DT 29143 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29143

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29143

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs. A fine day in prospect, ahead of what may be a wet weekend.

One or two tricky clues from Giovanni this morning, pushing my time into my *** bracket. I spent far too long thinking that 20a began with a C, and 25a took some time to crack.

Picking up on the discussions earlier this week about difficulty ratings, mine are based mainly on how long the puzzle takes to solve – something I only have a note of when I’m solving online for blogging purposes, since normally I use the newspaper 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           Bird breathin’ in short gasps (6)
PUFFIN – A synonym of ‘breathin’ in short gasps’ (note the elided ‘g’) is also the name of a seabird.

Image result for puffin

4a           Part of a circle social worker joined at end of month (6)
OCTANT – The short form of one of the months of the year, followed by a social insect.

8a           Herb is eccentric character, a bit mad at first (8)
CARDAMOM – Put together another word for an eccentric person, A (from the clue), ‘a bit (of time)’, and the first letter of Mad.

10a         Precious stones, as seen framing entrance (6)
AGATES – AS (from the clue) wrapped around another word for an entrance.

11a         Get away from sound of insect (4)
FLEE – The answer is a homophone (sound of) a blood-sucking insect.

12a         Scot-free? (3-7)
NON-TAXABLE – Cryptic definition of something not liable to a scot or levy.

13a         See smartness coming out in second examination? (12)
REASSESSMENT – Anagram (coming out) of SEE SMARTNESS.

16a         A present for fantastic teacher, primarily one looking after child (6-6)
FOSTER-PARENT – Anagram (fantastic) of A PRESENT FOR, followed by the first letter (primarily) of Teacher.

20a         Conservative initially hesitates to change a set of principles (10)
AESTHETICS – Anagram (to change) of HESITATES and the first letter (initially) of Conservative.

21a         Scottish island participating in tributes (4)
BUTE – Hidden in the clue.

22a         Cite a theologian confronting head of Unitarian church (6)
ADDUCE – Put together A (from the clue), the letters after the name of an academic theologian, the first letter (head) of Unitarian, and the abbreviation for the Church of England.

23a         Getting money after end of school education? (8)
LEARNING – The last letter (end) of schooL followed by ‘getting money’.

24a         Modified version has her confused (6)
REHASH – Anagram (confused) of HAS HER.

25a         Interpret Advent or Christmas poem? (6)
DECODE – Split the answer (3,3) and you have the short form of the month containing Advent and Christmas, followed by another word for a poem.


1d           More than one costermonger works, receiving attention (8)
PEARLIES – ‘More than one’ tells us that the answer is a plural. To get to these traditional London costermomgers, named for the elaborate decoration of their clothes, we have ‘works’ (as in ‘—– one’s trade’) wrapped around a metaphor for ‘attention’.

Image result for pearlies

2d           Sweet nonsense (5)
FUDGE – Double definition, both words being nouns.

3d           Huge Madame occupying home — Kent region? (7)
IMMENSE – Another word for ‘(at) home’ wrapped around the short form of ‘Madame’, followed by the geographical location of the Kent region of England.

5d           Revolutionary hugging a radical in an absurd act (7)
CHARADE – The usual crossword revolutionary wrapped around A (from the clue) and an abbreviation for ‘RADical’.

6d           White material broken up in blast area (9)
ALABASTER – Anagram (broken up) of BLAST AREA.

7d           Young singer that may be nine in indoor game? (6)
TREBLE – The indoor game involves throwing pointed missiles at a segmented board. There are two ways of scoring nine with a single throw: single 9 or —— 3.

9d           Government department’s small and it’s real crazy! (11)
MINISTERIAL – A prefix often used to show that something is small, followed by an anagram (crazy) of IT’S REAL.

14d         What sledgehammer doesn’t offer? One can be easily fooled (4,5)
SOFT TOUCH – Someone who can be easily led to provide (financial) assistance can be described as this, whereas hitting something with a sledgehammer certainly doesn’t fit the description.

15d         Example of an insect changing form (8)
INSTANCE – Anagram (changing form) of AN INSECT.

17d         Electrical units should make sense — I’m confused (7)
SIEMENS – Anagram (confused) of SENSE I’M. The answer is a derived SI unit of conductance, defined as the reciprocal of an ohm.

18d         Way to get exam success over time (7)
PASSAGE – What you do if you succeed in an exam, followed by a long period of time.

19d         Boss as one making earnest appeal, but not quietly (6)
LEADER – Remove the musical symbol for ‘quietly’ from the beginning of a word for someone making an earnest appeal, and you get a boss (or what you hope a boss will be).

21d         Music-maker‘s message of hostility to little woman? (5)
BANJO – Split the answer (3,2) and you get what could be an order to exclude one of the Little Women.

The Quick Crossword pun BRAKING + GNUS = BREAKING NEWS

72 comments on “DT 29143

  1. It was a tricky puzzle, *** for difficulty for me too (I use the time taken as a criterion too ). However, enjoyment was nearer **** as I enjoyed the tussle. Thanks to DT as I couldn’t completely woek out the parsing of 1d. Thanks to Giovanni. My favourites were 1a, 1d, 8a and 20 a.

  2. Another Giovanni treat to start the weekend. Absence of chestnuts with exception of yet another appearance of revolutionary as in 5d. 12a bunged in due to lack of knowledge about Scot tax. Fav was 21a with 14d running up. Thank you DG and DT. (CS – 2 minds with but one thought).

  3. For some reason I started with 16a and proceeded quite quickly downwards then up to be slowed down by some tricky but clever clues, like missing what had to be “changed” in 20 a until I realised there was no such word as Certofates. (Well there may be for all I know; only joking).

    Needed research to remind myself of synonyms for 1d and 12a which was the last one in after I dispensed with something to do with Independence!

    Overall, a really well balanced puzzle, completed in *** time and I’ll give it **** for enjoyment. Favourite? Probably 1a.

    Thanks to DG and DT.

  4. The only ones which gave me trouble were 1d where I had to check that they were costermongers and 20a where I completely missed the anagram.

    Otherwise not too bad for me today.

    Thanks to the setter and to Deep Threat

  5. I will admit to being beaten today. It was the NW corner that really held me up. I think the ‘bit’ in 8a is a stretch, there’s no indication that it is ‘of time’.

    I had the grid completed in *** time, with just 1d blank. Resorting to my solver, I got the answer, but didn’t know why. (London-centric rant deleted).

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT.

    1. Never mind the fact that the answer is a spice, not an herb. Other than that, and my pedantry, a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle.

  6. Still working at this but just wanted to say that 8a perturbed me. BRB had 3 poss spellings and even when I got the M ending I still had 2!.
    Oh as I write this I suddenly see the “bit” bit (mo) so it is just me being stupid not the setter being unfair!
    I will probably have to favourite this clue now v clever.
    Thanks DT and G
    Back to the puzzle.

  7. A very nice Giovanni, as usual. I was on form today (or on wavelength) apart from wanting 20a to start with a C like some others, it went in quite smoothly. Just over my personal 1* time. 4* for enjoyment. Special mentions to 12a and 25a but top marks to 20a.

  8. This took me slightly longer than a normal Friday, but my enjoyment rating is, as always, high.

    Like DT I also spent far too long trying to find a word beginning with the letter c until the penny dropped.

    No particular favourite, I enjoyed it all.

    Many thanks to all.

  9. I nearly finished this in reasonable time (for me) but the brakes went on towards the end. 8a was one problem as I couldn’t think of a herb that fitted the letters that I had; according to my Penguin Herbs, Spices & Flavourings, cardamom is a spice rather than a herb. With 21d I kept wanting to put in bongo despite the fact that it didn’t make sense. The last one in was 20a; I had alternate letters & despite this did not pick up the anagram. There was, however, only one word that fitted.

  10. 12 & 25a worthy of mention in my book so particular thanks for those, DG.
    Thanks also to DT for the blog and the 21d duel!

  11. Ditto on wanting to start with a C in 20a. I had confirm the spelling of the 8a herb and I still wrote it in incorrectly. But, all in all, another very enjoyable Friday puzzle completed at a gallop – **/****.
    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 12a, and 7d – and the winner is 12a.
    Thanks to Giovanni and DT.

  12. contrary to some others i found 12a to be a poor clue as with all the checkers in there were at least 3 valid answers.
    for some reason 25a tickled me so cotd.

  13. Felt I did OK today – considering it’s a Friday one! My father used to do the crossword on the train to
    and fro to Waterloo, in pencil, and erase it before he got home, so Mum could do it, too…….
    I’m not in their league – but learning!

  14. An enjoyable solve however I needed BD’s help for one down. Pearlies is a term I’ve not come across in my part of the world. A good spread of anagrams (and a partial) helped with the solve. I still need convincing about the definition of 7d though. I initially went for tripe for 2d so that threw me for a while. Thanks to Giovanni and as usual, to DT for the insights🦇

    1. 7d still puzzling me. Wrote in only possible (?) right answer but couldn’t reason it

      1. The answer is a voice in a choir sung by a boy whose voice hasn’t broken. It is also the value of a score in a pub game.

        1. The answer is a singing voice of a young person and also something to aim for in darts.

  15. Early hospital appointment for me today and the crossword helped to pass the waiting time .

    The 16A answer was obvious from the checking letters but did not spot the anagram .

    Must pick 1A as my favourite .

    Thanks to G an D T !

  16. Not the most difficult Giovanni to complete but tricky to parse all the clues esp 7d which was little short of bizarre. Not come across 5a before but the wordplay was straightforward. Needed the excellent hints to fully parse 8a, 1d, 7d and 19d. One thing, isn’t 8a across a spice rather than a herb, at least it is according to the BRB. All in all very enjoyable.
    Thx to all

  17. 25a my favourite today and although tricky I enjoyed today’s challenge better than yesterday’s (which took me ages). Thanks to all.

  18. A nice classic Giovanni crossword a pleasurable solve without recourse to Thesaurus or BRB bit of a triumph for me at least.
    Thanks to Deep Threat and Giovanni

  19. A nice classic Giovanni crossword a pleasurable solve without recourse to Thesaurus or BRB bit of a triumph for me at least.
    Thanks to Deep Threat and Giovanni

  20. 25a my final entry and favourite this morning. I found this quite tricky in places with some good misdirection, but the wordplay was sound and I enjoyed the challenge. It took me longer to complete than it should have, since I was trying to multitask, something Mrs YS can do with ease, but I, as a bloke, cannot.

    Thanks to The Don and DT.

  21. It’s Friday – I always find them the most difficult of the week (unless Dada is being tricky on a Sunday).
    First attempt at 11a was ‘buzz” as in “buzz off” – that was dim and didn’t last long. :roll:
    Missed the anagram indicator in 13a for ages and thought the first word of 12a was going to be “tax”.
    I guessed 17d – I know the company with that name because it makes lots of diagnostic medical equipment.
    My favourite was 14d.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT.

    1. Hurray – thanks to all three of you – it’s always nice to have a bit of company in the ‘dim corner’.
      It’s made me feel lots better. :smile:

  22. Everything fell into place nicely although I was reluctant to put in 8a as I really thought it was a spice and 17 down had me stumped but now I understand the trade name! I have never heard those costermongers referred to as 1d’s – more often means teethbir the gates to heaven! Anyway I enjoyed the trip so thanks to all.

  23. It didn’t help that I put in Pantin for 1a, which IS a bird, and does fit the clue, so I was going on thinking I’m so clever till the rest of NW refused to behave…. and even though I have eaten the correct answer, it didn’t come to me.

    Then, as has been mentioned, I think of 8 as a spice, not a herb and it was a bit of a Lego clue, not like Giovanni at all.

    Didn’t know Scot was a levy.

    Not my favourite – 3.5*/3, but I was watching Eurosport cycling at the same time and the commentator was annoying me so much that I will blame him, rather than myself or the nice setter who, unlike the idiotic commentator, has a degree of wit.

    1. I also put “pantin” for 1a, only I’m not clever enough to revisit it and correct it! I therefore missed 2d.

  24. I never though of an anagram in 20a. I was working on C for conservative, something to do with ERS for hesitates, and I don’t know what else!

  25. No enjoyment with this one 3.5*/1. But did appreciate 7d. Marjoram is a herb but didn’t parse and cardamom a spice. Thanks to DT for his help with parsing.

    1. No I don’t think so. As Scot = tax, Scot-free = tax-free. In other words Non-taxable. Pay is not a synonym for Scot whereas tax is.

  26. Another toughie today but I did manage to solve all but a couple, albeit with some electronic help.
    Fave was 16a, followed by 14d.
    Thanks to Giovanni for his puzzle and to Deep Threat for unravelling a few.
    Having yesterday stocked my Famous Grouse, today I’m putting bags of water in the deepfreeze to go with it, and now I’m off to put a Goozoo on Dorian and send him to Mar a Lago.

  27. I think I enjoyed this but it was a bit of a slog. Favourites were 1a (although I may have changed my mind had I known pantin is a bird), and 14d. 12a was hard to fathom as I,too, did not know it was a tax. Best I could come up with until I got the third letter of the first word was “not capable”. 8a was a tricky one. My first thought was cinnamon which I discounted on the ground of being a spice. Lo and behold the answer is something I have always thought of as a spice and bought from the spice counter. This is compounded by the fact that I have always believed the final letter to be N. I looked up a theologian by the name of Adde till the penny dropped. Feel all the better for completing as it has blown the post-holiday cobwebs away. Thanks DT especially for reassuring me re 8a

  28. Hmm, I found this to be a bit of a slog. Fun was not the order of the day, but hey! that could just be me.
    No real favourite but if pushed I’ll go with 12a.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to DT for the review.

  29. Spent a bit of time is the NE as I thought the month in 4a was December. A decan in France is part of an astrological circle. But it’s not spelled Decant so managed to spot my error and finished with 5d.
    Favourite is the very smooth 16a.
    Thanks to the Don and to DT for the review.

  30. I think I joined many by buzzing in the wrong place followed by everyone else wanting to start 20 a with a c. I eventually had to give in and ‘click here’ which I am most reluctant to do. Many thanks Giovanni and Deep Threat.

  31. Although we started in the NW as usual we left 1d blank until we had all the checkers in place and could have another think about it. An enjoyable solve and a good warm-up before tackling the Notabilis Toughie.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

  32. They should put a Giovanni warning when it is one of his crosswords! ;-)

    Totally failed with this crossword with 7 clues requiring the answers as even the hints left me none the wiser.

    1d – as far as I’m concerned you must be a crossword god to solve this one! I have heard of Pearly Kings and Queens but had no idea they actually worked as a stall holders… My father is a proper Londoner so will be very disappointed in me.

    As for sneaking in a darts related clue – I have enough trouble with cricket terms let alone darts. :-)

    *****/** Enjoyed the bits I could solve.

  33. I enjoyed this crossword, quite a few challenges especially 1d which I didn’t get, mainly because I didn’t twig ‘plies’ as a synonym for works – so thanks to DT for the explanation. And 25a made me chuckle when the penny dropped – my favourite.
    Thanks to DT and Giovanni – always enjoy Fridays!

  34. Nearly 80 years ago, my Mum taught me the rudiments of courtesy and now it’s a habit. Always be grateful for things people do for you; Giovanni set a puzzle and Deep Threat very kindly unravelled it for me. Ergo, I thank them.

    1. I have deleted the comment to which you were replying as it was not suitable for this site. I have also blocked any further contributions from the idiot that posted it.

      1. That’s one of the things I love about this site. Courtesy, respect and politeness. Where else on social media will you find this. Keep up the high standard and thanks to setters and solvers as always.

  35. My favourites were 25a and 21d — the final across and down clues, which fits with my overall managing nearly all the bottom half but needing many hints at the top. Thanks as ever to Deep Threat for adding meaning where I see only a jumble of words.

    Fortunately I’m sufficiently ignorant of cooking additives not to get caught out by the difference between a herb and a spice!

    12a just seems to be general knowledge (well, specific knowledge): I didn’t know that meaning of ‘scot’, but having looked it up, the answer is simply what ‘scot-free’ means. What’s cryptic about it?

    And if I’ve understood 17d, it has the form ‘〈Definition〉should make 〈wordplay〉’. Surely the wordplay makes the definition, rather than t’other way round (if I’ve been paying attention to Prolixic’s Rookie Corner advice correctly)?

    Unrelated to this crossword, but having recently booked to see Simon Armitage at the Ilkley Literature Festival†, I realize Big Dave’s list of poets laureate needs a new entry.

    † And also Brian Bilston performing at a bookshop in Leeds for that matter, but ‘the unofficial poet laureate of Twitter’ may be rather less likely to appear in a crossword.

    1. Well done BD
      I just saw it probably because the page was open from an earlier visit. I did not recognise the contributor. Just sorry if he/she does not see the responses.

    2. I think that 12a is a very good clue for the majority of us who did not know the original meaning. I now know that Scot was a tax and that the original meaning of the phrase was the avoidance of tax. Nowadays it means getting away with anything (usually a punishment) e.g. He committed an offence but got away Scot-free.

    3. S, 12a. It’s “cryptic” simply because the clue is a cryptic definition of the answer. The two are not literal synonyms of each other. For example, you wouldn’t say: “Because of a lack of evidence, the thieves got away non-taxable”. See where I’m coming from?

  36. Merusa
    Everything you said was fine. If you are not worried about revealing your age why should it bother a stranger. I feel that it emphasises the differences during one lifetime so far as courtesy and politeness are concerned. I do find that people are prepared to make remarks on line which they would not say face to face. I believe that “pause before press” is a good idea particularly if posting when tired, angry, drunk or all of those things. Some compilers suit an individual more than others so I would suggest that anyone unhappy with a particular compiler avoids him/her until they feel ready to tackle.

    1. Not in the least bit shy about my age, I’m 81! Feel grateful that I’ve got this far. I thought he must be drunk. What had me seeing red was that he attacked RD, the gentlest of folk, what a strange person to choose. It might not have been my place to respond but I couldn’t let it pass. Thanks for your support Wanda.

  37. A fine offering (again) from G. A good challenge and very enjoyable. 3* /4*

    * Is it just me, or are these blogs/comments getting longer? Can I claim time-and-a-half for reading all this week’s on a Saturday morning?

    1. You can have one-and-a-half times the rate I usually pay – double time tomorrow!

      Some blogs have had around 200 comments. If everyone who read the blog left a comment there would be about 7,500 comments.

      1. That’s very generous, BD. But I’m sure there are some on here who would claim (using that dead/alive cat in a box logic) that double nothing is better than single nothing! Joking apart, I was referring (particularly to last Tuesday’s blog page) about the volume (i.e. the quantity of words) rather than the amount of numbered comments. Is it possible to extract that info from the archive?

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