DT 29459 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29459


Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29459

Hints and tips by Kath

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating — Difficulty **/***Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone. A Ray T crossword which I thought was at the more straightforward end of his range of difficulty but, as I know I’ve said before, I find it almost impossible to judge how tricky a crossword is when I know I’m doing the hints.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on today.

In the hints the definitions are underlined and the answers are hidden under ANSWER so only do that it you need to see one.


1a        Low criminal very slow trailing detectives (12)
DISCONSOLATE — low as in a bit gloomy – begin with some fairly high up detectives and follow them with (trailing) one of our usual criminals and a way of saying very slow or way behind time (2,4)

9a        Bash organised for pretentious (9)
GRANDIOSE — an anagram (bash) of ORGANISED

10a       Beginning to trap Queen with no winner (5)
DRAWN — a beginning or a start goes round (to trap) the one letter abbreviation for the Latin for queen

11a       Rotten tip giving insult (6)
OFFEND — a synonym for rotten or bad is followed by a tip or extremity

12a       Some eavesdropper’s on a line getting offensive (8)
PERSONAL — a lurker or hidden answer indicated by the first word of the clue

13a       Treating villain admitting offence (6)
DOSING — a slang word for a villain or unpleasant person contains (admitting) an offence or a wrong

15a       Worrying about empty table supplying food (8)
CATERING — worrying or feeling responsible for something or someone around (about) the first and last letters (empty) of T[abl]E

18a       Old and prudish, oddly enviable (8)
PRIMEVAL — a synonym of prudish or easy to upset is followed by the alternate letters (oddly) of EnViAbL

19a       Group excursions after vacation in river (6)
 GANGES — a group or a crew is followed by the first and last letters (after vacation) of E[xcursion]S

21a       Sly bird, tense, having timid exterior (8)
STEALTHY — a synonym for timid or cautious goes outside (is exterior to) a water bird and the one letter abbreviation for T[ense]

23a       City of the Spanish upset in agitation (6)
TOLEDO — some agitation or a bit of a kerfuffle (2-2) contains (in) a reversal (upset) of the Spanish word for ‘the’

26a       Past is glorious first off (5)
OLDEN — a six letter word meaning glorious, rosy or bright without its first letter (first off)

27a       Trod again, changing step (9)
GRADATION — an anagram (changing) of TROD AGAIN

28a       Apathetic teen intrudes furiously (12)
UNINTERESTED — an anagram (furiously) of TEEN INTRUDES



1d        Be virtuous about starting to water shrub (7)
DOGWOOD — another way of saying be virtuous or help others in some way (2,4) contains (about) the first letter (starting to) of W[ater]

2d        Stick typifying authority for faithful initially … (5)
STAFF — the first letters (initially) of the rest of the words in the clue

3d        … old organised church holds sound sacrament (9)
ORDINANCE — begin with the abbreviation for O[ld and follow that with a word that means organised or managed which contains  (holds) a sound or a noise, then finish off with one of the many two letter abbreviations for church

4d        Reportedly get away to Oxford? (4)
SHOE —  a bit of lateral thinking needed here – Oxford is just an example of the answer, hence the question mark at the end of the clue – a homophone (reportedly) of an instruction to ‘get away’ scram or shove off

5d        Subject of fiction with grand elevated title (8)
LIEGEMAN — some fiction or a fib is followed by the abbreviation for G[rand] and then a reversal (elevated) of a synonym for title or label

6d        Raising small change gives rises in liquidity? (5)
TIDES — the abbreviation for small and a synonym for change or correct are all reversed (raising)

7d        Eager to capture one in nude perhaps (8)
 PAINTING — showing eagerness or keenness  to do something contains (to capture) the letter that looks like a one

8d        Turn out with a French drink raised (6)
UNPLUG — the French word for ‘A’ and a reversal (raised) of a verb to drink – think this has to be right but somehow I can’t quite see how it means ‘turn out’

14d      Setter’s first clue finishes making allowances (8)
STIPENDS — the first letter of S[etter’s] is followed by a clue or a hint and some finishes or conclusions

16d      Dry lecture follows hoisting of flag (9)
EVAPORATE — this flag isn’t something that flaps around and neither is it a verb to tire – it’s a large flat thingy that is used to make paths and you need to reverse it (hoisting) – then follow that with lecture or address

17d      Track over information for virus? (8)
 PATHOGEN — a track or walkway and the ‘crickety’ abbreviation for O[ver] are followed by some information or low-down

18d      Group is told to purchase weapon (6)
PISTOL — the second lurker or hidden answer indicated by purchase – it’s hiding in the first three words of the clue

20d      Scoffed at opening of Spam, preserved (7)
SCORNED — the first letter (opening) of S[pam} is followed by a synonym of preserved (in salt)

22d      Range with new material (5)
LINEN — a range of products followed by the abbreviation for N[ew}

24d      Live with former partner first … (5)
 EXIST — the usual crosswordland former partner is followed by a way of writing first

25d      … naughty sweetheart is desired (4)
BADE — a synonym for naughty or not well behaved followed by the middle letter or heart of swEet

I’m going to be indecisive today and leave all of you to decide on particularly good clues – I did like 4d.

The Quickie Pun:- STAKE + HARM = STAY CALM

95 comments on “DT 29459

  1. I thought this was a bit trickier than ** as it took me a while to get my head round it. However, lots to like about it so thanks to the setter and Kath

  2. A very accessible Ray T this morning I thought, full of his usual humour and tricks. 6d was my pick of the bunch although it could have been any of the fine clues on offer. 1d was a close runner-up.

    Thanks to Mr T for the challenge and to Kath.

  3. All the hallmarks of a Ray T puzzle, wit, slightly stretched synonyms and brevity which I found slightly trickier than normal.
    I had to check both 5d and 20d but guessed them from the wordplay and checkers
    I thought Kath would like 4d, and so do I as it was a good clue and I like the shoes worn exactly as per illustration. I also liked the lurker at 18d, 23a and the topical 17d.
    Many thanks to Mr T and to Kath for the top notch entertainment.

    1. What do you think of the modern habit of wearing shoes with no socks? Sandals, yes. But not shoes (according to George)

      1. I think it’s fine on the right person in the right circumstances Daisy …ie casual/Summer. Not very comfortable or hygienic though, so better to wear “no show” loafer socks. I think the current fashion of wearing sliders with socks is preposterous, though.

    2. Dress shoes without socks, just not a good look, and not hygienic. And surely the pants are too long? On second thoughts is that because they are too tight to “break” over the shoes. Agree, socks with sliders is not attractive.

  4. I agree with Kath’s assessment that this Ray T seemed about the usual level of toughness for me, and like her, I can’t get 8d to work satisfactorily for me (‘unclog’ would seem closer to the terms of the clue), and it was my LOI. But there are some really fetching clues scattered throughout, and I especially liked 1d, 7d, and 17d. All of the usual Ray T markers are here, including the smooth, succinct surfaces (none longer than 7 letters), the Queen, and the ‘sweetheart’–Ray T all the way. Thanks to Kath for the review and to Mr T for the challenge. 3.5* / 4*

      1. It is in The Chambers Crosswords Dictionary which I had to look up to confirm, but I am still puzzled, no offence is intended.


        1. Hello, wwcs. No offence taken. After all of the brouhaha over ‘unplugging’ and what-have-you (even Mr T turns out a lamp–see his comment later on), I’ve decided that in my left-wing world, we turn off such things, but right-wingers perhaps turn them out.

  5. Not started yet, but my 8 year old just sent me this, I thought I would share it with you…

    “Fred, Velma, Daphne – name an African animal that has a horn”


    “I know you do Scooby, but it’s not your turn”

  6. This one took me considerably longer than I would normally take to complete a RayT puzzle.
    I am not sure whether the inclusion of the word ‘of’ was necessary in 23a; I was confused whether to look for a Spanish construct involving de, del or el.
    Thanks to RayT and to Kath.

    1. Not just me then? I thought I’d been affected by an intriguing family phone call before I sat down to solve the backpager. Enjoyable as per usual but more at the Beam end of Ray T difficulty

      Thanks to him and Kath

  7. I was so proud that I had managed to fill in a RayT so quickly, until my last two clues. They took me as long as the rest of the puzzle. I’d forgotten my French, and thought of “le” instead of “un”. I therefore put “bowleg” into 8d. That gave me a problem with 10a, which in my mind, ended in an “o” and also needed an “er” for Queen. To make things worse, I’d pencilled in the answer to 10a in the border earlier on, but didn’t fill it in. Mind boggling. Still, I really enjoyed it until I got myself in a mess. The rest of it had been plain sailing, which is not usually the case when I attempt a RayT. Thank you setter, and a big thank you to Kath. I needed to look at the review to see where I’d gone wrong with the last two clues. A few weeks ago I had a surplus of eggs, today I have a surplus of lemons. I’ve sliced some up and put them in the freezer for G&T’s, but I still have six left. Cheesecake may be on the cards for this afternoon.

    1. We are currently in major spicy tomato soup making mode – if I never saw another pile of tomatoes …..

      1. Garlic mushroom soup is my latest attempt to use up a glut. In July it was gooseberry puree for the freezer

  8. Mind probably elsewhere today as I found this extremely tricky, especially the SE corner. Took two visits to get over the line.
    Stupidly took for ever to see 15a & couldn’t get “dessicate” out of my head for 16d. Latter gets my COTD
    Classic Ray T, just me that couldn’t do it justice.
    Thanks to RayT & Kath for another instructional review. Without reviews like today’s Ray T would be a dnf every time for me.

  9. I, too, found this very hard going. I had only four each of the acrosses and downs at the first pass, and after ***** time, gave up with three to go, 16d, 23a & 20d, and resorted to electronics.

    Many thanks to RayT and Kath.

  10. Just the subject of fiction that held me up for a while but the checkers came to my rescue.
    All the trademarks on show, even HM put in an appearance today.
    Top three for me were 11&12a plus 7d – a typical example of Ray T’s delicious innuendo!

    Devotions as always to Mr T and many thanks to Kath for the review. I went down the Monty Don route with 8d which seemed to work for me.

      1. I was thinking in terms of plant plugs – he’s often turning them out to put into the borders at Longmeadow.

        1. My connection is less pretty, I’m afraid.
          My MIL always used this phrase ( might be from the SW) when someone paid a loo visit, especially after a period of, well .. let’s call it a hold-up. She always used to say that, if members of her family were bad tempered, they just needed a good turnout and everything in the garden would be lovely……..
          I apologise for lowering the tone, but that is what came to my mind.

  11. 2*/4*. Another very enjoyable puzzle from RayT as we have come to expect, which I found at the easier end of his range.

    Kath, I too took some convincing about “turn out” = “unplug” but in the end settled for still slightly tenuous “please turn out / unplug the light”.

    My top two were 23a & 16d. Perhaps I am reading too much into 23a, but I took it as an all-in-one requiring the “of”. The Spanish city (“city of the Spanish”) in question had quite a chequered history of fighting and agitation in the middle ages.

    Many thanks to RayT and to Kath.

    1. I thought the same about unplug, but I can’t think of any light, anywhere, that doesn’t have a switch
      Now thinking along the lines of unplug as in unblock = turn out?

      1. My thoughts entirely. I’m trying to think when I’ve ever heard someone say “unplug the light”.

  12. Oh dear. My comment has gone into moderation because a mysterious gremlin has changed my name from Rabbit Dave to add a . :sad:

    I see the same thing has happened to Robert Clark too.

  13. I thought this was an absolute delight. It took me a while to get going but then I seemed to get my brain into gear. There seemed to me to be quite a bit of subtlety to many of the clues which makes choosing a favourite very difficult. As 19a and 7d were the last two to be solved, I shall nominate those. Thanks to the setter for providing such an enjoyable puzzle and to Kath for her review. Re 8d, I thought of turn out as free up and the answer as what you might have to do with a golf ball that’s stuck in soft ground.

    1. Difficult to see a connection between taking out a plugged ball & turnout.
      Ray T usually puts in an appearance later hopefully he will shed light on the mystery.

  14. Oh dear – not only does it look as if I’ve screwed up badly on my difficulty rating today but also the gremlins seem to be misbehaving – apologies for the first bit but I don’t take any responsibility for the second.

  15. I’m glad it wasn’t just me that found this Ray T puzzle trickier than usual, whilst being as enjoyable as usual (***/****). I thought my first haircut in 6 months had gone to my head (Bliss!). I liked 1a, 1d and 7d best but there were lots of other great clues. Thanks to Kath for the hints and to Ray T for a very wily puzzle.

  16. Always encouraging when NW corner goes in smoothly for starters then it was fairly easy going today with only slight hiccup in NE. IMHO 7d is somewhat far-reaching. Overlooked corny preserved synonym in 20d. Not sure about 5d and agree with Kath and Robert Clark re 8d. Thank you RayT and Kath.

  17. The NE corner took a bit of unravelling, although as usual with Ray T, everything was perfectly fair. It was just me. Also the SE….I never did get that 27a anagram because I’d faulted on 20d, for which I put spotted, even though it didn’t really make sense. I just got a bit impatient and looked things up.
    Therefore a 3* for me. Thanks to Kath for the tips.

  18. Going for a ***/****, I found the NE quadrant a little tricky, 8d was a new synonym for me but was confirmed in Chambers who is always right!
    Just an all round well constructed puzzle which was a pleasure to solve.
    Particularly liked 1a and 18a .
    Thanks to Ray T and Kath

  19. I actually managed to complete this Ray T and understand the answers, although 8d may have caused a raised eyebrow were such gestures permitted, in record time. Record time for me anyway and that is a first. **/*** I liked 21a and 7d but my favourite is 23a. Thanks to all.

  20. My goodness I found this tricky. Never was I more grateful for Kath’s help – for at least a third of this one. I should be mildly ashamed at not getting 1d as I’m actually looking right at one from where I sit.
    As the wind whips through the garden I’m reassured that the BBC weather forecast refers to it as a ‘gentle breeze’. However, paperweights are no longer a requirement here, as we shelter under 99 quids’ worth of gazebo.

    Thanks to Ray T, and a special ‘hooray!’ for Kath.

  21. Too tough for me, managed about a 1/4 even with the hints. I found this one of his harder puzzles.
    Very little fun.

  22. This took a little longer than usual largely due to me getting fixed ideas about mediaeval and flags flying and general misdirections. I like 8a and 14d both splendid words I think. Oh Toledo, lovely place for buying scissors. Wonder if I shall ever visit it again. My brother lives in Sotogrande – now THERE is a golf course for you golfy types, so I am told! Many thanks to Mr T and the talented Kath.

    1. …and El Greco’s ‘Burial of Count Orgaz’ in the great cathedral there. Knocked me off my feet almost. Summer of 1969. What an extraordinarily beautiful yet mysterious city. I hope you get to return, Daisygirl; I never shall.

  23. Brilliant puzzle. It went in at a steady pace. I really like Ray T’s work. Difficult to pick a winner from a good bunch.

    1. Another mysterious + appearing in your name – I suppose it is better than a minus but not much if everyone who gets one goes into moderation :(

  24. After yesterdays debacle, I gave in as a bad job. Just couldn’t do it. Thank goodness for RayT thursdays. Completed in reasonable time for me. Most enjoyable. Favouriteclues 17d and 21a. I think must try harder.
    Thanks to Kath and RayT

  25. Most enjoyable, brain stretching puzzle. ****/*****
    Unhappy about 8d.
    Many thanks, Ray T, always a pleasure and many thanks Kath.

  26. I struggled and battled with this puzzle but in the end with help completed it, my likes were 6 down & 15 across, this was a ***/**** for me but as always I enjoyed it. Thank you to Ray T & Kath as always.

  27. Thanks to Ray T and to Kath for the review and hints. I’m afraid that I couldn’t do this to save my life. It’s the second Ray T puzzle in a row that I’ve got nowhere near. Normally I can do them, a bit worried I’m losing my touch! Needed 12 hints today, but was pleased to say that I would never have got ten of them. Totally beyond me. Was 5* /2* for me. Favourite was 6d, of the clues I actually solved.

  28. A very enjoyable puzzle from the master lurkist. 7 was my favourite by a mile. Ray can’t resist making his clues fun to solve. Nice to see HM has popped in from Balmoral. So many good clues of which I have selected 1a 1d 5 8 16 17 and 21 for special mention. Hopefully there will be a Beamer next week. Thanks to RayT and to Kath. There has obviously been a good ‘turn out’ today.

  29. The wavelength frequency is way too high for me on this one, just couldn’t tune in. I also didn’t like 13a, and Sadie wishes everyone to know that she’s NOT a villain.
    On the other hand I learnt a new word while thesaurus-ing 9a: “fantoosh”, apparently a Scots word.
    Thanks to RayT for scrambling my brain and to Kath for unravelling that lot; sadly, I still don’t get most of it.

  30. Got caught up with 10 across thinking it was drain but couldn’t figure out why. I see the unplug as those trays of garden plugs where you raise seedlings. Turning them out would be to unplug.

  31. As I improve my performance on puzzles set by Jay my performance with Ray T puzzles goes in the opposite direction. Only six solved on the first sweep and none in the after lunch hour. Whilst appreciating the cleverness of many clues several are very stretched.

    Grateful thanks to Kath for her hints for some of which I still needed to “click here”. Thank you to Ray T for setting a target for me of being able to finish one of his puzzles before I die.

  32. What a struggle with this one, especially the NE.
    Needed some help to get through, so definitely more than 2 stars for difficulty for me.

    Thanks to RayT and to Kath.

      1. Thanks Gazza – you’re not planning on going anywhere this evening, are you?
        I don’t know how to ‘nonplus’ people but perhaps Ray T has already done that to many today.

  33. Holy smoke, this is difficult. Kath, if this was easier I shall avoid any difficult ones.
    Not finished yet, by will give up soon, life is too short.
    Thanks for the hints which I shall need soon and Ray-T,

    1. I’m sorry – I really have messed up the difficulty bit today – I do hope I haven’t upset/discouraged too many of you.
      I think I was probably just on a good day which was lucky – could be a bit tricky to be doing the hints on a bad one.

      1. No Kath, as I have said before must be hard for experts to grade a puzzle they find easy.
        Thanks for the hints, rare that the Guardian is easier than the DT, but certainly was today.

        1. It’s all to do with wave-length, always. I’ve been doing some hints for a few years and most of them have been for Ray T crosswords so I am fairly well tuned in to him.
          The real experts are people like CS and Gazza, and others too, but they’re the ones who immediately spring to mind.

      2. Kath, you really haven’t messed up the difficulty thing as far as I am concerned. Today was a day I really enjoyed, and thought that it was fine. One day a week or two ago everyone was writing about how straightforward/easy/enjoyable a puzzle was. I was so discouraged as I could only do about six clues then gave up. It really is a mindset thing.

  34. Evening all. Many thanks to Kath for the elucidation and to all for your comments. One way to turn out a lamp would be to unplug it…


    1. Good evening, Mr T. I’m trying hard to see your point of view but for me that would be a way of turning the lamp ‘off’ rather than ‘out’. The latter would be OK for an old gas lamp but that wouldn’t have a plug!

  35. Just checked that I hadn’t clicked on the Toughie by mistake. I’m stalled after only 16 answers & it’s been pretty slow going getting that far so certainly the hardest Ray T that I can recall. Shall return to it after my evening’s dose of left wing bias (aka C4 news) when hopefully I make further progress otherwise it’ll be Kath to the rescue very early in proceedings….

    1. Got there eventually but it was a long journey. Not entirely sure why really as there were no real obscurities or anything particularly difficult to parse so must have been a wavelength thing. 7d was my last in & all I’ll say is that as I labour panting up the steep incline of the 18th hole it’s because I’m knackered – the only eagerness involved is the imminence of a restorative pint of bitter. 1d my favourite in a quality crossword although I’m somewhat concerned with the recent paucity of sporty ones & the flowers are in the ascendancy.
      Thanks to Ray T & to Kath.

  36. Be still my beating heart. I almost finished a Ray T puzzle unaided. Just 19a (I was trying to make Tagus work) and 25d (despite having the a and e) needed hints, thanks Kath. So clearly must be at the easier end of his puzzles. This one was just delightful, if you just kept plodding and working at it, it wasn’t too hard. In my defense I have never seen 25d used as desire, more usually as told or ordered. But I’m sure it’s in the BRB. Thanks to Ray T for a good brain workout. Now off to do some gardening in our 32C sunshine, mad dogs and Englishmen and all that …

  37. An enjoyable solve for us. RayT puzzles always need just that extra bit of head-scratching but once on wave length it flowed smoothly for us.
    Checked the clue word count and confirm that 7 is the maximum which we’re pretty sure is what Robert PLUS Clark meant when he said 7 letters in #4.
    Thanks RayT and Kath.

    1. Oops. Did I say ‘letters’ when I meant ‘words’? Gracious me. Thanks for correcting me. R+C

  38. Got there in the end with only trip to e help for 5d, but there is much scribbling round it, and much BRB and thesaurus thumbing needed!!

  39. Not one for me I’m afraid. Needed a lot of hints and I found some of the synonyms a bit frustrating given they tendency of the setter to go for fairly obscure uses (who says “corned” for preserved or salted for example?). But mostly I just didn’t find any that made me SMILE. ☹️ 7d came closest to turning up the corners of my mouth.
    Thanks anyway to Ray T and Kath for the much needed explanations

  40. My heart sank when I read Kath’s difficulty rating only to find it wasn’t just me that found this at the tougher end of RayT’s crosswords. Phew! I too had 6 on my first pass but by persevering and following the instructions I got there eventually. Hard to pick a favourite though but I’m going for 18a. Thanks to RayT and Kath. I hope I don’t get plussed.

  41. Goodness me I found this really tricky. I was at the bottom of the downs before I managed to fill anything in. I really needed all of the hints to get a foothold in the top half so thank you Kath. Obviously I was on the completely wrong wavelength today as I also found the quickie very tough today. Thank you to all. Tomorrow’s another day.

  42. Definitely more like 4* for me today but mainly due to messing up SE by deciding agitation was agro , then making Agrelo which Mr Google unfortunately confirmed is a place in Argentina! But as usual for a Thursday thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks to all

  43. Way beyond my ability today. Absolutely no enjoyment in solving less than half of the crossword.

    8d is unplug! I personally think this is particularly poor. No one has ever said turn out to mean unplug. Quite possibly the worst clue I have ever suffered.

    *****/- for me today. I would rather have not even started this crossword at all and watched paint dry instead.

  44. Well – what a lot of different opinions today, particularly about how difficult, or not, you all found it.
    I did say in my introduction that I found it hard to judge the level of difficulty when I know I’m doing the hints – it’s got a lot to do with wave-length but then there’s also the level of adrenalin that changes everything.
    Thanks to everyone, especially Ray T, for the crossword but to all those who left comments too.
    I’ve about had it for today so I’m off to bed very soon.
    Night night all and sleep well,

  45. This was difficult. Must be the direction the wind was blowing as I could do all the across clues but only half the downs. Pretty sure that to unplug something turns it off not out..but we lesser mortals cannot argue with the mindset of the setter surely?

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