DT 28984 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 28984

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28984

Hints and tips by Mr K

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****


Hello, everyone.  I liked this puzzle.  I was on course for a PB time until my last couple of answers down in the SW corner brought the solve to a head-scratching halt.  They turned out to be excellent clues, so no complaints about that.  My appreciation for this puzzle grew as I wrote the hints, and I've bumped up the enjoyment rating because the high points were outstanding.  Another plus is that this is my first blog in a long time where no clues required links to the Usual Suspects page.  Setter, if you're reading please post a comment below so we can thank you in person, as it were.

In the hints below most indicators are italicized and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions.  Clicking on the the answer would be here buttons will reveal the answers.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it or display a bonus illustration.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Nervous -- and imperfect, perhaps? (5)
TENSE:  A double definition.  The second is what imperfect is an example of (… perhaps)

4a    Harassed press for introducing old don? (9)
PROFESSOR:  An anagram (harassed) of PRESS FOR containing (introducing) the abbreviation for old

9a    Pal can tip off one looking for a job (9)
APPLICANT:  An anagram (off) of PAL CAN TIP

10a   Beg to go first after parking (5)
PLEAD:  “to go first” is placed after the abbreviation for parking

11a   Flag displayed next to short girl -- a flag! (7)
SALTIRE:  A verb synonym of flag goes after (displayed next to) a shortened form of a female name

12a   Show organiser putting scoundrel on a high spot (7)
CURATOR:  Link together a scoundrel or dog, A from the clue, and a hill or rocky height

13a   This should be the very solution that you enter (6)
ANSWER:  What you're seeking here is literally what should go in the grid

15a   Went quickly back, made an assessment and told a story (8)
NARRATED:  The reversal (back) of "went quickly" is followed by a word for "made an assessment"

18a   Inhabitants of planet getting listening device, then trapping leader of Martians (8)
EARTHMEN:  One of your two personal listening devices is followed by THEN from the clue containing (trapping) the first letter of (leader of) Martians

20a   Slick sergeant-major facing soldiers (6)
SMARMY:  Put together the abbreviation for sergeant-major and a very large group of soldiers

23a   City that's dull -- it may get wet after a shower (4,3)
BATH MAT:  Follow a spa city in SW England by an adjective describing something that's dull or not shiny

24a   Dog that's more like Terence? (7)
TERRIER:  Whimsically, this dog could be an adjective meaning more like (a diminutive form of) Terence

26a   A number rule the roost, to some extent (5)
ETHER:  In crosswordland a number can be something that makes you numb.  You'll find this number hiding as part of (… to some extent) the remainder of the clue

27a   Tangier confused North American: it's in South America (9)
ARGENTINA:  An anagram (confused) of TANGIER is followed by abbreviations for North and for America

28a   Essentially sharp about appearing in motoring event (9)
RADICALLY:  An adjective for sharp or sour is reversed (about) and inserted in a motoring event that tests driving skills and the ability to follow an unknown route

29a   Conservative given a long time in prisons (5)
CAGES:  The single letter for Conservative is followed by another word for "a long time"



1d    Change coaches with one leaving behind time (9)
TRANSLATE:  Coaches as a verb loses the Roman one (with one leaving) and has "behind time" appended

2d    Geordie mate gets a place in the mountains ... (5)
NEPAL:  Glue together the geographical abbreviation that could replace Geordie as an adjective, and a mate or friend

3d    ... Edward providing glacial material for building? (7)
EDIFICE:  A charade of a short form of Edward, a synonym of providing, and the material glaciers are made of.  If you're wondering why clues are sometimes linked by ellipses, read what Prolixic has to say about them on page 11 of his fine Brief Guide to the Construction of Cryptic Crossword Clues

4d    Write about a male water bird (6)
PEAHEN:  A short verb synonym of write containing (about) both A from the clue and a pronoun for a male

5d    'Accio Pint!' cooked up, with one about to leave person doling out glasses (8)
OPTICIAN:  An anagram (cooked up) of A[c]CIO PINT minus one instance of the single-letter Latin abbreviation for about (with one about to leave).  If the surface reading of this clue makes no sense, you might want to read about the Summoning Charm

6d    Absolute ruler in temper, originally (7)
EMPEROR:  This ruler is lurking in the remainder of the clue

7d    Observer's a weekly publication (9)
SPECTATOR:  A double definition that's solid chestnut.  The publication is, according to the internet, "A weekly magazine featuring the best British journalists, authors, critics and cartoonists, since 1828".  It also publishes barred crosswords that appear to be well-regarded

8d    It can locate things in the dark or fog, either way (5)
RADAR:  , either way indicates that the flexible locating technology we seek is a palindrome

14d   Pulled out of contest that's marked (9)
SCRATCHED:  A straightforward double definition

16d   24-hour hallucinations or hopeful aspirations? (9)
DAYDREAMS:  Follow a period of 24 hours with some hallucinations or fantasies 

17d   Something to savour: the setter attending a dance (8)
MEATBALL:  Concatenate a pronoun that the setter would use for themselves, a (2) synonym of attending, and a formal dance

19d   Large-scale place to live, needing half of great wealth (7)
HOMERIC:  Where one lives is followed by half of a six-letter word for great wealth

21d   Second Reagan in charge? That's stupid (7)
MORONIC:  Amalgamate an informal expression for a second or brief time interval, the shortened first name of President Reagan, and the abbreviation for in charge

22d   Much too theatrical: buck up you old ... (6)
STAGEY:  Another name for a deer that's a buck is followed by the reversal (up, in a down clue) of an archaic form of "you" (you old)

23d   ... dim, initially boring, Shakespearean character (5)
BLEAR:  Stick together the first letter of (initially …) of Boring and one of Shakespeare's tragic kings

25d   You could see this on a cake in the freezer? (5)
ICING:  What you see on some cakes is also a process that occurs in the freezer (or anywhere else where it's cold enough).  This answer is always easy to illustrate because the internet is full of fails where the cake decorating instructions were taken literally


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  My favourite, because it produced the biggest smile, is the clever 24a.  In the runner-up spots I had 28a, 2d, 5d (loved "with one about to leave"), 21d, and 22d.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  EGGS + PLANING = EXPLAINING

58 comments on “DT 28984

  1. I didn’t time myself today, not expecting such a straightforward puzzle on a Tuesday, but I did notice that I put 2/3rds of the Across clues in at the first pass.

    11a and 19d were the only two that took a little more time to resolve.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  2. A pleasure to complete with 24A giving a big smile so must be my COTD .

    The sun keeps shining on Wales .

    Thanks to everyone .

    1. A straightforward solve today which I found to be a pleasant diversion.

      Incidentally, that picture of 5d ioccured in the town where I live – I don’t recall the accident but did a double take at the iimage when I first saw it today.

      As others have said, the Toughie is very good but I can’t have been on wavelength for it as it took me longer than usual Tuesday Toughie time.

      Thanks to Mr K and setter 2*/3*

  3. …but is 4d a water bird ? Other than that ,a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle
    Thanks to setter and Mr.K

    1. I had the same thought and tried to justify it as being a female moorhen but surely that’s not right.

          1. It’s a small mistake. I didn’t flag it in the hints because at the time I wasn’t 100% sure a peahen isn’t also an obscure UK water bird. On the plus side, it’s stimulated some interesting discussion here.

  4. Thanks Mr.K.
    I get constantly confused by the use of ‘on’ in across clues…I though the convention was ‘A’ on ‘B’ means BA, yet 12a goes against that??
    Very enjoyable, I found it harder than the experts, but lots of great clues, LOI was 11a, which was excellent, though I spent far too long looking for a type of stone!
    Thanks to Mr.Ron too…

    1. Hi, HoofIt. In 12a, I felt that since putting … on is different to a lone on, it didn’t have to be bound by that convention.

  5. Hmm, a bit of a curate’s egg for me which I did finish at a gallop – **/**.

    I thought 18a was a reasonable charade for a somewhat contrived answer, 4d is a forest dwelling, not a water, bird. and, oh dear, a nebulous girl in 11a.

    Candidates for favourite – 11a (even with the nebulous girl), 26a (it took some time for the penny to drop on number). and 7d (definitely an oldie but goodie) – and the winner is 7d.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

    P.S. A delightful Jed (Brian Greer) Toughie today and one from the Petitjean ‘vault’ tomorrow.

  6. I did like 24a today, didn’t know that the fowl was specifically a water bird, and needed further explanation of the term in 5d – thanks to Mr K for that. Looking at the blog last night I was surprised by the number of people not familiar with ‘orrery’, as I’m sure it was this site that introduced it to me. In fact, isn’t there some sort of link to the ‘mechanical calculator’ image? Anyway, thanks to all as usual.

    1. I made a comment about Orrery yesterday Toadson, saying I found the answer to the clue a bit of a let down, on the grounds that, athough they are lovely little models, they are hardly ever “ scale “ models, as they’d require something like a football or baseball field to meet that definition……. although who knows, in these days of modern art installations, it’s a possibility? If you’ve ever seen “Shed” at Tate Modern, it’s not dissimilar.

      There’s also a nice restaurant of that name in Marylebone High St that I’ve been to several times.

      1. While not an orrery there is a scale model of the solar system along a cycle path between York and Selby. The Sun is an enormous sphere near the Racecourse and it’s about 9 miles to Ricall where Pluto is about the size of a pea.

  7. This was good fun, with some very entertaining clues. My favourites were 24a, 28a, 19d and 21d. Thanks to the mystery setter and to Mr K for the review and the prayerful cat.

  8. Nice puzzle finished in very good time for me. I have the same trouble with 4d being a water bird, unless there is some obscurity here which may come to light. Slightly held up by 26a to which I will award my gold medal.
    The Toughie is the often-on-the-easier-side today too.

  9. Not quite a walk in the park but a very pleasant ramble with the NW being slightly the most challenging corner. Not too sure about 13a. A couple of doddles (1a and 21d) were Fav clues. Thank you Mysteron and MrK.

  10. I found this one relatively straightforward with good clues giving much enjoyment. 4d: Senf at #5 is correct about the bird. I’ve ticked 11a. 2* / 3.5*.

    * Phew, this mild weather is phenomenal! It was so hot at the bus stop this morning that I had to cross over the road and wait in a shaded area. I don’t know about not casting a clout before the end of May – I’ve cast my clout well before the end of February! It’s all very pleasant but, at the same time, rather worrying…

    1. I was having exactly this conversation with some friends yesterday when we realised May refers not to the month but the blossom of the Hawthorn………however, we still felt entitled to make the same joke as you Jose.

      1. The interpretation of that saying is ambiguous. Some say it’s the month, others reckon it’s the hawthorn blossom. Round here, it’s generally the month.

          1. Have a gander at Michael Deacon’s political sketch on page 6 today. Especially the last paragraph. The message is Do not let Theresa may write the hints.

  11. 1*/2.5*. This was a very straightforward but generally well-clued puzzle.

    Senf has kindly saved me the trouble of moaning about one specific clue and I couldn’t see anything remotely cryptic about 13a. 24a raised a big smile and my runaway favourite was 21d.

    Many thanks to the two misters.

  12. This was what I call relaxing puzzle, not to much head scratching, some clever word play, some gimmies and some lurkers.
    Whoever the stter is they are to be congratulted. Thanks to Mr K for his hints.
    Glorious day in North Corneall, quite happy watching Mrs Spook tidy up the garden.

  13. I can do no better than to write ‘ditto RD’s comments’ – including his choice of top two. I would add that there is absolutely no way 4d can be called a water bird – methinks our crossword editor might be in need of a Collins Bird Guide!

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K – I enjoyed re-reading the summoning spell and loved the pic of the begging cat.

    PS As Senf mentioned, the Toughie from our own Virgilius is well worth a try – RD will laugh at 5d!

  14. Hmm… I’m with the Curate, Senf on this one. We have had some great puzzles recently. This is not one of them. Some rather juvenile clues combined with some gangly awkward ones and a few good ones too (26a).

    Highlight today for me was Mr K’s hints and pictures.

    Sorry, if this seems a bit negative and ungracious but if we don’t speak as we find there is little point.

  15. I found three quarters of this very straightforward but the South West more of a challenge and it’s there where my favourite clues lie, 23 and 26a plus 17d.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the well illustrated and imformative review.

  16. Mostly nicely clued with a few ‘iffy’ ones like 24a-but it did raise a smile!
    You don’t see 19d very often and I was querying the synonym for 28a but as usual the reference books thought otherwise.
    Going for a **/***.
    Thanks Mr K for the pleading cat.

  17. I’ve the same comments as some others – pleasantly straightforward, with lovely surfaces and a couple of stingers. Certainly a lot more enjoyable than yesterday.
    I carelessly put in ‘stretched’ at 14d – well, it did fit ‘pulled out’ if you imagined chewing gum……..and ignored the rest of the clue. Thanks also to Mr K for the explanation of 12a – not hard, and could be bunged in, but I was fixated on ‘rat’ before rushing on to the next clue.

    I need a slap on the wrist.

  18. 21d my favourite of many fine clues today. It wasn’t a terribly difficult puzzle to solve but it was fun and mostly enjoyable.

    Thanks to Messers R and K.

  19. Lots of fun and lots of nice clues I too slowed in the SW and for a while being an expat Geordie I couldn’t,t get away from the fact that a Geordies friend is his marra. Interesting stuff about the use of elippses too.

    I hope Mrs K is ok with the bathroom pics too 😋

  20. Nothing startling in this puzzle. It was alright but it didn’t really challenge much.
    20a perhaps my favourite.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K for the review and feline supplications.

  21. Really enjoyed today – especially the delightful Harry Potter reference. Like Bluebird, I put “stretched” for 14d, which caused confusion in SW corner. Thanks to the compiler (enjoy your dance) and Mr K for a couple of “D’oh”-inducing explanations.

  22. Just right for a Tuesday. Same as everyone else 24a was favourite. I was a bit slow are spotting “number”. 4d definitely not a water bird. Still, many thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  23. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. A straightforward puzzle, but still very enjoyable. A lot of humour in it. 17d made me laugh, as did 24a which was my favourite. Was 2*/3* for me.

  24. Thanks for the (mostly) good comments: and I appreciate the fact that you out there appreciate my attempts at humorous clues. It’s what I do…(Glad a lot of you liked the “Harry Potter” one and the “Terence the dog” one!)

    1. Thanks for commenting X-Type, and thanks for creating a puzzle that was a pleasure to solve and to blog.

      I’m still smiling about Terence the dog.

    2. Hi X-T,
      Please don’t take my comments personally. I realise the DT leans on the Editor to tailor product to appeal to the upcoming readership and keep the advertisers happy and themselves in profit. Standards in society are like waistlines, they have to be constantly fought for.

  25. **/***. Enjoyable puzzle if a couple of clues were a bit of a stretch. Favourites were 23&24a. Thanks to all.

  26. Really enjoyed this, thank you X-Type.
    There was a lot to like but fave is definitely 24a, clever that.
    Thanks to Mr. K for his hints and tips, particularly 2d, I spent far too long trying to find out why “Neal” was a Geordie. Love the cats.

  27. We wondered about the definition in 4d and even looked at how we could use the first, second and fifth letters of the answer to explain WATER. No luck there.
    An enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks X-type (and thanks for popping in) and to Mr K.

  28. Good puzzle. Bit confused by 2d because as an inhabitant of Newcastle I know the word for friend is marra as the man says. Also could not spot the Harry Potter clue, although I must have solved it.

  29. Not a stretcher of a puzzle by any mark but still a pleasant evening solve. Held up very briefly in SW but once I got 14d they fell in.
    Fav is 21d by a long way as it describes the so called political elites current attitudes ( talking of such things as news was on!)
    Thanks to setter & Mr K

  30. I really enjoyed it – not too tricky which is just as well as I have my book club ‘mob’ here tonight and that includes supper!
    I think it’s all been said already so I won’t go on at length but will just say that I thought it was a good crossword.
    I confess that the reference to Harry Potter escaped me – think I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t read/seen any of it.
    Clues of note for me today included 23a and 17d. My favourite was 24a which really made me laugh.
    With thanks to X-Type and to Mr K.
    You can all call me a killjoy if you like but I find the weather of the last few days really terrifying. :sad:

  31. I too paused in the SW corner, but not for too long, finishing in * time. Lots of fun throughout.

  32. Very good. Only two in SW slowed me down. Found the lurker but could not parse. Needed hint and then realised I had seen this before. Hopefully won’t forget again. That helped me to get 23d. One of those that was easier once you’d solved it. Slightly quirky which I liked

  33. Jim Coulson has been named as this crossword’s setter, in today’s Telegraph Puzzles newsletter (fêting 24a as a clue of the month).

Comments are closed.