DT 30460 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 30460

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30460

Hints and tips by Mr K

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

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Friday. Befitting the day, I thought that this was the toughest back pager of the week. I’d like to say that I solved it smoothly and unaided, but that would be a lie, because in one or two places I had to make use of the Chambers Dictionary app on my phone. Lots of cleverness in the clues led to many penny drop moments and an above average enjoyment rating.

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    Detectives arresting a large number about driving (7)
DYNAMIC:  Some usual detectives containing (arresting) lots or a large number, all reversed (about

5a    Rejected cheque for unsafe delivery? (7)
BOUNCER:  A double definition, the first informal and the second crickety 

A pig on a trampoline would be a 5a

9a    Where we rank books without leading characters. 'Little Women' maybe ... (5)
ELVES:  Delete the two leading characters (without leading characters) from a place where books might be ranked or placed in rows. The definition is a bit cryptic 

10a   ... not welcome here? (4,2,3)
ISLE OF MAN:  Another cryptic definition. The ellipsis here indicates a need to consult the previous clue. We’re looking for a place where, whimsically, little women might not be welcome 

11a   Food delivered by hired cab -- bag extra (3,7)
RED CABBAGE:  The answer is hidden in (delivered by) the remainder of the clue 

12a   Walk in quiet city with abbey but no bishop (4)
PATH:  The single letter musical abbreviation for quiet or soft is followed by an English city with an abbey from which the chess abbreviation for bishop has been deleted (but no bishop)  P (quiet/soft) + BATH – B[ishop]

14a   Bunny food? (6-6)
VEGGIE-BURGER:  A cryptic definition of an example of a type of food that some say is fit only for rabbits. As Gazza points out below, “bunny” should be read cryptically here as meaning “served in a bun”

Rabbits eat the components of a 14a

18a   Special time? I'll make up a rhyme (4,8)
POET LAUREATE:  A cryptic definition of a distinguished person charged with composing verse for important events 

21a   Announced paired couples, part of dance ensemble (4)
TUTU:  A homophone of repeated (paired) synonyms of couple

Another 21a

22a   Drink, awfully big and green, set before Queen (6,4)
GINGER BEER:  An anagram (awfully) of BIG GREEN is followed by the Latin abbreviation for Queen Elizabeth 

25a   Total pleasure, hosting 50s bash (4-5)
FULL-BLOWN:  A synonym of pleasure containing (hosting) both two copies of the Roman 50 and a bash or hit 

26a   Uncle Sam, for instance, rejected convention (5)
USAGE:  An abbreviation for the country represented by “Uncle Sam” is followed by the reversal (rejected) of the Latin abbreviation meaning “for instance” or “for example” 

27a   Discussed coaching contracts (7)
LESSENS:  A homophone (discussed) of coaching or instructions 

28a   Sprightly, making westward part of journey in southern sea (7)
AGELESS:  A part or section of a journey inserted in the fusion of the single letter for southern and SEA from the clue is all reversed (making westward, in an across clue)  S[outhern]+SE{LEG}A, all reversed

 

Down

1d    Day getting behind instead of having a routine (6)
DREARY:  In DAY from the clue replace A with a synonym of behind (getting behind instead of a) 

2d    Regularly visited Andes via a drab desert area (6)
NEVADA:  Alternate letters (regularly visited) of ANDES VIA A DRAB 

3d    Anthem is taken lyrically partly the wrong way (10)
MISTAKENLY:  The answer is hidden in (… partly) the first four words of the clue 

4d    Increase in clubs needing member's support (5)
CLIMB:  The playing card abbreviation for clubs followed by a member that’s part of your body

Cats that 4d 

5d    Duck stuffing belongs to cook, to go with English sauce (9)
BOLOGNESE:  The letter representing a duck score in cricket is inserted in (stuffing) an anagram (… to cook) of BELONGS, and that’s all followed by the single letter for English 

6d    Strange visions of upsets coming between us (4)
UFOS:  The reversal (upsets, in a down clue) of OF from the clue inserted in (coming between) US from the clue 

7d    Party and gin fizzes after a promotion (8)
CAMPAIGN:  Link together a party or faction, A from the clue, and an anagram (fizzes) of GIN 

8d    Cowboys went galloping, with half-hearted applause (8)
RANCHERS:  Dashed or “went galloping”  with another word for applause minus one of its central letters (half-heartedRAN + CHE[E]RS Note that there is no need to specify which half of the pair of central letters in CHEERS gets dropped

13d   Trickery needed? Get Rufus and be tickled! (10)
SUBTERFUGE:  An anagram (tickled) of GET RUFUS BE 

Crossword setter Rufus was a master of 13d

15d   Swamp I sense may get sticky (9)
GLUTINOUS:  Concatenate a swamp or surplus, I from the clue, and an informal word for common sense 

16d   Nasty mix of fuels found around coalmine? (8)
SPITEFUL:  An anagram (mix of) of FUELS containing (found around) another word for a coalmine 

17d   Oral stimulants that get the team going? (3,5)
PEP TALKS:  A cryptic definition of something delivered orally to motivate a team 

19d   Cancel Tyneside opening (6)
NEGATE:  The compass abbreviation corresponding to Tyneside with an opening in a fence or a wall 

20d   Lawyer's clothing (6)
BRIEFS:  A lawyer with their S from the clue 

23d   Dope sits on middle of road somewhere in Italy (5)
GENOA:  Dope or information is followed by the middle letters of ROAD 

23d cake

24d   Talented, topped chart (4)
ABLE:  A synonym of chart minus its first letter (topped, in a down clue)

 

Thanks to today’s setter. Top clue for me was the elegant 24d. Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  SHOE + PACE + TREE = CHOUX PASTRY


174 comments on “DT 30460

  1. Didn’t think today’s puzzle would be harder than yesterday, but it was, and not in a good or satisfying way. It may just be me but I found some of the clues very confusing. I always thought 9a were men, and how 18a is meant to work god only knows. I’ll need to see the hints to enlighten myself. While 14a was gettable, I felt the clue lacked a little more info to make sense. Not one for me at all today, sorry setter just not my thing.

    1. 9a can be either gender (hence the “maybe” after women)….it might be better to read the hint before criticising.

      1. I’ll read the hints after commenting thanks, because reading before would change my initial opinion of the puzzle as a whole.

      2. Is there unfair misdirection in this clue? Little Women maybe… got me thinking Novel, which fitted my partly filled grid.

        1. I agree…I got the answer Elves because it seemed right without the SH…but i still dont get Little Women no matter how long i looked at it….cheers…Doug.

      1. Very hard and absolutely not a waste of time. Quite the opposite. a challenge and very satisfying to finish

    2. Were 9a only male they could never reproduce, so there have to be females too, regardless of how they self-identify!

    3. 9a only men? How about Mrs. Claus (whom we can surmise is one since her husband is thus described in The Night Before Christmas).

          1. Is he really big? The poem describes “a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, and a little, old driver”. The modern depiction of Santa is an invention of the advertising department at Coca Cola.

  2. A true Friday back-pager.
    I can only describe this as quite superb in parts with clever, cryptic, subtle and nuanced wordplay throughout.
    I have a page littered with ticks but I’ll single out the the top-notch lurkers, the linked 9/10a along with 12&25a plus 3,7&24d with top spot going to the excellent 1d
    Many thanks indeed to Zandio and Mr K.

  3. This guzzle was really difficult and I struggled to get a start and then began to fill in the grid as got mor checkers. It was satisfying rather than enjoyable to finish it There was a good variety of clue ftypes and a few really clever lurkers, the best being 11a. 13d was a well camouflaged anagram , 18a a subtle cryptic definition and 1a a nice reverse lego clue. Thanks to Mr K for the hints and to the compiler for a tough challenge

  4. I thought that this was pretty tough, even for a Friday, but very enjoyable – thanks to the setter and Mr K.
    I took the ‘bunny’ in 14a to be a (very) cryptic way of saying ‘served in a bun’.
    Ticks went to 5a, 9a, 10a, 14a and 24d.

    1. That’s brilliant, Gazza. I hadn’t clocked the “served in a bun”. You’ve totally redeemed that clue for me which I initially thought was a tad loose. It’s actually very clever. Yes, this was tough. Some cracking clues – I thought 5d was especially strong. I wasn’t a huge fan of 10a but I note that StephenL is, so I bow to his judgement. A great work-out and one which makes me feel much less guilty about not even attempting Elgar’s Toughie. This was enough. Many thanks to Zandio, and Mr K, of course.

      1. Hi ALP. You no doubt realise that 10a needs to be read in conjunction with the preceding clue, the ellipsis for once being critical.

        1. Hi Stephen, I did realise, yes. Otherwise it would have made no sense at all! And I actually quite liked the preceding 9a as they are, of course, gender neutral. As I said, I do – sincerely – bow to your judgement. I just initially thought it was rather silly. But I’m clearly wrong – I often am!

        2. The ellipsis certainly works exactly as it should in this pair of clues, a device which I think is generally over-used and without good connective reason, almost as though some setters think the ellipsis should leave the solver dangling …

          1. Very well said, MG. For once, it was used properly here – it so often isn’t. You’re spot on. I was probably just feeling grumpy – I must have caught it from you as you’ve been uncharacteristically grumpy this week!

    2. Thanks, Gazza, in my haste to get the blog done last night I missed that aspect of 14a. Hint now amended.

  5. Someone was asking a few days on the costs of a dead tree version subscription. After telephoning and suggesting I may not renew, they have charged me £12 a week and ‘as a loyal customer ‘ am getting a £50 M and S voucher. Much better than the £728 pa originally suggested in their renewal letter.

    1. You have my sympathies. With immense regret I’ve just changed my long-standing Times subscription from paper to electronic to keep the DD at £26/m – I’ve wheedled and begged for several years with success, but no joy this time and they were insisting on £52/m. I find the e-version of The Times so disappointing (poor navigation, seemingly fewer articales, less chance of serendipitously finding an unlikely gem) and am considering moving to its puzzles-only subscription (£5/m).

      1. I am a puzzle only Times subscriber at £5/month and it works well for me.
        Rather embarrassingly, during an all-too-infrequent review of our standing orders, the present Mrs Shabbo queried my £26/month for The Times. “That’s the puzzle only subscription” I confidently replied. “Surely you can get the whole paper for that?”, she replied.
        Cue much embarrassment. I phoned The Times and they confirmed that I had indeed been paying a full subscription and that their records showed that I had not read a single article – since 2017!
        As you can imagine, any criticism from me now on family expenditure falls on deaf ears.

    2. I was the one moaning about the subscription. Golly, how many years does it take to be a loyal customer? We’ve taken the telegraph since 1964 – George was a Gaudrian (deliberate!) reader and I persuaded him to change because I preferred the DT guzzle.

    3. Was in Paris this week and bought the paper. Nearly 6€. That’s about two grand a year!

  6. I thought that was very difficult. I dread to think what some others will make of it.
    It was too much like hard work to make it enjoyable.
    I loved 14a, though. That produced a big smile when the penny dropped.
    Thank you Friday setter and Mr K.

    1. Well if you found it difficult Shabbo, that makes me not quite so stupid. Puzzles like this one are very demoralizing.

  7. A DNF today as I failed with 21a and 17d. Ironically, I mentioned not having a 21a in a comment on one of the weekend puzzles 😕.

    Favourite of those I did get was 12a as I used to sit outside the Abbey to eat my lunch while working in the city.

    Share Tipcat’s lack of enthusiasm for 14a as I can’t imagine bunnies eating one of these. In a bun maybe.

    Thanks to setter and Mr K

  8. For me, too tough even for a Friday back pager; was it in the wrong envelope? But, I did find some enjoyment – 4.5*/2.5*

    No standout favourites, but smiles for 12a, 1d, and 20d.

    Thanks to Zandio and Mr K.

  9. I didn’t struggle with this little gem as much as earlier commenters, but freely admit to a bit of head-scratching along the way. Tough but fair would sum up my thoughts, and highly enjoyable as a result. The 9/10a combo was very elegant, but my favourite was 5a.

    Many thanks to our setter and of course Mr K.

  10. Feeling quite proud of completing this puzzle. The last 4 and 4 I called diabolic! But this could be chipped away at. 10a a favourite.
    Many thanks to the compiler for forcing me to up my game!

  11. After the first 10 minutes on this challenge I thought to myself “there will be howls of protest about this puzzle”, and on reading the blog so far, I’m not far out on the prediction.

    A proper, testing, Friday backpager. My start came courtesy of 19d and thereafter looking for the anagrams. Every clue scrupulously fair, the definitions and instructions so cleverly hidden in almost each one. Two great lurkers (particularly across), lots of wit and amusement (especially 14a, though I far prefer a bunny burger). Super surface reads. Could nominate so many for the podium but will limit to 11a, 28a, & 17d, with runners-up 9a & 23d.

    4* (hardest backpager for ages IMV) / 4*

    Many thanks to the setter, presumably Zandio, and also of course to MrK

    1. I really should not have been drinking coffee when I read your post, Jonners. Where do I send the repair bill, please? ;)

  12. Phew that was a struggle but I don’t quite agree with MrK about it being toughest of the week since I threw in the towel yesterday but managed to make it today. South slightly less taxing than the top half. Favs 2a, 5a and the complex 5d plus 9a/10a combination. First read through yielded only 16d but then second go was more productive. Thank you Zandio and MrK.

  13. Loved this. As Elgar is on the Toughie that is a none starter for me and I was hoping for a back page Toughie and it was. All the clues were fair and gettable. Any criticism of the clues shows those that criticise they should find a crossword at their level. I don’t do Elgar because I can’t but I won’t criticise him for making a very tough crossword.
    Thanks to Mr K and todays splendid setter

  14. As this is Friday this was the toughest puzzle of the week, at least for me. Took forever to break into it and very slow progress. Parsing issues again today for me. However there were some words that came easier than others and these are reflected in favourites.

    3.5*/3* for me

    Favourites today include 21a, 22a, 16d, 17d, 19d & 20d — with 19d the winner
    22a & 17d made me smile.

    Thanks to setter (Zandio??) & Mr K for hints/blog

  15. Agree with Angelov. Yesterday was a DNC and I reached the cut off point where I would not devote precious time to it. Today there was no crochet class so had some leisure. Found this puzzle accessible although it did need a lot of teasing out. Got there unaided and so many of the clues were enjoyable . Why shouldn’t 9a be women. Particularly liked 18 a and 14a. It is good that we do not trail down the same old routes but are pushed to think anew.Ta to Mr. K and Zandio.

  16. Sorry but this wasn’t for me – Hmm’s all over the place. Nice to see Rufus getting a mention although I’m sure he’d have written a better clue for himself and I can’t see anything cryptic about 18a – just GK surely? As for the 9/10a combo – words fail me.

    Thanks anyway to Zandio for his efforts and to Mr K and his feline friends for the review.

  17. That was tough! I managed about three quarters before having to resort to the hints and the whole thing was a bit of a slog. I had many bung-ins and others where the parsing eluded me. I have never used that spelling of the sauce before always ending it with “…naise”. No favourites just happy to stagger over the finish line.

    Many thanks to the setter for the guzzle – not your fault I found it obscure. Thank you, Mr K. for the explanations and pusskits.

  18. Brilliant!

    I’ve gone 12 rounds with the setter but remained standing, albeit a floppy mess on the ropes.

    Such an enjoyable tussle with so many great surfaces and some excellent lateral thinking. How can anyone not like 14a which I didn’t get? (ta muchly, Gazza) Stacks of lego, which I love, and an outstanding lurker.

    An extremely satisfying finish to the week.

    My podium is 14a & 13d & 15d

    Many thanks to Mr K and the Friday fiend.

    Bon weekend, one and all.

    5*/5*

  19. A mixed bag for me. Some I liked, some I didn’t. Some were easy, some were not.
    I don’t think I could put a rating on this one.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  20. 5*/1*. Clearly a Marmite day. I am very much in Shabbo’s camp – I found this far too tough to be enjoyable with several clues that I thought were dubious as well as some odd surface reads along the way.

    Thanks anyway to the setter. Thanks too to Mr K.

    1. Talking of Marmite, RD, if you add a good half teaspoon of Marmite (more if you like of course) to your cooking fat when roasting your Sunday potatoes, you will create some of the tastiest roasties you have ever cooked. Believe me – even my wife, a hater of Marmite sarnies, loves them cooked in that way.

      1. Thanks for that tip! Though don’t do roast potatoes any more, wife not eating much hopefully pro tem. However have just had scrambled eggs for supper with Marmite on the toast! Yum!

        1. That also sounds good LnL, sometimes I put Marmite on my toast before putting baked beans on top – that makes an interesting change too.

    2. I agree with Rabbit Dave.I spent too much time puzzling over this one. It was hard . Also I have never heard anyone call a bun a bunny. Welsh Rarebit would be a better answer.

  21. Frustratingly enjoyable though, for once, the hints were definitely needéd. For me, no problem with 14a as I thought the same as Gazza about the bun. Looked at like that it becomes a clever succinct clue. I also liked 18a, for me one of the easier cryptic clues. A couple of exceptional lurkers and helpful anagrams ( did I just say that?!) made a good inroad and I enjoyed a haphazard, head scratching solve. Favourite today among many options was 10a for which the hint was vital. Although I had 9a and was sware of what was required I was miles off track. 1d and 15d complete the podium.. Thanks to Zandio for a fantastic Friday puzzle and MrK whose help was invaluable.

  22. Hello, compiler here. Thanks very much for taking the time to solve, analyse and discuss.
    Very nice to see the picture of Roger Squires (Rufus). I had the pleasure of editing about 500 of Roger’s crosswords, and I often bear him in mind while setting.
    Perhaps Roger’s greatest art was his pure cryptic clues. Some solvers (in this very blog) complained that the profusion of cryptic clues made Roger’s puzzles harder. But other solvers love a cryptic clue, because if it works it offers a nice penny-drop moment.
    Another setter I look to for sheer daftness is Nuala Considine (Excalibur). In Nuala’s Telegraph obituary in 2018, I mentioned something that always tickled me: when required to explain a clue, Nuala would often just write: “Joke”. I can imagine Nuala writing 14a — in fact, she probably did!
    Have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you, Zandio, for an excellent crossword.

      Hugely enjoyable.

      Keep up the good, cryptic work!

    2. Thanks from me as well Zandio. Keep up the cryptic clues and keep Nuala’s and Roger’s legacy alive for us

    3. Thanks for popping in and thanks for a great puzzle.

      The closest clue to 14a that I can find is “Bunny club? ( 7)” from Times Cryptic 23991 in 2008. I don’t know who set that one.

    4. A real challenge and a dnf for me. Only 2 solved at first pass but in the end I needed hints for just two! I feel as though I’ve just had an intellectual wrestling match and lost but they say working on cryptic crosswords delays dementia. They say that working on cryptic crosswords delays dementia. Did I already say that? Off to the funny farm then…

  23. Well I finished this in reasonable time, just needing a bit of help with parsing one or two. I found it easier than yesterday’s. I love that we are all so different. Thank you to setter and Mr K.

  24. A cracking Friday puzzle from, I assume, Zandio. Great clues (except the poor 18a), a tough challenge and an enjoyable tussle. Probably should have been a Toughie, but I’m happy that it was on the back page. I solved this over a few mini sessions and it became a bit of a war of attrition – which I rather like. Plenty of fine clues but I particularly liked 14a and 28a. 4.5*/4.5*.

  25. An enjoyable struggle – just needed dissecting the clues. Many thanks to the IoM fairies for pointing me in the right direction for 9 and 10a.
    Thanks to the clever setter and to Mr. K

  26. Not on my wavelength today. This was a struggle, but we need a tough challenge from time to time to keep the brain working.
    ‘Variety’s the very spice of life,
    That gives it all its flavour.’ (William Cowper)

  27. Personally, I found today’s puzzle far more difficult to solve than all the previous four back pagers and even more difficult than any of the three Toughies prior to today’s Elgar, which I haven’t yet had time to look through. Most of today’s was an absolute belter, with so much to like. What a shame to have it spoiled by and only in my opinion, 9a – elves/girls? Sorry setter I just don’t get the connection – what about boy elves? 14a and again, IMHO too silly for words. On the positive side, I really did like 18a, 22a, 13d and 15d. Now it’s, confession time – after God knows how many years I have been preparing and cooking 5d, I only just realised that I have been mis-spelling it all this time, so having now learned the correct spelling, I award it my favourite clue of the day. Thanks to the setter and Mr K, some of your explanations came in very handy today.

  28. For those of you struggling with this, could I suggest you try the Toughie. It would appear the two have been mixed up. I have completed it without hints so it must be much easier than this one.

      1. Your right…Veggie Burger….ridiculous.
        Not fun at all…Doug.
        I think my brain is not on the same planet as those guys and gals who solve these ones…Doug.

    1. Pull the other one Brian – having just spent more than enough time on it, I have my doubts about what you say.

  29. Some iffy cluing today ,bunged in 18a with no parsing, not much wiser after 2K,s cryptic definition, has anyone a better explanation?
    The little weomen were pretty poor and the Elves have left the building!
    21a raised a smile as did 14a
    Favourite was 5d.
    Going for a ****/***

  30. I presume, with the vitriol thrown at 18a, that some people haven’t spotted that the clue is indeed a rhyme?

    He’s a poet but he doesn’t know it.

    You may still not like it but it most certainly works for me.

    1. I won’t get around to doing today’s, but I’d much prefer a cryptic definition clue and some witty head-scratchers than a whole page of insert-this, delete-that, box-t’other

      1. I couldn’t agree more, AB.

        Give me a ‘Hokey Cokey/what the??/howdy doody/wey hey!/hmm…/now stop it’ clue any day of the week.

  31. Superb puzzle… not. When it is rated **** difficulty I should know better than to waste my paper, ink and time, but ever hopeful I go ahead anyway. Only to find another puzzle that just makes me feel as thick as two planks. I am encouraged by the fact that two of our proven extra bright solvers, Shabbo and Self, found it tricky, although clearly they would have done much better than me. And I thank them for their honesty. Yes, I know Fridays are supposed to be the trickiest day of the week, but this one is OTT. A good puzzle is compiled to provide an enjoyable challenge, not to defeat and demoralize. This Zandio might have been perfect in the Toughie slot, just not as a backpager, and I don’t think the setter makes that choice.

    1. I don’t think that the Telegraph Tower has cared too much about us poor tiny brains in the past, now I know they never think of us. Talk about beating you head against a brick wall.

    2. Couldn’t agree with you more Busy Lizzie. I’ve just looked at the answers (thanks Mr K) and I wouldn’t have gotten some of them in a month of Sundays! You can’t please all the people, all the time I suppose….

  32. Very difficult today but I stuck at it and managed to stumble over the line blooded but not beaten. I thought the lurkers were top notch but my favourite was 8d. Thanks to Zandio and Mr. K.

  33. I managed about 3/4 over lunch but had to go off to a trustees meeting. Lovely ancient charity which just gives the interest away each year to schools within a radius of our church tower, with a moiety to our village. How nice is that? I’ve been a trustee since 1976, no fundraising involved just pleasure! Came back to wrestle with guzzle again, must confess the contentious 18a was a bung in ‘cos it had to be that, I liked the 5&10 combo, and 11a & 3d were well hidden lurkers. Could not get 25a so many thanks to Mr K – although you didn’t give me many cats this week! I have already thanked Mr Setter so I shall bow out gracefully!

  34. Quickly & correctly realised that this wasn’t one for dipping in & solving on the mobile in between teeing off golfers so left it for now. Can’t in all honesty say it was my fav Zandio guzzle without quite being in the Senf, Shabbo, RD & Jane camp. Reading back through it after completion it actually seemed that it ought to have been a lot less difficult than the solve proved to be (well into *** time) but guess that’s always likely to be the case when you have the answers. Not a fan of 9a but quite liked the linked 10a & also fail to see anything particularly cryptic about 18a. On the plus side the lurkers top drawer, liked 1&25a plus 1,7&15d but 14a the clear winner for me – well ‘twas once Gazza flagged up the bunny subtlety which passed me by.
    Thanks to Zandio & Mr K
    Ps rarely bother to try to attempt Elgar these days but Brian’s unaided solve has piqued my interest.

    1. Another thought re Stephen’s observation on yesterday’s Beam Toughie that he finds little to divide Zandio back-pagers from his Toughies – suspect John (yet to comment today) may well have been not too disappointed that this one fell into Mr K’s lap.

      1. Fridays are my early start to get Mama Bee to various hair or doctor appointments but I was doing OK during lunch and coffee breaks, I picked it up again while Mama Bee was having her Barnet done but the whole grid was filled with Dees and Eees, I guess I put it in my pocket still on😟
        Back to the puzzle, the 3/4 I managed was tricky but satisfyingly Penny Dropping and I see that even Mr K made use of The Chambers App as I will no doubt have to do on Sunday
        Thanks to Zandio for the nod to Roger Ess and Thanks to Mr K for explaining the ones that vanished into the electronic ether

        1. Not often I agree with The Guardian, but that’s a letters page after my own heart! Taking a bit of time off puzzling so not in the slightest related to today’s (haven’t looked at it), but IMO a setter’s first job is to entertain 🥸🤡🤪

        2. Thank you Mr K. You have made my day, and I don’t feel quite so alone in the wilderness 😊. Although I do give Brian the benefit of the doubt.

  35. I have to comment as today I was not demoralised but cheered by the fact that I managed to finish in reasonable time. Very enjoyable and the first Friday backpager I have completed for a while. So clearly haven’t quite lost all my marbles. Needed a couple of hints to clear up some parsing. All fair. Thanks both.

  36. Stared at the computer screen, stared some more at the computer screen, and some more then decided not to waste the printer ink on this one! Sorry Zandio, far too hard for me. So printed yesterday’s Beam toughie instead – Brilliant puzzle.

  37. Good evening
    I did wonder, in the long, long tussle I had with today’s crozzie, whether I was crossing swords once again with the Mind of Zandio, and I see from the above that this was indeed the case.
    If I hadn’t been on a day off today, there’s no way I could have finished! Several stop-start moments throughout the afternoon and I have only just put my pen down after seeing off 14a.
    Still – that’s what it’s all about. A wittily and cleverly-clued guzzle, for which I thank The MoZ; my thanks also to Mr K for the explanations and hints.

  38. Happy to say I completed today’s setting; but it stretched my few remaiing grey cells to the max. Some very clever clues, quite obscure until the aha moment: 3 &19d, 14 & 22a. Well done Setter!

  39. What a gem of a crossword! 4.5* for entertainment. I gave 3* for difficulty as I was able to solve it unaided.
    Most interesting to have your comments, Zandio. I lalways enjoy your cryptic clues.
    I have ticks beside several clues: 9a, 10a, 14a, 18a, 17d and 23d. There could well have been more…
    My appreciative thanks to Zandio for a most enjoyable puzzle. Much appreciation to Mr K for the excellent review. What a lovely photo of Rufus and his cat — fabulous. And I do love the pic of the ginger job climbing the tree.

      1. Oh no! I didn’t! Thanks for alerting me Sloop John Bee.
        I’m starting to get cataracts in my eyes. May I blame them 🤔
        The grey one is superbly camouflaged. Those cats have gorgeous thick coats. They look very tactile.

  40. What a struggle. Very nearly a DNS let alone DNF! After a long period of staring punctuated by a walk and some more coffee I had a grand total of 3 words written in. I eventually gave up and read all Mr. K’s hints which provided more enjoyment than the puzzle itself. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow…

    1. Im with you…not fun at all…And i still dont get Elves…I knew it was Shelves without first 2 letters but…Little Women…? Veggie Burger ?
      Sorry..not for me this one…Doug.

      1. Elves are presumably either little men or little women, so “little women” can define elves by example (as indicated by the “maybe”).

  41. Tough!! Had to rather grind it out and wait for a few flashes of inspiration, such as with 17d, but got there in the end and very thankful that I made the effort. Classy puzzle.

  42. Very sorry to say this but found this crossword ridiculous…not fun at all.
    Elves…dont get the Little Women part.
    Bunny Food…..Veggie Burger ?
    Really ?
    Not for me this compiler…I think a lot of fans of the Telegraph Crossie will feel the same.
    I’ve been doing this crossword for 40 years but this is beyond the pale…sorry..not for me today…Doug Smith.

    1. Thanks Doug. I’ve been doing them since 1969, albeit with a break when we sailed across the pond and the paper version was the only option until the internet arrived.

      1. Hi..I think i was a bit hasty dissing the compiler but this is The Telegraph…Not the Times….todays one is more fun…not finished it yet but trudging on with it.
        Im sure the answers will make sense when i cheat on DanWord…🤣🤣

  43. Wow, that was hard work!

    At one point thought it was going to be a dns, let alone a dnf. I noted some enjoyed the solve so persevered. I am very glad I did as I solved unaided.

    A few cheeky little beasties in there that took a fair amount of brain workout to solve.

    To think I was close to doing a Brian…

    Thanks to all.

    1. Well done Bananawerp…you did well.
      I didnt enjoy it…I got Elves ok but dont get why Little Women.
      I thought the bunny clue had something to do with a bun.. but..Veggie Burger…really….this is the Telegraph…not the Times.
      Cheers fella…Doug.

    2. Doing a Brian?

      I love it, BW! 👏👏

      We need to get the common noun ‘Brian’ in the dictionary.

      I can see Frank Spencer saying…’Betty,.I’ve done a Brian’’

      A very funny finish to today’s proceedings.

  44. The term DNF features a lot on here. Today for me it was a DNS – Did Not Start. Well I managed one…. Time for an early night I think, the prize one tomorrow can’t be any harder.

  45. After a rather hectic day helping our son move house I had hoped to find a nice straightforward cryptic to do with a G and T. Having completed a few clues I popped on to see how others thought it was, as I was struggling, I can see that I may not get very far! More gin might help but probably not…..

    1. I think the compiler was trying to show how clever he was apart from giving an enjoyable crossie…not for me today im afraid.
      The guys on big dave who post the answers are a world above me….best wishes..Doug.

      1. I think saying that he’s trying to be clever is harsh.

        You’ve made it very clear that you didn’t like today’s offering, which you are, of course, entitled to do but don’t labour the point.

        1. While im allowed to post my feelings i will continue to do so….Labouring the point ?
          I dont think so….Obviously your a smart arse who can solve these… Best if you move on to FT Crossie…Clever clogs…best wishes…

    2. More Gin did not help but Mr Ks hints did, definitely a puzzle that needed more time and grey cells than I had today.

      Many thanks to Zandio and Mr K

  46. Fantastic puzzle for me.
    Surprised that nobody has picked up on the Rhyming Couplet (discuss) of 18a, which I hope the setter did deliberately as another layer to the clue?
    Thanks to all involved.

  47. Gave up.
    Not for me today.
    Thinking of giving up on Friday crosswords altogether.

    Thanks to Mr K

    1. How about Thursday and Friday. Who wudda thought we’d be looking forward to a Dada for the fun!

  48. Thanks to everyone who has commented today.

    I’ve been pondering what is it that makes this crossword relatively hard and why is there such a wide range of responses above to that situation. Solving it doesn’t require obscure vocabulary or specialised general knowledge, and the clue constructions are pretty much just the standard devices encountered in the back page puzzles. I think the difficulty comes from the clever way in which the setter has disguised the cryptic reading of the clues, which means that the wordplay in many clues is not immediately apparent (to me at least). I would have made little progress with it several years ago when I was just starting out with cryptics. I think that the reason I do better now is that I treated puzzles that I couldn’t solve as a learning exercise. I followed advice, that I believe came from Gazza, about what to do when stuck. First, use the underlining in the hints to identify the definitions, because often knowing what is definition and what is wordplay is enough to unlock the clue. Second, if that’s not sufficient, reveal some across answers and put them in the grid, using the hints to understand how they are parsed. Doing that may provide enough checking letters to make progress on the down clues. If that doesn’t do it, reveal more answers and use the hints to understand how the wordplay in the clue leads the solver to them. In my opinion, that is a surefire way to improve one’s solving skills and thereby extract more enjoyment from puzzles like this one.

    1. To quote Richie Benaud….What a marvellous post that was.

      Excellent advice, Mr K 👏👏👏

        1. Exactly what I do Mr K, and only possible because of you and the other bloggers, to whom I am grateful. I have certainly improved doing as you describe and would recommend it to others.

    2. My first line of attack if I am stuck is to look at the underlined words. Whilst it is usually obvious what you are looking for, to have the definition confirmed us a huge help. A reveal is the last straw and always feels like cheating. Well, it is I guess. This is where you wonderful Hinters are so good at nudging us in the right direction. In the words of Dame Edna, I love you all.

    3. What an excellent strategy Mr K. Thank you most appreciatively.
      I enjoy Zandio’s puzzles very much but there are other setters who crosswords I simply cannot do. I always use a printed copy but I can access the hints digitally. My problem is I always like to see how far I can get unaided!
      Much gratitude is due to you and the other bloggers for always providing us with the indispensible reviews. How very kind and generous of you all.

    4. That’s pretty much what I do, but there comes a point where it becomes hard work. I’m retired and I have other interests, I can’t spend all day on one puzzle, what’s the fun in that?

  49. Cryptic definitions way to obscure for me and not one bit enjoyable. Congrats to Mr K for even solving it.

  50. Does 17d also refer to a certain football manager? Sorry if this has already been mentioned but I didn’t spot it in the comments.

    1. No, I believe you are the first. I wish I’d spotted that. I would have included a pic of the Man City manager interacting with his players.

    1. YOU SAW A (Hugh Sawyer) Zandio crossword and thought ‘Nah’.

      Apologies if that’s an old one, Hugh, but I couldn’t resist.

      1. Not bad, not bad! Actually, I’m in my fourth week doing Toughies but today’s backpager had me reaching for the Gaviscon.

  51. Sooo hard. I sometimes need help from Davesblog (thank you!) but still enjoy the challenge, this crossword, however, was no fun at all :(

    1. Friday is history…move on fella.
      Enjoyed Sat and today…proper crossword…cheers…Doug.

  52. Somehow I missed this one last week, being on hols, just about managed the south east corner after much wracking, came back after watching Napoleon, and all fell into place. To add to Gazza’s solving tips, going away for a while often works like magic for me. Anyway I really, really enjoyed this, Zandio always delivers first class entertainment, thank yous to him and to Mr K for hints, comments, cats and pig

  53. With Rufus being mentioned in the puzzle, I wasn’t surprised to see so many Cryptic defs.
    Not my favourite clues but didn’t spoil the enjoyment.
    Spent ages on the last one in 17d.
    Thanks to the setter for the workout and to Mr K for the review

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