DT 29720 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29720

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29720

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty *** Enjoyment ****

Hello, everyone. Today's most enjoyable puzzle has clues spanning the difficulty scale. It's also got a few unexpected synonyms, two original cryptic definitions, and some very smooth surfaces that disguised well what was going on underneath. Felt like an X-Type creation to me. What does everyone else think? 

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.

 

Across

1a    Stringed instrument initially captivated a girl (7)
REBECCA:  A medieval instrument of the viol class shaped like a mandolin, usually with three strings (thank you, BRB) is followed by the first letter (initially) of CAPTIVATED and A from the clue. I either did not remember or never knew the instrument, but he could be reverse-engineered from the girl's name. The instrument appears in the duet below where, cleverly, the musician is beside herself. There's another performance on the same instrument, by nine-year old Sylvia, here. Perhaps the BD community can make her day by ensuring that her video gets lots of views?   

5a    Allows haircuts without sex appeal (7)
PERMITS:  Non-temporary hairstyles containing (without) a usual suspect for sex appeal 

9a    Low energy following small animal (5)
MOOSE:  Putting the ingredients in order, we are instructed here to link together low like a cow, the clothing abbreviation for small, and the physics symbol for energy 

10a   Article is surprisingly true to life (9)
REALISTIC:  An anagram (surprisingly) of ARTICLE IS

trompe l'oeil street art

11a   He spoke at sea for each one who's flogged a lot? (10)
SHOPKEEPER:  An anagram (at sea) of HE SPOKE is followed by a word meaning "for each". Flog takes its informal meaning in the definition 

12a   Just this writer embraces the Queen (4)
MERE:  A pronoun that the writer would use for themselves contains (embraces) the Latin abbreviation for Queen Elizabeth 

14a   Arrange magic for Joanna (7,5)
CONCERT GRAND:  A verb meaning arrange (something) by mutual agreement or coordination (thank you, Collins) is followed by a synonym of magic often used in the Wallace & Gromit movies. Joanna is rhyming slang (pianna) for the answer, which is defined here by example   

18a   Doctor gone -- I'm hoping one returns (6,6)
HOMING PIGEON:  An anagram (doctor) of GONE I'M HOPING 

The big book is "War and Peace"

21a   Rubbish tips in town often seem horrible (4)
TOSH:  Initial letters of (tips in) the remaining words in the clue. The answer is British slang 

22a   Paper maybe not changing by the sound of it (10)
STATIONERY:  A homophone (by the sound of it) of not changing or not going anywhere 

25a   Commons vote restricted by new Ohio centre of communication (3,6)
HOI POLLOI:  A vote, possibly employing straw, is inserted in (restricted by) an anagram (new) of OHIO, and that's all followed by the centre letter of COMMUNICATION 

26a   Faultless theory by student (5)
IDEAL:  A theory or notion is placed by the single letter indicating a student or learner driver 

27a   Fast tango and light dancing with unknown character (7)
TIGHTLY:  Concatenate the letter represented in the NATO phonetic alphabet by tango, an anagram (dancing) of LIGHT, and one of the characters that can represent a mathematical unknown 

28a   Badger's home was first inhabited (7)
SETTLED:  Follow a badger's home with a verb meaning "was first" 

 

Down

1d    Negligent match official ignoring last fumble (6)
REMISS:  A sporting match official minus (ignoring) their last letter is followed by fumble or overlook 

2d    Mistake to express disapproval twice (6)
BOOBOO:  Two copies of a sound indicating disapproval 

3d    Bar on train where travellers might be held up (10)
CHECKPOINT:  Bar or stop is followed by another word for train (a gun, perhaps) 

4d    Grass cut after a golf match (5)
AGREE:  After both A from the clue and the letter represented in the NATO phonetic alphabet by golf comes all but the last letter (cut) of a tall thin grass that likes water 

5d    It's beneath one to talk to god (6,3)
PRAYER RUG:  Cryptic definition, where the one is often Muslim 

6d    Sally runs with help (4)
RAID:  The cricket scoring abbreviation for runs with help or assist 

7d    Where shopping might be secured (2,3,3)
IN THE BAG:  A phrase meaning secured or guaranteed is, taken literally, also where your shopping (or your kittens) might be 

8d    Follows top players, going round university clubs with Charlie (8)
SUCCEEDS:  The top players in a tournament containing (going round) the fusion of the single letter for university, the playing card abbreviation for clubs, and the letter represented in the NATO phonetic alphabet by charlie 

13d   One knows about soil damaging to organism (10)
AGRONOMIST:  An anagram (damaging) of TO ORGANISM 

15d   Hat -- it goes on friend excellently (9)
CAPITALLY:  Assemble a basic hat, IT from the clue, and a friend or partner. This definition is also slang 

16d   Intensely emotional snooker player who misses first time (5-3)
WHITE-HOT:  Join together a snooker player nicknamed "The Whirlwind", WHO from the clue missing its first letter, and the physics symbol for time 

17d   Wicked rat swallowing potatoes? (8)
SMASHING:  Rat or act as an informer containing (swallowing) potatoes improved by blending with lots of cream and butter. Another definition that's slang 

19d   Give out fries regularly with meat (6)
REVEAL:  Alternate letters (regularly) of FRIES with a type of meat 

20d   It shuts when one goes off (6)
EYELID:  A cryptic definition. You have two, the kitten has six

23d   Dogs -- they could be wagging (5)
TAILS:  A rather straightforward double definition 

24d   Hot stuff gadget picked up (4)
LOOT:  The reversal (picked up, in a down clue) of a gadget or implement 

 

Thanks to our setter for a fun challenge. My list of ticked clues includes 10a, 14a, 18a, 21a, 1d, 7d, and 16d. Of those my favourite would be either 21a or 16d. Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  ROC + INN + NORSE = ROCKING HORSE, perhaps in its Cockney form ROCKIN' 'ORSE


112 comments on “DT 29720
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  1. I’m afraid I failed to complete today’s offering. I didn’t know the instrument at 1a and 24d had me stumped, I assumed I was looking for a homophone. I did like 25a, when I eventually got it.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  2. I loved this, had a bit more about it than the average Tuesday with some seriously good misdirection.
    Two small points. I think hairstyles rather than haircuts would work better in 5a and I’m not sure the solution to 12a is interchangeable with the definition but it’s in one thesaurus at least.
    Really liked 21a plus 16&23d but top spot is shared by 17d and the brilliant 25a.
    3/4.5*
    Many thanks to the setter (had a Donnybrook feel to me) and to Mr K for the top notch entertainment

  3. A lot of enjoyable lateral thinking needed today. I had “upright piano” in initially for 14 across!

  4. I have to agree that I did not have to look beyond the excellent 25a to find a favourite. The puzzle had a refreshingly different feel about it and was most entertaining and great fun to solve.

    Thanks very much to our setter whoever he or she may be, and of course to Mr K for his usual comprehensive blog.

  5. I found that quite a challenge and was pleased to complete it, albeit with valuable assistance at the end from Mrs Shabbo.
    I have to confess that Joanna was the only part of 14a that I understood at the time, but with the checking letters the answer couldn’t have been anything else.
    25a is also my pick of today’s clues from an excellent puzzle.
    Thank you setter and Mr K.

  6. I failed on the GK element of 1a so thanks Mr K for enlightening me. The east was easily completed but the west far harder and although I am not sure I can give a difficulty grade as I didn’t finish 1a I think ****/** sums up my assessment. Hard work and thanks to the setter for stretching me too indeed slightly beyond my limit.

  7. I found this hard work. ****/** It slowed things up considerably for me by putting mat in as the second part of 5d. I have never heard of a prayer rug. I don’t understand the “magic” part of 14a but it had to be once I’d sorted out the floor covering in 5d. 1a was a bung in.and I’m not too sure about point = train in 3d. I did like 20d and my favourite is 25a. Not my cup of tea today. Thanks to all.

          1. I put prayer mat too and it held me up quite a bit, Greta. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term prayer rug used but eventually guessed it. I also had problem with the use of the word ‘magic’ in this context. I’m glad I had the satisfaction of finishing the puzzle but I was really glad to get it out of the way.

      1. I know Joanna is cockney slang for piano but I still can’t get my head round magic. How does this relate to concert?

        1. Hello, Mh. In that clue magic clues grand. Both, along with today’s wicked/smashing/capital, are informal synonyms of terrific or excellent. Concert is obtained as a synonym of arrange.

    1. We must like the same type of tea – I also put mat, which then made the 14a anagram unworkable.

  8. Apart from 16d which was my last in, a very pleasant solve. I thought 5d & 20d clever and elegant and I learnt a new instrument in 1a.
    16d pushed it into *** time and difficulty for me.
    Thx to all
    ***/****

  9. 3*/4*. I agree with Mr K that there was a wide range of difficulty across the clues today with the NW corner the most challenging. I made life harder for myself by writing in “mat” for the second word of 5d as my first answer in. There were some slightly iffy surfaces but overall this was very enjoyable.

    The instrument in 1a and the gadget in 24d were new to me.

    My podium choices are 21a, 25a & 16d.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

      1. I took 5d as a homophone (“picked up”) of lute, which is a bricklayer’s “gadget”. I agree that a reversal of “tool” would be a less obscure way to parse the clue, but both arrive at the correct answer.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed this and also thought 25a excellent. I originally had a prayer mat but soon changed it. Sat outside the surgery finishing off the puzzle while David had a routine blood test. We had to go straight to the butchers so he could buy some black pudding to make up for the whole syringe full of blood he had taken. Shades of Tony Hancock. DG, I am so sorry, I had your garden open day pencilled in for next weekend, can’t think why! I certainly would not have come incognito as I would love to meet you and see the splits in action – another time! Thanks to the setter and Mr K for explaining how I came to get 1a.

    1. Manders, thank you for your advice yesterday. I have decided to take it and seriously get myself a life. In the meantime, I have been doing some very deep, serious scientific/technical research and analysis of your theory here that eating a black pudding can in any way medically compensate for having a whole syringe full of blood taken from David’s body!!! I’m afraid I have to inform you …

      Bazinga!! :-)

  11. Threequarters of plainsailing but then a slight hiccup in the NW but that soon fell to. Agree with StephenL re hairstyle (?male setter). Wonder if 26a is necessarily faultless. Altogether an entertaining challenge with 9a Fav and 20d running up. Quickie including the zany pun was fun too. TVM Mysteron and MrK.

  12. Got them all quickly and quirkily and enjoyably in this terrific puzzle except for 14a, where I tried to improvise and got booed off the stage. I mean, really, now: how can I, sadly born and bred over 3000 miles away from the Bow Bells, know or remember all the wonderful rhyming slang! But I could kick myself all the way to Savannah for not getting it. 14a should be my COTD but that would be cheating, I think, so I’ll go with 24a. I also liked 1a, 5d, 8d, and 17d. Thanks to Mr K and today’s setter. **** / ****

    Can’t finish the Toughie yet….

    1. Robert, apologies for misreading your post yesterday, I couldn’t believe a man as well travelled as you would not have heard of birds nest soup.

  13. I found this one a really hard slog and not particularly enjoyable (****/ **). Like Greta I found some of the clues rather tenuous. Like a few others, I almost gave up half way through but after a break to unload the washing machine, I gave it another go and, very gradually, things fell into place. Thanks to MrK for the hints and to the compiler for his or her efforts

  14. Initially entered a different second word at 5d until it created problems with both 14&18a and I’d agree with Stephen L where 5a is concerned. No other problems encountered although I did wait for checkers before committing myself to 14a.
    18a raised a rueful smile and my favourite was 10a.

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K for the review. Loved the illustration for 20d, which of the kittens is that?

  15. Very enjoyable and a good challenge. Also held up a bit with the wrong end to 5d. Needed to check my instrument in 1a.

    Thanks to today’s setter and Mr. K.

  16. A curate’s egg for me. The worst part being the ‘move one letter from the front to the back anagram’ in 27a. 2.5*/2.5*

    Favourite – a toss-up between 7d and 20d – and the winner is 20d.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  17. I thought this a good bit trickier than usual & by some margin the best Tuesday puzzle for some time. Like others I was delayed by confidently putting mat in at 5d despite the fairly obvious anagram at 18a. I vaguely recalled the 1a instrument but checked it for confirmation but otherwise all ok after a bit of head scratching. 25a was the clear pick for me from a number of excellent clues.
    Thanks to the setter & to Mr K.

      1. Greetings from a very damp Northumberland. We needed the rain – but I think it is time to turn the sun back on.
        I agree! It’s terrible and I can see why it fell out of fashion. I had heard of the instrument (somewhere deep in my subconscious) and having heard it I shall try hard to forget it.
        I enjoyed the crossword – thanks to the setter and to Mr K

  18. I didn’t get on with this at all and needed electronic help to finish. I don’t see where “train” comes into 3d whether it be a noun or a verb. I had never heard of the instrument in 1a so there was no way I was going to solve that one. I have always known 5d as a mat. I was so sure it was correct that 14a and 18a were unsolvable.

    Sorry, just not my cup of tea.

    Anyway, thanks to the setter for the drubbing and many thanks to Mr. K.

    1. The synonym for “train” threw me until I thought of a different use of the verb: think not “you can train a hamster to dance the tango” but rather more “you must not train your gun at Nicola Sturgeon”.

      1. Andy
        Having lived Scotland for 2 years the only thing stopping me aiming a gun at the Ginger Whinger is I don’t have a gun.

          1. Sorry Ora
            It wasn’t meant to be a political observation – I can’t stand the First Minister. Her recent observation that the peak had passed then we had 3 record daily case number increases (and importantly the %tage of positive tests increased, along with the number of tests). Then to stop people from Greater Manchester from coming when the number of cases in a number of areas area was higher than it was in Bolton when they recognised a problem with the Indian variant are just two apolitical examples of why.

    2. SC. I’ve just finished the DM cryptic and it contains a clue that is somewhat apt for you (that’s if I’ve remembered you correctly): Enlarged snouts worried canine experts (6,8). Can you get it?

  19. It isn’t a criticism for I am always in awe of our setters, but I don’t enjoy crosswords where in depth specialist knowledge is a prerequisite. However, this was fun in the most part and I particularly enjoyed 18a.

    We have a skip arriving today. The fellow told H, “Any time between 7am and 7pm…”, so we are waiting for the ‘Blink’ camera to alert us when it arrives although I suspect we shall hear the truck before we see it. Then we will ‘enjoy’ much exercise filling the thing up.

    Today’s crossword soundtrack: Eric Coates – Orchestral Works, Volume One

    Thanks to the setter and The Celebrated Mr K.

    1. I agree Terence. I certainly don’t know the names of any snooker players, or the stringed instrument. To pretend otherwise doesn’t work for me.

      1. Amen! Why does this guy always pick on Terence? Jealousy because he has the lovely Lola as a friend?

    2. I’m with you, Terrence. Never heard of the instrument and certainly have no idea about snooker players. I think they constitute “ specialist knowledge”,

      Burlington seems to have hooked quite a few of us today! 😀

  20. Got a bit thrown by “rug” (rather than “mat”) in 5D — I think that was a little sneaky as (PhD in Islamic Studies, so have worked with and among Muslims for decades) “mat” is by far the usual term. But once I figured out that little bit of sneakiness, suddenly 14A fell into place and everything was, ahem, grand and I avoided any further 2Ds. Although I had to look up the instrument in 1A to check it actually was a thing.

      1. Have you Googled Andy Bertie? I did after he said he was working on a book. Given his CV I accept his statement that the use of “rug” was sneaky.

        1. Apparently, it’s used by both religions. But I agree with you and AB that a little sneakiness was involved:

          A prayer rug or prayer mat is a piece of fabric, sometimes a pile carpet, used by Muslims and some Christians during prayer.

          In Islam, a prayer mat is placed between the ground and the worshipper for cleanliness during the various positions of Islamic prayer. These involve prostration and sitting on the ground. A Muslim must perform wudu (ablution) before prayer, and must pray in a clean place.

          Prayer rugs are also used by some Oriental Orthodox Christians for Christian prayer involving prostrations in the name of the Trinity, as well as during the recitation of the Alleluia and Kyrie eleison.[1] Its purpose is to maintain a cleanly space to pray to God and shoes must be removed when using the prayer rug.[2] Among Russian Orthodox Old Ritualists, a special prayer rug known as the Podruchnik is used to keep one’s face and hands clean during prostrations, as these parts of the body are used to make the sign of the cross.[3]

          Many new prayer mats are manufactured by weavers in a factory. The design of a prayer mat is based on the village it came from and its weaver. These rugs are usually decorated with many beautiful geometric patterns and shapes. They are sometimes even decorated with images. These images are usually important Islamic landmarks, such as the Kaaba, but they are never animate objects.[4] This is because the drawing of animate objects on Islamic prayer mats is forbidden.

          For Muslims, when praying, a niche, representing the mihrab of a mosque, at the top of the mat must be pointed to the Islamic center for prayer, Mecca. All Muslims are required to know the qibla or direction towards Mecca from their home or where they are while traveling. Oriental Orthodox Christians position their prayer rugs so that they face east, the direction of prayer towards which they offer prayer.

          1. And I thought it was for comfort so they wouldn’t hurt their knees, I should have realised god would be angry if they got dirty 🥴.

        2. We once had the misfortune to be playing behind 3 hackers on the marvellous Glendower golf course not far from the airport at Joburg. Not only were they hopelessly ill suited to the demands of such a tough course but they kept getting their prayer mats/rugs out on the tees – not that it helped them in any way.

      2. I believe that Andy is correct. Chambers Dictionary, Collins English Dictionary, the Oxford Dictionary of English, and the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary all say that the answer to 5d is Muslim and all equate the mat and rug variants.

        The Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_rug does include your Orthodox Christians, beginning “A prayer rug or prayer mat is a piece of fabric, sometimes a pile carpet, used by Muslims and some Christians during prayer”.

      3. Ah, that’s a very good point — I assumed Muslim but it could have been Eastern Orthodox — that’s a thought I hadn’t considered!

        1. I’ve seen the podruchnik prayer rugs in Russian Orthodox churches I have visited but always called them mats. The Wilipedia Article calls them ruhs, however.

  21. This was very good, better than your average Tuesday offering, with mostly fine clues providing a decent challenge and much enjoyment. Fav: 25a. 3*, 4*.

  22. I found this quite odd. I don’t often do bung ins but had to today.
    I liked some of it, not quite a slog.
    I needed a bit of electronic help but finished with only one hint.
    Thanks to setter and Mr K
    ***/**

  23. My first thoughts were that this offering was a bit annoying with odd instruments and synonyms that did not come readily to mind. So I was grateful for the explanations by Mr K. My second thoughts changed on reflection, after all we were given quite a few gimmes that helped us find the rest reasonably easily. Enjoyable.
    **/****

  24. Although slowed a little by the Mat/Rug confusion, the NW, NE and SE went in very swiftly, however I then spent as long on the remaining four or five clues in the SW as on the rest of puzzle. Not a fan of 16d – not certain I’ve ever come across the answer being used in the context of intense emotion. Red, yes, but white? Also not a fan of there being so many anagrams – 7 full or partial out of only 30 clues.

    Otherwise, all a bit “meh”, and no clues stood out for me. Thanks anyway to the Setter and to Mr K for the review.

    2*/2*

    1. MG and Bertie. 16d is fine. Definition straight from the BRB:

      white-hot adj 1 said of a metal, etc: so hot that white light is emitted. 2 intensely emotional, passionate.

  25. I too initially went with prayer mat, never having heard of prayer rug. Struggled with the NW croner a bit ..eventually dug up the string instrument which helped. Got to the end of it without electronic help, but needed Mr K’s help for several parsings.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

    1. Better day today up here Ora. After the last few days I was worried that we were in a period of permahaar!
      Stay safe

  26. Some very straightforward clues and some unexpectedly tough ones for a Tuesday & overall I made hard work of it. Pleased I am in good company with my mat / rug error.
    *** difficulty & **** satisfaction ( after yesterday’s discussion both based on the relevant LrOK standard scales and truncated.)
    COTD was 25a
    Thank you setter and Mr K are kittens on appearance money?

  27. I thought this was fairly straightforward on the whole, normal Tuesday fare. I too fell into the mat/rug trap, but quickly resolved. Have never heard of the stringed instrument but the clue was easy enough with the checkers.
    My favourites were 11a, 21a and 16d.
    Thanks to the setter and Mr K

  28. A bit of an off day for me today, too much of a slog and definitely not my cup of tea. Not finished and throwing in the towel as I am not enjoying this one, plus bathroom still waiting for painting to be completed. Thanks to setter, sorry I couldn’t get on wavelength, and to Mr K for the pictures.

    1. I have just completed yesterday’s prize Cryptic 663, it’s quite a pleasant solve for anyone looking for another one to do.

  29. I will go with the Curate’s egg group. Prayer mats are definitely used in all of the Arab countries that I have visited and I have never known them referred to as Prayer rugs 😳 ****/*** Favourites 2 & 20d 😃 Thanks to Mr K as always and to the Compiler 🤔 I note that no one to date has hazarded a guess at who it could be!

    1. I guessed, but it’s starting to look like I was wrong. But I wouldn’t mind if that’s the case, because it’d mean that we have another excellent compiler in the Tuesday rotation.

  30. Most of this was up to the usual Tuesday standard, fairly gentle, but the others took me into **** time and then I had to resort to the hints.1a was a bung in, 25a I associate with commoners so that threw me a it but bunged in again, 5d same as most with mat until I got 18a, 17d don’t get on with slang clues but once again 18a came to my rescue. But I always enjoy the challenge, after all it’s only a crossword. Thanks to all.

  31. A mixed bag for me too, some were toughie standard. I hadn’t heard of the instrument in 1a so Googled it. Needed the hints to parse 3d and 16d and initially put in mat for 5d. Favourite was 20d. Thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  32. More egg than curate on this one. Not up my alley at all. Found the clueing clumsy for my liking.
    Just not my cup of tea at all. Too many odd items in this like 1a, 14a (horrible clue) as well as several others.
    No rating today, don’t want to be rude.
    Best clue IMHO was 23d

    Thanks to setter and Mr K

  33. Too much working against me today, a new aide so having to show her the ropes, meaning less time to spend on crossword which is way beyond my ken. I knew Joanna had to be the piano but failed on that one. I’ve had to pack it in, no more time to mess with this. Fave was 25a, but 20d is right up there with the top because of the pic! My, they are pretty!
    Thank you setter, maybe I’ll have better luck next time, and, of course, huge gratitude to Mr. K for unravelling that lot for me.

      1. Looks like Elsa is approaching Fort Myers – Sarasota at the moment, bordering on Cat 1. I think M and BL are on the east coast. Remnants heading towards SC by tomorrow night I think. It’s the earliest “E” name storm ever apparently.

        1. Yes, they are over on the East Coast. Here in Charleston, we’ve been told to expect lots of rain and winds up to 40 mph. Good to hear from you, Wahoo.

      2. Much better than it was yesterday! We had lashings of rain, horizontal rain, came down in stair rods. This storm came from the east and went on up to Palm Beach, probably stirred up by the unsettled weather caused by Elsa. Today has been overcast all day but only Scotch mist of rain. If this is our hurricane of the year, I’ll take it. Good luck with it, it’s a wet one.

  34. For me this was the same as yesterday, one clue being impossible for me to solve – 14a. I also managed to convince myself for a while that the first word was sorcery. Doh!

    I had written mat in and crossed off 5d as solved until I got 18a and realised it was rug. Even though it obviously used by some it sounds clumsy to me.

    25a cotd.

    Without 14a ***/****

  35. This was a day when I enjoyed reading the blog more than the crossword. To date only the top half filled in and that’s after reading the hints, nevertheless I shall keep going. Thank you compiler for my brain-ache and to Mr K for unravelling this labyrinth.

  36. Unless my tired eyes have missed it there has been nothing from Corky for a week now.
    Hope all OK up there in North Yorkshire.

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