DT 29303 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29303

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29303

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Hola from the Vega Baja where spring appears to have sprung.  After a couple of days in the UK last weekend when we had rain, hail, wind, snow on the Malvern hills and even some sunshine it’s nice to be back to normal.

I’m pretty sure today’s offering is a RayT as many of his hallmarks are here and nobody else can stretch a synonym the way he can. You can probably hear the squeals of some of the ones here. I found it a bit tricky in places, but not impossible, and it was quite enjoyable when some of the pennies dropped. I’m sure many of you will disagree one way or another.
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.


7a           Lazy and idle not stirring around noon (8)
INDOLENT:  Anagram (stirring) of IDLE NOT placed around N(oon).  Always nice when the first across clue goes straight in.

9a           Under duvet, maybe embracing Romeo? It’s natural (6)
INBRED:  If you’re under the duvet where are you likely to be? (2,3).  Now insert the letter represented by Romeo in the phonetic alphabet. 

10a         Set out from port (4)
LEFT:  Double definition.  Set out as in went and the port side of a ship.

11a         Forward perhaps without a booking (10)
UNRESERVED:  Forward as in cheeky perhaps.  The word also describes a restaurant table that isn’t booked.

12a         Disgusting caressing skin of improper male (6)
VIRILE:  Male here is an adjective.  Take a word for disgusting or wicked and insert (caressing) IR (skin of ImpropeR).  At one point I had the second of the I’s in place so was convinced the answer was ***IR*, d’oh!

14a         Applauds sweetheart, accepting over large failure (8)
COLLAPSE:  Take a word for applauds followed by E (swEet heart) and insert (accepting) an O(ver) and L(arge).  This use of sweetheart really has become a RayT trademark.

15a         Possibly Titian nude in sketch again (6)
REDRAW:  The colour Titian represents followed by a word which can mean nude but more commonly means uncooked.  Here’s a Titian nude imaginatively titled “Venus with organist and little dog”. . .

17a         Colour of cherry is seen occasionally (6)
CERISE:  Alternate letters (occasionally) from CHERRY IS SEEN.  I like this clue as the colour is that of a cherry.

20a         Pitch endless argument in a raised voice (8)
FALSETTO:  Pitch as in pitch headlong but without its last letter (endless) followed by a phrase (3,2) meaning an argument. Took a while for the penny to drop on the pitch bit so this was my LOI.

22a         Notices spots covering nose, oddly (6)
SENSES:  Word meaning spots or notices placed around the odd letters from NoSe.

23a         Discourage passing having taken exam (10)
DEMORALISE:  Another word for passing or death placed around (having taken) crosswordland’s favourite spoken exam.

24a         Swimmer outside clubs being vulgar (4)
RACY:  Vulgar as in  a bit blue.  It’s a large fish (swimmer) placed around (outside) a C(lubs).

25a         Old bag of bones (6)
OSTEAL:  O(ld) followed by a word meaning bags as in appropriates or nicks.

26a         In Soho line’s seen showing devotion (8)
HOLINESS:  A lurker hiding in (in) SOHO LINES SEEN.


1d           Painter I ordered to plaster home (8)
INTERIOR:  Another lurker hiding in (to plaster?) the first three words.  Personally I’m not sure about this clue.  To plaster as a lurker indicator seems a bit strange and the answer doesn’t really mean home as far as I can see.

2d           Hint about Labour’s leader produces shock (4)
JOLT:  A hint or small amount placed around an L (Labour’s leader).

3d           Shake one’s head seeing litter (6)
REFUSE:  What you do if you shake your head is also litter as in rubbish.

4d           Finish with detectives only claiming victory (8)
DISSOLVE:  Finish a partnership perhaps.  An abbreviation of a detective, don’t forget it’s plural, followed by a word meaning only or single with a V(ictory) inserted (claiming).  Here’s a detective just for Kath . . .

5d           Peculiarity of a train bore rambling (10)
ABERRATION:  Anagram (rambling) of A TRAIN BORE.

6d           Propagates vegetables round back of smallholding (6)
BEGETS:  It’s a biblical word for propagates as in breeds and it’s some purple vegetables placed around a G (back of smallholdinG).

8d           Describe, describing hot old region (6)
THRACE:  A word which can mean to describe as in describe the outline of something with an H(ot) inserted (describing).

13d         Twisted spine is odd being laid up (10)
INDISPOSED:  Anagram (twisted) of SPINE IS ODD.

16d         Really perform with partner, about undressed initially (8)
ACTUALLY:  To perform on stage perhaps and a partner or friend around a U (Undressed initially).

18d         Apply tax cut by leading lady (8)
EXERCISE:  Apply as in use.  Take a word for a tax or duty and insert (cut by) the two letters for our leading lady, the Queen.

19d         Second course could be cool (6)
MODISH:  Cool as in fashionable is two letters for a second or short period of time followed by a course or meal.

21d         Reluctant English supporting States (6)
AVERSE: E(nglish) after (supporting in a down clue) a word meaning states or says.

22d         Bombards lower regions on board ship (6)
SHELLS:  Bombards with artillery is the underworld placed between (on board) SS for ship.

24d         Let  rip? (4)
RENT:  Double definition.

Favourite for me was 17a with 22a and 3d on the podium.

Quick crossword pun:     LOWER     +     SLAIN     =     LOIS LANE

60 comments on “DT 29303

  1. I’m not doing so well lately. I have to confess to using a few electrons to finish off the top end today. I could see most of the parsing, just not recall the right synonyms to get me home.

    6d remained unfinished until I read the hint here, and I couldn’t parse 15a.

    Many thanks to Ray T. and Pommers.

  2. 2.5*/4.5*. Thursdays have recently become a see-saw event with extremely contrasting puzzles, up one week and down the next. This week it is RayT at his best, with Her Majesty back on duty albeit discreetly hidden from view and a marvellously cringe-worthy Quickie pun.

    I don’t suppose I will have been alone in spending some time trying to make an anagram of “Painter I” for 1d. Pommers, although I agree with you about “plaster” being a dodgy lurker indicator, I think the definition is OK in a political sense – the Home Office deals with interior affairs.

    My last one in was 6d as those vegetables don’t readily spring to mind (sorry, Lauren, if you are reading this!)

    My podium today comprises 15a, 25a & 24d.

    Many thanks to RayT and to pommers.

    1. Me too on the PAINTER I anagram. OK, I suppose home just about works at a RayT sort of stretch.

    2. Me too, with painter I, and then ‘oh my goodness’ when I saw the lurker!

  3. Thanks for this Pommers, your comments in italics for both 12a and 1d reflect my solve of them exactly.

    My last one in was 6d and I don’t think I’d have got it without the Thesaurus.

    Enjoyable as always. Thanks also to RayT.

  4. A most satisfying puzzle today. It took some time for me to get started but it gradually came into view. The right side went in first with the left side resisting for quite a while. Quite a struggle but I managed it with the help of only one hint. 8d and 18d were bung ins – thanks Pommers for the explanations. I also agree about 1d. I did like 23a and 25a.

    Many thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  5. Ray T in exceptionally friendly mode but with the usual amount of enjoyment.

    No particular favourites – thanks to him and Pommers

  6. Not one of my better days of solving as far as this puzzle went. I hate using electronic devices to help me, but with time pressing, there were half a dozen or so clues where I needed that extra bit of help.
    Fair play to RayT for providing something a bit more chalenging than some have recently – you certainly gave me more to think about than either of the last two day’s Toughies have. Much to like and much to ponder over. Ta to all concerned :-)

  7. I quite enjoyed this offering but do agree with pommers re sweeping synonyms e.g. 1d where I started with hunt for anagram. NW last corner to acquiesce. Failed to suss 25a although thought it might begin with ‘os’. 19d was a bung-in – d’oh. Liked surfaces for 9a and 22a. Thank you RayT and pommers. Not up on Superman so Quickie pun passed me by.

  8. I took a while to tune in today and I completed the lower half first before tackling the upper half, last in was 10a which was as concise a clue as one can get and my favourite for its brevity.
    As Pommers says, some of the synonyms were stretched to the limit, but always in the reference books as usual . The synonym in 8d was new to me.
    Going for a ***/**** and a pleasure to solve.

  9. P, 1d. May I throw in my tuppence-worth on this one? To plaster means to cover – and that’s what the letters do to the answer in the first 3 words of the clue. It’s a sort of containment/lurker indicator? Home relates to home/domestic/national (or interior) affairs, rather than outside/international (or exterior) affairs. But, like you, I’m not 100% sure.

    1. As RD says above the home part just about works but I’m not convinced about the plaster. It must work as I solved the clue without any trouble but I don’t have to like it.

  10. I thought this was Ray T at his best this morning, with some excellent, concise wordplay and plenty of humour. In terms of difficulty I found it less than straightforward but certainly very doable and great fun. 15a and the exquisitely brief 24d were my co-favourites.

    Thanks to Mr T and pommers.

  11. My online version of today’s Quick crossword is missing several numbered clues (18d, 20d and 22d) but the associated checked squares have been unchecked and the puzzle is marked as correct when submitted. Is this the same in other versions?

    1. The Telegraph puzzles site definitely has something strange going on with today’s Quick crossword

      They are all present and correct in the newspaper version where the clues are 18d Period (5) 20d Thick (5) and 22d (Tavern)

    2. So that’s why, on-line, the grid looks so weird and non-symmetrical. I did not notice the missing clues when I was solving last night.

  12. This was a bit of a struggle for me, I couldn’t get a decent foothold, I had to resort to some selected hints before I got going. Resosting the temptation to uncover the solutions. Finally completed after much thought, and thesaurus. 25a alluded me for some considerable time but again Roget came to the rescue.
    Thanks to Pommers and RayT.

  13. A reasonably friendly Ray T puzzle but there were a few Hmms including 1d (as mentioned above), the synonymic equivalence of the definition and answer in 9a, and the lower regions in 22d. Completed at a fast canter – 2.5*/3.5*.
    Candidates for favourite – 11a, 18d, and 24d – and the winner is 18d.
    Thanks to Mr T and pommers.

  14. Another glorious delve into the world of Ray T and as enjoyable as ever for me.
    Podium places going to 10&15a plus 6,21&24d.

    Devotions as always to Mr T and thanks to Pommers for the review. At least you can’t complain about lack of variety where the UK weather is concerned!

  15. I’m not sure about 9a – the answer is both natural and, as in the Pharaohs, decidedly unnatural!

  16. An excellent Ray T puzzle. Took a while to get started but acclerated towards the end. Some of the clues were quite cryptic (funny that). I was happy with 1d once the penny dropped. I will have 15a as my pick of the day.

  17. Not so easy today which isn’t surprising for a Thursday. I didn’t spot the lurker in 1d, but assumed the word started with the usual two letters meaning ‘at home’ and then worked out the rest. Overall it didn’t make sense to me but was correct.

    Favourite was 18d

  18. Needed electronic help for 3 of these and electronic help plus the hint for 6d.
    So, not too bad for me for a Ray T I suppose.
    Enjoyed it though.
    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers

    1. I agree about the stretched synonyms, three of which elicited a ‘hmmm’ today. It was 3d that foxed me an I had to use the online thesaurus for that little 3 letter word for hint. It’s not the first time, which makes it more annoying. I would rate this***/****. Thanks to pommers and Ray T. 8d and 23a were my favourites.

  19. I had to use various crossword sites to finish this one. 25a was new to me, but I can see where it comes from. Many thanks to RayT and to Pommers.

  20. I think the pleasure of diversionary puzzles like this is that the mischievous and tricky clues are balanced with a few easy ones, so that you can feel benevolent towards the setter, rather than irritated.

    Anyway lots of fun in many of the synonyms, especially “lower regions”. Although the capitalisation of States was quite naughty….

    All the surfaces were clever and funny; I couldn’t pick a favourite, but 12a was a laugh out loud, especially if followed by 29a.

    Thanks to Ray T. He gets 5* from me for enjoyment.
    Also Pommers for 10a, which I didn’t get for no good reason.

  21. A worthy tester from RayT today that ticked all the boxes. Not easy but very enjoyable to accomplish.
    Thanks to RayT & Pommers for review

  22. Like others I suspect, I needed just a touch of electronic help with this but am happy with all the synonyms (we always allow Ray T a bit of “artistic licence” in that respect anyway) and I parsed them all correctly so quite satisfied. A thoroughly enjoyable tussle with the master of deception, I do appreciate his concise style of cluing
    Joint favourites 23a and 3d
    Thanks to both Mr T and to Pommers his excellent review.

  23. Pleased today to have finished a Ray T with only a couple of hints needed to parse my correct answers. Couldn’t believe my immediate response to 10a was right so didn’t put it in until much later. Good job I didn’t put in my initial response to 24d as Ray T obviously eschews schoolboy humour. Needed the BRB and LRB, as well as electronic help, but this didn’t spoil the pleasure of finishing without needing the hints or answers.

  24. I’m still short of 6d but am resisting the temptation to look at the hint. I thought today’s offering a real cracker & like others wasted a lot of time trying to figure out the anagram instead of spotting the lurker. 25a was a new term to me but gettable from the wordplay & I also wasn’t aware that Titian is a red tint so the parsing eluded me. Thanks to all.
    Ps not sure if I’ll bother with the Toughie today – if CS says it’s a proper one then it’ll be way above my pay grade…..

    1. I understand your reservation re the Toughie, Huntsman, and I have in fact thrown in the towel on it 😒🥵😏. I’m obviously off form but respect is due from me to CS, RD, and LBR for their superior competence.

  25. As is normal, I was so far off RayT’s wavelength as to be in another country, but not a problem at all. I had so much fun with Jay’s puzzle yesterday, I’m happy.
    Thanks RayT and to pommers for unravelling that lot.

  26. That was tricky.
    I was beaten by 19d because I spent too long trying to shoe-horn ‘FOR’ into the first three letters, completely forgetting the other crossword use of ‘second’. Hopefully noted for next time.
    It was an odd puzzle as 70% of this went in very quickly, and the last 30% took a long time.
    Cracking puzzle though.
    Thanks Ray-T and Pommers.

  27. Thought this was 95% very enjoyable and 5% huh?? (8d, 6d – I could only think of leeks – and for 20a like P, for ages could not see the pitch). I always enjoy a Ray T but sadly didn’t quite finish this one without hints. Thanks to all on this rainy afternoon.

  28. Sadly way beyond me but l really enjoyed your hints and t see others satisfaction in solving a challenge.

  29. We also spent some time trying to find an anagram for 1d. Great misdirection. Good fun and plenty of chuckles as ever from this setter.
    The clue word count showed a maximum of only seven so Ray has done really well this week.
    Thanks RayT and pommers.

  30. An absolute dead loss for me…gave up after three clues. Way too hard for my brain today. I’m afraid I always struggle with Ray T puzzles.

  31. It took me about half an hour to get the crossword onto my iPad and then I managed to solve only eight clues. Not my day today.

  32. Solid and brilliant. Had to enlist Saint Sharons help to solve 6d and to explain the pitch. Thanks to Pommers and to RayT. Off for a curry now.

  33. Above my pay grade as usual with a Ray T, and needed too many of Pommers hints to complete, so not very pleased with myself. Never come across the 25a word for bones. And would never have thought of 8d. Some, like 20a, I got by definition, rather than from the clue itself. But hey ho, had a great Jay solve yesterday, so can’t win them all. Unusually hot for February here, and will be 31C when we go to play Bocce with our friends at 4pm. Phew.

  34. Evening all. My thanks to pommers for the analysis and to everybody else for your comments. I’m glad that most of you enjoyed it.


  35. Like others I spent way too long with painter I, but when the penny dropped it was all the more satisfying to have solved! Only clue I needed help with was 8d.

    ***/**** for me today. A good brain workout. Thanks to RayT and pommers.

  36. 15d has to be my COTD in this terrific Ray R puzzle, one of the most accommodating of his I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Thanks to Jose for the ‘containment’ lurker for ‘plaster’ in 1d. Finished this in * time for me, which is probably a record for Ray T. Podium winners:15a, 19d, 25a–with lots of runners-up in this catchy and clever puzzle. */**** Thanks to Ray T and pommers. (How’s your reconstruction coming along? Are you all done? Many of our downtown streets are flooded today after several inches of rain here in Charleston, but I’m high and dry.)

  37. A bit too late to comment really but I’ll just ‘plant’ a quick one anyway.
    First of all thanks to pommers – not just for the 4d pic but for being the hinty person today – glad it was you and not me.
    I thought this was definitely on the tricky side even allowing for the distractions around me – small grandson, and the Elder Lamb wasn’t much better! :roll:
    16a caused trouble – started off with ‘sail’ then, when I finally got 1d, changed 16a to ‘deal’ as in ‘port’ and ‘set out’ cards. Oh dear – oh dear – dim or what. That scuppered any hope of getting 2d.
    Lots of good clues but I think that’s probably enough from me for today so thanks to Ray T and, again, to pommers.

  38. I’m usually on RayT’s wavelength well not today, or more correctly correctly yesterday! I got there eventually but I think I’ll just hmmph and go.

  39. 4*/4*…some of the synonyms stretched my brain a little…
    liked 7A ” lazy and idle not stirring around noon (8) ” …my idea of Sunday mornings.

  40. Catching up on my puzzles, I just finished this one and found it most enjoyable but needed Pommers’ help to get 19d, 21d and 25a. Amused by the brevity of 24a. Thanks to RayT and Pommers from a sunny and unseasonably warm New York.

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