DT 30519 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 30519

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30,519
Hints and tips by Shabbo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

As they would say in 12a, it is a bit dreich in Welwyn Garden City this morning, but it is supposed to brighten up later.

A slightly trickier puzzle today, particularly in the SE corner, or maybe I am just a bit tired this morning? What did you think? Those of us who enjoy cryptic definitions are in for treat, with no fewer than four in the puzzle. I struggled a bit with the Quickie Pun and am prepared to be corrected.

In the blog below, the definition element of each clue has been underlined and anagrams are CAPITALISED. The answers are concealed under the “Click Here” buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought of the puzzle.


1a Large spruce (4)
TIDY: nothing to do with trees – this is a double definition.

3a Rally around crook in charge, like some American politicians (10)
DEMOCRATIC: a lego clue: synonym for rally (as in protest) + single-letter abbreviation for around + synonym for crook (?) + two-letter abbreviation for in charge.

10a Specialist caught in China let off (9)
TECHNICAL: abbreviation for caught (don’t mention the cricket!!) inside (in) anagram (off) of CHINA LET.

11a Singing group‘s papers picked up (5)
CHOIR: homophone (picked up) of a word meaning a quantity of paper.

12a Independent butcher somewhere in the Hebrides (5)
ISLAY: single-letter abbreviation for independent + synonym of butcher reveals one of my favourite Hebridean islands.

13a Band securing locks in small bar (9)
SCRUNCHIE: abbreviation for small + chocolate bar (trade name) = a band for securing locks (as in hair). This is a fairly recent addition to my vocabulary – I knew having five granddaughters would come in handy one day!

14a French officer spread marge, eating leftover (8)
GENDARME: anagram (spread) of MARGE outside (eating) synonym for leftover.

16a Floor’s regularly dirty in cheap accommodation (6)
BEDSIT: synonym of floors (think bottom of the ocean?) + the even letters (regularly) of dirty.

19a Published new version of Susie Dent’s preface (6)
ISSUED: anagram (new version) of SUSIE + first letter (preface) of Dent. Very neat.

20a Might Cheshire Cat grin so insincerely? (8)
CHEESILY: I looked for ages for wordplay here, before realising that there isn’t any – it is a cryptic definition with Cheshire being a reference to a dairy product.

22a Credit note (9)
ATTRIBUTE: double definition

24a Muslim leader in Cuba wandering around (5)
NAWAB: hidden word (in) backwards (around) in words 4 & 5.

26a Love neat last letter (5)
OMEGA: abbreviation for love (think tennis) + teenage slang for neat = last letter of the Greek alphabet.

27a Quarters? A unit soldiers finally get (9)
APARTMENT: A + synonym of unit + synonym of soldiers (don’t tell the gender police) + last letter (finally) of get.

28a Doctor donates fee for book (4,2,4)
EAST OF EDEN: anagram (doctor) of DONATES FEE.

29a Fine wine, unopened (4)
OKAY: type of wine from Hungary without its first letter (unopened).


1d Everyone playing occasionally taunts twit (5)
TUTTI: the odd letters (occasionally) of “taunts twit” reveal a musical notation.

2d Odd clanks affected area of London (9)
DOCKLANDS: anagram (affected) of ODD CLANKS.

4d In which partner takes steps to leave you? (6-2)
EXCUSE-ME: a cryptic definition for a dance during which one might change partners.

5d Bad loser packing in golf – people staring (6)
OGLERS: anagram (bad) of LOSER outside (packing in) the NATO alphabet letter represented by golf.

6d Sadly, never once meet again (9)
RECONVENE: anagram (sadly) of NEVER ONCE.

7d Part of saw‘s also extremely tough (5)
TOOTH: synonym for also + first and last letters (extremely) of TougH.

8d Woodworking, find fault with door? (9)
CARPENTRY: synonym of “find fault” + synonym for “door”.

9d Spite of ambassador cancelling ball (4)
ENVY: synonym of ambassador without (cancelling) the O (ball).

14d Shun support and leave Six Nations team short on energy (2,2,5)
GO IT ALONE: synonym of “leave” + the England rugby team’s opponents on 3rd February without the final letter (short) + ON (generously provided by our setter) + single-letter abbreviation for energy.

15d In the morning, man starts to nod off after a coffee (9)
AMERICANO: abbreviation for “in the morning” + man’s name + first letters (starts to) of Nod Off after the letter A (thanks again, kind setter).

17d Victim of the drink lying on bed? (9)
SHIPWRECK: another cryptic definition…

18d Tie essential for Oxford but not Wellington (8)
SHOELACE: …and our fourth and final cryptic definition. Clever – I almost got in a knot with this one.

21d Kind chap in cast (6)
HUMANE: synonym of chap inside (in) word meaning “overall shade or tinge of colour” (to quote from the on-line Chambers).

23d Reportedly drops Banks (5)
TIERS: homophone (reportedly) of drops. We may ignore the capitalisation in the definition.

24d Alliance senator embraces (4)
NATO: our definition is an acronym hidden inside the middle word of the clue (embraces).

25d Bar put no filling in tatty sandwich (5)
BUTTY: synonym of bar + the first and last letters (put no filling in) of TattY. Countdown afficionados will have seen the lady in 19a explain the derivation of this word recently.

Quickie Pun: HAMMER + DAIS = AMADEUS (?)

74 comments on “DT 30519
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  1. No you’re not. I too thought the SE quite tricky but it was the hair band that was my last in & caused the biggest head scratch. Never had the need for one myself & it took an age to twig the bar which I’m rather partial to. 17d my clear fav. Elia Kazan’s film of 28a an excellent adaptation.
    Thanks to Ray T & to Shabbo whose review I’ll read later as have to dash.

  2. I must be having a good day it seemed more like a 2? I hadn’t heard of 13a but had enough checkers to find it.
    Fun puzzle and thanks to compiler.

  3. The lack of the usual indicators strongly suggest that this is not a Ray T Thursday and with his ‘regular’ substitute on Toughie duty a real ‘guess the setter’ day, and I have no idea as to who the setter might be. Anyway, whoever it is, an enjoyable and, for a Thursday, not too challenging slightly anagram heavy puzzle – **/****

    Candidates for favourite – 20a, 9d, and 18d – and the winner is 18d.

    Thanks to whomsoever and Shabbo.

  4. Cor, that was a rum ‘un! Whilst I solved it in a reasonable time, I was still wondering how some of the parsing worked. I’ve never heard of the Hungarian wine nor the musical notation. As for 1A, I can’t equate the answer to the first definition…hmm.
    Very enjoyable though, my faves are the more cryptic 20A and 18D and 13A was most chuckle-worthy

  5. Absolutely agree with Shabbo -it was the SE corner what done it for me guv! Into *** time and around *** fun rating.

    I thought 29a quite tricky and that was my LOI. 25d was also thought provoking. 13a was a new one for me but guessable. Best was 17d although it rang a bell.

    Don’t think RayT but I’ve been wrong before! Thanks to Shabbo and the setter.

  6. I agree – a bit tricksy this one and I needed Shabbo’s hints to parse 4d. The SE was the last to fall with 29a my LOI after I finally cracked COTD 17d. 18d and 13a ran it close – luckily I live with two people who love wearing a 13a so I knew the word. Personally though, my favourite bar was always a Picnic – not even sure if they even make those any more! Thanks to Shabbo and to the setter.

  7. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to our setter and Shabbo (especially for interpreting the Quickie pun thus saving me from muttering the words aloud all day).
    Podium contenders for me included 1a, 19a and 18d.

  8. Found this to be a curious mix and hadn’t previously heard of the Hungarian wine. No real favourite although the victim of drink raised a smile.

    Thanks to our setter – perhaps our erstwhile blogger? and to Shabbo for the review.

  9. Toughest puzzle for some good while, got stuck on 4d for absolutely ages, not helped by me convincing myself that it was a (maybe) Italian term for a particular dance step where the lady struts away from the man in some Latin dances. Even called Mrs TC to ask her what is was as she attends such dance classes in London every month. Got there in the finish though, how easy it is when you finally twig it.
    Many great clues including the Steinbeck book, and the brilliantly clever 17d, seen some of these when diving in Bonaire, so should have got it sooner. The one stumbling block for me today was 26a, dreadful!
    Many thanks to our setter today, great fun.

  10. 3*/2.5*. I found this a bit of a mixture both in terms of difficulty and enjoyment. Three quarters went in quite quickly but the SE put up quite a battle taking me up to my 3* time, and I thought there a few stretched synonyms on show (as well as a vague man).

    1a was my favourite.

    Thanks to the setter and to Shabbo.

    1. Very tricky in the S, especially the SW but the N went in easily enough. I liked the 12a and 3a lego clues, the 24a reverse lurker and 18d. Thanks to the compiler and Shabbo

  11. Must be a “Wavelength” thing as I fairly rattled through this with SE corner just squeezing it into ** time. Found it very enjoyable **** with 20A and 25D favourites.

  12. A little anagram heavy for me but well compensated for by the truly cryptic clues and very enjoyable throughout. I didn’t know the Hungarian wine but it could have been nothing else and I am suitably educated. My 6 granddaughters ensured that 13a did not present a problem. Favourite today was 17d, very amusing, with runners up 4d and 14d. Thanks to our setter and Shabbo.

  13. A technical dnf for me today as I had the wrong answer for 21d which fitted the checkers but wouldn’t parse and just could not see the correct answer for toffee. So thanks, Shabbo for putting me right. Otherwise it was very enjoyable. The SE held me up, as well, but the reverse lurker in 24a unlocked it for me and that’s my cotd. Thanks to the compiler and Shabbo.

  14. That was an enjoyable contest with me winning on points.

    Lots of great surfaces, some of them very humorous, with a few of them needing some teasing out.

    My podium is 13a, 5d and 17d.

    Many thanks to the compiler and Shabbs.


  15. A splendid Thursday puzzle. Fine clues, a good challenge and an enjoyable solve. I’ve ticked a fair few and can’t isolate a clear favourite, so will just give special mention to 15d and 17d. 3.5*/4.5*.

    *Here’s a catchy pop song from 1965, with a fast tempo and machine-gun lyrics. The first verse goes:


  16. That went in pretty easily for me: the two lurkers meant the bottom-right corner was the first bit I finished, and, unusually, I didn’t get held up by any anagrams, which I usually struggle with. 23d was my last in, and even after getting it, it took me way too long to work out which kind of drops were involved.

    I still don’t know what the first letter of the Hungarian wine is, but that’s fine: most wine-related clues baffle me, so I’d be unlikely to remember it anyway.

    I did like 8d’s faulty door and 13a’s chocolate bar, but my favourite was Susie Dent’s appearance in 19a. Thank you to the setter, and to Shabbo for explaining things ever so well.

  17. Afraid this is way beyond my ken, but I did know the Hungarian wine, what does that say about me? I’ve never heard of the chocolate bar, nor Susie Dent, but I did know the book at 28a. I hope this is not foreshadowing Friday!
    Thank you setter for making me realise just how tiny my brain actually is, and Shabbo for solving this for me.

    1. Maybe it’s just to the side of your ken, rather than beyond it? There isn’t a single continuum of difficulty, and there are plenty of other crosswords that I struggle with that others find straightforward (especially on Mondays).

      That this one happened not to suit you doesn’t say anything about the size of your brain! Hopefully a crossword that does suit will be along shortly.

      In case you’re interested, Susie Dent has been a lexicographer on the Channel 4 game show Countdown since 1992 (originally on a rota, but for the past few decades as the only one). Contestants have to make words out of a selection of letters, and her role is to adjudicate on whether they are allowed, checking them in the dictionary, and often adding information about them.

      She’s also written books about language. We saw her talk at Ilkley Literature Festival a couple of years ago. We brought along our then-9-year-old (because they are interested in language and it was less hassle than arranging childcare). Susie Dent was mid-annecdote when she spotted there was a child in the room and suddenly self-censored whatever she was about to share ‒ so now I feel bad that the rest of the paying audience was deprived of some juicy gossip or juicier etymology or whatever.

      And Crunchie bars have been around since the 1920s, originally Fry’s, now Cadbury. They are a block of honeycomb/cinder toffee/hokey pokey (pick the correct term for your regional variation) on the inside, coated in chocolate.

      1. Interesting about Susie Dent, sounds like just the sort of TV show I would watch if I lived in UK. I love words, I’m always picking up something new, my latest one “veridical”, found in a newspaper article bashing Trump, oh joy!
        The crunchie bar looks delicious, I’m sure we must have something here that’s similar. My Gran lived in a small village in Glos called Saul, just close by was a Cadbury factory of some sort. Her neighbour worked there and used to bring chunks of raw chocolate home, it was delicious, not sweet and a good strong choc flavour. I loved it … though my Mum always lectured me that you can’t “love” food!

        1. I have an American friend who visited the UK in the 90s when she discovered the joy of a Crunchie bar, She lamented the fact that it was not sold in the USA. Before I retired, when I used to visit the States on business, I would take a few Crunchies with me, much to her delight.

      2. We went to Susie Dent’s one-person show “The Secret Lives of Words” in Watford in September and thoroughly enjoyed it. She was quite comfortable in exploring the evolution of certain, mainly Anglo-Saxon, expletives, which I imagine she would have struggled with had there been youngsters in the audience. We both love words and it was a fascinating couple of hours.
        I have also appeared on Countdown once (don’t ask – no teapot!) and she was just as charming and welcoming live as she is on TV.
        We also have a couple of her books on etymology. Fascinating stuff.

        1. There’s an interesting book, been out for aeons and been reprinted many times with updates, called “The Complete Plain Words” by Ernest Gowers. It started as a guide to try to simplify civil-service-ese in Brit Govt offices, I’ve had mine for years. He quotes a merchant in ancient Alexandria writing to someone, “you did right to send the chickpeas to Memphis”, as a perfect example of a concise letter, saying all you need to say, and no extraneous your humble servants, etc.

        2. I can’t think of a better person for children to pick up rude words from: when a teacher asks “Where did you learn language like that?” they can respond with “Susie Dent, Miss!” (or Sir), and the teacher can hardly claim she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

          Well done for being brave enough to give Countdown a try. I’m really liking it with Colin Murray presenting, and often start my date with the 6am repeat if I’m first up in our household, but there’s no way I’d apply to go on it. I’m pretty good with the numbers, but it’s rare for me to spot a multisyllabic word in the letters, and it’s several decades since I got a conundrum.

        3. My 12 year old grandson who is on the autistic spectrum is brilliant at Countdown. He is furious he can’t apply until he is 16. He tells me that in the past they had younger competitors.

  18. A Friday puzzle on a Thursday for me, a scatter gun approach today.
    My favourite was the SE quadrant in general, thanks to Shabbo for the confirmation regarding the lack of wordplay in 20a- my best favourite, and the homophone for the paper in11a
    Remembered the 29a wine and 17d was a top draw clue.
    Goind for a ***/****.
    Spotted the Quickie pun ,most apt on a day of composers.

  19. Good afternoon

    Pen down after an epic tussle! I thought, as did others above, that a) this was the work of the Mighty Mr T, but it would appear not to be the case; and b) the SE quadrant proved the trickiest. For some reason known only to what passes for my brain or to God Himself, I entered SHIPWHEEL at 17d, only to kick myself seconds later. Just as well, or I’d never have answered 29a, my last to fall.

    What can I say about the clueing? Excellent, I thought. Plenty of contenders for COTD: 8, 17, and 18d; and my winner: 20a.

    Many thanks to our compiler and to Shabbo.

  20. Whoa, completely out of my comfort zone. Managed (but not fully understood) about half before admitting defeat. Most of the clues made very little sense at all.
    In my opinion a very poor puzzle.
    Thx for the hints

  21. I do love a cryptic clue so this offering suited me. I like to get the crossword done before I go off to Knitter Natter followed by paracise class. Last one in was 29a until I remembered a friend who was particularly fond of such a tipple. Didn’t like 13a because it needed particular knowledge of modern parlance and a dreadful sugary confection that also required particular knowledge. It just seemed unfair.The whole was most enjoyable with nothing difficult in the spelling line. Difficulty ** and enjoyment ****.Thanks to everyone involved.

  22. So I have to go out soon – (SC it’s ringing practice night) , and I still have about a third to complete mainly the SE. I found this to be hard going more so than any others recently and have just looked at a couple of hints . I was interested to read the term ‘Cryptic definitions’ as wasn’t aware those sorts of clues were called that – I spent ages trying to think of an answer to 20A thinking a word like’gingerly’ , with a cat reference but of course that doesn’t mean insincerely ! Anyway I will finish by hook or by crook later. Thanks to setter and Shabbo

      1. Just rounds tonight and just 5 bells (of 6 ) of which 3 are the trainees all at different stages so it’s a bit stop start at times , but they did well despite the ropes being stiff as hell – and it’s a nice group so it’s enjoyable.

        1. It’s good to practice rounds because the striking can be concentrated on. Pulling the rope and realising the bell doesn’t sound immediately is a fundamental lesson to learn. The balance point has to become second nature also. When you can hold up a two ton bell with just your thumb and forefinger on the rope you are well on the way.
          Great fun! I loved my time as a ringer. One of my most memorable moments was ringing the bells of St. Clements and the Great Bell of Bow – the Oranges and Lemons bells of my childhood nursery rhymes.
          Do keep it up. 👍

  23. Not a guzzle for me, I’m afraid but that is more likely to be down to the fact I have started my annual post graduate essay marking marathon. It will keep me busy until March so if I don’t appear on the blog that is why.

    My thanks to the setter – not your fault my brain is otherwise engaged. Thank you, Shabbo for your work on the hints.

    I had a wonderful birthday present arrive today. My daughter and son-in-law arranged for it to be delivered from the distillery from their home in Melbourne.

    1. WOW! That is a nice birthday present! I was an “also ran” with this guzzle, I couldn’t make any sense of it at all.

  24. The clue for 16a was more than a bit misleading. You’d have a job to find a bedsit in my part of north London for under £700 per month. Cheap accommodation? I don’t think so.

    1. It seems the wine helped. Managed to finished unaided other than confirming 1d was what I thought I was.

      LOI was my coffee of choice, 15d.

      Thanks to all.

  25. I found this heavy going to begin with but it eventually began to fall into place with the SE presenting biggest challenge, as per Shabbo, NAS, RD et al. It was good to have truly cryptic clues in a “Cryptic” crossword. Never heard of 15a but have to admit the bar is one of my favourite waistline spoilers and I even treat myself to it in the form of ice cream sometimes – mmm! For me there were some rather iffy clues including 14a, 20a, 26a, 14d and 25d. My Fav was the little 29a although IMHO the wine, apart from 5 Puttonyos, is not great. Thank you Mr/Mrs/Ms Ron and Shabbo.

  26. Liked this a lot especially the cryptic definitions and the modern feel . Was pretty challenging in places. A post on X ( formerly Twitter ) strongly suggests this may be the fine work of our ex- blogger:
    The Worthy Man Being Alternative Regular Letter Word Maestro?

    1. Well spotted: Twm claimed it at 12:55 (but I missed his Tweet because I was doing the crossword at that time!).

      When commenting I even got as far as typing his name as my guess, then I lost confidence and deleted it. Clearly I should’ve believed my instinct.

  27. Three quarters of this fairly flew in and then slowed down, like others, in the SE. LOI and COTD was 17d, brilliant. Thanks to the setter and Shabbo. Now back to battle with the toughie again which, might add, I’m coming off second best.

  28. Finally finished but needed to use the hints to get me going in the south east. There were some great cryptic clues and 18d was my favourite, I did not know the words in 24a and 29a. I needed the hints to understand the parsing of a couple.

    Many thanks to the setter for the challenge and extending my GK and to Shabbo for the much needed hints.

  29. I could not finish this tough QC. Nope, not going to use the “wasn’t on the wavelength” excuse; it was just too tough for me in places. Couldn’t get 13a, 20a, 29a, 9d, 17d and 23d, not even with the blogger’s hints.

    However, I am pleased with how well I did considering its difficulty, and rather enjoyed it.

    Gendarme, I think, is a French Military Police, not that it really matters here.

    I knew choir (or rather quire) from my days as a paperboy.

  30. One of the most enjoyable Thursday challenges in a while. I usually do crossword during the lunch break, but I’ve just spent an hour and a half sitting in a bar waiting for the bingo to finish (don’t ask) and luxuriating in the extended thinking time. Maybe that was a factor. I know others use stars, but let me assure you this was a three pint Puzzle.

    Surprised about the lack of familiarity with the bar in 13a. Thought 20a a stretch. 22a LOI with a big Doh! and an extended chuckle (not recommended when sitting in a bar alone looking unnecessarily studious. Finally, can’t make up mind which is more brilliant -17d or 18d.

    Loved it!

  31. Thanks to Shabbo for the blog and to all who commented.
    Four cryptic definition clues is more than I’d planned, but that’s the way it worked out. They can be quite divisive, the lack of letterplay usually making them hard to cold-solve, but I’m glad that some of you singled them out as favourites.

  32. I am puzzled by the Quickie Pun that appears beneath the answers to each day’s cryptic puzzle. I don’t see how it relates to the cryptic puzzle. Can someone explain, please.

    1. The Quickie pun (which, in case you don’t already know, is a phonetic play on words from the first two or more solutions in the daily non-cryptic Quick Crossword) isn’t related to the cryptic puzzle at all. It appears at the end of the cryptic blog so that people can complain about it as a bonus feature in case anyone hasn’t been able to work it out.

  33. A rare DNF.
    13a the culprit.
    My failure to consider a
    Bar referring to chocolate
    Marred an otherwise 3* puzzle
    Which, I thought was excellently
    Many thanks to the setter and Shabbo.

  34. I had at least 4 goes at this one before throwing in the towel with no clue as to 16a.
    Found it very difficult but satisfying when the pennies dropped…sadly they didn’t for 16a. Although I did live in one for a year as a student, I had completely forgotten about bedsits. As it would give my age away I hesitate to say what the rent was, so suffice it to say it was in single figures a week. Unimaginable now.
    Favourite 20a but not keen on 26a.
    Thanks to the Twmbarlwm and to Shabbo

  35. Being otherwise engaged yesterday I didn’t have a chance to look at this puzzle until now, and I’m very pleased I found the time. What a cracker, best puzzle of the weekday five, and by a clear margin. The slight excess of anagrams is compensated for by the wonderful cryptics and humorous wit of the puzzle as a whole. Started in the SE and flew through from there.

    Podium places to 13a, and 4, 8, 14 & 17d – a big podium.

    2* / 4.5*

    Many thanks to Twm. and Shabbo.

    1. Thanks Robin, I liked the simplicity of that one too. I wonder if it was one of the majority of clues that Brian reckons “made very little sense at all”.

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