Puzzle at a Glance
Daily Telegraph Puzzle NumberDT 26818
Publication Date in The Daily TelegraphTuesday, March 20, 2012
Link to Full ReviewBig Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26818]
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
We are definitely faced with a stiff challenge today in the form of a puzzle that Gazza suggests was likely set by Petitjean.
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.
1a Prison sentence passed quickly — that said, it’s a strain (4,3)
Bird is British slang for a prison sentence - to do bird meaning to serve time (in prison). As with many bizarre British expressions, it derives from rhyming slang (birdlime rhyming with 'time'). Birdlime is a sticky substance spread on to twigs to trap small birds.
10a Willowy model retreats into fiction (7)
Kate Moss is an English model who is known for her waifish figure and popularising the heroin chic look in the 1990s.
11a Cook pud and eat it for fitness (8)
In Britain, pud is an informal short form for pudding.
13a Question — the first of many — in sample for employer (10)
Taster is a British expression meaning a small quantity or brief experience of something, intended as a sample • the song is a taster for the band's new LP.
21a Some of Cabinet once might have had a fag here? (4)
In this clue, fag is not a cigarette - a meaning which Oxford characterises as British, although it is common in Canada – or was at one time. Fag is also not being used as a derogatory term for a male homosexual, which apparently is a North American meaning for the word. Here, fag is a junior pupil at a public school who does minor chores for a senior pupil • a fag at school who has suffered a well-earned beating. This term is obviously so well known in Britain that Gazza was able to solve the clue without noticing the existence of the hidden word.
27a Pyrenean peak bordering Spanish kingdom is something to look up to (7)
In his review, Gazza comments "I’m not keen on the use of peak to indicate a first letter in an across clue." This comment is clearly premised on peak meaning the pointed top of a mountain. However, peak is also another name for the visor of a cap – and, therefore the front part of the cap.
28a Right men getting condemned about attempt to escape (3,3,2)
While I found the correct solution, I did not understand the wordplay until it was explained by Gazza. In the British armed forces, all those who are not commissioned officers are referred to as other ranks (abbreviation OR).
2d In one Transylvanian starter I tasted blood! (8)
Blood (characterised by Oxford as a chiefly British expression) means to initiate (someone) in a particular activity • clubs are too slow to blood young players. However, this meaning is also found in The American Heritage Dictionary where blood is defined as to initiate by subjecting to an unpleasant or difficult experience.
5d and 11d Tell tales about aide who customarily rings up at work (4,9)
I did get the second part of this two-word solution. Shop is British slang meaning to inform on (someone) : she shopped her husband to bosses for taking tools home. In Britain, a shop assistant is a person who serves customers in a shop.
7d Caught playing up outside school (7)
On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation c indicates caught (by) • ME Waugh c Lara b Walsh 19.
18d Over-fifties attending Proms upset with traditional German fare (8)
On cricket scorecards, O appears as an abbreviation for over, a sequence of six balls bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch, after which another bowler takes over from the other end.
A rollmop is a rolled uncooked pickled herring fillet.
20d Pop star refusing to dance to someone else’s tune? (7)
Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard) is an English musician who gained popularity as the lead singer of New Wave/post-punk group Adam and the Ants and later as a solo artist.
23d Piece of bacon with fat on (6)
Lardon is a strip of fat used in larding, especially as drawn through the substance of meat, chicken, etc., with a kind of needle or pin.
26d Issue terms of reference without introduction (4)
In Britain, a remit is the task or area of activity officially assigned to an individual or organization • the committee was becoming caught up in issues that did not fall within its remit.
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)