ST 3085 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3085 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3085 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where today is a sort of milestone for me.  This is my 201st Sunday blog which means I am over halfway, by half a blog if there is such a thing, towards catching up with BD’s total of 401 Sunday blogs.  A goal I should reach in October 2024 if I can keep up the current pace and stay the course.

Keep staying safe everyone. 

I am not sure how I would describe today’s Dada, I was having too much fun sampling(?) a very nice Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon-Malbec while solving it.  I counted four anagrams (two partials), one lurker, and no homophones – all in a symmetric 30 clues, with 16 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 7a, 10a, 13d, and 23d.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, a number of the more difficult clues have been selected and hints provided for them.

Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in red at the bottom of the hints!

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”. Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints follow:


1a Ring off hand, lose it (2,7)
A two letter word that can mean ring off and the fruits that come in a hand.

10a When narcissus originally comes into shoot? (6)
The first letter (originally) of Narcissus contained by (comes into) a type of shoot.

12a Second old wine secured in port (6)
The often used two letter synonym used for second (of time), the single letter for old, and a three letter generic type of wine – such as the one I was sampling(?) while solving.

16a Part of such a different country (4)
The lurker (part of) found in three words in the clue.

18a Crossword writer hiding in deep hole (4)
The objective singular pronoun which could be used in place of crossword writer containing IN from the clue.

21a Watering hole in torrid Australian city (6)
A three letter watering hole, where you would be more likely to drink alcohol, inserted into (in) a synonym of torrid.

26a Singers otherwise found in numbers (6)
A two letter synonym of otherwise contained by (found in) the plural of a number.

28a Rotten conclusion: guilty (9)
A three letter synonym of rotten and a synonym of conclusion.


1d Manage to bag posh car (5)
A four letter synonym of manage (as in get by?) containing (to bag) the single letter that indicates posh.

3d Firework in old crate (6)
A double definition – the first just makes a noise, nothing to ooh and ahh about.

6d Red liquid and green ink initially confused (9)
An anagram (confused) of AND GREEN and the first letter (initially) of Ink.

9d Rod pens opening of hilarious comedy routine? (6)
A five letter rod contains (pens) the first letter (opening) of Hilarious – an oldie but goodie.

15d Beef tea sailor brewed (9)
A three letter synonym of tea followed by an anagram (brewed) of SAILOR.

20d Trample on fruit (6)
A double definition – the second is a fruit that some might consider a vegetable.

23d Good little swine — noise from it? (5)
The single letter for good and a term for a little swine that is usually the smallest in a litter.

20d First of all, husband unhealthy: female fighting fit (4)
The initial letters (first of all) of four words in the clue.

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Today is the 124th anniversary of the birth of Ira Gershwin, lyricist and older brother of composer George.  This is I got Rhythm which was one of the brothers’ collaborations written in 1930 for the stage musical Girl Crazy which was then adapted for a film of the same title in 1943 (considered the best of three film adaptations):

87 comments on “ST 3085 (Hints)

    1. Your comment went into moderation as your alias has apparently fallen victim to the random ‘+’ sign. Both should work from now on.

  1. 2*/4*. I thought this was light and good fun.

    I think “ring off” is a bit of a stretch in 7a, and, if I have parsed 5d correctly, I can’t find any dictionary which gives the meaning of “crony” which is needed.

    10a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

    1. Note the question mark in 5d. If in Crosswordland sticky can mean ‘like a stick’ then crony can mean …

    2. Re 5d, its not a definition – its a sort of play on the word, lol. Think again – you’ll kick yourself when the penny drops :-)

  2. Very much enjoyed today’s Dada & since it was without the usual amount of head scratching & general befuddlement suspect it was at the easier end of the spectrum. 15d needed confirmation & thought the wordplay at 1a not the best but no problems otherwise until last in which was 4d. Here, a little like 25a yesterday, I’m not entirely comfortable with my answer. No real favourites today just solidly clued throughout.
    With thanks to Dada & our galloping reviewer & with congratulations on your milestone. I’m sure you know how much we all appreciate the amount of your time that (all of) you give up freely

  3. I’d describe today’s puzzle as rather devious, with excellent misdirection(I fell for a lot of the red herrings). It took ne slightly more than average time and was quite enjoyable, with a few caveats for groanworthy clues like 9d and the impenetrable 5d. I liked 15 d, 21a and 28a. Thanks to Senf for the hints and to Dada for an absorbing puzzle.(3*/3.5*).

  4. A real feeling of achievement on finishing this clever puzzle which (as usual for Dada) required lateral thought….he (or could it be she?) is my favourite setter…

    1. Hi Omar, Dada is definitely a ‘he’ – John Halpern. You can also find him as Paul in the Guardian, Mudd in the FT and Punk in the Independent.

  5. I made very heavy weather of this one although looking back over the answers, I’m not sure why. ****/ ** I still don’t understand the answer to 5d so it’s probably a wave length thing. Favourite is 15d. That took me long enough to work out but it’s a good clue. Thanks to all.

    1. Hi Great….for 5D if you look it up in BRB and then look at the very next entry then all becomes clear.

  6. I had the same reservations as others about 7a & 5d but will reluctantly accept Gazza’s explanation of the latter – seem to recall that I wasn’t overly keen on the ‘sticky’ clue he mentioned.
    Got a bit tangled up with 9d as it’s not the spelling I’m familiar with but, having said that, it’s not a word I use very often in any case!
    No particular favourite today although I quite liked the damaged vehicle, the chap in his fur coat and the trampled fruit.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for his halfway house of hints and the music – especially the Vivaldi.

    1. Does toady mean “like a toad”. The etymology of crony is uncertain but the Dada’s idea is as good as any

  7. Good manners prevents me giving my true opinion of this puzzle. Suffice it to say I thoroughly disliked it.
    Thx for the hints, unfortunately none were to the clues I really struggled with.

    1. With a little bit of thought and patience this wasn’t as difficult a puzzle as the first read through of the clues might have suggested, Brian. Okay its taken me much of this evening to solve it, but solve it I have. Not great fun I admit, but I do enjoy pitting my old brain against Dada’s. There were some that I thought a bit iffy, but there are some smiles too. Thanks to Dada and Senf before I forget.

  8. This was much easier than first thought although I still haven’t got the little 4d. I have an answer but can’t see the workers! Not sure about 5d either. COTD 15d. Thanks to all. My guinea fowl last night very disappointing especially as it cost over ten pounds. Tasteless, would rather haave had chicken.

    1. I had the same problem but at risk of the naughty step the group of workers would be a lot of the creatures in my icon <
      minus the first letter

      1. Thank you John. Mr Manders came up with the same answer I had which is good as I don’t know another name for that icon – I know it as 2 words! I will wait for the full hints next week.

        1. When the (two words) you have gets overcrowded the surplus form a group to fly off and start a new home. the name for that group loses its first letter

    2. Oh I’m sorry about that- I wondered how you got on with your meal. At least strictly was good! Who is going out tonight……?

      1. If you google ‘strictly spoilers’ you can get the answer on the Saturday as it is all filmed on the same day!

      2. I must the only one who has never watched strictly. Nor have I ever watched I’m a celebrity.

        1. We do watch Strictly – I love the actual dancing and the dresses too. I quite happily admit that it’s all pretty mindless but it’s fun and very cheerfully mindless which is no bad thing, particularly this year.
          Never watched the other one though.

          1. Strictly is the only thing I watch, I hadn’t a clue who all these people were when they started but it is pure escapism and you have to admire them for putting themselves out there to endure criticism and eventual rejection! The sheer energy wears me out!

        2. Nor me…don’t do these celeb shows, mainly because I have mot a clue who any of them are!

        1. I don’t know who they are either, except Bll Bailey who is amazing. I don’t watch any of the others and I only see the first half of strictly as the second half we are having supper and Mr M HATES it despite never seeing it. It really gets up my nose that shows like Pointless Celebrities (who are usually complete has beens) get PAID to appear when they are meant to be doing it for charity! Grrr. And dont get me started on BBC salaries for reading an autocue. Rant over.

    3. Manders, you probably had a namby-pamby guinea fowl that was brought up on sterile grain. You need hardscrabble fowl that eat whatever they can find, worms and so on, but they can be tough.

  9. Where has Dada gone and what have they done to him?
    That was the least quirky Sunday Puzzle for some time. My only parsing problem (5d) has been sorted by comments above
    I agree with RD that “ring off” in 7a is a bit of a stretch but I got there eventually. LOI was 4d and although I knew it couldn’t be a pangram I found a unique letter to get that pesky 4 letter clue.
    Thanks to Senf and Dada

  10. I needed two bites at the cherry to finish this, but I don’t know why. That took me into *** time.

    I agree with previous comments about 7a and 5d. My COTD is the beautifully simple 18a.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  11. One of those ‘wavelength days’ as I really struggled with this. Got there in the end with a few tips from Senf.

    Yesterday, we completed the ‘Francis Corner’ walk which is a circular stroll just north of Shere in Surrey. Quite fascinating with pill boxes all around and WW2 mini reservoirs. The track for the walk was laid by Canadian soldiers during the Second World War for mass movement of military personnel just before D-Day. A very peaceful walk and one can almost travel back in time whilst strolling along these tracks.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  12. Well, I am bucking the trend because I gave up on today’s Dada. Not his fault of course but I could make no sense of it. Not often I say that because, as a rule, I like Dada’s offerings. At first, I thought it was just my normal taking time to break into it but it soon became apparent I would get nowhere.

    Sorry, not for me. I realise I’m in the minority but there it is.

    Many thanks Dada – I bow to your excellence. Thank you Senf for the hints.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. I did manage to complete it with help but it was not fun.

          1. Me too it was a real struggle today. I got there in the end, but with the help of the electronic crossword gizmo!

    2. You’re not alone. I found this to be one of his tougher ones. And, being my contrary self as usual, the hints were mostly for those I already solved. I agree that the first word in 7a is a bit of a stretch. I’m now giving up as this is taking up too much of my Sunday. Somebody said this was a devious puzzle, and I think that about sums it up. Definitely above my pay grade. Thanks to Dada anyway, and to Senf.

  13. What a terrific way to cheer up a dull Shropshire Sunday. The parsing of 5d had me stumped but now I see it that has become my top clue. As RD says, the value of a question mark….

    Overall a very fair challenge and fun to complete. Many thanks to Dada for the usual excellence and to Senf.

  14. Tough going, but completed as a ****/***,
    such challenges always welcome, especially in these grim times.
    5d explanation from Gazza most welcome, I couldn’t have parsed it myself, so many thanks. Everything else was tough but manageable with tenacity.
    Thanks to setter and reviewer.

  15. A tough Dada puzzle of two halves for me. South went in relatively smoothly but the North was like pulling teeth. Got there in the end but felt like I had spent too a long time being (mis)lead down wrong paths.
    5d thanks to the hints of CS & Gazza I understand but way too clever for me to parse. It is my COTD because I am partial to to it.
    Thanks to Dada for the workout, hopefully I can still get the Christmas lights up today.
    Senf thanks again, hope I’m around to see the record broken. By then perhaps Brian will have complete mastery of Dada & can take over!

    1. Last night I watched over an hour of Tom Lehrer in Copenhagen, probably Tivoli Gardens, in the 1960s. It was a real treat, I’d forgotten how good he was, though an acquired taste I imagine.

      1. M.
        That’s a fantastic video. I played his first two LP s almost until they wore out. As you say he was an acquired taste as some of his humour was grey if not black. I remember the one liner ” He was a necrophiliac who achieved his boyhood ambition to become coroner” There was pretty sparse laughter & TL said “The rest of you can look it up when you get home”.

          1. Not off by heart now.
            Hope Robert C is OK , he is a Lehrer fan
            Hope he wasn’t upset by a comment & returns soon.

            1. We were such fans, we would lend LPs around the circle. We did the same with the Goons, they were another hot commodity in the 1960s.

              Yes, I hope Robert is OK too. I have thought of asking them to connect us. His comments are always fresh and interesting. C’est la guerre!

  16. A typical Sunday solve for me, in depth read of clues, which usually results in 3 or 4 answers the rest a mystery.
    Take a break, coffee, walk round garden, return to puzzle and grind the rest out, unlike some others I find this an enjoyable process.
    Dada never fails to generate several “dohs” and lots of smiles.
    Thanks to dada and Senf for hints…which weren’t needed but it was a close run thing!

    Senf, you’ve featured in this weeks Times letter pages as the only condiment for bratwurst, some were advocating English mustard…barbarians.

  17. Found this super tricky today! A nice long stretch for a Sunday though so still fairly enjoyable with a few forehead slapping moments

    1. Your comment went into moderation because, unless you are a different Sarah, you have used a different e-mail address to-day and both should work from now on.

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  18. Hard work but got there in the end. Clues were all fair, so I don’t know why it took longer than usual.

  19. I gave up at a gallop half way through wondering whether it was worth the subscription to be bewildered, baffled, nonplussed, bemused, mystified, perplexed, and to put it as a severe understatement, annoyed.

    I suppose it will pass but having found the solutions using electronic help I was little enlightened by the hazy, obscure relationship of the words in the clue to their solutions. 5d was no problem as we have several of these in the village.

    Before I through the BRB across the room I had noted 18 and 24a, and 15d as clues I like. I won’t list the ones I didn’t.

    Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  20. Like LROK I found the north tougher than the south.
    I thought this was a bit trickier than normal for a Sunday and first pass caused a ‘gulp’ or two, but I gradually got going…
    Some very nice misdirection, I thought…
    Thanks Dada and Senf.

    1. Did you boo yesterday ? It wasn’t just Millwall, Stratford had it also.
      It’ll all sort itself out soon.

      1. I did not go, Harry. Very disappointing but entirely predictable. I shall be glad when the whole BLM thing is in the past and we can all live in harmony together.

  21. As I have already said, I struggled. Had a nice dressed crab for lunch thanks to kindly neighbour going to Waitrose so that sweetened the solving. I agree with others about 5d and 6d took me much longer than it should have done as my brother and I loved it as children. I don’t like 9d, horrid word but many thanks to the setter for keeping me out of mischief and to Senf for the hints.

  22. Another relatively easy Dada offering. Not really quirky at all again this week. **/**** Certainly a little head scratching involved, but nothing that wasn’t solvable with a little grey matter use on a Sunday morning. New word for me in 15d but felt sure it was an anagram … and perseverance won out.

    Clues of note include 7a, 8a, 15d, 22d & 23d with winner 22d and 23d runner up

    Thanks to Dada and Senf for the hints

  23. After a very slow start – only four answers having read all the clues once – I enjoyed this one very much.
    I know I keep banging on about it but I do love clues/answers that make me laugh and a couple of these did.
    I got into a bit of a pickle with the 15d beef – I’ve only seen it spelt a different way.
    I didn’t like 7a very much but I did like several others including 17 and 21a and 4, 23 and 25d.
    My favourite was either 8a or 5d because they both made me laugh.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf.
    I’ve just very nearly discovered the hard way that it’s probably a good idea to take scarf off before putting wood into the stove – could have been ‘interesting’.

        1. Presume you’ve Googled it now Kath.Talk about DG knowing weird & wonderful things.

  24. Found this a well paced solve today **/****. Some nice twists with 5d and 9d getting my vote today reminding me of my favourite annual festival
    Thx Dada and Senf

  25. Apropos absolutely nothing, nice to see the article by Tasmin Little in todays DT. What a lovely girl. We knew her parents (her father was the actor George Little) and attended her first Promenade Concert, joining the party afterwards to celebrate. When we arrived at the restaurant, Tasmin turned to me and said, would you look after my violin for me please. Whew. What a responsibility. I remember going to the loo and taking the violin with me (not entrusting it to George!) difficult to go to the loo clutching a violin case. Both she and her accompanist Piers Lane have often come back to us after concerts in Cambridge, a beautiful woman with a personality to match.

    1. Thanks for the heads up on Tasmin Little, Daisygirl. I’m just about to read the article. I still think she is one f the best performers of The Lark Ascending. She always comes across as so joyful and enthusiastic when I’ve heard her on the radio. I’ve never seen her perform live. Most impressed you were entrusted with her fiddle!
      We visited Salisbury (my home town) last year and heard the Lark Ascending in the cathedral, it was a magical performance!

    2. You looked after Tamsin Little’s violin, Daisygirl? Respect to you!

      I’m afraid I fell out of love with The Lark Ascending after Classic FM played it to death. However, falling back in love with it now.

  26. I’m never on Dada’s wavelength, so banner day here as I finished this, with copious e-help and several bung ins, which were correct, even more miraculous! I ended up with the NW as holdout and was about to get a hint, when 12a fell and got me going again.
    Watering hole foxed me at 21a, a bung in but it had to be, so thanks for that Senf. I liked lots, 15d do well in Jamaica with a little Brahmin thrown in for hardiness.
    Thanks to Dada, am I getting on wavelength? Thanks Senf for unravelling so many.

  27. I found that quite tricky to solve but very enjoyable nonetheless. 24a made me chuckle and 15d when I eventually worked it out. Thanks to Senf, good luck catching Big Dave! And to Dada for the workout.

  28. Failed miserably even with the hints. It seems that Senf’s “difficult clues” are always the ones that I already have solved.

  29. Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints. Super puzzle as usual from Dada, but very tricky. Needed electronic help for 19,24,27a. The hints weren’t much use because they covered only the clues I’d managed to solve 😁. 5d was a bung in, thanks to Gazza for the explanation. Last in was 8a, which was my favourite. Was 4* / 4* for me. Had never heard of 15d, but managed to arrive at the answer from the fodder and checkers. Good fun.

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