DT 29550 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29550

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29550

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from dark, soggy South Staffs.

This puzzle took me some time to get a foothold, and I thought it was going to be really difficult, but once I got some checkers in place life became a little easier, and I finished in *** time.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Advert over railway for something to eat (4,6)
PUFF PASTRY – Put together another, somewhat dated word for an advert, another word for ‘over (and done with)’, and an abbreviation for ‘railway’.

Puff Pastry Recipe | Martha Stewart

6a           He wrote notes maybe covering for elder, it’s said (4)
BACH This composer has a name which sounds a bit like the covering of an elder, or any other tree, for that matter.

9a           Guardian article used in court worried Republican (7)
CURATOR – Anagram (worried) of COURT wrapped round an indefinite article, followed by Republican.

10a         Marine guards Queen, returning debt that will grow massively (7)
SEQUOIA – Put together the chess notation for a queen and the reverse of a three-letter acknowledgement of debt, than wrap another word for ‘marine’ round the result, to get a very large tree.

California's largest private giant sequoia stand saved from development -  SFChronicle.com

12a         Play in the traffic? (6,7)
STREET THEATRE – Cryptic definition of dramatic productions which take place outdoors among the passers-by.

14a         Daily withdrawals of liquidity from the banks? (3,5)
LOW TIDES – Cryptic definition of what you have when the water has receded from the banks of an estuary.

15a         While touring at that time one sees old city (6)
ATHENS – Another word for ‘while’ wrapped round (touring) a word for ‘at that time’.

17a         Every one of the old revolutionary Southern ways (6)
ALLEYS – Another word for ‘every one of’, followed by the reverse (revolutionary) of an old way of printing ‘the’, followed by Southern.

19a         Slough introduced to exotic tango — this goes downhill fast (8)
TOBOGGAN – A slough (of Despond, perhaps!) inserted into an anagram (exotic) of TANGO.

21a         Gadget that makes space less polluted? (6,7)
VACUUM CLEANER – The first word is what you find in outer space, the second means ‘less polluted’. The whole is a household gadget that Mrs DT has been wielding relentlessly as she prepares for Christmas.

24a         Woolly middle in peppers we ate roasted (7)
SWEATER – Hidden in the clue – the middle letters of the last four words.

25a         Move abroad — good to get away somewhere in the Gulf? (7)
EMIRATE – Remove the abbreviation for Good from a word for ‘move abroad’.

26a         Cinders put on diamonds showing sparkle (4)
DASH – The abbreviation for the Diamond suit at cards, followed by another word for the cinders and other detritus from a fire.

27a         Hold-up requires audacity and impudence (10)
BOTTLENECK – Split this (6,4) and you have a Cockney rhyming slang word for ‘audacity’ or ‘courage’, and another slang word for ‘impudence’, often preceded by ‘brass’.


1d           Settlement is crowded, we hear (4)
PACT – A diplomatic settlement or agreement which sounds like (we hear) another word for ‘crowded’.

2d           Driver’s warning was written up as expected (7)
FORESAW – The warning shouted by a golfer whose drive is errant, followed by the reverse (written up) of WAS (from the clue).

3d           Legal case that shows one’s young? (9,4)
PATERNITY SUIT – Cryptic definition of a court action designed to find out the father of a child.

4d           Spades or clubs? With two queens one mysteriously makes tricks (8)
SORCERER – Put together the abbreviation for Spades in a pack of cards, OR (from the clue), the abbreviation for Clubs, and two instances of the Queen’s regnal cipher.

5d           Lie about switching second test (5)
RESIT – Another word for ‘lie’ (as in ‘are located’) and the Latin word for ‘about’ or ‘concerning’, with their order reversed (switching).

7d           Someone following in Model T, so parked up (7)
APOSTLE – Hidden in reverse (up) in the clue.

8d           Haul new plastic nets, getting unexpectedly lucky (6-4)
HEAVEN-SENT – Put together another word for ‘haul’, an abbreviation for New, and an anagram (plastic) of NETS.

11d         No.1 mounts, kept by trained equestrian in form (13)
QUESTIONNAIRE – The letters which look like ‘No 1’ are reversed (mounts) and inserted into an anagram (trained) of EQUESTRIAN.

13d         Rash devil dials mistakenly (3-7)
ILL-ADVISED – Anagram (mistakenly) of DEVIL DIALS.

16d         Orderly officer, that man needs payment! (8)
COHERENT – Put together the abbreviation for a commanding officer, the pronoun for ‘that man’, and a payment for the hire of property.

18d         Needing pounds not pence, steals jewellery items (7)
LOCKETS – Another word for ‘steals (small moveable property)’ has the abbreviation for Pence removed and replaced by the Latin abbreviation for pounds.

20d         Gear Ruby argued occasionally is junk (7)
GARBAGE – Alternate letters (occasionally) of the first three words of the clue.

22d         What may be stuffed in banger, say, before function (5)
CARGO – A vehicle which may be a banger if it is old and decrepit, followed by another verb meaning ‘function’.

23d         Bill the headmaster (4)
BEAK – Double definition, the first belonging to a bird.

Did you know that A Tale of Two Cities was first published in two local newspapers?

“It was the Bicester Times.

It was the Worcester Times …”

The Quick Crossword pun BANG + COCK = BANGKOK

159 comments on “DT 29550

  1. Brilliant! This required a fair bit of lateral thinking but I thought it a tremendous end to the working week, quirky and cryptic.
    The tree was new to me but it was very sympathetically clued and I wasn’t sure I’d parsed 5d correctly but DT confirmed my thinking.
    Lot’s of podium contenders but I’ve gone for 27a plus 8&18d with top spot going to the very clever 1a
    3/5* for me.
    Many thanks to the setter and to DT for the top notch entertainment.

      1. We have one in the centre of our village. A builder bought the plot and applied for planning permission. I was a District Councillor and we all warned him that the tree was listed and could not be removed. Against all advice he built the house and has spent the past thirty years applying for permission to cut it down as it obstructs his light!!

        1. Silly builder. Two years ago, well into our house search, we found the perfect house in the perfect location. Except it had a huge (banyan) tree very close to the house. This tree is known for doing serious damage to foundations, plumbing, swimming pools etc, and is does not withstand hurricanes. Yet it is protected. So we didn’t buy the house. That builder bought himself a long term problem.

          1. Banyan tree reminds me of a miracle slimming aid, invented by one “Gladstone Screwer.” The ingredients were banyan tree juice, powdered parrot droppings and gnat’s milk. When asked by doctor Nookie why the serum was so expensive, Gladstone replied, “have you ever tried to milk a gnat ?!”

            Name that film.

          2. Those damned banyan trees are so huge and have such shallow roots, every hurricane has at least one on it’s side with the roots standing up like a halo!

  2. I made heavy weather of this puzzle, which I found far more difficullt than yesterday’s. I found some of the clues a bit vague and wasn’t on the same wavelength as the compiler, I’m afraid (4*/2*). There were a few good clues, however, and I found 6a and 27a quite amusing. Thanks to DT as I needed to check quite a few to see if they were right (my newspaper is covered with question marks). Thanks to the compiler also,, although this puzzle wasn’t for me.

  3. Great puzzle today. Lots of fun to be had all over it. Took a bit of sorting out but I got there in the end after the elder covering composer revealed himself. Thanks to DT for the blog and the old Dickens Joke at the end of it. Thanks to today’s setter. Play nicely over the weekend children and I will see you all on Monday

  4. I had the answer, but needed the review to explain 1a. I didn’t know the old name for an advert. I managed to work out the first word because 1d and 2d were straightforward so I had “P-F-.” The first word of 1a couldn’t be anything else that fitted with the clue. I have lots of ticks but favourites were 6a, 10a and 27a. Thank you setter and Deep Threat. A really enjoyable crossword and review.

  5. This provided great amusement whilst watching a storm lashed Plymouth Sound from my window. Whoever the setter is he or she is on my wavelength so a **/**** for me. COTD was 12a with 21a a close second. Great original clueing.

  6. 3*/4*. This was another very enjoyable Friday puzzle. Like DT it took me some time to get started, but then it all fell into place nicely although I’m not entirely convinced by the definition for 22d.

    With plenty to choose from, 14a was my favourite and it is joined by 24a & 4d on the podium.

    Many thanks to the setter (Zandio, I suspect) and to DT.

      1. No Americanism that I can see in either the clue or the answer, Merusa. I thought it was excellent, and it made me smile. :smile:

          1. Collins gives sweater as both American and British.

            I haven’t heard the delightful “woolly” used for donkey’s years, possibly not since my grandmother died eons ago. “David! it’s very cold! If you are going out, make sure you put your woolly on”.

            1. Ah yes? Woolies! The very name conveyed warmth and comfort. If I was ill, mum would tuck me up in bed and then lay a wooly blanket on me to keep me warm.
              It is wonderful how this blog reminds me of good things in my life.

              1. My Dad called them a woolly. I’ve never heard anyone else use the term. Also jersey seems to have died out too. It’s jumper or sweater now.

                1. “That’s a bonny Gansey you have there”
                  is a common phrase from the North East
                  roughly translated as
                  “The Guernsey patterned fisherman’s garment you are sporting is rather attractive”
                  Each fishing village had their own special design of ribs and cable designs used to identify the home of lost sailors if they were washed ashore. There is a fine museum in Whitby where I first heard of this.

  7. Having sufficient sleep, a working boiler and a superbly hot bath clearly worked wonders for me. Completed in a steady *** time, without a single ‘Umm’.

    Many thanks to the compiler and DT.

    1. Lucky you, Malcolm. We’re still waiting here with yet another engineer promised for Monday, but if he fails to fix the old boiler, it will be New Year before we can have a new one…….fortunately we have some convector heaters an immersion and a gas fire…and we have stocked up whisky.
      Not our best year, 2020.

  8. If you thought yesterdays was hard then I think todays was another step up;
    Nothing from the first pass except the end of 1a and 23d …….which reminds me of our old headmaster at grammar school – the alma mater of probably the next Labour Prime Minister – who bore an uncanny resemblance to Severus Snape and was “affectionately” known as Beaky.

    Do you think that 11d reads better with…on form rather than…. in form? I’d have got it sooner.

    Too many good clues throughout but particularly like 6a 10a 24a , 1d and 4d. Thank you to our setter for the best puzzle of the week.

    Needed DTs excellent hints (Thank you) to parse 18d the only one I couldn’t figure.

    As DTs pun is so bad ( No thank you ) how about a Christmas Joke which is an even better (worse) one.

    How did Mary and Joseph know that the baby Jesus was exactly 7lbs 6 oz when he was born?
    ………………They had Away in a Manger !!!!

        1. I our school (state selective school) we had 3 Latin teachers. One was called Noddy, one Basher and one Beaky.

  9. I have actually managed to finish a Friday puzzle. It took me along time to get going and it was a real challenge, but thoroughly enjoyable. I was puzzled by the first word in 1a, never heard that to mean advert, learn something new everyday. Many thanks to the compiler and Deep Threat

  10. Bit of a slow start then all fell into place, excellent cluing throughout with nothing iffy or obscure, most enjoyable and a **/**** for me.
    Liked 10a, nicely mislead re the ‘marine’- there are some excellent specimens at Bodnant Gardens off the A5, well worth the trip.
    Favourite was 14a for the originality and surface.
    Thanks to DT for the Dickens ‘first words’
    Top draw concise Quickie., all set up for the day.

  11. Re the quickie – the’ve been difficult this week I think.
    Could OVERLY work for 4d ..it’s what I had. Took me ages to find out what I’d got wrong according to the ipad.

    1. Agree with you on the difficult quickies, in particular yesterdays generally and penumbra in particular.
      Don’t think you could have openly, but I could be wrong!

          1. Very funny DG.

            Took some time to get going with the crossword, but in the end only failed on 5d – we had reset, but knew it wasn’t really right.

            Thanks to setter and DT

            Loved the cracker jokes…

            1. He was but he was never comfortable with it. I happened to get to know John Simmonds, who was head of Light Entertainment at the BBC and produced many of the great comedy shows including Round the Horne. He told me Kenneth Williams was a very tortured man and he couldn’t stand him. That, of course, is his opinion but it does explain, perhaps, where his humour came from.

              1. The Diaries and Letters of KW are a good read and do help to throw light on the tortured nature of his soul. but Round the Horne, Julian and Sandy, are still some of his funniest work. ht “stop messin’ about stuff and the carry on’s less so IMO

  12. I also had a slow start but it all fell into place at a steady pace. ***/**** A really enjoyable workout this morning. The only one I wasn’t too sure about was 17a so thanks for the hint there. I was a bit confused by the word plastic in 8d. I assumed it denoted the anagram of nets but it’s a bit of an odd one. Favourite goes to 10a. An entertaining bit of misdirection in marine. I went through several possibilities in my head before arriving at the most obvious. Thanks to all.

      1. Thank you. I’ll try to remember. There are so many different words used to denote an anagram in the mix, it’s tricky sometimes to work out.

  13. My first read through yielded absolutely nothing. I put the paper down and took my wife into town to choose a new washing machine and came home, mind cleared and ready for a fresh start. I began with the bottom right quarter and worked steadily northwards and finished in pretty good time in the end. My first tick for a favourite went against 24a – so cleverly hidden. Next was 2d followed by 4d and 10a. In the end I really couln’t choose a favourite, because the whole puzzle was quite brilliant. Thanks setter, I loved it and thanks DT despite my not needing any hints.

      1. Good Lord no, lol. Ours chose the run in to Christmas to break down – you know the way things always seem to do just before some major event or other. The last one gave up on the eve of our younger son’s wedding day . . . typical, huh? :-)

        1. The car has been my drain this year just this December service + MOT then brakes and just this week the exhaust went. I doubt it is over yet as they warned me that tyres and the cambelt have a couple of thousand miles at most!
          It would have been better spread out but the automatic extension they gave the MOT in 1st lockdown lumped all the problems together.

        1. Lol. I know about as much about washing machines as Mrs SB does about electric drills and power tools in general, I just go as moral support or something close and to make sure that it will at least fit in the space it’s meant to ‘live’ in once it arrives here. :-) :-)

      2. Many years ago, I was working quite hard and it was Christmas Eve before I realised I hadn’t bought Mrs. C. a present. I dashed to the shops in the afternoon but all I could get was a steam iron.

        It was a cold Christmas!

        1. Our first Christmas here in Norfolk Mr M said ‘ your present is in the garage’. Yippee! I visualised a lovely little sports car and rushed down to the garage. I couldn’t see anything resembling a car and asked where it was. ‘Here’ he said. He was standing by a large bright red metal thing. I asked what it was. It was a generator in case of power cuts! I was aghast and then he said ‘nice colour isn’t it?! Grrrr. It has been used a few times mainly for other people’s outside events. As we can’t have Carols by the Quay this year, please go on to Facebook and look at Cley Harbour. Our whole village are doing a living Advent Window calendar – they are just brilliant and still several more to open.

          1. I woke up one Christmas morning, to be given the most beautiful enamel ring box. I opened it really slowly, full of anticipation ……….. there was nothing inside. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The situation was made worse by my husband’s announcement that he’d bought his mother the same ring box. Must have been a bogof.

        2. I too remember many years ago on Christmas Eve just as the local shop was closing my husband rushed round there to get some Brillo pads which I needed and I was amused to hear that the proprietor had asked him if it was a last minute gift for his wife – fortunately that was not the case!

            1. Oh give them time, give them time. Mamon must be served at all cost and delivered by drone.

          1. Well, I learned my lesson, Busy. From then on I made sure I gave full attention to the Christmas gift for Mrs. C.

            Mind you, it’s easier now. We don’t bother with presents. We just have a good time.

        1. I gave my ex wife a chain saw for her birthday once. I’ve still got it, the chain saw that is.

    1. Our son used to work for a well known chain of ” purveyors of perfume” and on the afternoon of the 24th there would be phone calls to head office to announce that the “men are out”!

  14. I came to this after my fortnightly ‘breakfast with Elgar’ and thought it just right for a Friday. I did like the ‘different to the usual’ clue for 15a’

    Thanks to DT for the blog and the joke and Neil O for his contribution @8. Mr CS groaned at both. Thanks to the setter whoever it was.

  15. Took me a while to parse 9a as I was trying to use ‘ate’ = worried but a relatively smooth run elsewhere.
    Quite a few vying for the podium but eventually opted for 1,21&27a.

    Thanks to our compiler – Zandio sounds about right to me – and to DT for the review.
    Oh good, the snow is falling gently on the blog, thank you, BD!

  16. It’s snowing. At least it looks like snow this year. Six years ago I thought Big Dave was scattering somebody’s ashes

  17. 18d favourite once the penny dropped. Had cheek in 27a for a time which held me up. Why doesn’t Batman have turkey at christmas? Because he’s got a capon. Ta to all.

  18. Tricky but solvable with some thought. I thought the lurker at 7d was very well hidden and I did like the short and sweet 6a. I had no idea what 1a has to do with adverts. No real favourites, just happy to finish.

    Many thanks to the setter and to DT for the hints.

    What do they sing at a snowman’s birthday party? “Freeze a jolly good fellow!”

      1. Jokes about sugar are rare.
        Jokes about brown sugar – demerara

        Which company makes the best sausages in Palestine?
        Walls of Jericho.

        1. We used to be able to get tinned Wall’s sausages in Jamaica when I was growing up, they were delish!

          1. Be careful though you know what they say
            “Walls have ears and testicles and other unspeakable bits”

  19. A pleasantly testing puzzle that was a slow burner to start, then a rapid charge to the finish. Some excellent clues, of which the clever 14a takes the top spot. Terrific stuff.

    My thanks to Zandio (it sure feels like one of yours), and to DT.

  20. [Oh dear, I now have some new floaters in my eyes…oh, thank goodness, they’re cyber-snow flakes!]

    What a great Friday puzzle, though it did take me a bit of cerebral readjustment to get going, but once I did, I thought it the pick of the week’s cryptics for me. My podium is crowded with the wonders of 8d, 2d, & 13d in a three-way tie for the Bronze; the Silver goes to 27a; and the Gold to 12a, with an honourable mention to my LOI, 4d. Thanks to DT for the review and to today’s setter. 2.5* / 5*

  21. Like others it was a slow start for me but things slowly fell into place for a very enjoyable challenge.
    Initially having test as the second word for 3d didn’t help matters and I still don’t really understand the definition for 22d. Also, why is the city in 15a old? It’s still there isn’t it? These are minor quibbles however.
    Thank you to all involved as always.

      1. Yes, I guess so, it’s just that I was thinking of something like Ur and also probably trying to insert an o into my answer. I’m easily confused nowadays 😂

              1. “Fred, Velma, Daphne – name an African animal that has a horn”
                “I know you do Scooby, but it’s not your turn”

  22. With the appearance of K, Q, V, and W I started looking for an X-less pangram but in the end the absent X was joined by J and Z so not a proXimal and I would agree with RD that Zandio is today’s setter.
    A very enjoyable Friday puzzle completed at a gallop – 2.5*/4.5*.
    Candidates for favourite – 27a, 4d, and 8d – and the winner is 27a.
    Thanks to Zandio and DT.

    1. Puff is an old fashioned term used to describe what we might now call hype. Django used the same term in reverse at 1 across in last Wednesdays Toughie 2551

    2. The first word is another name for an advertisement. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. It’s in the BRB, though.

      1. what a lot of definitions for a little word – the online chambers has 8 definitions as a noun and another 8 as a verb!

  23. Well I’m certainly in agreement with Chriscross & NeilO. Found this a hard grind from the word go & a good deal tougher than yesterday. The top half yielded nowt from the first read through so it was slow progress from the south. After **** time I was left with 14a & finally 4d & they took half as long again, the latter despite realising 2 ERs were involved. Additionally the advert bit of 1a was new to me & failed to parse either 5d or 6a correctly but at least it was a hint free finish. Still enjoyed it however & thought there were some cracking clues of which 8d & particularly 10a were my picks – I played Van’s Redwood Tree (off the great St Dominic’s Preview album) when that penny dropped.
    Thanks to the setter (Zandio) & to DT – loved the Dickens gag.

  24. Got there eventually, but needed help with the parsing of 5d and 22d. Thought it was even harder than yesterday’s – both could easily have been Toughies. ****/***
    Some very good clues – thank you to the setter. And thanks to Deep Threat for the help (and the joke, which needs to be read and not told, as I found out to my cost!)

    1. Here is a joke that only works on the printed page and won’t be understood by many

      There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand the binary system and those who don’t

  25. A really good crossword today I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge last in was 14a and gets my vote for COTD with quite a few others on the podium ***/****
    Big thanks to the setter and DT.

  26. Very tricky for me. Not made any easier due to having a certain feline on my lap throughout. There is no budging her so I’m typing this with one finger of my right hand, as my left hand is around Lola so she doesn’t tumble off my lap in her slumbers. I am, essentially, her servant.

    Today’s soundtrack: Ego Ella May – Honey For Wounds; CSNY – Deja Vu.

    Thanks to Zandio (?) and DT for much valued hints.

  27. My goodness, all the Christmas cracker jokes are coming out aren’t they. A very nice puzzle which took quite a bit of thought but all fell into place except for 14a. I was completely blank on that one and needed Deep Threat’s hint and then thought Doh.
    Hope Labradors Rule got on OK yesterday. It is a worrying time to be ill.
    Thanks to the setter and the hints and the seasonal snowflakes, it is cold enough for snow here in Cambridge. I drove down to the apple store in the next village this morning – the first time I have driven my car since October. Oh, it did feel good and my knee worked. I have just heard I have a real live physiotherapist coming to the house next Tuesday! Glory be. Have a jolly weekend, everyone.

    1. Thanks DG. The procedure was OK it is the result that will dominate Christmas.
      Like 25 years ago our daughter was told she would hear whether she had got into Oxford before Christmas. We had given up hope when the letter arrived on Christmas Eve.

      1. This may sound trite, LROK but there’s nothing you can do about the result so put the worry to one side and enjoy Christmas. I think the whole blog is behind you.

      1. Oh my word yes, The loveliest apples you can imagine, and pears and a couple of quinces to go in the Farthinghoe Pork and some presses apple juice. Lots of old varieties with the history of each apple written above the box, great joy in eating an apple which was known in 1613! . I bought enough to see me over until they open again at the beginning of January.

        1. That place sounds wonderful, Daisygirl. Do they have a website?

          So pleased your knee is getting there. It must have felt great to drive and experience freedom. What a Christmas gift.

          Now, if I don’t see to this fly banging about in my bedside lamp, I will go mad! Aren’t they supposed to be dead at this time of year?

          1. I have no idea but they are called Cam Valley Orchards. They sell to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday but they also sell to the trade, The nearby station was originally opened to take the fruit to Covent Garden. Delightful family we know them well.

  28. Today’s was doable and enjoyable for me. Just 5d I couldn’t parse. 6 and 21A were my favourites. Yesterday’s is a different story. I’m only about halfway though so far……..

  29. 10a One of the few words (in English) with four consecutive vowels … if this is the only one that you know … join the queue!

    Unless you’re Hawaiian and know how to spell onomatopoeia?

    1. It is (I think) the shortest word in English with all five vowels, although there is a common French word with all five vowels which is shorter.

      1. There was an Austrian footballer in the Premier League a few years back. His name had five consecutive consonants. Played for West Ham and Aston Villa, I believe.

  30. It is a funny old world 😳 I could not complete yesterday but today I would vote this crossword of the week 🤗 ***/**** Favourites of which there many but 14a & 4d were brilliant. Big thanks to Deep Threat and to the Setter, is it Campbell🤔

  31. Like many first pass yielded almost nothing but slowly but surely trundled through it.
    Not really a fun solve but satisfying to complete
    Thanks to setter & DT.
    Suggestion for seasonal quickie super-pun:
    It was sleeting & 2 Russians were arguing about whether it was snowing or raining.
    The wife of one turned & said “You won’t win, Rudolf the red knows rain dear”

    1. Kasparov fans after winning an event held in a hotel
      “Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer”
      Festive covid song
      “I’m dreaming of a quite riskless”
      Y of NY

    2. Yesterday site 1* and I struggled and had to resort to help. Today’s rated 3* and I finished it with no aids in my target time. Just shows peoples brains work differently. I’d rate this about 2* but very enjoyable.

  32. Hello all, compiler here. Thanks very much for the discussion and the analysis and the cracker jokes. This is my last effort before Dec 25, so happy Christmas one and all.

    1. Thanks for popping in and for providing us with such an enjoyable puzzle today as well as being part of a great team that brightens up every Friday. Same again in 2021 please!

      Merry Christmas to you.

    2. Happy Christmas Zandio, and to all you compilers who have just about made this year bearable – it is deeply appreciated.

    3. Many thanks for all of your excellent crosswords over the year & looking forward to more of the same next.

    4. Merry Christmas, Zandio, from the chilly shores of S Carolina, and thanks for all of your cruciverbal art.

    5. Many thanks for the enjoyment, Zandio – or should I say the cruciverbal tussle?. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours and let us hope for a brighter New Year.

  33. I found this tricky but doable. I got the composer immediately as I could only think of one with 4 letters but couldn’t see why till the hints came out. When I read the comments, I have paper version next to the computer so that I can see which clues they are talking about. However the puzzle is blank as I fill it in on a Kindle. Frequently I cannot remember the answer that I put in – does anyone else find this and wonder how they got there?

  34. Seems to me there are two Toughies today… oh dear. Only got 2 at first pass, and 3 more with picture hints, thanks Deep Threat. I am my own worst enemy as I really don’t like to use a dictionary or on line help, so I am setting aside and will see if any light bulbs go off later. But never mind, I enjoy reading all the comments anyway. Congratulations to all of you able to fill in the boxes. Thanks to Zandio for the challenge. Just too hard for me.

  35. Great puzzle, I really enjoyed it. Tree was new to me so had to check what I had constructed. Thanks to DT and Zandio.

  36. This puzzle took me 2 get up & leave its, hence ran me overtime. I needed the guidance of DT for 4 clues, but that said it was a classy & worthy Friday cryptic.
    Several of the so called quick Crosswords have taken me over Quick time, but a very enjoyable week of challenging & thoughtful cryptics /quickies! As a note I managed to complete 2 tough puzzles in a better time than the cryptics of that day.
    Many thanks to the setter for the workout & to DT for review & direction.

  37. A great crossword – I really enjoyed it very much.
    Certainly not easy by any means but perhaps not quite as difficult as Zandio can be – I know I’ve had trouble with him before (or her – I don’t know).
    Thinking that I could spell 10a was my first mistake – I can’t.
    Second mistake was having ‘ebb’ for the first bit of 14a but 2d sorted that one out.
    My favourite was either 6 or 24a.
    I think everything else has already been said so thank you, Zandio for the crossword, and DT for the hints.

  38. Could not do this for toffee…just not on the wavelength at all.
    Thanks to Zandio and to Deep Threat,

    Why didn’t Prancer and Dancer sell on Ebay ? They were too dear.
    Boom boom!

  39. 6a as my COTD, but it took a while to get there and the next thing I knew it was time to turn the Xmas tree lights on. Thank you Zandio and DT.

  40. I couldn’t have been further off wavelength! I don’t think I solved even half, total mystery. When I found myself using e-help too much I lost interest.
    Of the ones I did solve, my fave was 27a.
    You’re way beyond my ken, Zandio, glad you’re appreciated elsewhere. Well done Deep Threat, you’re brilliant.

  41. A puzzle of two halves for me. The west was done and dusted in my first brew. The east held out until I had a 8d piece of inspiration for the tree and 11d. 4d + 10a favourite PDM and tied for my podium. I didn’t have any left while I waited for Mama Bee to get her Barnet done so stared at the Elgar toughie for half an hour to get three answers (probably 3 more than usual!)Thanks to DT for the hints and Zandio for a great puzzle

  42. Strangely I found this one easier than yesterday and very enjoyable. Got sidetracked on 27a thinking the impudence part had to be cheek. Last one in 16 d. Thanks to Zandio and Deep Threat.

    1. I was feeling a bit cheeky today (_!_) as well but when I recalled my Cockney Slang the penny dropped

  43. About right right a Friday. Never heard of the advert in 1a, I have now. I didn’t know that 7a was the shortest word in the English language using all 5 vowels, I do now, thanks Gazza. Not sure that space is a vacuum, but that’s just me being picky. Favourite was 6a for the Christmas cracker standard humour. Thanks to Zandio and DT.

  44. Would be grateful if someone could explain 5d, as the hint confuses me even more. What word for lie and what word for about??
    Wasn’t keen on 12a, apart from that, super, tricky crossword.
    Thanks all.

  45. Enjoyed this. Especially ‘Play in the traffic’.
    Haven’t done Thursday’s yet – will I find it easier?

  46. Late start on this one as family things came into play and delayed me until an afternoon start. Definitely a ***/**** today. Slightly more difficult I thought than yesterday’s, but similar in head scratching and crosschecking and some hinting required.
    COTD candidates 1a, 6a, 14a, 17a & 4d with winner 1a

    Thanks to setter and DT

  47. Enjoyed this, but a couple of quibbles. For a scouser 6a rhymes with lack not lark, and in 5d, how is sit a synonym of lie? Anyway, an interesting challenge, and much better than yesterday’s. 14a my favourite, amongst a good crop. Thanks to the setter!

    1. Surely a Scouser should pronounce it the same as everyone else as it’s a German name (and as it has a soft ch is therefore not a strict homophone!)?

    2. Homophones always get questioned due to the varying accents up and down this green and pleasant land of ours.

      So, the compilers always ask for a bit of latitude.

  48. I started off thinking this was going to be as tricky as yesterday’s but I managed to muddle through and found it very enjoyable. I knew puff was another name for an advert but it took me ages to think of a food that started with the word as I couldn’t get beyond puffball mushrooms. I also tried googling cardo for 22d which turned out to be a word but not necessarily something that could be stuffed. ***/****

  49. Needed a few sittings to sort this one out but I wasn’t going to give up.
    Finished with the rather good 14a which eluded me for so long.
    Definitely need to see more from this setter to master his deviousness.
    Nice to see the blog in such a cheerful mood.
    Thanks to Zandio and to DT.

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