DT 29526 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29526

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29526

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs on a grey November morning.

Today’s puzzle was the toughest for me for quite some time. I was held up by three interlocking clues in the SE quadrant – though, once the penny had dropped it was difficult to see why they had caused such difficulty.

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.

Across

1a           Where many academics go and yak, maybe getting cross (8)
OXBRIDGE – A two-letter animal of which a yak is an example, followed by a verb meaning ‘cross (a river, perhaps)’.

5a           Flash employer that clears out pests (6)
MOUSER – A ‘flash’ or ‘instant’ followed by another word for someone employing something.

Should Larry be sacked? Number 10 mouser seen letting mouse run free

9a           One carries out sting, sending top officer into prison in disguise (8)
SCORPION – Anagram (in disguise) of PRISON wrapped round the acronym for the officer at the top of a military unit.

10a         Take first drive to see what’s before you, as we say, on holiday (3,3)
TEE OFF – Spell out the letter which comes before the one which sounds like (as we say) ‘you’, then add ‘on holiday’ or ‘not at work’.

11a         Get support from bottom place? Sad! (3,4)
SIT DOWN – The first word is a verb which can mean ‘place’ or ‘position’, the second another word for ‘sad’.

12a         Deputy whip interrupts small row (5-2)
STAND-IN Small and a row or loud noise, placed either side of another verb for ‘whip’ or ‘beat’.

13a         We must join in rioting for leftie that’s big in Paris (6,5)
EIFFEL TOWER – Anagram (rioting) of FOR LEFTIE, with WE (from the clue) added in.

Could the Eiffel Tower be getting a more colourful makeover? - Lonely Planet

16a         Where problems for examination are solved by specialist on paper (5,6)
AGONY COLUMN – Cryptic definition of the place in a newspaper or magazine where readers’ personal problems are addressed.

21a         One goes across, apparently, and one can turn either way (7)
SPANNER – This tool for tightening or loosening nuts could also be interpreted as something which bridges a gap.

22a         Characters axed by EastEnders (7)
AITCHES – These are the letters traditionally dropped in the East End or Cockney dialect.

23a         Novelty tat, e.g. dagger cases from the East (6)
GADGET – Hidden in reverse (from the East) in the clue.

24a         Favoured offspring reportedly given sack — that is fired (3,5)
AIR RIFLE – The first word sounds like (reportedly) the person who stands to inherit an estate. The second is another word for ‘sack’ or ‘loot’.

25a         As a result, remainder will be most upset (6)
SOREST – A two-letter word for ‘as a result’ followed by another word for ‘remainder’.

26a         Who’s relatively representative of an entire nation? (5,3)
UNCLE SAM – Cryptic definition of the embodiment as a male relative of some of our Transatlantic cousins.

Uncle Sam Wants You Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

Down

1d           Haunt of bosses for recreation (6)
OBSESS – Anagram (for recreation) of BOSSES.

2d           Name of writer of novels and Three Sisters (6)
BRONTE – Mildly cryptic definition of the family name of the author of Wuthering Heights and her sisters. No, I’m not putting up that dreadful noise by Kate Bush!

3d           Pick up stray following mischief-maker (7)
IMPROVE – A mischievous supernatural being, followed by a verb for ‘stray’ or ‘wander’.

4d           No flight needed to visit here (6,5)
GROUND FLOOR – Cryptic definition of the part of a building which does not need a flight of stairs to reach it.

6d           In retirement care, volunteers turning up lay it on thick (7)
OVERACT – Hidden in reverse (turning up) in the clue.

7d           Son will get dope and slump (8)
SLOWDOWN – The usual abbreviation for Son followed by another word for ’dope’ or ‘inside information’.

8d           Where things get strained, learning religion with glitzy trappings (8)
REFINERY  – One of the acronyms for religious teaching in school, followed by a generic word for all the ornamentation in someone’s dress.

12d         Inoculate for treatment? Odds on that would be guessing (11)
SPECULATION – The two-letter abbreviation for a bookmaker’s odds at the beginning of a race, followed by an anagram (for treatment) of INOCULATE.

14d         Something enjoyed in Germany, South Africa and America: dates (8)
SAUSAGES – Put together abbreviations for South, Africa and the United States, then add a verb for ‘dates’ or ‘gets old’.

15d         My bags laden in the wrong order — it’s a riddle (8)
COLANDER – Anagram (in the wrong order) of LADEN, with an exclamation like ‘My!’ wrapped round it.

Colander definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

17d         They come from across the Atlantic in tugs to go round eastern Spain (7)
YANKEES – Another word for ‘tugs’ or ‘pulls’, with Eastern and the IVR code for Spain inserted.

18d         Occasionally appearing old, a group trains over common (7)
NATURAL – Alternate letters (occasionally appearing) in reverse (over) of the third to the sixth words of the clue.

19d         Ray’s arrows (6)
SHAFTS – Double definition, the first being a description of rays of sunshine penetrating a building.

20d         Revere joins up to undermine English (6)
ESTEEM English followed by the reverse (up) of another word for ‘joins (a person)’.


The Quick Crossword pun BARS + CELL + OWNER = BARCELONA

121 comments on “DT 29526
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  1. I thought I was going to struggle to get this one going, but I did, and finished at a canter (sorry), in just *** time, not bad for a Friday.

    I was unable to fully parse 1a and 10a, and I felt that some of the clues were a bit hmmm, (2d for example).

    Many thanks to the setter and DT.

  2. 5*/4*. That was a properly tough Friday back-pager with the NW & SE corners both holding out for some considerable time. When I finally finished, it was with a great sense of satisfaction.

    I’m not fully convinced by the definition for 11a and I needed Wikipedia to find out who Revere was in order to make sense of the surface for 20d.

    I did like “re-creation” as the anagram indicator for 1d, and 14d was my favourite with a special mention for 24a.

    Many thanks to, presumably, Zandio, and to DT.

    1. I’m not sure who Revere was (guessing Paul Revere of Boston fame) makes any difference. I took it to mean esteem which reads meets plus E for English upwards. Entirely possible I’ve missed something else, of course!

      1. Greta, the wordplay leading to the answer is clear and precisely as you (and DT) describe.

        However, when I first read it, I thought that the surface of the clue didn’t make any sense until I twigged that it would read meaningfully if there was someone called Revere who had undermined the English in some way. A quick trip to Wikipedia revealed all, and I discovered, as you correctly guessed that the Revere in question was Paul of that ilk, making it an excellent cryptic clue with a story about the American Revolution to tell as well.

        1. Good grief, that’s a bit esoteric for me! I’ll be looking for things that aren’t there next. Quite often do that anyway trying to make sense of clues.

          1. With 20d I just did what it said on the tin and got a word meaning “to revere”. Simples! This crossword was quite hard enough without adding to the difficulty.

  3. I found this very difficult and, having used reverse engineering on a lot of clues to finish it, I didn’t feel that I enjoyed it (3.5*/2*). There is no doubt that some of the clues were very clever and oblique, especially 13a, and one has to congratulate the compiler for that. However, for a mediocre cruciverbalist like me, it was quite frustrating. It would have been better suited to the Toughie. Thanks to DT for the hints, which helped with the 5 bung-ins, which I couldn’t parse.

  4. The toughest Friday puzzle I can ever remember–but, pushed into 4* time, I did FINISH it and, as far as I can tell, parsed them all. What a workout. Pretty gritty stuff throughout, but quite stunning. Podium stars galore, but my LOI and COTD has to be 16a (something, I’m glad to say, that we don’t have as such on this side of The Pond, though we could use one right now) followed by 1a and 15d. Thanks to DT and to today’s wily compiler. **** / *****

  5. A proper Friday puzzle, just like the old days! Going for a ***/****
    Took a while to get started then gradually progressed to ramming speed.
    Favourites were the top line ie 1 and 5a and 21a for originality.
    I note RD’s comment on 20d, my parsing was the same as DT’s, I am assuming Paul Revere was the underminer.

  6. I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one who found this quite tough but I really enjoyed teasing out almost every individual clue giving lots of those lovely penny drop moments. Only help needed was parsing 10a
    Lot’s of podium contenders but I’ve narrowed them down to 1,5&26a plus 1&14d
    4/4*
    Many thanks to the setter and to DT for the top notch entertainment.

  7. A perfect Friday level crossword which I enjoyed solving very much. Thanks to whoever set it and to DT.

    I did smile when I went off to the Telegraph Puzzles site to print off the puzzles. I wonder how many people would have been lured into printing off the Toughie as it is “free to solve” and then staring at it for ages as they wouldn’t have realised it was Elgar at his most devious

    1. I agree 100% about this one but it sounds as if I should perhaps avoid todays Toughie, my confidence if still quite fragile when it comes to these although I have managed 3 this week.

  8. Great way to finish the week. Pretty tricky but nothing obscure, nicely clued throughout & some clever misdirection. 11a was my last in & like RD wasn’t completely convinced by it. For a change I clocked the reverse lurkers & even the alternate one which helped enormously but as usual the 3 letter homophone in the first part of 24a took a while to register. Plenty of podium contenders but I’ll plump for 1a, 2d & with 15d in top spot. Torn between frying pan & fire decided there was little point even trying Elgar so it’s Paul (Dada) in the Graun. He’s often similarly impenetrable for the likes of me but today less so & worth a visit.
    Thanks to the setter & to DT.

  9. I found this difficult too. ****/** I needed the hints to explain more than a few of the answers. I’m still not too sure about 15d. Cor for my? Really? And what has “bags” got to do with it? 10a could be set off as well as tee off but as it makes no difference to the checkers, fair enough. It took a long time for the penny to drop with 2d. Probably because I couldn’t get the Chekhov play out of my head. A bit of an American flavour to this puzzle. “Sore” for “upset” isn’t a Brit term in 25a.17d is entirely solvable and 26a is my favourite today. Thanks to all.

    1. Cor and my are both interjections that appear regularly in crossword. Bags is telling you that the ‘cor’ bags or wraps up the anagram of LADEN

      1. You are both quite right. Missed the before you completely. I just took it to mean to see what’s before you literally as you do when you go on holiday. Thanks for that. Bags, wraps. Must remember that!

  10. Oh dear, too hard for me today. Struggled to the end with a bit of electronic help but struggled to parse most of what I got.
    So, pleased to see that others also found it difficult.

    Thanks to the setter and to Deep Threat.

  11. I am going to do a Brian today. I am frankly horrified that the crossword editor should allow such an impenetrable offering on the back page. The toughie page is there for this sort of thing. My deep admiration goes to the setter together with thanks to DT for the unenviable task of providing hints, but this has quite spoiled my Friday.

  12. Started this tester early this morning & finished it #*# hours later…phew. Reminded me of a good toughie . Got top half in steadily but found the lower half very hard…. but I did feel a great sense of accomplishment as 22ac slotted into place.
    5*/4*
    Many thanks to setter for this Friday challenge & DT

  13. Wow, I think today will cause some scratched heads.
    “Old fashioned Friday”? At the harder end I would have said. Right at my limit of incompetence. So ***** difficulty for me.
    Spent far too long looking at blanks for inspiration for it to be enjoyable, ***.
    Didn’t put in the weak 2d as the answer seemed far too obvious & way out of line with the rest so NW corner held me up.
    Thank you to setter, once in a while fine, but not every week please. DT thanks for excellent review and the reminder that the “Yes Minister” script team should have been our chief Brexit negotiators.

  14. I was very relieved to see the **** for difficulty awarded by Deep Threat as that was how I found it. There were some really simple clues I thought (eg 26a and 2d), some clever and satisfying but not desperate (23a and 14d) and some that I found very elusive (21a and 22a). I nearly gave up a few times and am pleased now I see the **** that I didn’t! *** for enjoyment and thank you setter and Deep Threat. We have now finished moving homes around the South Hams and are happily resident overlooking Plymouth Sound. I hope never to see a cardboard box again.

  15. A real head scratcher the like of which I have not seen since Dada’s first Sunday puzzle two years ago (not that he’s today’s setter), completed at a fast canter – 3.5*/2.5*.
    No stand-out favourites, but I did like 24a.
    Thanks to the setter and DT.

  16. I thought some of these clues would not have been out of place in a mid-week Toughie. Like our blogger, for me this was the stiffest back page challenge for some considerable time; it was also one of the most enjoyable. 14d was my favourite of many followed closely by 15d.

    Many thanks to Zandio, if it is indeed he, and to DT. Off to have a look at the Elgar now. That is probably all I shall do; look at it.

  17. My email has recently changed. Do I need to do anything as far as the BigDave site is concerned? I see my last comment has not been published

  18. This was a slow but steady solve starting top left and progressing clockwise. Although complete had to wait for the hints to see how I got there. However, my biggest headache today has been making a box! I agreed to take part in a Covid Testing study for Imperial College and was sent a testing kit which I have done and is waiting collection. They sent a flat pack piece of cardboard with instructions on it to turn it into a box. Every time I turned the wretched thing to read the instructions it dismantled itself – the language was appalling and Mr Manders left the room. Think Ikea flat pack furniture – took me longer to make my box than to take the test (which was pretty horrible). Thanks to the setter and DT for the puzzle today.

  19. A very difficult puzzle for me. All the clues starting in the east went in with only two starting in the west. After that I needed the hints and in the case of 16a I had to uncover the answer. I haven’t looked at those since when as a young teenager a friend and I would look for laughs in his mother’s magazines.

    Thanks to DT for his very necessary hints and answers and thanks to the setter for letting me know the horrors waiting for me if I should ever be daft enough to turn to the Toughie.

  20. Hello, compiler here. Thanks for the interesting discussion — it’s great that solvers take the time to go into so much detail. I sympathise with Manders about the covid test box: when I had a test, the trickiest thing about it was building the box. Have a good weekend.

  21. Same here, DT, those three took ages and ages.
    And the NW corner was nearly as bad.
    But I got there eventually, virtually unaided.
    Perhaps the setter thought today was Thursday!
    Nevertheless, great mental workout and too many brilliant clues to single out one.
    *****/****
    Many thanks to the setter and to DT.

  22. Hmmmmmmm! Very glad I’ve got Wednesday’s Jay puzzle still to do as I’m getting nowhere fast with this one. Thanks to DT for the hints and answers.

    1. Well I racked my brains and could only manage three clues, so looked at the answers and I’m not sure I’d have got many more. Hats off to DT for sorting this one out! I did finish Wednesday’s Jay, which provided just the right level of challenge and enjoyment and restored my crossword solving confidence!

  23. Flippin’ eck! I bet there are going to be letters appearing in the DT about how hard Friday puzzles are. I thought my solving abilities had deserted me again as they did earlier this week but pleased to see I am not alone. Yes, it was difficult but it was fair. I thought the reverse lurker at 23a was well hidden. My COTD is 22a with 24a a close second. I put in about 6 answers for 10a before the penny dropped. Great misdirection.

    Many thanks to Zandio for the mind boggle and, of course, to DT for the hints. I think the bloggers deserve respect. It cannot be easy to solve a puzzle like this and then have to write the hints. Respect to you all.

  24. Started quickly then came to a bit if a hiatus but perseverance paid off and the answers were gradually worked out.
    I actually quite enjoyed this one even if it was a bit trickier than usual for a BP. Some really clever clues in 21a and 22a but my fav was 4d as it made me smile.
    Thx to all
    ***/****

  25. This was the best Friday challenge for a while, I really enjoyed it 14d I liked also 24a, the reverse lurkers, 1a, and 22a with 14d the winner.
    ***/*****
    Thanks to DT and the setter.

  26. This was pretty tough for a Friday. I found some of the SE clues a bit of a struggle, when the brain finally got into gear I did think 18d a little tough though. Last one in 22a as I am not an Eastenders viewer it confused me for a time. Still managed to complete though.
    Thanks to DT and setter.

    1. Eastenders was a misdirection. It did not mean the soap just the people who were born within the sound of Bow Bells – Cockneys. I have actually rung the Great Bell of Bow of nursery rhyme fame.

          1. The thing that bugs me is this current habit of pronouncing a word such as ‘sixth’ as ‘sikth’ – are they trying to ensure that they don’t accidentally spit out any Covid germs?

  27. Wah! May I give this ten stars for difficulty? Thank goodness for Deepo McThreato for I really needed his help today. It was satisfying to get there in the end, and of course, it is somewhat of a wavelength thing. Zandio was on a higher level than me today for sure.

    Just now I was readying myself for getting in touch with our cable provider as the tv box had ‘frozen’. I imagined the nightmare to come of endless phone options (”press five for Branson”) and tussling with testing this and rebooting that. Then, after about fifteen minutes, it dawned on me that the light on the remote wasn’t illuminating when I pressed the buttons. New batteries – all good, nothing wrong with the cable box. I am just overwhelmed with relief that I didn’t make a right Charlie of myself and discover this when a patient ‘telephone care team’ member asked me to check the remote…
    “Don’t worry sir, this happens all the time…” *as my face turns purple with embarrassment*

    Thanks to Zandio and a substantial tip of the hat to DT.

    1. It reminds me of a time when, as a fifteen-year old, I was asked to let tge TV repair man in, while mum and dad had to go out. He looked behind the TV, gave me a withering look, and said, “It’d help if you plugged it i love”. Was my face red.

      1. Not too bad although definitely some head scratching and some hints needed.
        Enjoyed it though. I never worry about how long it takes. I just keep coming back to it.
        Thanks Zandio and DT

      2. I’ve worked in IT support, and head and shoulders above ‘Right-click on your desktop…… have you done that yet?’ – ‘Hang on, I’m just getting a pen’
        ‘Can you check it’s plugged in?’ – ‘No, I can’t really see; we’ve got a power cut’
        ‘Press any key to continue’ – ‘I can’t see the ‘Any’ key
        ‘It keeps telling me my password is invalid, so I put in ‘invalid’, but it comes back with the same message?’
        Then there’s the cmd.exe favourite – ‘Enter exit then enter to exit’

  28. I want my money back… had to double check that I hadn’t printed off the Toughie by mistake. Sorry, but this is not a regular cryptic. Why is this provided when there is even a free Toughie today? Only 5 filled in so far, and those with DT’s help, so way above my pay grade. This is far more than a head scratcher. Great one for the very clever folks, and a poke in the eye for the rest of us. Sigh.

  29. May be today’s compiler thought, I’ll show them if they think Thursday’s cryptic is difficult. Needed your help today. Thank you.

  30. Well, having spent about 30 minutes trying to download my crossword, just renewed at great cost two days ago, I decided to come here to see what the difficulty level was. Thank you DT for making it so hard to log on, in fact, at least 10 times I was told I had logged on successfully, only to be told that I need to log on and pay in order to play. I feel I have been saved from a fate worse than death. I’ m madder’n a wet hen, a pox on all their houses, keep your rotten crossword, see if I care. AND SO ON!!!! Yes, I’m shouting. Thank goodness I was spared this.

    1. Go and watch a couple of episodes of “Downton” Merusa to restore a sense of calm ( not the episode where Isis died though).

      1. I hope it settles down before tomorrow, if this keeps up I’ll ask for my money back! I’m too old and too stupid, can’t handle the aggravation. How’re you doing?

        1. OK I think but difficult times.
          Too late in life to get bugged about Technology M.
          My DT app keeps going wonky from time to time I just delete it & start again.
          Touch wood it then works fine for a time. However I subscribe to the electronic DT not the puzzle version.

          1. I don’t know how to do that! Richard put me on zoom when he was here, he’s busy today but I’ll see if he can try to sort it when he has time.

            1. Merusa, normally you just hold your finger down on the App until it wobbles. Usually then you are asked to confirm delete. Once it’s gone you just reinstall from the App store

  31. I too found this more difficult than usual, but that is most certainly no complaint, as it kept me well amused on and off for much of this morning on a miserable wet Salopian day. With Sky internet down from very early this morning to mid afternoon I was beginning to get a little twitchy being unable to see if my solutions were correct. Happily we’re ‘back on’ now. I don’t recognise the setter from the style of this puzzle, but it really made for an interesting challenge – loved it. Thank to both setter and DT.

  32. What a good *** puzzle – and for me it marks the end of a challenging week of back pagers. Thanks Zandio and DT- 14d as the favourite clue.

  33. Way too hard and no fun at all. I got three clues, stared blankly in dumb incomprehension for a long while and wondered what others thought. Now I know. Thanks bloggers and Deep Threat – I needed your enlightenment today.

  34. That was tough, but very satisfying to get there in the end without any help. Like some others 11a was last in. Wouldn’t it have been better to have ‘for’ instead of ‘from’ in the clue? 18d was a well concealed reverse lurker – well, it took me a while to spot it! Although tough, the answers all seemed obvious once I had them. A sure sign of fair clues except maybe for the aforementioned 11a, but perhaps I am missing something there. Top spot to 22a with many in joint silver medal position.

    I might punish myself with a look at the Toughie!!

  35. Thanks to the setter and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. I found this a real struggle. Resorted to the hints when I was ten answers short. Was pleased to say that I would never have got any of them in a million years. Just couldn’t find the definitions. Way too difficult. Was 5* / 2* for me.

  36. A ‘rather you than me’ day today Deep Threat. Once the obvious answers went it I solved in reverse bunging in what fit and worrying about why later. Certainly at the tougher end of the scale which brings its own enjoyment for me. Thanks to Zandio for the severe tussle and to Deep Threat for the help. Ive found a local source of raw milk so no more 42 mile round trips to get it. Also found local free range eggs until we get our own chickens. It’s the weekend! Play nicely children and I will see you all on Monday

  37. Hands up who swopped Thursday’s crossword for Friday’s offering this week 😳 I certainly needed help *****/*** and then some😬
    Favourites 21 & 22a. Thanks to DT for his much needed help and of course to the Setter🤔

  38. Oh my goodness, after first pass and only one solution came here to see if it was “just me” and, without reading hints, went back to it with renewed confidence from all you lovely people. So glad I did, what an absolute delight! Favourite clues were 10a (brilliant) 11a and 2d. Devotions one and all ♥️

  39. Too tough for me today – it really felt more like a Toughie. But, good to have a challenge, I suppose!
    Thanks to Zandio, and many thanks for the hints DT.

  40. Well now – there’s a thing! :phew:
    On the rare occasions that I try a Toughie I have a low threshold for saying, “No, too difficult for me”, and admitting defeat but I don’t do that with back page cryptics, on principle – I just don’t – I did today with one to go.
    I also had a couple of yes, but why’s. Generally ‘oh dear’ from me today!
    With the benefit of hindsight I thought there were some clever clues – just a pity they were far too clever for me.
    Thanks anyway to Zandio and thanks and a vast amount of admiration to DT.

    1. Deffo more like a toughie Kath. We (and I say WE loosely as it was mostly down to pommers) managed 9 in total on first pass and I threw in the towel and told him to get on with it.

  41. Being in post fire-break Wales, I’d arranged to go out for lunch with a friend today, thinking I’d have plenty of time to solve today’s back-pager before leaving home – how wrong I was, still plenty left to sort out on my return.
    Plenty of podium contenders although I wasn’t very persuaded by the synonym in 18d.

    Thanks to Zandio, who obviously didn’t realise I had a date today, and also to DT for the review – nice to hear Simon & Garfunkel again and to watch a clip from that excellent ‘Yes Minister’ series.
    Can’t quite recall who recommended reading ‘Scared to Death’ but it arrived today – could keep me ‘entertained’ for quite a while!

  42. I found this difficult but doable. I cannot say the same about the Toughie….Elgar at his most obscure. I really do not understand his loyal followers. Masochists the lot of them!

    1. Hi JB,
      I’m a great fan of Elgar because he is, to my mind, the only setter who created a language of it’s own.
      And I love languages.
      There’s always a logic to it and, when understood, it does get easier.

  43. No-one gets to waste my time apart from my wife, my kids my grand-kids and my business. Today’s offering was a convoluted waste of time and in my view had no place on the back page. Having been bored to death by Giovanni wheeled out of retirement yesterday and then today’s abomination, is it reasonable to surmise the DT has run out of setters able to meet the fair standards of a back page crossword ?? Whilst I am grumpy, this is not intended to be discourteous, at the end of a day’s work the crossword is light entertainment to really look forward to and solvers have rely on the editor to moderate standards and frankly provide a brief shot of quality diversion and pleasurable relaxation which we now pay extortionate money for. After a long run of silly Thursdays are we now to expect the same on Fridays?? Thanks to all.

  44. I wasn’t expecting to solve two toughies in one day.
    Must admit that the grid didn’t help either but got there eventually.
    Great anagram in 13a.
    Thanks to Zandio and to DT.

  45. Late on parade today as we’ve been out for a long lunch. 😅🤣😂
    Blumin’ ‘eck.
    Deffo a toughie in the wrong envelope for me.
    Only 9 in total after first pass – and I threw in the towel! But pommers told me I needed to persist – and we got there in the end.
    Even he agrees 5* for difficulty – but on the basis that a back pager shouldn’t be any more difficult than that.
    Pommers just said it’s all about perspective. If that had been a toughie I’d have been over the moon to complete it. But because it was a back pager I was getting very irritated.
    With hindsight, there were some nice clues but I didn’t enjoy them whilst it was happening.
    Thanks to Deep Threat and Zandio – bit easier next time please.

  46. *****/***. A tough challenge today which required help to complete. Quite enjoyable at least for the most part. Thanks to the setter and DT for the much needed help.

  47. Began with a flourish in the East but then the West, particularly NW, was a completely different kettle of fish. Should have remembered 15d riddler. Didn’t like 11a and IMHO 21a only just works. 14d was Fav post a prompt. For me not one of most entertaining Cryptic challenges. Thank you Zandio and DT.

  48. A really tough puzzle to end the week.******/**
    Too weary to keep on with this and dealing with some very convoluted clues.
    Not an enjoyable cryptic IMHO. This is more a toughie and not what I come here for in the cryptic genre.

    Needed a “D” in 10a to convey my feelings

    Thanks anyway to Zandio and DT

  49. I have many interests and hobbies and the opportunity to spend some quality time with my grandson.
    45 minutes and 6 answers and the dustbin.
    Thanks for two Toughies on the same day, fortunately a cracking Paul puzzle in the Guardian today which was a joy.
    Thanks all.

  50. I wouldn’t have got 22a without the hint in a month of Sunday’s and carelessly writing in the wrong last letter for 18d just added to my problems. Favourites were all the ones I could do unaided. Thanks to Zandio and DT.

  51. Interesting if incoclusive split opinion today.
    Trying to distil approximate numbers using:
    Strong like 4
    Like 12
    Expressed Likes & Dislikes 19
    Dislike 13
    Strong Dislike 4

  52. I don’t like to criticise the level of difficulty of a crossword, so I won’t. Thoroughly enjoyed not solving this one, but the hints were entertaining. So thanks to all, tomorrow’s another day( which makes as much sense as the crossword did for me🤪)

  53. This was a real struggle, but managed it in the end. 4d and 20d were stand-outs for me. The latter gets better the more I look at it. Definitely in the Toughie Camp for some of the imprecise definitions (5a, 14d, 16a, 18d) but now it’s done, I don’t feel so bad about them…. Glad I’ve got lots of the week’s Toughies to do over the weekend as it doesn’t look like I’ll get far with Elgar! Thanks to Zandio.

  54. After a long struggle and achieving ten answers, I gave up. It’s no fun or pleasure needing to use two thirds of the hints to obtain answers – life’s too short. Many thanks anyway to DT for all the effort involved and apologies to the setter who was way above my pay station.

  55. Dear Zandio and Deep Threat in case you are still reading! It is a wavelength thing. I cannot do Toughies yet I found this most enjoyable. I see Brian agrees and I rarely see eye to eye with him. It does annoy me when someone I have not encountered before, like Uncle Chip, makes an offensive comment. This was not a read and write and we all like one of those some days but it was achievable. To show how our minds/brains vary my experience was that 22a and 8d went straight in. Well almost, as when I read the first four words I thought colander (which appears later). On the other hand 23a and 14d took an age and I thought I would have to resort to a hint or a 23a to solve. I was going through the alphabet with 23a (having only come up with badges) when the penny dropped with G. I then retrospectively parsed when I spotted too late the lurker. I had an idea where I was going with 14d but tried all worts including varieties of dates (edible). It was only when I wrote the checkers out horizontally that the simple answer jumped out at me. Worthy of a mention in particular are 1 and 5a and 3 and 4d. You can please all of the people some of the time! Thank you.

    1. Thanks for that, Weekend Wanda. I didn’t say hello to the blog the last time one of my back-pagers appeared because I forgot that it was running that Friday. Looking back now, a common comment here was “straightforward” (which is not necessarily a compliment). Perhaps a computer program would produce a more reliable degree of difficulty, but the compilers have not been replaced yet, thank heavens!

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