “entirely” or “completely”.

      The Oxford Dictionary of English gives for a meaning of the answer as an adverb: “Informal used to emphasize the completeness of a reported action, condition, or experience: he was knocked xxxxx off his feet

      I have that research at hand because the equivalence wasn’t obvious to me and I had to verify it when composing the hints.

      1. Would not have seen that on my own Mr K, so thanks. Sorry for the slow reply, the site seems to be taking hours at a time to refresh.

  12. Site now working fully again, so have just seen the comments above. Sorry to hear that Mr K, it is a terrible time when they go.

  13. I found this moderatley tough and it nearly went into the stinker category. However perseverence paid off and I struggled through, I can remwmber the orange variety of 21a but have to admit to just filling in 11a.

  14. Just seen your sad news Mr K , condolences to you and Mrs K .
    Most of us have suffered similarly in our lifetime so we know how you are feeling and can understand the lack of pictures . We have a 14 year old large dog and know that she cannot go on for ever and are dreading that day . We are of an age where it is not practical to invest in another pet which makes matters worse .
    Thanks for the hints .

    1. Oh for heaven’s sake more Comments reappeared after I posted the above Comment. I despair!

  15. A few new words learnt today, my favourite clue was the deceptively simple 24a.

    Thanks to today’s setter and to Mr K. It is always distressing when a beloved pet is no longer around, I can imagine how you must be feeling. My heartfelt sympathies to you.

  16. Quite sraightforward early solve this morning but the 21’s got me as well. I did eventually parse 21dn … new for me, but had to resort to the blog for 21ac and still didn’t get it! I guess it was fair enough though but another new word for me.

    Thanks setter and Mr K. Sorry to hear about the cat. We have 4 and many in the graveyard.

  17. Put in 20 across and was right but still do not understand the construction even after reading the explanation ???? Otherwise all went well.
    Many thanks to all involved,

    1. The answer to 20a is formed as R (Latin abbreviation for king) inserted in UTICA (an ancient African city), all followed by the reversal of AIR (= bearing or manner). The reversal indicated by ‘… westward’ in this across clue.

  18. On the whole ok but with some very iffy clues such as 2d, and 21a (why should a drop of one be O?, beats me). Still don’t get 10a, what in God’s earth is an adverb intensifier, is this even English.
    Thx for the hints even if 10a eludes me.

    1. Hello, Brian. Re ‘adverb used as an intensifier’, I’m just quoting what the dictionaries say. It’s an intensifier in the sense that “That’s quite rude” is more intense than a mere “That’s rude”, or “clean forgot” is a bigger deal than just “forgot”.

    2. And regarding “drop of”, it reminded me of what Prolixic has to say about “bit of” in his guide:

      ‘A curious construction that all seem to accept is an indicator such as “a bit of cake” to indicate the letter C. Expressions such as this do not actually tell you which bit of the word you use but the accepted convention is that it refers to the first letter unless you use an expression such as last bit of cake!’

  19. Sorry to hear of your loss. You know it’s coming and you know it is for the best but it still hurts a lot

  20. A reasonable solve **/*** although the reasoning behind 2d I felt was a trifle obscure 😳 Favourites 1d & 18a 🍷 Thanks and commiserations to Mr K and thanks to the Setter 🤔

  21. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. Sorry to hear about your loss, condolences to you and Kitty. I found it very tricky to get on the setter’s wavelength. I was not very happy about the GK elements, I have actually drunk 21a, but hadn’t heard of 20a (or the city), and 21d. I also thought that the “in” in 21d was putting something in the river, but then couldn’t understand why the “up” was there. Thanks to Mr Kitty for the explanations. However, there was a lot to like about this puzzle, great homophone in 1d, well disguised definition in 10a,nice wordplay in 8a. My favourite was 18a. Was 3.5*/3* for me.

  22. I had heard of 21a before because my family buy me different teas for Christmas . Not sure how that all started. Some have been enjoyable, others not so. I hadn’t heard of 21d, so that was new. Cute animal but rather slothish I thought, ( If that’s a word). An enjoyable solve. Thank you setter and Mr Kitty. I feel for you and Kitty in your sadness. Time is a great healer.

  23. There’s a tea shop in Barnes SW London called ‘Orange Pekoe’, which helped me in 21a.

  24. I certainly had a few issues with this one – the clunky surface of 1a, the use of 18a as a verb, the obscure primate in 21d and 11a which I haven’t previously come across without ‘sign’ forming the first part of the word.
    I was also unhappy with the first definition of 10a, although Mr K’s example has almost persuaded me, and I can’t get my head round the idea that the two word phrase in 5d means ‘continuously’. No-one else has commented on the latter so I’m assuming that it’s just me who can’t see it – perhaps Mr K can enlighten me?

    I think 7a was the top clue for me but I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed this one.

    Thanks to Mr Ron in any case and many thanks to Mr K for the blog – I’m sure you didn’t feel much like doing it.

    1. Hadn’t given 5d much thought until now. Maybe in the sense of starting another on end of the last, like chain smoking, or continuous C*******s music loops in shops?

    2. Hi, Jane. Re 5d, A construction like “I’ve been solving crosswords for hours on end” persuaded me that “on end” could be roughly equivalent to ‘continuously’.

      18a is listed as a verb in the BRB, and I found “Howard Webb: I should have red-carded Holland’s Nigel de Jong in the World Cup final” as a headline in the Telegraph.

      I agree about the others.

    3. Many thanks, gentlemen – I’ll accept 5d albeit grudgingly! As for 18a – perhaps my problem is that I simply don’t think that it should be used as a verb. No doubt that’s a generational thing…………

  25. I’d never heard of the primate at 21d, I hope I remember it.
    Even though I solved 20a from the checkers, I had no idea why. The only Utica I’ve heard of is in NY state, so thanks for that Mr. K.
    This took some thought but was doable, so thanks to our setter, and many thanks to Mr. K for sorting it all out.

  26. I did have a couple of bung ins I didn’t get from wordplay and am similarly lukewarm about the whole thing. My first answer for 21a was POOCH with POO being the “drop” ings and ch(a) shortened. I nearly lost my lunch until common sense prevailed.

    1. Still having a few probs posting and refreshing site.so missed a lot of comments. So would like to thank setter for the puzzle and add my condolences on the loss of Mr K’s furry pal. Probably too soon but I would recommend jumping back on the pet wagon soon.

  27. A curate’s egg and then somewhat! I knew 21d but I was floored by 21a and resorted to the gizmo for salvation.
    I’ll settle for 24a for favourite.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K with condolences. We have three all very much getting on in years…..

  28. An odd one. Most of this was the usual fairly straightforward Telegraph puzzle, but 20ac, 21ac and 21d seem to have stumbled in from a particularly tough Toughie. The former, well, was obscure in both wordplay and answer and could probably have done with being rethought.

  29. Having read nigh on all of the blog so far today I was rather surprised to see so many comments about 10, 21 across & down, all of which I found to be fairly straightforward. I remember 21 across tea as a regular product at the International Stores when I was a 14 year-old errand boy delivering groceries by carrier bicycle.(who remembers that chain of grocery stores?) 21 down is often an answer in GK crossword puzzles. In all a very enjoyable puzzle. My favourite clues were 1 across, which eluded me almost untill the end, when & while eating bubble and squeak the answer leapt out at me, 1 across sort of grub indeed. My other favourite was 9 down. My condolences too to Mr K – having lost two great doggie pals to cancer not so very long ago I can well imagine how he’s feeling. Thanks to Mr K for his efforts today and of course to today’s puzzle compiler.

  30. Dear Mr (and Mrs) K, I just want to add my condolences about your sad loss. I know from experience what a heartbreaking experience it is to lose a beloved pet.

  31. Thank you so much to everyone who posted well wishes, condolences, and their own experiences with losing a pet. They have all helped to lift my spirits on what was looking like a rather depressing day. This truly is an amazing community.

  32. Orange Pekoe is nothing more than Earl’s Grey in my mind.
    Didn’t have any problems with 20a as it is commonly known in France as Urticaire. Probably comes from Orties which are Nettles in English.
    21d was new to me though.
    Thanks to the Tuesday setter and to Mr k for the review.
    So sorry about your cat.

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