DT 29931 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29931

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29931

Hints and tips by Miffypops

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Rating by Beaver – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ****

Before I rattle aimlessly on about todays puzzle I want to draw your attention to fellow blogger Rahmat Ali who reviews the full Sunday puzzle after the prize draw closing date. His reviews make for the best reading anywhere on Big Dave’s website. A most interesting cornucopia of facts and accounts of life in Kolkata written in a delightful manner. Have yourselves a gander. You are unlikely to be disappointed

As Giovanni is on Toughie duty today this ‘do as it says on the tin’ puzzle is unlikely to be one of his but with the answer at 6 down and the whales at 9 across being new words to me I’m not so sure. Throw in the long forgotten singer born in 1903 and the foolish folk from days gone by at 1 across and the doubt factor is raised a little higher. It matters not who set the puzzle. It is a trivia for us to enjoy

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a        Head examiner slammed poor English teaching primarily (12)
PHRENOLOGIST:  The first two words of the clue gave the game away here with the head examiner from the distant past now only found in the minds of crossword setters. I’m with Terry Prachett in believing that the addition of bumps to the head might have an effect on a person. Especially if administered with a blunt instrument. Anyway it’s an anagram with a first letter added. Go find

9a        Island school with university entrance (4)
GUAM: Insert the abbreviation for university into a school of whales. You can listen to the sounds of whales on YouTube clips. As far as I know there isn’t a clip of them singing ‘Hey Hey We’re The Minkies’ but we can live in hope

10a      Agreement at home — something taken out overnight? (9)
INDENTURE:  A two-letter word meaning at home is followed by something taken out of the mouth at night and left in a cleansing agent. Do these still exist is this world of implants?

12a      Mysterious firm backed religious group (6)
OCCULT:  Reverse one of our regular firms and add a religious group particularly one that is a bit daft

13a      In favour of youngsters reportedly getting dietary requirements (8)
PROTEINS:  A prefix meaning in favour of is followed by a homophone of a word describing adolescents. Be careful with your spelling of the answer

15a      Authentic quality of minister, one attached to Exeter? (10)
CANONICITY: A church minister is followed by the letter that looks like the number one and a description of Exeter a place known for its cathedral which might be nice but won’t be a patch on Coventry’s

16a      Female wants listener to show concern (4)
FEAR:  The abbreviation for female is followed by a listener, one of a pair on the sides of one’s head

18a      Result of gym being closed? Negative response (4)
NOPE: A two-letter negative is followed by the abbreviation of the old fashioned term physical education.  Does anybody use that term anymore?

20a      Somehow catch a lone fish (10)
COELACANTH:  Anagram (somehow) of CATCH A LONE. Again be careful with the spelling of this fish. I’d be happier if Noah Webster had had a hand in the spelling of this fascinating creature. It would have made sense then. A Google search for this fish is an interesting exercise and it’s easier to find on Google than it is in the sea

23a      Soldiers being insincere, showing uncooperative attitude? (8)
REACTING: The soldiers here are The Royal Engineers. They are followed by a stretched synonym of the words being insincere which pushes this clue into more difficult territory. Worry not the checkers as always will come to the rescue. Friendly little things that they are

24a      Where blood flows, it’s said, without effectiveness (2,4)
IN VAIN:  Where does blood flow? The second word needs altering to suit the homophonic style of the clue

26a      The thing badly placed in gallery to amuse (9)
TITILLATE:  A two- letter word meaning that thing and a word meaning badly or in bad health sit inside the only gallery known to crossword setters. They need to get out more

27a      Support that often comes with ruin (4)
RACK:  A word which often precedes and ruin is a type of support

28a      See doomster rant terribly — that could be me (12)
DEMONSTRATOR:  Anagram (terribly) of DOOMSTER RANT. I’ve underlined the whole clue here for the definition but I’m open to suggestions if you see it any other way


2d        Lowering sound, crooner admits hint of laryngitis (8)
HUMBLING: Begin with a low steady noise. Add the first name of  a long forgotten crooner born in 1903 into which you have introduced the leading character of the word laryngitis

3d        Old flame with sort of appeal is way out (4)
EXIT: A two-letter former lover is followed by a word describing sex appeal

4d        Trouble with day working? Sticking at it, no matter what (10)
OBDURATELY: Anagram (working) of DAY TROUBLE

5d        Old sailors had to be decorated (6)
ORNATE:  Begin with the abbreviation for old. Add the abbreviation for Royal Navy. Add a word meaning had or consumed when referring to food. Ah food. An essential ingredient of every puzzle. Something to snack on whilst solving. Sadly lacking here

6d        One crazy person on French island no good for anything (7)
INUTILE:  My new word of the day. Begin with the letter that looks like the number one. Add a non PC word used to describe a crazy person. Finish off with a French island

7d        Use the rat-run possibly, making journey with a purpose (8,4)
TREASURE HUNT: Anagram (possibly) of USE THE RAT RUN

8d        Italian workers united — bad goings-on half concealed (6)
TUSCAN: The workers here are a trade union of which we need the abbreviation. Then we need half of a plural word meaning bad going’s on or salacious events or actions

11d      Focused study needing minimal money deemed very good (12)
CONCENTRATED: Three parts to this clue. 1 A regular synonym of study. 2 A small denomination of money but not English money. 3 A synonym of deemed

14d      Story worker’s presented for person handling finances (10)
ACCOUNTANT: A story, report or description of an event is followed by one of the workers from a social group of insects

17d      Are coins unearthed from plot? (8)
SCENARIO: Anagram (unearthed) of ARE COINS

19d      Hard to penetrate top man, unusually shady figure (7)
PHANTOM: The abbreviation for hard sits inside an anagram (unusually) of TOP MAN

21d      Refinement in pest is lacking (6)
NUANCE:   Remove the word is from a pest or pain in the arse

22d      Taken to be part of Bristol enterprise (6)
STOLEN:  The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the words to be part of

25d      Huge game of two halves, first to last (4)
MEGA: Choose the right word from those in the clue. Split it in two and put the last two letters to the beginning

Quickie Pun.  Corps + Sicken = Corsican


88 comments on “DT 29931

  1. Most enjoyable despite needing electrons for a couple. Spelling 26a with four Ts messed up the SW corner for a while until 22d showed me the error of my ways. I learned two new words at 15a and 6d, which I will no doubt forget. There are two ways to spell 20a and I picked the wrong one, which held up the solving of 14d for a short while.

    My COTD is 21d because of the PDM it gave.

    Many thanks to the setter for the fun and to MP for the hints. I agree about Rahmat Ali’s blog.

    There is still a chill wind in The Marches.

    Wordle in 4. I seem to be stuck on 4 at the moment.

  2. Three short in the NW. 2d, 8d and 9a were the culprits.

    Thanks to the compiler and MP for the explanations.

  3. What a super puzzle, had an unfamiliar feel to it but very enjoyable indeed.
    Although the fodder was obvious, a couple of the long anagrams were tricky and I don’t think I’ve come across the device used in 25d before but very clever.
    I liked several, 15a plus plus 2,5&21d foremost amongst them.
    Many thanks to the setter (I’m taking a punt on Mr Ed, though I’ll give credence to our blogger’s thoughts ) and MP, especially for confirming my thoughts on the parsing 8d.
    Yes Rhamat’s blogs are superb, I always try to read them.

  4. Plenty to think about here! I need a head examiner now, the one I tried to crowbar in rather than the answer. Also, some tricky newbies nearly turned me into a crazy person no good for anything. Thanks MP for filling in my knowledge gaps and kudos to the setter.

  5. Some difficult cluing today,last in was 6d,new to me,I assumed the crazy person. Like SC, 15a was again a new word.
    Found the school in my Chambers,one to remember.Took a while to parse 6d, Apart from these -Fine 1!
    Favourites were 2d and 10a and liked the surface of 20a-remembered the ancient fish being found when thought extinct.
    Going for a ****/****

  6. I found this a bit of a taxing workout, frankly, even though I managed to finish all on my own. Maybe I’m just suffering from a very bad case of pandemicitis (haven’t left the house since mid-December) and need to lighten up, eh? Anyway, I did enjoy discovering the new word at 15a and must find a way to use it somehow. Also liked 6d, which I may have used twice in my lifetime. And my COTD? Why not 2d? And confession time: I gave up on spelling that rare fish properly and, in desperation, went to Anagram Solver. Thanks to MP for the usual humor and detail (I love both of those cathedrals), and thanks to the setter. *** / ***

    1. Oh poor Robert. Can you not got out for a walk locally ? You must be like a caged tiger.

    2. Robert
      So sorry to read about your woes. What with Arthur’s visits & the isolation life is not treating you kindly at all.
      Regarding the rare fish for some daft reason I remembered reading when a specimen of the, presumed extinct, fish was caught off Africa I think & it started “coel”.

      1. Thank you, DG and LROK for your commiserations. If I could walk, I certainly would enjoy a stroll these days in my lovely neighbourhood, where the camellias and azaleas are now in full bloom. Mine have outdone themselves this year, and I do admire them if only through the windows.

        1. Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
          Is hung with bloom along the bough,
          And stands about the woodland ride
          Wearing white for Eastertide.

          Now, of my threescore years and ten,
          Twenty will not come again,
          And take from seventy springs a score,
          It only leaves me fifty more.

          And since to look at things in bloom
          Fifty springs are little room,
          About the woodlands I will go
          To see the cherry hung with snow.

          A E Housman. A Shropshire Lad

          1. Ah yes, MP, I’ve always loved that lovely one by Housman. “To my fourscore years and four, / I hope that there are several more / To see my flowers full of life: / It’s Nature’s way to ease all strife.”

          2. Probably too late but I just wanted to say thank you, Miffypops, for posting my favourite poem – the only one I know by heart (just that bit, not the whole of A Shropshire Lad!). I remember when I was very little my father getting me out of bed and carrying me to the landing window to look at a cherry tree in bloom and reciting it to me. It’s been in my mind often recently as I reached my threescore years and ten last year.
            Thank you, too, for your entertaining hints, of which I need quite a few to explain my answers – and thanks to the setter for an enjoyable puzzle, which I found rather difficult.

            1. Thank you for this post Sarah. It has put a big smile on my face. A lovely memory for you of your father

    3. Here’s hoping your pandemicitis soon goes away. After so long being so careful, it is hard to loosen up and get back out there. We just stopped wearing masks, having worn them since the start, and it felt very strange at first.

    4. Yes Robert. I know what you mean by pandemicitis. At the wrong side of 80 I have lost my motivation. Or as my grandmother would say “my get up,& go has got up & gone” thanks to kind friends I am getting out a bit more now. I hope you are similarly blessed with friends. In the meantime thanks to the setter for introducing us to some new words. Thanks also to Miffypops. Your help much needed.

  7. Thought this was wonderful with some clever anagrams. Definitely needed help with 20a which I shall now forget. Your illustration at 1a is fascinating MP; if only I’d known this 30 years ago. Thank for your entertaining hints as per, and to our compiler.

  8. 6d was a new word for me but I got it through parsing, otherwise quite a ordinary crossword.

  9. I found this very taxing – so many words I hadn’t come across before, it was like doing it in a foreign language. I dread to think what the Toughie will be like if this is the easy one!
    Sorry, but I didn’t enjoy it at all.

    1. A *****/0 for me as well. Far too obscure.
      I would not describe the crooner as long forgotten though. Pops up on my Christmas playlist every year.

    2. I agree totally. There were at least 6 little used words. Not very encouraging for newbies to cryptic crosswords.
      I never think it’s clever to use so many rare words. It makes it a total slog. I finished it but no joy.
      Thanks to MP and setter MPs blogs always cheer me up

  10. A fairly testing backpager to be sure, but all fairly clued so no complaints from me. Plus I got to learn a few new words, which may or may not stick in my memory bank. 29a has a lovely surface, is a terrific word, and was my favourite.

    A big thank you to our setter for a great challenge, and to MP for his consistently entertaining review.

  11. This was quite a tricky puzzle but quite an enjoyable one
    I learned a new word too in 15a so its 4*/5* from me and a big thank you to the compiler. I liked 4d 8d 20a and 26a as well as 15a. Thanks to MP for the hints fortunately not needed today.

  12. Phew! 🥵. I made heavy weather of that which had a prickly feel about it and and for me it wasn’t much fun. Need to delve into depths of vocabulary called for e.g. 1a, 15a and 20a. Not sure where “that could be me” comes into 28a or indeed “lowering” in 2d and not keen on 4d where adverb is used as synonym for verb. Thanks but sorry setter this just wasn’t my scene – here’s to tomorrow. Thanks MP for hints which somehow I managed without.

    1. A, 28a. I took the first 4 words to be word-play and the last 4 words to be the definition – as in me (the setter) demonstrating his/her skill at constructing word-play. I could well be wrong, though …

  13. Gave up.
    No pleasure.
    Inutile really (i actually got that one but had to look it up to check)

    Thanks to MP.

  14. I am so distressed by the photo of orange juice with bits in it (AND made from concentrate) that I shall have to go and lie down until tomorrow.

    1. I thought you had been a ‘bit’ quiet on the orange juice front lately Terence. Whenever I go to Waitrose there are always fewer bottles with bits than without, which always makes me think you are in the minority and that most of us are Bit folk. I feel your pain.

      1. DG
        The opposite could be true DG: Waitrose stock a larger number of without as there is a bigger demand & they sell more. Prefer pink grapefruit myself.

        1. Unfortunately one is warned not to drink grapefruit juice with the particular Statin that I have been prescribed. Having cooked a California Chicken stir fry with lime luice and come out in a particularly nasty rash, i have reluctantly eschewed grapefruit and lemon slices in my black tea also. Whole oranges seem to be ok.

    2. I have just had my daily orange just as Mother Nature intended – the only ‘processing’ was the removal of the protective outer layer and separation into segments!

      Thoroughly ‘turned off’ juice when I researched what happens between the orange being plucked from the tree and being put on the supermarket shelf; for example, storage of juice in tanks for up to one year before packaging – ugh!

    3. Orange juice with bits in doesn’t bother me. My bete noire is those big lumps of white fat/lard you see in slices of black pudding. Proper turns me stomach. Yuk!!

  15. Superb puzzle and blog.Needed to look at your answer for 9a and 6d was a new word for me.Whilst Mehemet writes an amusing blog the consistently most amusing of all remains M.P.Thanks to all.

  16. Oh Terence, I much prefer my OJ with bits (but prefer the not from concentrate option) each to his own.
    I learned a bit about Whales ( I thought they were always pods) 6d and 15a were put together from the instructions and checked in BRB afterwards. I saved putting in my best guess at 20a until I had all the checkers. I am not sure about 23a and the uncooperative attitude. I was reacting to the distressing images from Ukraine and I don’t think my response could be considered in any way uncooperative!
    If you are hungry Miffs there is a bit of P I E going down from 13a
    Thanks to setter and Miffs

  17. Well beyond my pay grade today but pleased to get well into the second half. 1a gave me the image of the nit nurse and I couldn’t then see the wood for the trees. 18a got a chuckle.
    IMHO if one is not pressed one doesn’t learn anything.
    Thanks to the setter for the lesson and MP for the needed hints, Mrs 2P particularly enjoyed the whale song!

    1. Mrs 2p might like this then. It is said that if an infinite number of monkeys pounded away at an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite number of years then one of of them would eventually reproduce the complete works of William Shakespeare. That may be true but long before that happened one of them would surely type out Hey Hey We’re The Monkees

  18. I don’t know why everyone is complaining. Someone had gone to the trouble of giving us a problem to solve – it’s not brain surgery and it is not life changing. It is a crossword. I ploughed through it – needing MP’s hints for 9a (I was all for pods). I put stars by 18a and 19,21 &25d. Many thanks to the setter. I enjoyed yesterdays Toughie which I finished this morning at breakfast. A glorious day here in Cambridge, sitting with conservatory windows wide open, a glass of wine – we are so fortunate.

    1. True not brain surgery not life threatening. This would be a dull place though if that was the bar for comments.

  19. Far too hard for me today. I gave up, but I did actually get 6d right, even though I know it as a French word. I’d never heard it used in English.

  20. I know that Giovanni is on Toughie duty today, but this one certainly looks like one of his as well.

    Thanks to MP for the very humorous blog.

  21. Tough but doable even with some words I wasn’t familiar with. However their difficulty was mitigated by straightforward cluing where needed.
    26a my COTD.
    Thanks to setter and the inimitable MP.

  22. The ‘i before e except after c’ rule is superb if you include the original second line:

    ….as long as the sound is a long e

    The following filthy five break the rule:

    Today’s 13 across

    We need to get the second line back into play.

  23. DNF for me and needed lots of help from our M’pops. Luckily, I was familiar with the head examiner so I got a nice start with that. I haven’t forgotten the crooner with what I call a bedroom voice, so that’s my fave. A new word at 15a which I’ll try to remember, but the others, 20a and 6d, can remain unknown to me. That was some workout, I liked the challenge.
    Thanks to our setter and huge appreciation to our M’pops for his help. Wordle in 4.

  24. Excellent, just up my street this one! Fine clues, a pretty stiff challenge and a very enjoyable solve with a feeling of achievement on completion. 6d was a new word to me. I’ve ticked several but can’t isolate a favourite. 4*/4.5*.

  25. What a ridiculous crossword for a back pager. Shame on you DT, save these for the Toughie where those who enjoy this level may be found and stop depriving the rest of us with our daily entertainment!
    Looks like a modern Giovanni, he really has lost the plot. I yearn for the old Giovanni whose puzzles were fun.

  26. Whew! A tough one today and two new-to-me words at 6D and 15A. I resorted to revealing letters for my last three (2D, 8D and 9A) so technically I finished but….

    Thanks to Miffypops and today’s devilish setter.

  27. Found the top half of this puzzle very trying and not a lot of fun/satifaction. Consider this a DNF today as there were five or six words that just didn’t come to me. Too many hints needed to be used as well. Too many awkward and obscure words for one puzzle.
    Favourite was 24a , my first in.
    5*/1* for me today.
    Not my cuppa, I’m afraid.
    Oh well, I did enjoy Hudson’s Toughie instead.

    Thanks to setter and MP

  28. A DNF for me too, 3 left in fact. Might have got them if I had persevered but decided to throw in the towel as back hurting like billyowes – is that the correct spelling? Probably not. Thanks to all for the head scratching. Wordle in 3 today and what a glorious day it is to be sure.

    1. When I had a bad back I cured it by digging holes for fence posts and mixing concrete. Wordle ridiculously in four today when it could so easily have been 3. Silly me. Saint Sharon took five so you have the bragging rights today Manders. Wordle would not take Italy as a start word but accepted Wales. Looking back at it now I should have had it in two

      1. Are you mad! Digging holes for fence posts? I do not have ‘mug’ written on my face and for some reason my iPhone is now speaking/texting in French! Merde!

          1. Thanks but no thanks! Can you fix my iPhone problem? Sometimes it reverts to Japanese (I think), maybe Korean or even Chinese – makes me mad.

            1. I find a yoga position called the cobra stretches out the back if I do it for a few minutes a day. Also a special back support called a ‘back friend’ that arrives folded and can be fiitted into your armchair, when you unfold it is helpful. Different things work for different people, Manders. It’s a case of suck it and see, I’m afraid. Hope it gets better soon

              1. You’re making the odd errors in your email address, one of which sent this comment into moderation

    2. I think its billy-o Manders. But bad back is bad however you spell it. Keep taking the pills is the only comfort I can offer.

  29. Three new words, fortunately correctly constructed, brought me to an unaided, speculative spelling checks apart, finish.
    Doable but, phew, what a struggle.
    Deeply mined the grey matter.
    So, ******/****.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Miffypops

  30. A DNF for me ,beaten by quite a few, 9 & 15a, and 2,8 & 25d. I agree with Brian that this belongs in toughie territory, but I suppose we have to take what we are given. It has taken up far too much of my time when I should have been doing other things, so thanks for that, and I mean that most sincerely folks as some presenter used to say( Michael Miles?). Thanks to all.

  31. Well done to MP for managing to do the hints – what a little piglet that called itself a crossword today!!
    Thanks to the setter and to MP – I do wonder if we’re going to be told who set today’s crossword.

    1. Hi Kath. Great to hear from you as always. We all miss you and look forward to those days when you do pop in.

    2. How nice to hear from you, Kath. We all miss you so very much – please come back just as soon as you can.

      1. Hello Kath nice to hear from you, and hope you are making good progress. Strangely, I found yesterday’s Jay harder than today’s puzzle. I don’t know why.

    3. Sorry I’m late seeing your post Kath. I must remember to look in on Thursday about 6. What was to you a little piglet was obnoxious to Brian. You must be getting there! Thanks for the visit and keep up the progress.

  32. Somehow got it finished, but not my cup of tea at all – obscurities, convoluted Meccano, etc…certainly merits the 4 stars for difficulty…

  33. Too difficult by far. Appears to be a Toughie masquerading as a Cryptic. Got about half done, but very little enjoyment. Sorry not one for me today. Thank goodness Wordle cheered me up.

  34. Nice to hear from you again Kath. Today on my London walk (exploring the hidden Westbourne River) I passed pretty close to Little Venice and thought about our anniversaries at The Bridge. Maybe next year hi… Tricky solve today, needed the hints for the last three in the NW corner.

  35. Not my cup of Earl Grey, this one! Finished with some help from MP – thanks! But not much fun had on the way. Still, Ray T to look forward to next week.

  36. Managed to finish this but still quite heavy going. 9a and 8d were bung-ins so many thanks to Miffypops for the parsing. Even so I seem to have enjoyed this puzzle more than the average commentator. **/***

  37. I’ve struggled all week but this is my first dnf unaided, missed by 4. I’m about to register my second dnf unaided when I throw the towel in on the last clue in the toughie which I found less obscure than this. No favourite. Thanks to the setter and MP.

  38. Very hard but very fun. Felt like I was inadvertently doing the Toughie, but a really nice puzzle. 10a was my smile moment.

  39. Commenting belatedly having tackled this gem of a puzzle at about six this morning, not having had a chance to look yesterday.

    Super puzzle, great challenges, good to learn a couple of new words (6d and gam) – but all was so very fairly clued I was surprised to see the criticism voiced above. Life would be very tedious if we were never challenged to learn something new or think outside the box. All bar 2 clues achieved at a good pace, slowed by 8d and 9a.

    2.5 / 4

    A great many thanks to the Setter (I thought it felt very much like a DG grid) – more of the same, please! Thanks also to MP.

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