DT 29554 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29554

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29554

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Kia ora from Aotearoa.

Christmas in New Zealand means days at the beach with family, and pohutukawa trees covered in crimson blossom. This picture is how one of ours looks right now. The remains of the flax flower spikes that we mentioned in an earlier blog are in the background too. We appreciate that this Christmas will be a ‘different’ one for most of you but it can still be a joyous one. Best wishes to you all.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on with today’s puzzle from Jay. We enjoyed it.


1a     Hanger-on rejected by society locally (7)
ACOLYTE : A reverse lurker, hiding in the clue.

9a     So far from success, others mostly adjusted (8)
HITHERTO : A success often used to describe a popular entertainment and then an anagram (adjusted) of the first five letters of OTHER(s).

10a     Get ready to slim down after purge, oddly (7)
PREPARE : The first third and fifth letters of ‘purge’ and a synonym for slim down.

11a     Sort of figure dog does this to keep everybody quiet (8)
BALLPARK : The noise a dog makes surrounds another word for everybody and the musical instruction for quiet.

12a     The setter’s back story prior to university environment (6)
MILIEU : The reversal of the short way Jay would refer to himself, an untrue story and then U(niversity).

13a     Lose job in area away from cheap ghetto in trouble (3,3,4)
GET THE CHOP : An anagram (in trouble) of CHE(a)P GHETTO without A(rea).

15a     Having nothing on — save time, ultimately (4)
BARE : A word for save meaning except and then the last letter of ‘time’.

16a     Animal that’s roamed about in parched environment? (9)
DROMEDARY : A three letter word for parched surrounds an anagram (about) of ROAMED.

21a     Ruler seeing eastern border moving westwards (4)
EMIR : The abbreviation for eastern, and the reversal (moving westwards) of border or edge.

22a     Person investigating needing to put watch on soldier (7,3)
PRIVATE EYE : A low ranking soldier and watch or keep under observation.

24a     New exam must include end of term average (6)
NORMAL : N(ew) and then the type of exam that is not written contains the final letter of ‘term’.

25a     Independent politician played a part and had an effect (8)
IMPACTED : I(ndependent) and a Member of Parliament followed by played a part on stage or TV.

27a     People in a particular house may find cars parked by empty garage (7)
GEMINIS : The first and last letters of garage and then iconic small cars from the 1960’s.

28a     Stopped and relaxed after a run (8)
ARRESTED : ‘A’ from the clue and R(un), then relaxed or took a breather.

29a     Presenting a party of men full of spirit (7)
STAGING : The spirit usually flavoured with juniper berries is inside a ‘men only’ party.


2d     A right racket in California for a papal adviser (8)
CARDINAL : The three letter abbreviation for California contains ‘A’ from the clue, R(ight) and racket or loud noise.

3d     Unbalanced team after cut beginning to despair (8)
LOPSIDED : Start with a synonym for cut, then another word for team and finally the first letter of despair.

4d     Republican must be in however unfashionable everywhere (10)
THROUGHOUT : Another word for however or nevertheless contains R(epublican) and then unfashionable or not trendy.

5d     Document obtained by way of covering letters at last (4)
VISA : A short Latin word used to mean ‘by way of’ contains the last letter of ‘letters’.

6d     The girl Olivier regularly used will be put off (6)
SHELVE : A female personal pronoun and then the second, fourth and sixth letters of Olivier.

7d     Hear bet is off and get some air (7)
BREATHE : An anagram (is off) of HEAR BET.

8d     Models make fun of highs (4-3)
MOCK-UPS : Make fun of or ridicule and then high moods.

11d     Death of British Trident designed to protect Spain (6,3)
BITTER END : B(ritish) then an anagram (designed) of TRIDENT includes the IVR code for Spain.

14d     Fortuitous, then, as even after a fashion? (6-4)
HEAVEN-SENT : An anagram (after a fashion) of THEN AS EVER.

17d     Hunger may be variable before making money (8)
YEARNING : One of the letters used as a mathematical variable and then making money or having an income.

18d     Drink, seeing emancipation with no sign of hesitation (8)
LIBATION : Remove two letters indicating hesitation from within a word for emancipation or freedom.

19d     Rice, e.g. squeezed by stone, must be best (7)
OPTIMAL : A stone possibly mined in Coober Pedy surrounds the first name of a well-known lyricist.

20d     Captain initially going south for these fish (7)
KIPPERS : An informal word for a captain has its first letter moved to the end (south in a down clue).

23d     Copper’s taken in by expert put on trial (6)
ACCUSE : An expert or adept contains the chemical symbol for copper with its ‘S.

26d     Most recent unprotected animals? (4)
EWES : Remove the first and last letters from a word meaning most recent.

The well-hidden lurker  in 1a held us up at the start so gets our vote for favourite today.

Quickie pun    foreign    +    stuns    =    for instance

79 comments on “DT 29554

  1. I found this very similar to yesterday’s. All over in * time, with all but 5 completed on the first pass. I must be taking my ‘wavelength’ pills this week.

    I didn’t even mark a single ‘Umm’. My last in was 2d, assuming the answer was some RC functionary that I didn’t know, until the sesterce dropped.

    Many thanks to Jay and the 2 Ks.

  2. Thanks to Jay and the 2Ks for the usual Wednesday service – although saying that, it wasn’t a “start with the Downs day” (that came later with the Toughie Seasons greetings to all three of you

    Fans of alphabetical jigsaw crosswords may wish to head over to the FT where Julius (Hudson in the Toughie) has provided a crossword just for you.

  3. So much to admire in this excellent Jay offering, not difficult but hugely enjoyable. I thought the reverse lurker at 1a was superb and it’s joined on the podium by 27a&18d.
    Special mention to 9&12 across for being great words and the bar/save synonym in 15a, one I often employ myself.
    Many thanks and seasons greetings to the 3 birds. Love the picture of the Pohutukawa tree, reminds me of happy times spent in NZ

      1. Very true RD!
        Re your comment on the surface of 27a….rivals 1a in the Silvanus Toughie yesterday, both superb.

        1. There are some setters and some solvers who seem to pay little heed to surface readings. For me they are one of the hallmarks of a great crossword.

  4. A really entertaining and absorbing pizzle from Jay, with some craftily camouflaged clues(2*/5*). The reverse lurker, at 1a and the beautifuy put together 4d were fine examples. There was great misdirection too, in 10d and 27a. Many thanks to the Kiwis for the hints and the delightfully colourful photo ( everything is grey and rainy here!). Thanks too to Jay. A peaceful Christmas and a better year in 2021 to all.

  5. 2*/5*. A crossword of great joy plus an excruciating Quickie pun (which is as it should be!)

    27a was my favourite, and what a great surface! Special mention for 1a too.

    Many thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

  6. Unlike Malcolm, this Jay’s puzzle required a bit of thought for several clues but that may well be because I’m a bit scattered! 11a and 9a took me far longer than they should have done and I still needed the hints to understand 9a. ***/**** 27a is pretty cunning but the reverse lurker at 1a is my favourite today. Thanks to all.

  7. Another beautifully crafted masterpiece from Jay. Everything flows so effortlessly, the mark of a true professional. I did not have to look too far to find my favourite, the brilliantly hidden reversed lurker at 1a. This was a real ray of light in an otherwise dull day.

    Many thanks to both avian species involved.

  8. What can I say? Not difficult, but what a well clued puzzle yet again – a real belter. Thanks Jay and thanks to the 2Ks also.

  9. Certainly at the easier end of the Jay spectrum but, unlike Malcolm, I’d say a fair bit trickier than yesterday as there were a few head scratchers dotted around the grid. Pleasingly free of obscurities & nicely clued throughout it was an enjoyable solve with no parsing problems. Particularly liked 1&12a.
    Many thanks both to Jay & to the 2Ks for making Wednesdays something to look forward to in crosswordland

  10. Very enjoyable puzzle – only help I needed was the quickie pun huge groan which is as it should be.
    Beautiful Pohutukawa – very envious have tried growing from seed in UK with no success – favourite NZ tree
    Many thanks to Jay and the 2 Kiwis – Happy Christmas to all 3

  11. What a difference a day makes, yesterdays puzzle a complete failure, just could not get to grips with it. Todays however fairly whistled through it except for 12a never heard of it. Looking firward to to,orrows offering.
    Thanks to the 2Ks and setter.
    Hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas.

  12. Many thanks to Jay for yet another excellent puzzle, and to the 2Kiwis for the write-up. Wishing the three of you, and families, a very enjoyable Christmas.

  13. Excellent as always on a Wednesday both puzzle and review. Well done Colin re the clue writing competition. Saint Sharon and I are on our way to our first restricted funeral today. The first time we have had to wait and see if we made the guest list. It may be grey and miserable on this sad day but the sun is still shining. We just can’t see it

    1. Thanks for mentioning the clue writing competition MP. I still have a pleased glow when I think about it.
      One thing that entering the competition does is to increase my admiration and appreciation of our regular setters, including Jay. They don’t just do one clue but a whole puzzle set of clever clues week after week after week. Hats off to them all.
      For those who don’t read the newsletter the clue was;
      Unusual cat nastily holds back gift bearer (5,5)

      1. My thoughts exactly, Colin. I can spend days pondering that one clue and often wonder how our setters ever find time to think about anything else!

  14. Looks as though I was alone in making very heavy weather of 19d. Tried to fit in all manner of stones and rice crops but to no avail until long after the rest of the grid was filled.
    1&27a sit on top of my pile but 19d has to get a mention for causing me so much grief.

    Many thanks to Jay for a splendid selection of puzzles over the year, hopefully one more to come before we wave goodbye to 2020, and to our 2Ks as they bask in the warmth – best of festive wishes to all three of you.

  15. Even on his easier days Jay always gives you something to help you start – never universally hard clueing. Another enjoyable crossword including a particularly good reverse lurker which took me ages to spot – and a “doh” moment. Thanks Jay and 2 Kiwis – always good to read your intro from NZ.

  16. I agree with Jane that 19d was tricky and I only got it fairly easily because I had all the other letters. For some reason my last one in was 26d which I found the most troublesome but I don’t know why now. A first rate Jay and thank you to the 2Kiwis👍👍

  17. Bit trickier than the previous puzzles this week but eminently solvable and enjoyable. Thx for the hints which helped me explain my answers to 12a, 2a and 26d. I did like 27a and my fav was 20d.
    Thx to all

  18. A splendid Wednesday puzzle, completed at a fast gallop (just) – **/*****.
    It did take a little while for the usage of Rice in 19d to register. It didn’t help that there were two ‘reasons’ for capitalisation.
    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 4d, and 26d – and the winner is 12a.
    Thanks to Jay and the 2Kiwis for this and all of this year’s puzzles and blogs.

    P.S. Is it me or are Jay’s Quick puzzles some of the toughest around?

  19. A very enjoyable Jay puzzle although I did have to resort to the hints here and there. 19d was one I needed the hint for because, like Jane, I was going down the grain route. Agree with the majority that the reverse lurker at 1a was disguised brilliantly. My COTD is 27a.

    Thanks to Jay and the 2Kiwis and I wish the three of you, along with your families, a very Merry Christmas and a better New Year.

  20. I woke up thinking ‘A JayDay!’ And a total treat, as usual. 19d was my LOI, but 1a, 18d, and 4d are my picks for the podium. Many thanks and a Merry Christmas to the Kiwis and to Jay. Keep them coming in 2021, please. Best wishes to all of you for a better year than this one. ** / ****

  21. A lovely clever puzzle, Jay at his best 🤗 **/**** So many amusing and clever clues however, I liked 16 & 27 a 😃 Thanks to Jay and the 2xKs and Kirihimete koa

  22. Not completed at a gallop or even a trot. A very steady thoughtful solve which was held up by 27a which is my clue of the day. I ought to write down these moments when I am bemused for future reference. House : consider the astrologists if you can bear to enter the asylum they live in.

    My thanks to Jay and the 2Ks for an enjoyable Christmas Eve Eve.

  23. Is 1a accurate?
    As a one time acolyte I certainly didn’t see myself as “a hanger on”. I was appointed by the chaplain and assisted him.

  24. Like Brian, I found this rather tricky in places, but I completed it and enjoyed it immensely – as usual on Wednesdays.
    19d was one of the last and was driving me bonkers until it suddenly came to me in amazing technicolour.

    Today’s soundtrack: Nick Lowe – Quality Street

    Thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

  25. Completed at a steady pace, despite being sleepy after our weekly dawn grocery shop. But progressed nicely and just held up by a handful of holdouts. All solved with a couple of hints, I rather liked 27a, probably because number one daughter is one, and so typical of her character. Enjoyed tussling with the clues which in true Jay fashion did not require deep or specialized knowledge. Thanks Jay and to 2Kiwis.

  26. Most enjoyable puzzle. Agree with others that Hanger-on is not a good definition of 1a. COTD was 27a – very clever.. Last one in was 19d. I too was going through all the different types of rice. I should have looked at the hint! Thanks to all the birds. It must be lovely to be in NZ at the moment.

  27. **/*****. Another quality puzzle from Jay. Favourites were 1&27a and 18d. Thanks to all three birds.

  28. 🌲Jay was certainly in an unusually benevolent mood today and has given us a delightful challenge. North came in first. Bit slow in the uptake with parsing 9a and 15a (that save synonym didn’t occur to me). It seems 11a is now universally used although it’s of course really a U.S. term originating from baseball. Thank you Jay and the 2Kiwis. Happy Christmas and bestest wishes for a Healthy New Year to BD and all your setters, hinters and bloggers. Hope you begin to know how much pleasure your daily cruciverbal conclave gives. THANK YOU. 🎄

  29. A typical Jay puzzle finished in **/*** time and with **** enjoyment.
    As always some headscratchers ( particularly 19d my LOI) but a steady solve with nothing to consult Mr Wiki, or the BRB about.
    As others have said 27a excellent clue but my favourite is 16a.
    Compliments of the season to Jay & the 2Ks.
    Also grateful thanks to both for so many pleasurable Wednesday mornings.
    We go into lockdown on Boxing Day up here in the Highlands. Our weekly infection rate is 28 per 100,000 where is there any rhyme or reason for that?

    1. It could be worse LBROK. Saint Sharon and I might just return the compliment and drop by once we are allowed back into Scotland

      1. MP
        You would be assured of a warm welcome, although we don’t have a red carpet.
        Visit Dornoch or not, you may have heard of the epicurean adventure offered by the Cote du Nord in Kirtomy right up on the North coast. If you haven’t then look at its website. Amazingly the chef is also the local doctor! Read the reviews on Tripadvisor. You might be encouraged to make the long trek up there

        1. We drove through Thurso and down the Kyle of Tongue some years ago. The restaurant sounds divine I’ll put it on the list. We picked up our Christmas dinner and treats from Tony at The Gourmet Food Kitchen Fargo Village today. That will be a real treat tomorrow.

        2. We have a similar establishment down here in Shropshire. A fantastic pub called The Windmill. The people who own it have other businesses. First, they are farmers and, second, the lady of the house is a solicitor. They still manage to run the pub successfully and serve great food and beer. It might have something to do with the fact that the pub has been their family home for the last two centuries.

          You have to admire such dedication.

  30. Morning all.
    Perhaps we should not have mentioned fine summer weather in the introduction as we wake up this morning to pouring rain. Never mind, the forecast for the 25th is for something much better.
    Pleased that everyone seems to have enjoyed the puzzle as much as we did.

    1. I will repeat my thanks to you for kindly providing the hints to Jay’s puzzles and to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

  31. Setter here, just to thank you all for your comments over the past 12 months, and especially to our two Kiwis for the analysis and weekly wildlife updates! Let us hope that 2021 brings at least some respite from the trials and tribulations of 2020.
    I hope that everybody is able to enjoy what they can of the (very) brief Christmas break

    1. Thanks very much for popping in Jay. Wednesday’s are always a treat and I look forward to many more next year. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

    2. Thanks from me too for all your work during the year. Have the best Christmas you can, and may ther New Year be a lot brighter for you and yours.

    3. Thank you for popping in, my favourite setter. I always look forward to Wednesdays. A very Happy Christmas to you and yours.

      1. It’s nice to hear from you. Have a restful and enjoyable Christmas if you can. I’m looking forward to Jay’s Wednesday puzzles in 2021, especially as I’ve just heard that Oxfordshire is moving to Tier 4 from Boxing Day onwards.

    4. Thank you so much for dropping in and for all the pleasure you’ve brought us during what has been an otherwise fairly ghastly year. Here’s hoping that 2021 treats us all somewhat more kindly.

    5. Not only are you my favourite setter, I have renamed this day ‘JayDay’ in your honour. All the best for Christmas and the New Year, and many thanks to you for the joys and jubilations that your craft affords me.

    6. Thanks for saying hello Jay and for providing consistently excellent puzzles every Wednesday that are invariably a pleasure to solve. You are much appreciated here.

    7. Many thanks for dropping in, Jay. Your puzzles delight and frustrate me in equal measure. Nevertheless, I always look forward to your Wednesday challenge. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, despite the pandemic, and let us all hope we can all have a better 2021.

  32. Gosh I seem to be on a roll at the moment as I finished this one too unaided following my triumph in yesterday’s back pager and toughie. I got off to a slow start, then speeded up, then got stuck on my final four, 19d, 20d, 18d and 27a. The first two came to me in a flash and once I realised the garage didn’t come at the end of 27a it all fell into place. Some great clues and a very satisfying solve. **/*****

  33. Cracking puzzle once again. I really have no idea how setters and bloggers do it day after day, but I am so grateful for the entertainment and pleasure I get from this site. A very merry Christmas to you all and a fervent hope that 2021 will be an improvement on 2020!

  34. As usual, dead on wavelength with Jay. I hit a blind spot in the NE and needed hints for 9a, 11a and 8d, I sailed through the rest of the puzzle.
    My fave was 27a, I remembered the “house” yay, but 1a was pretty clever too. The whole puzzle was tops.
    Thanks Jay for the fun, and thanks to 2Kiwis for the snapshots of NZ. Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, keep well and safe.

  35. Wonderful and enjoyable puzzle today completed in bed as I have obviously eaten something that violently disagreed with me. Making the most of Mr M hoverring around answering my every whim, although felt terrible yesterday. Thanks to Jay (whose puzzles are always a joy) and th 2 Kiwis. North Norfolk now in Tier 4 which is ridiculous, we are 30 miles from Norwich, but makes little difference actually as we don’t go anywhere. Happy self isolating Christmas to all.

    1. Oh dear, Manders! Eating something that disagrees is very unpleasant. I often wonder if that was the reason the composer Satie would only eat white food. Had a food of another colour caused severe problems?
      I do hope you feel better soon.

  36. I thought I had commented but I remember now, the physiotherapist telephoned just as we had finished both the puzzle and lunch. What an elegant set of clues, so Wednesday, so Jay. So many favourites. Thanks to Jay for so many enjoyable diversions and to the two Kiwis for their analysis. 😊

  37. Yet again too late to add anything to what’s been said already.
    The usual Wednesday Jay crossword – ie great – and lovely of him to call in.
    My last answer was 27a – very silly as I am one.
    My favourite, and second to last, answer was 11a having had trouble identifying the definition.
    Don’t think it’s stopped raining all day . . .
    Thanks to Jay and to the K’s.

  38. What a very fine and enjoyable crossword! Many thanks to Jay and the 2Ks for much crosswording fun throughout the year.

  39. Found this one very tricky. Definitely into my 4* time. Very enjoyable though, and I loved 20d.
    Thanks to Jay, Kiwi and Kiwi (hope you are getting over Pakistan’s T20 win yesterday!)

  40. All reasonably straightforward, just a question of thinking of it in the right way. Got thoroughly soaked feeding my birds today but I’ve dried out now. Favourite was 18d as I’m having one now. Thanks to Jay and 2 K’s.

  41. Belated thanks to Jay and 2Ks and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you. I’m out on a limb with this one. Rattled through it all yesterday morning having picked up the paper from the Post Office. Thought I was going great guns and in for a record finish. I came to a halt in the NE. Managed to get all of them apart from 5d and 9a. Determined not to give in I woke up to it this morning but resorted to the hints. 5d then quick to spot without revealing but I am ashamed to say I uncovered the answer for 9a. I cannot explain why it was so difficult as I knew I was looking for the remaining two letters of other and there were only two ways to go. Favourites were 1 11 13 27 and 29a and 3 8 17 10 and 20d.

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