DT No 30291 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT No 30291

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30291

Hints and tips by StephenL

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Good morning everyone from an overcast South Devon coast

Today’s setter has given us a very clever and quirky puzzle that is probably at the trickier end of the back bage spectrum. I hope the setter (in some ways it reminded me of our esteemed Friday setter of old) pops in to claim it.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Plain and honest speaker, unlike Beckham famously? (8,7)
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: I think the wordplay here is a reference to the 2002 film “Bend it Like Beckham” rather than his ability of being able to bend the ball around a defensive wall. The term is American in origin but well known here.

9a Curry? Use some spices Kate roasted (3-6)
ICE SKATER: A brilliant lurker (use some) the Curry being nothing to do with food but a winter sportsman.

10a Cast of The Last of Us needing breather (5)
SLUNG: Append an organ used for breathing to the final letter of uS. Cast here is not a noun.

11a Have something in common, done with drink (7)
OVERLAP: We need synonyms of done or finished and drink as a dog might.

12a Ace rugby player, outstanding at the back, and fit (7)
APROPOS: A charade of the abbreviation for Ace, a front row rugby player and finally (at the back), the abbreviation for OutStanding.

13a Successes as United start to press Son (3)
UPS: The abbreviation for United, the initial letter of Press and the abbreviation for Son.

14a Dorothy was sucked in by this con artist (7)
TWISTER: Dorothy here is the character in The Wizard of Oz. The con artist is also a spiralling wind.

17a Respect rocking Rod! (7)
SCEPTRE: Anagram (rocking) of RESPECT.

19a Picked up pearly queen’s cocktail to examine closely (7)
EYEBALL: How someone from the part of the country inhabited by pearly queens may pronounce (picked up) this whisky based cocktail is a synonym of the definition.

22a Rogue sealing heartless deal in scam (7)
SWINDLE: Place a synonym of a rogue or cad around the outside (heartless) letters of DeaL.

24a Sash in Bilbao, with alb braided all around (3)
OBI: Alternate (braided)  letters of Bilbao when reversed. Thanks all for the clarification.

25a Herb for cooking free range ducks outside (7)
OREGANO: Anagram (free) of RANGE with the letter that represents a duck or zero placed either side.

26a Collar Scotsman, hooligan … (7)
RUFFIAN: Follow a type of collar popular in the 16th century with a Christian name supposedly synonymous with Scotland though I doubt many are named it these days.

28a… smashing piano (5)
GRAND: Double definition, one and adjective, the other a noun. The ellipses can be ignored, they are there to aid the surface read.

29a Winner dispatching ball casually: score, deuce (9)
SUCCEEDER: Anagram (casually) of SCORE DEUCE once the letter that looks like a ball has been removed (dispatching). Not a word I’ve come across before but it’s in the BRB.

30a Friendly relationship? It centred on brewing English beer bottles (7,8)
ENTENTE CORDIALE: Place the abbreviation for English and a type of beer around (bottles) an anagram (brewing) of IT CENTRED ON.


1d Careless Whisper coming from faulty speaker? (4,2,3,6)
SLIP OF THE TONGUE: Cryptic definition, the wordplay being a reference to a George Michael song.

2d He played Superman, note, whom film was all about (5)
REEVE: A note in the sol-fa scale plus the woman in the Bette Davies film who it was “all about”. I’ve added a star to the enjoyment level following Gazza’s interpretation of the clue.

3d Close to Sgt Bilko, worried about new part of psychology test (3-4)
INKBLOT: Anagram (worried) of the final letter of sergeanT plus BILKO and the abbreviation for New giving part of a psychology test. Who knew!

4d Time to take small teaspoonful for one kind of rash? (7)
HOTSPUR: Place period of time equivalent to sixty minutes around (to take) an abbreviated (small) TeaSPoonful, giving someone who could be described as rash.

5d Almost certain to go unnoticed in tower above (7)
SURPASS: Follow a synonym of certain without its last letter (almost) with a verb that could mean go unnoticed.

6d Old British minister to spy (7)
OBSERVE: Append a synonym of minister as a verb to the abbreviations for Old and Boy.

7d Journalist supporting top space traveller Armstrong did this (9)
TRUMPETED: The Armstrong here is not the astronaut but a musician. We need a verb meaning to top (as in a game of cards maybe) followed by a alien space traveller supported by (under in a down clue) the usual 2-letter journalist. Great clue but think it would benefit from a question mark perhaps.

8d Busy surgeries tend to accommodate occasionally weary health worker (10,5)
REGISTERED NURSE: Anagram (busy) of SURGERIES TEND around alternate letters of wEaRy. Nice and appropriate surface read.

15d Popular poem cut short by worker, uncouth (9)
INELEGANT: A charade of a 2-letter word that could mean popular, a poem or lament without its last letter (cut short) and our usual working insect.

16d Slippery sort, somewhat unfeeling (3)
EEL: Hidden (somewhat) in the following word.

18d Firm with bully (3)
COW: The abbreviations for a firm or COmpany and With.

20d Leave what one wearing 24 has? (7)
ABANDON: If we split the solution (a synonym of leave or desert) 1,4,2 the wordplay becomes evident.

21d A butcher’s can get wrapping rump of steak (4-3)
LOOK SEE: Start with an informal name for a toilet, add a word meaning get or understand and place between the two the final letter (rump) of steaK.

22d Wind from South Island with legendary bird beginning to circle round (7)
SIROCCO: A charade of the abbreviations for Scottish and Island, a three letter giant mythological bird, the initial letter of Circle and the round or circular letter.

23d A slice from Hoddle, if nicely set up towards the box? (7)
INFIELD: Hidden (a slice from) and reversed (set up) inside the clue. Here’s the footballer

27d Country inn Admiral regularly visited (5)
INDIA: Alternate letters of InN aDmIrAl.

Very enjoyable, my favourite clues were 9a and 7d. Which ones curried favour with you?


122 comments on “DT No 30291

  1. World class puzzle! Best one for simply ages, all the clues were clever, tricky, and highly amusing. I got all the long ones first, then worked my way towards the centre like a predatory spider (speaking of which, saw a massive one in the shed yesterday, so Mrs TC will be getting the tools out from now on) Last in for me was the stubborn little 24a even though I had two letters in it, working out became clear after a good head scratch. My two of the day were 7d and the brilliant 1a. Thanks to our setter today, wonderful fun.

    1. You men! You are as bad as my father, he was terrified of spiders, heaven knows how he got on in the war. My mother was terrified of the dark and used to push me into the house first (in blackout days), and with rescuing spiders from Daddy – it’s a wonder I grew up so normal.

      1. When I say it was massive, the size doesn’t really come across, but this one had managed to start the chainsaw!

        1. This must be the most hilarious post on here for years! Reduced me to tears… 😀

        2. I’m with you, Tipcat! When we moved into a house that had been empty for 18 months it was occupied by spiders. We declared war on them and squashed spiders were to be found everywhere. One night while we in bed they fought back! Rambo Spider ran across the ceiling above us and launched himself at us! I swear he had a bandana and bullet belt! 🕷️

          1. Steve. (Said in stern, headmistress tone) have you never heard the mantra “if you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive”. Here in Cambridge we breed monster spiders, you cover the offending specimen with a tumbler, slide a piece of cardboard under the glass and carry it outside. You never, ever kill them.

            1. I can’t kill ’em either, I get Kym (Mrs TC) to use the glass and card method
              and take them 100yds up the road and then spin them round so they can’t find their way back. Once when she was out, had to get the next door neighbour’s son to do it, I still remember the withering look he gave me!

  2. At first I thought this one was going to be tricky but once in the setter’s mindset it unraveled well with its clever anagrams and lurkers. I laughed at the 3/20d coupled clues and my favourite was 12a. An excellent **/**** I thought. Thanks SL as your hints allowed me full comprehension of a few of the answers and to our setter.

  3. Super, super puzzle, a proper mid- or late-week backpager – something of which we now see far too little these days, sadly.

    Clever, challenging, very witty and amusing, a great variety of clues and all of them impeccably fair from first to last, not a single flaw nor duff clue on the page and no need for any arcane or specialist knowledge … just a preparedness to think laterally on occasion. So many clues merit highlighting but shall limit to 9a, 10a, 14a, 1d, 2d & 8d, with COTD to the wonderful 7d.

    2.5* / 5*

    To the Setter: Chapeau and thank you – I do hope you appear later to claim ownership
    To the Editor: more like this please!
    And of course to StephenL, thank you for the blog.

  4. 4*/5*. I thought this was brilliant even though the difficulty level for me varied enormously between the top half (par 5*) and the bottom half (par 3*).

    I am not sure about 24a in two respects. Firstly, does “braided” really mean removed? Secondly, the letters to be removed appear in a different order in the fodder so should have a second anagram indicator or does “all around” act as an anagram indicator for both parts? (SL, I don’t think it is a reversal as stated in your review).

    My podium selection is 1a (despite the answer being an American phrase!), 9a and, my favourite, 7d.

    Many thanks to the setter and to SL.

    1. RD – re 24a I took it as being just two words braided together (ie alternate letters from each) and the whole lot reversed, which then forms the whole word Bilbao. Done that way both words are in the correct order, no shuffling/cycling/anagram indicators required. Effectively the same as Stephen’s suggestion but phrased differently!

  5. A very challenging puzzle, which I nearly gave up on because the clues seemed impossibly tricky. Another misdirectedToughie, I thought but dogged persistence won and, having got a few checkers in each corner, with some guesswork, I fought my way rthrough it. Satisfying, if not wholly enjoyable is my verdict. I thought 8d and 1d were the best clues but there may be other good ones, as I have 5 bung ins that I can’t parse. Thanks to the compiler and to SL for enlightening my darkness on the parsing

  6. Needed electronic assistance for a few of these today along with the hinter’s explanation of 19a and 7d.
    Remembered 3d from my psychology classes in the dim and distant past.
    Had four options for 14a when I had three checkers but then remembered the theme running through several other clues and the penny dropped to become my favourite of the day. Other ticks went to 17a and 3d.
    Excellent and enjoyable challenge but I doubt that I would have finished without assistance from the computer and the hinter’s verification.
    Thanks to setter and hinter.

    1. Exactly as I parsed it, Mac but I did wonder how many would remember the actor. It was 50 years ago and he left the scene after becoming ill.

      Welcome to the blog and please comment again. 👍

  7. A very slow start here and feared the worst. But bit by bit I got back on track and started to enjoy. Overall just the right level of challenge and satisfying to finish.
    Thank s all round.

  8. A superb puzzle with lots of witty clues – many thanks to the setter and SL.
    I took the last part of 2d to be a reference to the Bette Davis film ‘All about ***’.
    The clues which curried favour with me were 1a, 9a, 14a, 6d and 7d.

    1. You’re (as usual!) correct. Excellent clue now you’ve pointed it out. Thanks Gazza

    2. The clue works equally well if you turn “film” into “band” or “group” (or was that your original comment, Stephen?) – and to be honest they were my first thought, rather than the film! Here’s a link to their song “Martha’s Harbour”:

      1. On reflection, it doesn’t work quite as well at all. Ah well. That’s why this Setter has got all the plaudits!

  9. What a cracker of a puzzle and I’ve got ticks all over the place. I did find it quite tricky though and my last ones were 1a and 1d. Never heard of 1a before. COTD was the brilliant lurker at 9a. 24a was easy as I think it may be on THE LIST! Thanks to setter and hinter – even though I finished unaided enjoyed reading the hints for those I wasn’t sure about. I solemnly save my name and email every day but still have to fill it in each time.

  10. I loved it from start to finish. The E side went in more easily than the W for me and I finished in the tricky NW corner. I liked the misdirection of 9a and 7d. Although the answer was obvious I had no idea what 19a was about so thanks to Stephen for setting me straight there. Podium places today for 12a, 14a, 3d and my favourite 20d. Thanks to our setter for the absolute pleasure and StephenL for confirming my thoughts on a couple.

  11. Completely different puzzle today brilliantly misleading could have been written by the space traveller in 7d- my favourite clue, 14a and 9a followed, special award for the 3d test and I really enjoyed the solve once I tuned in.
    A ****/***** for me for the best crossword for ages,
    Top marks for our setter and Sl’s picks.

  12. Well, that certainly upped this week’s ante! Undeniably brilliant and satisfyingly chewy. The list of ticks is pretty much endless but 21D is spotless. As with many other clues here, the definition proved easier than the parsing. The subtlety of 2D for example. But … is 1D (albeit clever and fairly obvious) really a whisper? Careless sure, but whisper? There was a ‘?’, so it’s probably fair enough. Hmm. Huge thanks to setter, and SL, of course.

  13. Excellent puzzle and very much enjoyed. I had a different parsing of 2d – note being ‘re’ (as in ‘do re,mi….’) followed by the name missing from another film, ‘All About __’. Guess both do OK! Thanks to our setter and StephenL

    1. I’ve altered the hint to suit your (and Gazza’s comment # 8) interpretation Suzy

  14. One of the best back pagers that I can remember for some time. This was genuinely tricky in some places, and elegantly clued throughout. The outstanding reverse lurker at 23d was a real contender for top spot, but that went to the marvellous 7d. Superb entertainment.

    Thanks to our setter for the challenge, and to SL.

  15. Difficult but doable.
    Great surfaces.
    Constructed 19 and 24a and 4d.
    Fortunately correctly.
    New words for me.
    And lucky again as the film in 2d come mind.
    An all time Oscar winning great.
    Sheer brilliance of 2d makes it my COTD.
    In summary, 4*/5*
    Thanks to the setter and StephenL.

      1. I wrongly parsed 19a
        Or did I?
        Pearly Queen is also a cocktail.
        I took this as the rationale of the parsing.

  16. I managed to complete this alone and unaided, but found it quite a slog. Just not on the setter’s wavelength.
    I have a couple of queries….are OS for outstanding or braided meaning removed in the BRB ? I cannot find them in my electronic version.

    Thanks to the setter and to StephenL.
    I wonder why you think Scotsmen are no longer called Ian ? There are plenty here, albeit many use the Scottish spelling Iain.

    1. It doesn’t strictly mean remove (though that is what you have to do) it means, as Mustafa pointed out, that the sash and alb are intertwined in a reversal of the word Bilbao.

  17. What great fun for ‘not a Ray T Thursday’ – five bob on NYDK for the setter – 2*/4.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 19a, 28a, 7d, and 15d – and the winner is 12a.

    Thanks to NYDK, or whomsoever if my five bob goes down the drain, and thanks to SL.

    P.S. Speaking of five bobs, I have already put mine on the SPP being a Coronation Special compiled by our esteemed editor.

  18. Well, that was fun. Lots of sport references which of may irk some but not me with 1a getting the spoils. Brilliant!

    Having read the comments, the parsing of 24a is still doing my head in, So, I’ll think I’ll move on.

    I love ‘Smashing’. It reminds me of the legend Jim Bowen. It was his stock response on Bullseye when a contestant answered the following question:

    ‘What do you do for a living?’……..’I’m unemployed’……..’Smashing’

    Marvellous stuff.


    1. PS

      12a could be improved by getting rid of ‘at the back’ as it’s a given where ‘outstanding’ should be in the answer. I appreciate that the compiler has added a bit of colour using a rugby expression (at the back of the lineout) but I think it works just as well without it.

      Either way, it’s an excellent clue.

      1. Isn’t ‘at the back’ referencing the OS at the end? Links it quite nicely I thought. Super, smashing, lovely even! 🤣

        And whilst on, I think 1a references his miss vs Argentina rather than anything from Bend it like Beckham?

    2. TS 65. Can’t resist replying:

      1. 24a. I read it as not necessarily the word ALB but the letters A,L,B (in any order) to be removed (braided = trimmed). I’ve never accepted that removed letters have to be in the right order.
      2. Also, very often, “Super, smashing, great!”
      3. 12a. Agreed, but I’d call it legitimate padding to enhance the theme/misdirection of the surface.

      1. Good afternoon J

        I have looked up the definition and it chiefly means to weave or pleat. I can see the noun trim but not the verb. So, my money is on it being an indicator for alternate letters. Well, I hope it is because it’s an excellent alternative to ‘odd’ and the like. Genius, in fact.

        1. Yes, MG has given a good explanation of 24a at #4 above. A brilliant clue!

  19. Quite happy to put my five bob alongside Senf’s today – surely has to be NYDK?
    Top class back-pager and my podium hosts 1,9&12a joined by 7d.

    Many thanks to our setter and to Stephen for the review.

  20. You see it was all going terribly well until I reached 24a. What is it with crossword compilers and their obsession with Japanese aprons? ‘Originating as a simple thin belt in Heian period Japan…’ For heaven’s sake! The committee met this morning and it was unanimously decided (within five seconds) that 24a is added to THE LIST.
    Yes but you still solved that clue just as speedily didn’t you?
    Well…. yes… yes I did… but nevertheless… I mean to say…
    Oh you’re all huff and no puff

    Thanks to Delightful Daisy for asking about H’s broken toe. It is healing well and the bruise has almost disappeared. But… wait for this… this morning she has tested positive for Covid! Luckily it seems to be a very mild dose but my goodness, the poor woman reels from one issue to another at the moment. I have tested negative and The Youngster will test later on. What a palaver, eh?

    Thanks to the excellent setter and the equally well-regarded Stephen Of The Dumnonia.

    1. Oh dear. That does sound as though it might scupper any coronation celebrations you might have planned. I am having a very early lunch prior to a 2pm dental appointment in Cambridge and have just tested negative thank goodness. Hopefully with all the vaccines it will not be worse than a lousy cold and over quite soon.

      1. We have felt a bit like we were staggering from one crisis to another for the last 18 months . I can wmparhise with H. Nothing lasts forever, however and every storm 3vwntually runs out of rain.

    2. In crosswordland (depending on how long you’ve been solving, I suppose) the word “obi” is something of an old chestnut.

  21. I didn’t think I would get anywhere with this on the first pass but it gradually revealed itself. I loved the misdirection of 7d but the cleverness of 1a also raised a smile. It took me a while to remember what Beckham could do. Another that raised a smile was 14a after I had stopped trying to fit “dot” in the answer. Difficult to pick a COTD from such a great bunch but I’ll go with 1a.

    Many thanks to the setter for the fun challenge. Thank you, SL for the hints.

    There’s a bit of a chill wind in The Marches today so we are all indoors including Hudson and Perks.

    1. Same. Tricky but unputdownable!

      Slightly above my pay grade so some hints needs retrospectively.

  22. I have that album, it’s brilliant.

    I wanted to put TALKER in at 1A, but soon realised my ignorance of Americanisms had nobbled me again. A nice puzzle this one, very enjoyable.

    1. I started off by putting ‘forward’ as the second word – gave me all manner of problems!

  23. Thank you Steve for the tip – I was working round Dot. I haven’t finished this yet but wanted to jump in early and ask if anyone saw the brilliant programme on making uniforms last night. The history behind the making of the helmets was stunning. Television at its best. If you did not see it, I recommend you try and see it. Meanwhile, this setter is a bit of a teaser isn’t he? So far I like 17a when I had dismissed Rod Stewart, 9a is a brilliant lurker and, I am sorry Terence, but I do think 12a is a fairly common word and does not deserve to be Listed. I shall have to come back to the last few after the dentist.

  24. Great puzzle. I esp loved 14a, very clever. Struggled to fully understand 19a, 7d and esp 21d with the use of American slang.
    Thx to all esp for the explanatory hints.

  25. I’m not sure that 21d and 23d really work , but they are obviously gettable . I think 1a rather traduces Mr Beckham ; until
    Ward Prowse overtook him the other day , he had scored more goals direct from free kicks in the Premier League than anyone else , ever [ and I’m not a Man U supporter ! ]

    1. He was a great footballer and of course he can shoot straight whenever he wants! The clue refers to what he was “famously” known for – i.e. not just to football fans, but in general – his ability to bend free kicks up and over the wall, which inspired the title and key part of the film Bend it Like Beckham.
      I think 21d and 23d are okay technically, but it’s hard to respond if you don’t go into detail.

  26. I liked this puzzle especially because, in many cases, once I’d solved a clue it was clever enough to reassure me that I had the right answer!
    And it was quirky and funny.
    Thank you to all.

  27. Quirky indeed but very enjoyable. Thanks to StephenL for parsing 30a, 19a, and 21d.
    I often marvel not only at the cluing of a crossword but also on how the setter has managed to interlace all those words across and down. This crossword seemed to be particularly ‘braided’ and intricate with a high proportion of white squares. No wonder occasionally the setter has to employ obscure words like 24a. **/****

  28. I really don’t know where you get “toilet” from in your explanation of the parsing for 21D. A “butcher’s” is simply the shortened cockney rhyming slang for a “butcher’s hook” which gives the first part of the answer.

    1. “A butcher’s” is as you say slang, and is the definition of the answer, Jerry. You need an alternative for can (or toilet), so the wordplay is LOO(can)K(rump of steak)SEE(get).

  29. An excellent Thursday puzzle. Great clues, a decent challenge and a very enjoyable solve. Fav: 24a, especially now I see the true parsing thanks to MG above – a brilliant clue. 3.5*/4.5*.

  30. What a tricky but delightful puzzle full of brilliant clues. Initially I almost abandoned all hope having not seemed to get a single clue. Fortunately I suddenly clicked with the setters cunning mind and a few answers fell into place. 1a is my favourite. I have 6 that I need the hints to parse but gardening calls so I will read all the hints later.

    Many thanks to Stephen L whose help I most definitely need and to the setter who wins my trophy for having the twistiest turniest brain.

  31. Did no one else think of Henry IV for 4d? It was my first thought when I saw the word ‘rash’. Which came first, the role or the rash? Sorry, just couldn’t help myself. Anyway, I absolutely loved this one, beginning with the best movie ever filmed about acting, the classic drama about drama, in 2d. And maybe, just maybe, my favourite movie, full stop. Judy Holiday won the Oscar; Bette Davis deserved it. This brilliant puzzle invites such comments, you see. When everything else has been said, this post is what you get. Best non-Ray T Thursday puzzle in memory for me. Thanks to SL and (probably) NYDK. 2.5*/5*

  32. Not a hope in hell – I knew that as soon as I looked at the clues.
    I did get some answers but not many so I’ll say thanks to the setter and to StephenL and leave it at that.

    I hope that all the ailing people – Covid, broken toes, dentist visits etc etc are coping with everything and beginning to improve.

      1. Indeed Kath/Merusa – not sure why but a low-spirited frame of mind today led me unusually to throw in the towel early on as I couldn’t begin to find the wavelength. Anyway thank you setter (who I now gather is Twmbarlw) and StephenL.

        1. Hello Kath I’m sorry I haven’t commented on your appearances more. I used to enjoy our little chats.

  33. One for the smarter folks today, I can’t complain because we’ve had some very user friendly ones this week. I might have another stab at finishing later, as several answers did just occur to me as I was about to set it aside. When you are not on wavelength it certainly makes for a workout.

  34. That was nearly me, Kath, and I agree with Ora Meringue, a real slog. I nearly gave up after solving the SE corner and a smattering elsewhere, but I came back to it and finished. Even though I finished, I had no idea of the “why” for some, they just fit, eg, I knew the sash in 24a, with “o.i” what else could it be? Fortunately a lot of gimmes gave me checking letters.
    Thank you setter, not really very entertaining, but what else can you expect from a tiny brain? Thank you StephenL for unravelling so many obscure clues.

  35. Wow this one was tough. It took me forever and its friend to get perhaps 3/4 of the clues answered. But in the end it beat me and I gave up. However, I did enjoy it though. When looking at the answers afterwards there were a number of palm slaps to the head. Learnt a few things today including, never tickle your cat’s belly when he’s on a catnip high 🥺

  36. Setter here! I was hoping that the friendly grid with an unusually high number of checking letters would mitigate any extra difficulty in some of the clues, and I’m so glad that most of you enjoyed my debut puzzle in the paper. Thank you to my test-solver and to Chris Lancaster for taking me on.
    This means that Tuesday’s blog this week was my last one (stand up whoever just cheered!), so there’ll be a different look to the rota next week. I’ve loved doing the blog and reading your comments – thank you to the blogging team and all of you for making it great fun.

    1. Wow, now there’s a surprise. Well done Twmbarlwm on an excellent debut, I only hope I managed to come close to doing it justice, and look forward to more like this in the future.

      1. Sorry Stephen, I should have thanked you for the excellent blog but I couldn’t concentrate through the tears.

        Just to clear up the obi/alb braiding clue, as some have said it was indeed intended as an alternate letter reversal where braiding = plaiting/intertwining in the wordplay, but decorative work on a garment (alb) in the surface reading.

    2. Congratulations, Twmbarlwm! A most auspicious debut for you. As I wrote above, the best non-Ray T Thursday puzzle in memory for me. Sorry to lose you as a blogger but delighted to gain you as a compiler.

    3. Congratulations, Twmbarlwm, a tremendous and most accomplished debut! We may have lost a blogger, but the price appears to have been well worth paying.

      1. Thank you, Mustafa. I solve the Tuesday puzzle and write the blog between midnight and 2am, so I’m looking forward to earlier Monday bedtimes!

    4. Very many thanks to Twmbarlwm for all his stylish and witty blogs. We will miss you as a blogger but the quality of this puzzle shows that we’re going to get masses of enjoyment from you as a setter.

      A brand new blogger will be taking over the Tuesday blog from next week.

    5. Congratulations. Apologies for mistakenly identifying you as NYDK. And, I look forward to many more enjoyable solves.

      1. Thanks, Senf. Donnybrook/Paul B is a fantastic setter so I didn’t mind at all. Have you apologised to him? :smile:

    6. Many congratulations Twmbarlwm, you have produced a crossword to match your name, which was really enjoyable to solve.
      Thank you for all the fun and for coming on to the blog to chat, I will now blame you (if I could pronounce your name) whenever I can’t see any answers the first time through!

    7. Wow, I never expected that denouement!

      A much deserved promotion to Telegraph setter and an absolutely top drawer puzzle on debut.

      Very well done, Twmbarlwm, and thanks again.

    8. Well blow me down – what talent lies in those Welsh hills! Many congratulations on such an auspicious debut, Twmbarlwm, we will miss your blogs but wish you all the very best for your future endeavours. Just promise us one thing – whenever you’re on duty in the DT do pop in to say hello sometime during the day. It would mean a lot to us mere solvers.

      1. Thank you, Jane. If I’m lucky enough to have other puzzles published I’ll try to visit the comments to own up. I definitely won’t post as much as I have in this thread, I promise! :yawn:

    9. Congratulations, Mr. Welsh Hill! Your blogs have been a delight and today’s puzzle equally so. Now I know why it felt “different”. All power to you in your future endeavours as a setter and please do pop in now and again.

      I bet it felt great to write “Setter here”. 😎

      (Er, you couldn’t have a word with Mr. Lancaster about The Mythical, when you next see him?) 🤣

        1. Don’t worry, Jane. I am about to give up on the pen. After 50 years I think I can accept my fate. 😌

      1. Thank you, Steve. Even better than writing “Setter here” was the fact that no one replied “Pull the other one!”

        Sorry about your pen drought. To paraphrase Terry talking to Bob in the Likely Lads film, “I’d give you a Telegraph pen but I’ve only got six”. :wink:

    10. Wow. It’s too late at night now for me to say more than Wow. What a surprise. Well done you. Here’s to more Twm-twisters.

    11. Have only just got round to completing the puzzle T & many congrats on an absolutely top notch debut. Super surfaces, plenty of wit & well clued throughout with not a dud in there & ticks in abundance – too many to mention.
      Thanks for all of your Tuesday reviews also.

  37. A very entertaining crossword. Thanks to the setter.

    I thought there might be a theme … Hoddle/Hotspur/Beckham. But, obviously not.

    1. There was also Son Heung-min, the Spurs forward at 13a, but the four Spurs-related clues were coincidental. (A young Beckham trained at Tottenham’s School of Excellence.)

  38. What a puzzle. As someone else said “unputdownable”. I had to go to my knitting group, then my exercise class, then vote, then get some food in, then go to the library.There were 3 more clues to solve but they had to wait. Did it all unaided . I will not even tell you how I spelt 17 a. to begin with. The checkers put it right later on. Felt like 29a by this evening. Many thanks , especially for a couple of the explanations.

  39. The Wily Man Becoming A Real Life Wordplay Magician
    Brilliant crossword.

  40. Really enjoyed this today. Bravo to the setter.

    Initially I thought Friday had come early, but soon realised it was a rather splendid Thursday offering instead.

    It took an embarrassingly long time for the penny to drop for 1a.

    Big thanks to all.

  41. Well, it’s all been said, really. Huge congratulations to Twmbarlwm. What a debut! I’m sure we’re all looking forward to more. Jolly well done.

  42. Being a football fan I appreciated the player references, a great puzzle, Thankyou.
    Congratulations too, well deserved 💥

  43. Good evening
    First of all, congratulations Twmbarlwm on your debut puzzle. I have to say that you presented a challenging grid today, which proved beyond my capabilities; I entered a total of 15 solutions, making today’s attempt the worst for me by far in ages! So next time, I hope to do better.
    Thanks StephenL for the explanations, which proved invaluable today. Busy weekend ahead, so onwards and upwards on Monday when, God willing, I will check in again

    1. Hello ShangaJi, and thank you. Sorry our wavelengths weren’t the same today… but maybe next time.

  44. Cor! That was a really good puzzle. I did it at the unusually late hour for me of 1030pm. I will sleep well tonight having worn my little brain out..

    9a was my COD – the best lurker I have seen. Plus 7d was excellent too – I should imagine everyone spent ages thinking of Neil Armstrong.

    More like this, please.

  45. Well I found this harder than the toughie, sorry T, but I got there so we’ll call it quits. Favourite was 7d. Thanks to T and SL.

  46. Congratulations, Twmbarlwm, and thank you for the fun: I have tended not to try Thursday puzzles, so only looked at this one after you’d Tweeted it was yours, and I’m glad I did.

    Only a few answers on the first pass, and I needed electronic assistance to finish, but as Karen said above, when I got an answer I was confident in it, and the grid gradually filled up. I look forward to more like this!

    9a’s curry was my favourite of the clues I solved by myself, with 20d equalling it now Stephen has explained its wordplay and I’ve learnt what a 24a is.

    Mainly it was my general knowledge letting me down: 2d required film knowledge for both the answer and the wordplay (I correctly recalled the Superman actor having an “ee” sound, but then spoilt that by coming up with Christopher Lee), and I didn’t know either the wind or the legendary bird within it.

    But … that isn’t a complaint, nor a request for less of that sort of thing! If clues didn’t include general knowledge and cultural references, we wouldn’t’ve had 9a’s curry nor 7d’s pair of Armstrongs — which brought to mind Graeme Garden on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue performing Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World in the style of Neil Armstrong. I’m very happy for clues to refer to things I don’t know as the price of such fun clues as these.

  47. A day late to the blog as I didn’t get round to this puzzle yesterday. However, I still wanted drop in to thank you Mr T for producing this high quality puzzle. I really enjoyed it. Having witnessed your deserved rapid progression through Rookie corner and NTSPP now to the back pager team I’d like to add my congratulations too those who have already commented. You should be very proud of yourself and rightly so!

  48. 4*/5* ….
    liked 19A “Picked up pearly queen’s cocktail to examine closely (7)”

  49. Only now got round to this one. All safely in bar OBI which I had no idea – thought it might be OWI as a lurker 👀
    Ice Skater a top lurker indeed 👌
    Excellent puzzle all round
    Thank you Mr or Ms Setter 👏

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