DT 29696 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29696

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29696

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Hello, everyone.  I made quick work of the first few clues but then found my progress slowing in the rest of the puzzle. It was an enjoyable solve.  I have my suspicions about the compiler, but I think this week I will keep them to myself and allow others to have a go at identifying our setter. 

In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions. Clicking on the answer buttons will reveal the answers. In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background. Clicking on a picture will enlarge it or display a bonus illustration and a hover (computer) or long press (mobile) might explain more about the picture. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Steel badly forged -- after this it shouldn't be purchased (4-2,4)
SELL-BY DATE:  An anagram (forged) of STEEL BADLY 

6a    Floor initially scraped with large cask (4)
STUN:  The initial letter of SCRAPED with a large cask 

9a    Drunk adapted bowl, wanting whiskey vessel (6,4)
PADDLE BOAT:  An anagram (drunk) of ADAPTED BOWL minus (wanting) the letter represented in the NATO phonetic alphabet by whiskey 

10a   Argument after Conservative's boast (4)
CROW:  An argument comes after the single letter for Conservative 

12a   Crocodile yesterday returned holding body part (6)
EYELID:  The reversal (… returned) of the first two words is hiding (holding) the answer 

13a   A place for drinking milk? Hotel by river (8)
TAPHOUSE:  Link together milk or draw on, the letter represented in the NATO phonetic alphabet by hotel, and an English river

15a   Leap forward to hug her -- bark's out of place (12)
BREAKTHROUGH:  An anagram ( … 's out of place) of TO HUG HER BARK 

18a   I did obscene dancing with European, displaying bad behaviour (12)
DISOBEDIENCE:  An anagram (dancing) of I DID OBSCENE with the single letter for European 

21a   The French head of air force permits flyers (8)
LEAFLETS:  Concatenate "the" in French, the first letter of (head of) AIR, the physics symbol for force, and permits or allows 

22a   Threaten chaps with magic (6)
MENACE:  Some chaps or blokes with magic or brilliant 

24a   Smile as you're swallowing a piece of cake (4)
EASY:  The first three words of the clue are hiding (swallowing) the answer 

25a   Study in university, talented beyond question (10)
UNDENIABLE:  A study or library is inserted in a contraction of university, and that's all followed by a synonym of talented 

26a   Certainly concealing new desires (4)
YENS:  Certainly or definitely containing (concealing) the abbreviation for new 

27a   Career going downhill? This might save you (6,4)
ESCAPE ROAD:  A cryptic definition of a safety measure, with career here being a verb 



1d    Drink for each meal (6)
SUPPER:  Another word for drink is followed by a preposition meaning "for each" 

2d    Large snake -- not something one wants to find in one's tights (6)
LADDER:  Join together the clothing abbreviation for large and a type of snake 

3d    This could be part of a plant, or potted (8,4)
BILLIARD BALL:  A cryptic definition of an item used in a game (or is it a sport?).  Investigating the less common definitions of plant in a dictionary might be helpful

4d    Editor upset by telecom company's bill (4)
DEBT:  The reversal (upset, in a down clue) of the abbreviation for editor is followed by an abbreviated UK telecom company 

5d    A priest ate spreads here? (3,7)
TEA PARTIES:  The wordplay is an anagram (spreads) of A PRIEST ATE. The entire clue can serve as the definition 

7d    Rambling's harrowing the second Romeo leaves (8)
TORTUOUS:  An adjective meaning harrowing or causing great suffering loses the second copy of the letter represented in the NATO phonetic alphabet by Romeo (second Romeo leaves

8d    Fresh food shop enthralling husband somewhere in India (3,5)
NEW DELHI:  A synonym of fresh is followed by a type of food shop containing (enthralling) the genealogical abbreviation for husband 

11d   Cold air teacher's struggling to describe (12)
CHARACTERISE:  The single letter for cold with an anagram (struggling) of AIR TEACHER'S 

14d   Worker tolerates elevated positions? (10)
HANDSTANDS:  Follow a manual worker with tolerates or bears 

16d   Blue livery with top half removed -- that's cheating (8)
ADULTERY:  Blue or x-rated followed by the second half (with top half removed) of LIVERY 

17d   One's paid to kill two animals at home (8)
ASSASSIN:  Two copies of a beast of burden followed by "at home" or "not out" 

19d   Graduate male -- coarse, ill-mannered person -- cut grass (6)
BAMBOO:  Assemble a usual graduate, the single letter for male, and all but the last letter (cut) of a coarse, ill-mannered person 

20d   Celebrity on target (6)
LEGEND:  Another word for the on side of a cricket pitch followed by target or goal 

23d   Female gobbled up cheese (4)
FETA:  The single letter for female with the reversal (up, in a down clue) of a synonym of gobbled 


Thanks to today’s setter. No standout favourite for me today. Which clues did you like best?

The Quick Crossword pun:  PAY + SIN + CACHE = PAYS IN CASH

119 comments on “DT 29696

  1. Not my cup of tea today, I’m afraid. My wavelength pills certainly don’t work for this compiler. I was left with five unanswered clues before I sought assistance, and some that I did get were iffy in my book.

    It may be just me. I was kept awake half the night by Network Rail taking part in “Whose repairs are the loudest?” competitions. Bar Stewards.

    Thanks to all.

    1. I wonder where you live. We too had the network rail lullaby between Epsom & cheam in Surrey
      Like several others some went in easily & what didn’t were impossible in my book. Thanks to all concerned

  2. I thought this was excellent, particularly the RHS where there was some nice misdirection, 13a (though dated) being a case in point. I really liked several but have narrowed them down to a podium of 28a plus11&16d….with19d running them close.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K, good stuff all round.

  3. Another enjoyable Tuesday crossword — managed for the first time to complete it in under ****, so was really chuffed (although still not a time to 10A about).

    A few contenders for my COTD — probably 21A, 25A or 3D. The first of those, 21A, held me up the longest, due to the beautiful misdirection. I spent a good few minutes (wondering if my addled brain was past its 1A) trying to find an avian that would fit, only to get a 15A when I realised that it was a different kind of flyer the setter had in mind.

    1. Hi, Andy. Your comment was evidently edited earlier (while I was asleep) because blog policy is that we do not include solving times in comments. You are certainly allowed to say that you were happy with your solve. Congratulations on the PB.

    2. 3d and 21a my cotd contenders. 3d had fabulous misdirection. 20d last to go in as I forgot (again!) That on may mean a cricket side.

  4. There seemed to be a lot of anagrams in this puzzle and I thought I might finish in 1 or 2* time until I ran into 4 rather sticky clues and ended up in 3.5* time, with 3 dictionaries and an electronic site open in front of me. I still cannot fathom 3d and the surface read of 7d still confuses me. I wish I could say it should have been a Toughie but it was just a rather ordinary crossword (2* for enjoyment) with a few poorly worded clues, from my point of view. Thanks to Mr K and the compiler.

    1. Ah, I have found a definition of plant in half way through the entry in the BRB, which explains 3d. The sooner my new specs are delivered the better.

        1. I noticed quite a few others liked it too. One man’s meat is another man’s poIson. On the bright side my new glasses have arrived and I shall collect them tomorrow so the entries in the BRB will be easier to read when I am baffled by another clue about obscure sporting terminology.

  5. I also thought that this was excellent if a bit trickily worded in places, especially 17d / 13a, which were my last two to solve. Before that, 27a–in its very clever misdirection–held me up a bit. Podium stars: 15a, 14d, and (for sheer bravado and silliness) 19d. Thanks to Mr K and today’s compiler. ** / ****

    Finished the nice Toughie but needed a bit of electronica.

  6. Enjoyed this puzzle but needed the hints of Mr K to confirm some of my answers with proper parsing. I think Mr K would have enjoyed 13a more if the first part had been cat.

    3d is a brilliant clue which is a wonderful example of misdirection and is my clear favourite but 25a and 2d get honourable mentions the latter for Mr K’s great illustration.

    1. Thanks, Corky. Good point about 13a. I shall add that word to my list of potential future clues.

  7. Nothing too difficult in this friendly but enjoyable puzzle. Nothing obscure, no leaps of faith. 3d was my clear favourite, mainly because of the clever misdirection alluded to by the previous commenter.

    Thanks to both Misters.

  8. 1.5*/3*. A light, fun puzzle which I would have finished in 1* time except for a hold-up in the SE corner where I had entered the obvious to me answer of “escape lane”, never having heard before of “road” being used as the second word.

    I am not convinced that 14ds are “elevated positions”, but I guess the ? allows for a bit of crosswordese licence.

    3d was my favourite closely followed by 16d.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

      1. I’m another ‘lane’ victim. Made worse by not knowing the grass was a grass and once (yet?) again missing what ‘on’ was up to.

        Good one!

    1. I’m the same with these:
      Taproom -yes. Taphouse – no.
      Escape lane -yes. Escape road – no (I was fully convinced this might have more to do with skiing, careering downhill being something I have witnessed.

    2. Hi, RD. I initially wanted “lane” for 27d as well, but since I’m often confused by US/UK variants, I checked the BRB. It lists only the “road” version.

      1. In the dim and distant past I used to drive a lot all round the UK on business, and I can recall several several places with steep hills where the road signs indicated “Escape Lane Ahead”. I am sure I have never seen one saying “Escape Road Ahead”.

        Perhaps the BRB compilers spend too much time behind their desks and not enough out and about. :unsure:

        1. I’ve now spent some time googling roadside signage for the escape features. Many “lanes” exist in the UK but could not find a single “road”. Over here it’s most often a “ramp”, sometimes a “route”, but also never a “road”.

          Strange that none of the major dictionaries include “escape lane” but a couple do list “escape road”.

          BRB has for escape road: A short track leading off a road on a steep hill, sharp bend, etc, for vehicles going out of control.

          The ODE defines it as noun chiefly British a slip road, especially on a racing circuit, for a vehicle to turn into if the driver is unable to negotiate a bend or slope safely

          Those sound like escape lanes. Your speculation may well be correct.

          1. Strange – I’ve only ever known them as gravel traps whereby if your lorry’s brakes fail at the bottom of a hill, the gravel will bring you to a stop
            There’s a huge one as you come into Amersham I seem to remember – never had to use it, fortunately

    3. Well I guess if you can have an elevated crossword clue then if you turn yourself upside down you can use the same word to describe your new position?!

  9. Not one of my favourite Tuesday puzzles it has to be said although it did give me the opportunity to pat myself on the back for knowing 3d!
    I’ve narrowed down the setter choice to one of two, neither of whom seem to be overly bothered about surface reads – 7d being a cringeworthy example.
    Apologies to our setter and thanks to Mr K for the review – have your furry bundles of trouble arrived yet?

    1. In defence of the setter I don’t really see a problem with the surface read of 7d Jane.
      “The rambling (is) harrowing, the second (that) Romeo leaves”. Makes sense to me.

      1. I’m with Jane on this one. There’s a fine line between misdirection and impenetrabiility sometimes.

          1. A surface read should make sense with or without the wordplay directions making sense.
            Who knows what 7d was meant to suggest? That a young swain, having left his girlfriend, had a traumatic wander? Er, no…..
            I also faffed around with 23d three times – although that isn’t a criticism of the setter, maybe just me with Edam/dame etc.

            1. If you take rambling in the sense of chattering or gossiping the surface read is entirely credible Bluebird, in fact nice misdirection by the setter (it obviously foxed you) and a good clue.

      1. I am trying to imagine the sentence in 7d (or a similar version) inserted into a conversation or a piece of literature. It might work in the context of an anonymous message from the murderer in a crime novel. Or perhaps not. On another note, perhaps Mr K’s family have new kittens, Merusa?

    2. Hi, Jane. Yes, my days are now being brightened by the antics of two eight week-old kittens. Pics next week, I hope.

  10. Excellent crossword; I was zipping through it until I arrived at the Sussex and Kent areas. This took some head scratching until I figured out 20d, which led me to the second word of 27a, which in turn allowed me to sling in the answer to 19d, which was my last clue completed.

    The cat door bloke telephoned yesterday. He says he has now recovered the special tool needed to release the mechanism in the door. New date for Lola’s diary is 25th June.

    Today’s crossword soundtrack: The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (still sounds as fresh and exciting as ever).

    Thanks to the setter and The Celebrated Mr K.

  11. Well I liked it apart from 13a as I’d never heard of one and had to look that up and 20d because of its pesky cricket term. One day I shall learn them all (how many are there) and then shall not be caught out (see what I did there?). Are those your two at 15d, Mr Kitty? Thank you compiler and Mr K.

    1. Hi, Celia. No, the cats making breakthroughs in the 15a pic are quite a bit bigger than my pair. At eight weeks they are still very much kittens. Pics next week I hope.

  12. Wouldn’t count this among my recent favourites although there were some excellent clues in it. I’m inclined to agree with Jane’s observation about surface reads – Silvanus it certainly ain’t. I found it a pretty brisk solve until two to go, 20d & 27a, & cracking those doubled the completion time. Can’t say I really understand 27a but couldn’t be anything else once I had the D checker having twigged the cricketing wordplay (which I continually forget) in 20d. Of the clues I really liked 3d was the clear pick with 13&25a deserving of podium spots.
    Thanks to the setter & to Mr K

    1. 27a is just a play on the word career, where the setter wants us to think of the noun and not the verb Huntsman.

  13. Found this on the tough side for Tuesday mainly down to my slow thinking rather than the puzzle though. LOI was 20d, had all the checkers right but missed the cricket connection. No excuse other than stupidity as I am a sports fan & it comes up so often.
    Will go for 14d as COTD if only because it prompted the amusing picture in MrK’s review.
    As always thanks to setter and Mr K.

  14. Not too tricky today. 7d held me up for ages and didn’t spot the lurker at 12a to start with. Otherwise OK. Wasting too much time watching the French Open. Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

    1. I’m also hooked on the French Open but at least the more interesting matches are late (incredibly late sometimes!) in the evening so some chores can be done beforehand. However It can’t be much fun for players to have to turn out for a match at 9 p.m. or later.

  15. Nothing to say at the moment as I have a mystery lunch date and have been on the phone all morning. However, shall look forward to doing the crossword later. The reason being that 64 years ago today this is what I was doing.

    1. The weather seems to have been as glorious for you 64 years ago as it is in many parts of the country today (and certainly down here in the SW)!

    2. Congratulations! 64 years. Double child-murderers get let out after just half of that!

    3. 💐Felicitations and all good wishes for Many Happy Returns of the Day Daisygirl and George. Enjoy your Anniversary lunch 💐

      1. Happy anniversary DG and George.
        Have a great day and many more years together.

      1. Jepi, given DG’s many contributions. It’s 64 years & lots of crosswords and probably some some cross words too.
        Congratulations DG. Off out for a knees-up tonight no doubt.

        1. No, WI committee for me, I’m secretary and Rotary zoom for george! What retirement?

    4. Congratulations! I hope I make it to 64 years. But getting married in your thirties makes that tricky! If we make it that far I’ll be 101 and getting a telegram from the Queen I hope (well, perhaps the King!).

    5. Many congratulations to you Daisygirl and George 64 years is quite a marathon! Hope you both had a really lovely lunch out.

    6. Yay! Congratulations to both of you, and thank you to Big Dave for providing the photos-in-comments feature: this is clearly what it was designed for.

  16. This seemed to be more tricky than recent Tuesday puzzles and perhaps not as much fun – 3*/2.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 21a, 14d, and 23d – and the winner is 23d.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  17. Middle of the road for me. **/*** 27a occurred to me readily mainly because there is one at the bottom of a very steep hill close to home which I often thought I might need because the brakes on my ancient Mini Cooper left much to be desired. No idea how it ever passed an mot. Agree with others that it’s more commonly known as a lane. No particular favourite but I did like the illustration for 14d. Thanks to all.

    1. Have we had Zandio on a Tuesday before? I think they usually appear on Fridays.

  18. Enjoyable and reasonably swiftly completed, slowed slightly by my use of lane rather than road for 27a, which threw me for 19d and 20d, and for some reason seeing the word “describe” in 11d but reading it as “breathe” (I know, I have no idea either) really didn’t help with solving that anagram.

    A good few ticks, incuding 21a, 22a, 25a, and 7d, but my COTD is 16d, for making me smile broadly.


    Many thanks to setter and to Mr K.

    The mutt benefitted from a good night’s rest and mild painkillers: by the morning had recovered the ground he had lost (on hitting it) last evening. He really doesn’t understand that he needs to be taking things easy to recover from this ‘spinal stroke’, but at least we’ve had another wag from his drooping tail. Progress by inches and hours is fine with us, so long as it’s progress and not the emotional upheaval of regress!

    1. Good to hear that your mutt continues to recover. After all the recent sad news, a feel-good story wouldn’t go amiss

    2. So pleased for you (and the hound). In our experience patience is one thing animals do not have in abundance. Hopeful that the progress continues.

    3. Thanks all. He’s a lovely chap, rescued a few years ago, not that old (9) but until Thursday afternoon absolutely full of zest and sparkle, whether accompanying me with the other dog on a morning run or walking the Devon & Cornwall moors. I read the posts about poor LROK’s Bella with immense sympathy and not a little dread that we too would be having to make the same decision, yet again, as almost every dog-owner must at some time.

      Oh well, onwards & upwards!


      1. Good to read your latest bulletin Mustafa. You will have to sit him down and give him a good talking to. No sudden leaps, mad tail wags etc and make it very clear what will happen if he doesn’t listen to the advice from his master.

  19. Seems to be quite a mix of reviews today! For me, this was very enjoyable and fairly straightforward. I got held up on 20d for a while and didn’t fully understand 3d until I read the hints. I thought there were lots of great clues, but will give 3d my COTD for its subtlety.
    Thanks to the setter and Mr K

  20. I didn’t particularly enjoy this one much. I was left with four that I simply could not get. One was 16d but as I had, rather stupidly, put “Swallows” for 21a it was not surprising. I put “door” as the second word in 27a and that messed up 20d.

    No favourites today.

    Thanks to the setter for the drubbing. Many thanks to Mr. K for the hints, which I really needed today. Great cat pictures as usual.

    1. I’ll second that with the possible exception of the IT bits which always put me in a tizzy!

  21. The long anagrams helped me get a quick foothold in this and I actually thought that 3d, 7d, 21a and 25a were well crafted clues and very satisfying to solve.

    I’m not totally convinced about 14d but as others have mentioned maybe a bit of “crossword licence” 😊lat one in by a length.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  22. Like MrK I was off to a flying start and thought this was going to be 24a but then a challenge kicked in. Nevertheless the whole was great entertainment with 1a and 24a surfaces worthy of special mention. 13a milk just didn’t occur to me as was the case also with 16d blue and 19d ill-mannered person. 3d part of plant drew a blank too. Thank you to Mysteron and MrK.

  23. I too set off at a cracking once (for me) with this crossword then ground to a halt with 3 to go.
    Very enjoyable start to my day.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K. Great pics as always.

  24. Completed and fully parsed = enjoyable crossword, for me at any rate. A bit of head scratching in the solving and parsing departments but that adds to the enjoyment. Favourite was 3d, one of the parsing head scratchers until the scales eventually fell from my eyes. Several others were contenders. Many thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  25. ***/***. Like Mr K, I started quickly but gradually slowed to a pedestrian pace. Liked 2d as it made me smile. Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  26. Agreed, off to a running start then held up by a few. I needed e-help with 13a, 3d, and 20d, I’d not heard of the place for drinking. I did look up plant in the dictionary, who knew that plant could mean so many things; rather clever that. My fave was 19d, mainly ‘cos I love the “grass”, my sheets, nighties and unmentionables are all made out of it.
    Thanks to whomsoever set this and to Mr. K for unraveling some and, of course, our cat pics.

  27. Found this trickier than recent Tuesday puzzles. Hard to get going and to keep going. Lots of clues that were not really to my liking for solvability. ****/** today. Solved more or less clockwise from top left onwards. A real struggle today.
    Clues I liked include 1a, 21a, 25a & 4d with winner 21a

    Thanks to setter and Mr K.

  28. Didn’t enjoy this much today, clearly not my cup of tea primarily because 3d and 13a, but also found 7d to be like it’s answer. Add to that a cricket clue in 20d and I was done for. Shame really as the rest of it wasn’t too bad. Oh well, you can’t win them all. Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for helping me with the 4 mentioned.

  29. Love the illustrations as usual from MrK but where did the 2d stockings come from? I’m not rushing out to buy them!

  30. Hmm. Like everyone else I found this started off deceptively easy and then ground to a bit of a halt which I just find frustrating and I needed Mr K’s hints to finish off. Years of watching snooker as a kid meant I finally got 3d which made me smile but I thought 7d was a poor clue and nul points for the annoyingly crickety 20d. If we’re going to have cricket clues please can someone write some netball clues – C, WA and GA all would be useful in a clue I’m sure. ***/**

  31. Like most I also got off to a flying start (thanks to the anagrams) and then stalled at end. Clever misdirection at 3D- I was looking for a bulb not a ball! And I never did get 27a (although I did guess it was to do with some sort of emergency barrier), perhaps a blessing as I didn’t have the road/lane problem. But my brain was a bit out to lunch- despite getting the first three letters BAM of 19d I didn’t get the grass and although at 23d I had F and ATE I still didn’t see the cheese! D’oh!
    Thanks very much to the setter and Mr K. A pleasure!

  32. Initially, I found today’s offering quite easy going and then I got held up with – 13a wanted to put cathouse! My husband Bill, confirmed the parsing of 3d. 16d had to be what it was but I failed to parse it completely. Although I got 27a I couldn’t get sledges zooming down snow-covered hills out of my mind! Many thanks to Mr Kay and for another set of brilliant cat pictures. Thanks also to the setter though not sure who it is?

  33. Well, I did finish it – but I have to confess there were one or two I still do not understand even
    after reading the hints, probably because my brain is a bit scrambled. As usual I liked the
    kitty pictures, gosh how I do miss having a cat or dog, such joy. Thanks to the setter and to Mr K
    and thanks to everyone for their good wishes on our anniversary. 64 years. My word, it does not
    seem possible. And Steve was right, crosswords AND cross words, mostly from me because dear
    George is an amenable sort of fellow with whom it is hard to have an argument. Most unsatisfactory.
    I am glad no one made a crack about George and the Dragon !

  34. I could not find Brian among the commentators, but there are a lot, so perhaps I missed him. Monday he found difficult whereas it was probably the quickest solve I have had in years, off and on, of solving. It was rather like those funny painting books I had as a child when you just used to add water and the colours appeared. The answers revealed themselves. On the other hand this one completely defeated me. I left at least six unanswered. I did enjoy 16d.

  35. After a swift start, I struggled more than I expected with this; it seemed like it contained an above-average number of anagrams (which I’m terrible at). Thank you Mr K for the hints, which I needed for 3d (I’d fitted in ‘bulb’ as the second word). And for 27a, once I’d worked out the misdirection and got the first word, I just pressed on the ‘answer’ button to get the second word; I’d done the fun bit of the solving, and couldn’t be bothered iterating through the various possibilities.

    It was all worth it for 21a’s French air force flyers, which is now one of my favourite-ever clues. Thank you to the setter.

  36. DNF for me. 6,7, and 20 all stumped me ( I missed the cricket reference). I did get the road ( though i wanted it be a lane i was cautious and got the cut grass before i put it in. Thanks to the setter and for the hints.

  37. 2*/3*…
    liked 12A “Crocodile yesterday returned holding body part (6)”…
    appreciated the Mr K’s explanation of 3D “This could be part of a plant, or potted (8,4)”

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