DT 29863 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29863

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29863

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Hola from the Vega Baja where I’m doing this blog in the middle of the night due to a bout of insomnia, probably brought on by too much after dinner coffee! Anyway, may I send you all my best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Christmas.

As to the crossword it’s the usual Monday. Elegant clues, not too hard but a couple to cause the head scratching. I enjoyed it a lot and hope you did too.

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons so don’t click on them unless you really want to see the answer.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Drink less wine the two resolved (3,4,7)
WET ONES WHISTLE:  A phrase meaning to take a drink is an anagram (resolved) of LESS WINE THE TWO.  Not heard this for years but my Grandad used to use it when asking if I would like a beer or two.

9a           I intend returning article on a blood condition (7)
ANAEMIA: The I from the clue, a word meaning intend and then an indefinite article are reversed and then followed by (on) the A from the clue.

10a         Paunch? Bad bad sign (7)
ABDOMEN:  An anagram (bad) of BAD followed by a sign.  Well in my case it is, but this isn’t me!

11a         Small Italian model (3)
SIT:  S(mall) followed by the abbreviation for the Italian stuff you might put in your gin.

12a         Underling dished out brandies (11)
SUBORDINATE:  Anagram (dished) of OUT BRANDIES.  My underlings at work never dished out brandy!

14a         Basil, for one, is in other balcony (6)
HERBAL:  A lurker hidden in the last two words of the clue (is in).  Here’s a bit of Basil . . .

15a         Meeting about one acquiring Greek steamship (8)
CONGRESS: A single letter for about is followed by the ONE from the clue. Into that you have to insert an abbreviation of Greek and follow all that with the usual two letters for a steamship.

17a         Spent day flying to ridge (3-5)
DOG TIRED: D(ay) followed by an anagram (flying) of TO RIDGE.  Spent as in knackered.

19a         Left one by a wealthy heiress (6)
PORTIA:  The nautical word for left followed by the letter that looks like the number one and then the A from the clue.

22a         When husband goes after peak provider of wood (8,3)
MOUNTAIN ASH: Take a word for when and follow with an H(usband). Put that after a peak or large hill.

23a         Enjoy trick right away (3)
USE:  A trick with its letter R removed (Right away)

24a         Troublemaker in Russian government wanting new leader (7)
GREMLIN:  Change the first letter of (wanting new leader) the seat of the Russian government.

26a         Communion cup in church placed next to girl (7)
CHALICE:  Start with an abbreviation of church and follow with a girl last seen in Wonderland.

27a         Utterly despicable in past, trick prior to draw (6,8)
BEYOND CONTEMPT:  A word meaning past or after is the first word of the answer. The second is a trick followed by a word for to draw or lure.


1d           How much do I owe you from lost games that we had? (5,3,6)

2d           Farm vehicle and buggy overturned on hill (7)
TRACTOR:  You need to reverse (overturned in a down clue) a buggy or wagon and follow with a rocky hill.

3d           Collector of bits and pieces? (11)
NUMISMATIST:  This is a cryptic definition of someone who collects coins.  Who’s old enough to remember the threepenny bit and the two shilling piece?

4d           Embarrassed about a B&B being dingy (6)
SHABBY:  Take a word for embarrassed or modest and put it around (about) the A from the clue and the two B’s also from the clue.

5d           Clearance given by boss on range (8)
HEADROOM:  A word for the boss or top man followed by a word for range or area.

6d           Son, notice, is unhappy (3)
SAD: S(on) followed by an abbreviation of advert (notice).

7d           Tell untruths about honey drink and cordial (7)
LIMEADE:  A word meaning to tell untruths is placed around (about) a honey based drink.

8d           Below formal declaration, a comment, somewhat restrained? (14)
UNDERSTATEMENT:  A word meaning below followed by a word for a formal declaration.

13d         Fashionable well-respected centre is cheery (2,4,5)
IN GOOD HEART:  The usual two letters for fashionable followed by a word for well-respected and then the centre of something.

16d         Ruled around end of thirties, then abdicated (8)
RESIGNED:  Ruled as a Queen might around an S (end of thirtieS).  Reference to Edward VIII perhaps?

18d         Chap eating prime piece of rump before cheese (7)
GRUYERE:  A word for a chap around (eating) an R (prime bit of Rump) and then a poetic word for before.  I had a bit of rump and some cheese last night so it’s quite apposite.

20d         In French city, I originally maligned travel industry (7)
TOURISM:  Take the I from the clue and an M (originally Maligned) and put them in a French city.

21d         Mostly awkward, old cowboy (6)
GAUCHO:  A word for awkward without its last letter (mostly) followed by O(ld) gives a South American cowboy.

25d         The Parisian round house (3)
LEO:  A French word for the followed by an O (round) gives a house of the zodiac.

Not sure about a favourite but 18d amused.  16d and 4d were pretty good too.

Quick crossword puns:

Top line:         HOARSE     +     CHOUX     =     HORSESHOE

Bottom line:     POLLY     +     TITIAN     =     POLITICIAN

90 comments on “DT 29863

  1. 2.5*/3.5*. The usual Monday fun from Campbell.

    I am not sure about the definition used in 14a.

    1a was a nice anagram which gets my vote as favourite.

    Many thanks to Campbell and to pommers.

    1. I had a similar thought to you, RD, re 14a but perhaps we shouldn’t split hairs in the season of goodwill!

  2. I found this harder than the usual Monday puzzle and had to resort to using the checkers to guess the answer then trying to see if I could parse it. This sort of reverse e engineering is usually reserved for Friday puzzles. 18d was the best of the clues. Not really my cup of tea (3*/2*)

  3. This would have been */*** were it not for 27a my last one in which took me a while to fathom. A pleasant offering with lots of anagrams and my favourite was 19a which was nicely constructed. Thanks to pommers and the setter.

  4. A not too 4d start to the working week with the exception of 3d, a word you either know or don’t, with precious little help from the wordplay.
    My top three are 1,15 and 17a with a nod to 21d as it’s one of my very favourite Steely Dan songs (and albums).
    Many thanks to Pommers and Campbell

  5. Whoosh!
    In just * time.
    Excellent clueing, some real gems, eg 22a and 27a
    Last in 15a,
    Many thanks to Campbell for a most enjoyable confidence builder.
    And thanks to pommers.

      1. Thanks, Miffypops.
        The word trick in the clue put me quickly onto 27a.
        My last in was the hardest!

  6. Being a bit of a three down myself I had no problem with 3 down. My last one in was 27 across. I couldn’t get the word second or record out of my mind. I can’t say that an obscure largely forgotten sit-com from the middle of the last century sprung to mind when I solved 14 across. Maybe it’s what living in Spain does to you. Altogether lots of gentle fun so thank you to Campbell for the puzzle and thank you to pommers for the review – maybe substitute the coffee with wine next time

    1. The sit-com sprang to mind not at all until reading this blog, but with constant repeats and re-runs it’s hardly obscure or largely forgotten, I suggest, even if (as with MP’sFC) some of the humour has rather failed to stand the test of time.

      1. As someone who is obscure and forgotten I can live with Basil a lot better than the modern “comedy” served up by the BBC now.

        1. He is a monstrous character with no saving graces. The whole concept is based on what is the most unlikely thing that could happen next. A guest dies in his room. Let’s put a dead fish inside his pyjamas and hide him in a laundry basket. And so it went on. Over and over again. The main character is a racist misogynistic bully. Very much of its time. It belonged in the dustbin then and it belongs in the dustbin now. As to how it compares with modern comedy. I have no idea.

    2. I am most relieved not to be the only head scratcher on 27a. Indeed I now feel I am in most accomplished company.

    3. An even older and definitely more obscure programme came to mind with 14a, viz, The Herbs (I always thought it was called The Herb Garden but Wikipedia has put me right). Sir Basil was one of the regular characters. I’m minded to watch the whole series again. Thanks to Pommers and Setter.

      1. I am constable knapweed
        And I keep law and order
        I like to see that all is well
        Along the garden border

  7. Light, and enjoyable while it lasted. Good solid Monday coffee-break fare from Campbell, a reassuring start to the week. Not a duff clue in site, several ticks, with HMs to 26a, 18d and 20d, with COTD to 3d – a good chuckle from that one.

    0.5* / 2.5*

    Many thanks to Campbell & to Pommers.

  8. I thought the top half easier than the bottom
    Both 1a and 1d are old fashioned expressions. Just right fo we oldies!
    Now to tackle Saturday’s outsize offering.if I can find a surface large enough to take it.

  9. re:3d I’d only just mastered £SD when we had to change to the decimal system. My old Nan never mastered the “new money” which caused a few problems in the pub where she was the landlady! My weekly pocket money (from my nan) was half-a-crown which bought an awful lot of Spanish Tobacco & Apple tarts from the sweet shop. Happy days!

  10. I am with Miffypops and Hrothgar, fairly whoosed until I got to 27a where I too couldn’t get Second out of my mind. 22a was my favourite today.
    I tried in vain to find a third quicky pun
    Thanks to pommers and Campbell

  11. Typically enjoyable Monday puzzle. Hooray for the Steely Dan reference, as noted by Stephen!

    The other day we were driving back from Chelsea in the late evening and were chatting about what a strange couple of years we’ve all gone through. I said, light-heartedly, “All we need now is for aliens to arrive on Earth.”
    As I said it we both noticed a very peculiar orange glow over West London – oval, like a bright cloud, about a hundred yards in length. H felt rather spooked and we just couldn’t figure out what was causing this unusual phenomena. Was it life from another planet, coming to save our civilisation? The arrival of some godly presence?
    Google gave us the rather less exciting answer: “Strange lights in the sky in North West London being caused by orange light being shone on the Wembley Stadium pitch to mimic daylight to keep the grass in top condition”

    Today’s crossword soundtrack: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – It’s A Holiday Soul Party

    Thanks to Campbell and pommers

    1. ‘Wembley Stadium confirmed that they are currently undergoing winter pitch renovation works, which could be more noticeable than in recent years due to a shorter turnaround due to various fixtures in the schedule.
      The work, which is using a germination sheet to help treat the grass, is due to be completed in the coming days.’

    2. Hi T
      My kid brother has put me onto to an Aussie band, The Teskey Brothers – give their latest, Live at Hamer Hall, a listen. Think you’ll like it.

  12. Having spent the weekend with things yule, I haven’t managed to do the Saturday and Sunday puzzles but I sailed through this offering for Campbell. 17a was a weird one for me because I solved it by taking the general name of the group that basil belongs to and adding “AL” from “balcony”. It wasn’t until I wrote it in that I realised it was a lurker and this makes it my COTD.

    Many thanks toCampbell for the fun and to pommers for the hints.

    The birds are going mad on the feeders so a cold spell could be on the way in the Welsh Marches.

  13. It’s Monday :good: It’s Campbell :good:

    Favourite – a toss-up between 19a and 22a – and the old threepenny bit has landed on its edge!

    Thanks to Falcon and to pommers.

    P.S. pommers- some underlining of definitions missing especially in the ‘second’ half of the Downs.

  14. A typically enjoyable puzzle for a Monday morning that was not too difficult but pleasant to solve. 1a was a well-constructed anagram, but my favourite was 16d.

    My thanks to Campbell and pommers.

  15. 1d v clever but loads more to gorge on! Thank you Pommers for your help with 21d as I’d completely forgotten that word. Loving the Steely Dan, Stephen. And thankyou to Campbell for his flawless Mondays.

  16. Nice start once again to the week 😃 **/*** Favourites 19 & 17a 👍 Thanks to Pommers and to Campbell. Did spend some time on the “Quicky” trying to find a third phrase 😬

  17. 27a was my last one in and took me longer than the rest of the puzzle put together. **/*** I skipped John Cleese entirely in 14a and went straight for the herb. Favourite 3d. Thanks to all.

    1. We had a cat named Basil once that we named just so we could call him in a Prunella Scales tone …

      1. We went one better and had 2 cats, Basil and Sybil, both sadly in cat heaven now…..but their names always raised a smile.

  18. Just back from a PCR test following a late T&T notification from the flight back from Orlando 6 days ago. Entirely confident I’m free of any Greek alphabet lurgy (post flight PCR negative & a few lateral flows since) but it does put the wind up you & hoping to depart for Tigh Mor in the Trossachs on Wednesday for Christmas providing Nicola & Boris don’t put the kibosh on it.
    Enjoyed today’s puzzle though I’d marginally give the nod to his bonus cryptic. I was another whooshing along merrily until 17a & 18d put the brakes on but still a brisk solve in 1.5* time. Thought the 4 peripheral long ‘uns all good but my favourite a close call between 15&24a.
    Thanks to Campbell for a double dose of Monday entertainment throughout the year & to Pommers.

    1. Good luck with the test H.
      My daughter & husband visited us yesterday afternoon & evening then got pinged this morning they had been in contact on Friday / Saturday with someone who has tested positive so now face anxious wait. We will do LF tests this afternoon with fingers crossed.

      1. Sorry to hear. Fingers crossed. Our party of 18 spread across 4 apartments in the old Trossachs hotel (now Property Bond) has just been reduced by 4 as 2 of the youngsters (6&8) are positive – all very sad after last year’s enforced cancellation

        1. A friend’s daughter was having a small get together with friends as a party treat. They were going swimming first. One of the mothers sent a message to say her daughter had covid but she thought she would be ok to go swimming!

          No wonder the virus spreads.

  19. Good luck with the PCR Huntsman and anyone else waiting. We ‘passed’, getting notified 25 hours after our trip to the walk-through thankfully.
    I slowed up considerably in the south today but got there in the end.
    Can I recommend Zazu by Rosie Vela to Steely Dan fans? It has Fagen’s unmistakable deft hand on the tiller.

  20. As you all seem to agree, a jolly good start to the week – LOI was 27a, I was so busy looking for a synonym for ridge. Lots of stars in particular 10a,16d and I liked the reference to the wealthy widow. Delicious bottom Quickie pun. I think the Angel outfit needs a good wash but the wings are in fine fettle. Many thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  21. What a joy to kick off a busy week (Christmas preparations, etc.) with this clever but lighthearted enigma. I started off at a gallop in the North but then the SW slowed me down a bit. My Fav was 1a. 22a is a bit unspecific or am I missing something? Thank you Campbell and pommers (hope you sleep better tonight perhaps after a gentle nightcap?).

  22. A relief to find a friendly Campbell puzzle waiting for me this morning, having been up at silly o’clock for a 6:05am MRI. Not helped by the fact that the first patient arrived without his prescription so couldn’t be seen. He then became very aggressive and police had to be called to remove him. Quite tense for a while as the sole two members of the staff and me were there alone with him, and half expecting him to pull out a weapon. Quite an exciting start to the day 😊. Really enjoyed this puzzle, with 27a being LI, like many others. 1d is COTD, narrowly beating 1a. I did have to endure Peter reciting the whole “Malice with a chalice, vessel with a pestle” etc. ☹️ when I asked him for help on 26a. Thanks to Campbell and Pommers.

    1. Sounds a bit too exciting to me –
      btw how are doing with Kate Mepham’s Christmas GK? I have a mostly filled grid with a few doubts.

    2. Also, really recommend today’s prize puzzle 687. Just finished it all bad one word which I didn’t know (name of a dagger).

  23. I didn’t exactly whoosh along last night but I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely Campbell offering, with 17a, 1a, & 27a taking top honours and lots of runners-up. Such a relief after my making a dog’s breakfast of yesterday’s Dada. Like Huntsman, I think the bonus cryptic (also Campbell’s, I understand) is a cut above and most satisfying to complete. Thanks to pommers and Campbell. ** / ****

  24. A lovely start to the week’s solving. So much to enjoy.
    4d was my favourite, obviously!
    Thanks to Campbell and Pommers.

    1. Thought of you when I solved that one, but I reckon you’re not so 4d and your puzzles certainly aren’t!

  25. Strange puzzle for me this one. Managed to finish most of it unaided, but there were five in the SE I simply could not get without the hints … 19a, 23a, 26a, 20d & 24d so for me I guess this was a DNF. Not sure why I could not get them as they were obvious with the hints. Unusual for a Campbell puzzle for me on a Monday.
    Favourites though were 17a, 1d, 3d, 5d & 18d with winner 3d for the bygone references in the clue. I liked that.

    Thanks to Campbell and pommers

  26. All going well until 3d but good old Bradford’s came to the rescue – another new one for me! Thank you Campbell and Pommers

  27. Enjoyed this one immensely with a couple of little hold-ups along the way. It’s my birthday today and not a single prezzie! Even the one I bought myself hasn’t turned up. It’s the same every year as people think cards, etc. will get there the following day. No matter, rather too old to worry about it. But lovely to have the crossword in bed this morning so thanks to Campbell and Pommers.

    1. Many Happy Returns Manders. Sad you had no prezzies. Here’s some cake and a glass. As imaginary as the present I’m afraid

      1. Thank you so much for your good wishes and the prezzies too, really cheered me up. My lovely cousin in Cape Town has just rung as well which was lovely but it was so windy I could hardly understand what he was saying.

        1. Thank you for your entertaining website. I was perplexed today to be told on the app that some answers were incorrect. Usually that means I’ve got a typo somewhere but, try as I might, I couldn’t find one. Turns out it was 25d – I had as LAO – also Parisian “the” followed by “O” and is a type of house. I never heard of signs of the zodiac being called “houses” before, but you live and learn! Anyway, thanks for solving my mystery.

        2. Happy Birthday Manders. No presents but at least your friends on this site are all thinking of you🥂🎁🎈

    2. Many many happy returns of the day Manders! Rotten luck having a birthday so near
      Christmas, very bad planning somewhere. My birthday is slap, bang in the middle of the year!😊

    3. Many happy returns, Manders. I’ve found that the number of prezzies decreases as one gets older, probably everyone thinks you’ve already got more than you could possibly need! They’re probably right but there are some things that could do with replacing. Younger daughter did comment some of the things on my ‘wish list’ weren’t her idea of presents!

  28. Just wanted to put a word in for Campbell’s online-only prize puzzle (687) – plenty of festive notes and an enjoyable grid, well worth the time if you’ve got it to spare.

  29. Took a time to get into this. Then all went smoothly to finish in *** time.
    Favourite 3d brought back memories of coins of yesteryear. Our headmaster used to call the three penny bit “thruppence” – hence he was known as “Dickie Thrupp”.
    No new words for me today, unusual for Campbell.
    Thank you Mr C. for an excellent work-out and pommers for the review. Merry Christmas to you both.

  30. Phew! Thanks for Campbell on a Monday! All went well enough until i tried to fit in ‘Rancho’ at 21d. Of course it wouldn’t parse and backtracking to the right answer took a while. Really liked 19a – very elegant. **/****

  31. All ran smooth except 3d where I parsed correctly but didn’t know the word so had to look it up. 1a and 1d were my favourites. Thanks to Pommers and Campbell.

  32. Perfect for a Campbell Monday. I like phrases like 1a and 1d, could have been tailored for me. No new words here, even 3d was familiar, a bit like philatelist, there are plenty of them around so it comes up now and then. Pommers, isn’t a two-shilling piece a florin? In Jamaica we had a “quattie” at one time, I think to was a penny-ha’penny; “carry me ackee go a Linstead market not a quattie wot sell”. Then there was a “arf-crown”. I had a help-free solve apart from 27a, darn it, I was so close. I had the “beyond” but missed the second word. Lots to like here, but I did like the slickness at 19a.
    Thanks Campbell for all the fun, and your review was much appreciated pommers.

    1. Yes, a two shilling piece was also called a florin. The half-crown was also known as “half a dollar” which shows where exchange rates have gone over the years!

  33. Challenging solve spoiled for me by 3d. Not only obscure but a deeply unpleasant word I have no wish to come across ever again.

    Also stumped by 19a because I’ve not read Merchant of Venice. I should have got this though even if I didn’t know the heiress.

    Thanks to all.

  34. No internet connection for most of the day so very late reporting in.
    Not overly keen on 14a but otherwise much enjoyed this one. Top three for me were 1&17a plus 1d.

    Thanks to Campbell and to pommers for the review – best of wishes for the festive season to both of you, not forgetting pommette.

    1. Thank you Jane and best wishes to you too. We’re staying at home again this year as Benidorm is a Covid hotspot.

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