Puzzle at a Glance
Daily Telegraph Puzzle NumberDT 26791
Publication Date in The Daily TelegraphFriday, February 17, 2012
Link to Full ReviewBig Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26791]
Big Dave's Review Written ByGazza
Big Dave's Rating
|Difficulty - ★★||Enjoyment - ★★★★|
█ - solved without assistance
█ - incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
█ - solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
█ - solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
█ - unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's blog
█ - reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's blog
I thought at first that I would get nowhere with this puzzle, having read through the entire set of across clues without having solved a single clue. I eventually found a toehold in the down clues and was able to leverage that position to slowly advance through the puzzle. Gazza rates it as only two stars for difficulty. I suppose the fact that I had only two clues left to solve when I invoked the assistance of my electronic aids may attest to that. Nevertheless, it did take me an inordinately long time to get there.
Notes on Today's Puzzle
This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.
9a Fresh motion, top thing to get debated (4,5)
If I learned nothing else today, I discovered why I have always had such difficulty in understanding the expression "moot point". In Britain, moot means subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty • whether the temperature rise was mainly due to the greenhouse effect was a moot point. However, in North America, the common meaning is having little or no practical relevance • the whole matter is becoming increasingly moot. Here is what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say on the subject:
The adjective moot is originally a legal term going back to the mid-16th century. It derives from the noun moot, in its sense of a hypothetical case argued as an exercise by law students. Consequently, a moot question is one that is arguable or open to debate. But in the mid-19th century people also began to look at the hypothetical side of moot as its essential meaning, and they started to use the word to mean "of no significance or relevance." Thus, a moot point, however debatable, is one that has no practical value. A number of critics have objected to this use, but 59 percent of the Usage Panel accepts it in the sentence The nominee himself chastised the White House for failing to do more to support him, but his concerns became moot when a number of Republicans announced that they, too, would oppose the nomination. When using moot one should be sure that the context makes clear which sense is meant.
12a The pigs he swept off their feet (8)
The definition is "their feet" with the possessive pronoun "their" referring to "the pigs". A trotter is a pig’s foot used as food • (i) brawn would be made from the trotters and the ears; (ii) he lay down the half-eaten trotter. Rotter is an informal, dated, and chiefly British term for a cruel, mean, or unkind person • Rosemary had decided that all men were rotters. For the wordplay, "the pigs" leads to THE ROTTERS from which we remove HE (he swept off) to get TROTTERS.
13a Wartime broadcaster making one laugh? (3-3)
I was fortunate to guess the solution correctly based on the checking letters, without being aware of – or, at least, not remembering that I had heard of – this "wartime broadcaster". William Joyce (1906–1946), known as Lord Haw-Haw. was a British broadcaster of Nazi propaganda to Britain, who was executed for treason.
18a Dutch artist by river entertains Italian in courteous manner (8)
In the UK, it is an informal, dated term for Italian vermouth • he poured a gin and it [a cocktail containing gin and Italian vermouth]. In a bar, I am sure it would be common for the Brits to refer to Italian vermouth as simply Italian.
19a Band to interrupt play rudely? (6)
I got an assist on this clue by misreading it as "to interrupt play nudely". In Gazza's hint, tackle is vulgar (according to Oxford) British slang for a man’s genitals (which are also known as wedding tackle). Erica Roe (not Rowe), also known as the Twickenham Streaker, is remembered for a topless run across the pitch of Twickenham Stadium during an England vs. Australia rugby union match on 2 January 1982. It has been described by the BBC as "perhaps the most famous of all streaks". Roe, who later claimed to have been inspired by alcohol, ran onto the field during half time, exposing her 40-inch bosom. Roe and the friend who joined her streak were corralled by police officers on the field, one of whom covered Roe's chest with his helmet while leading her off the field.
27a Independent school’s negative aspects (9)
Downside School (full name The College of St. Gregory the Great at Downside) is a co-educational Catholic independent school for children aged 11 to 18, located in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, between Westfield and Shepton Mallet in Somerset, south west England. It is attached to Downside Abbey.
2d Turkey not in fashion? Get fish (5)
TR is the International Vehicle Registration code for Turkey.
4d A riddle with no conclusion? You’re joking! (2,2)
A riddle is a large coarse sieve, especially one used for separating ashes from cinders or sand from gravel.
5d Put down below, Edmund is deprived of freedom (8)
I wrote in INTERRED without really thinking it through (although I see now that I did place a question mark beside the clue). I guess my Edmund is a carrot-topped lad known as Edmund the Red. Of course the definition (deprived of freedom) totally fails. Apparently, Ned is a common nickname for Edmund.
7d Sailor dispatched to the East repeatedly — he’s not here (8)
In the Royal Navy, able seaman (abbreviation AB). is a rank of sailor above ordinary seaman and below leading seaman.
8d Clean up device that detects signals audibly (6)
I only twigged to the fact that this is a homophone clue after I had called in the electronic reinforcements.
18d Quiet period coming with new life? It brings delight (6)
Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p) is a direction used in music to mean either soft or quiet (as an adjective) or softly or quietly (as an adverb). If you read Gazza's hint, you will see that he says "a new lease of life" which is the British version of this expression. In North America, we would say "a new lease on life".
25d Graceful bird showing off, not half (4)
Swank is an informal and chiefly British expression meaning to display one’s wealth, knowledge, or achievements in a way that is intended to impress others • he was swanking about, playing the dashing young master spy.
Key to Reference Sources:Signing off for today - Falcon
 - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
 - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
 - Wikipedia
 - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
 - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
 - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)