Puzzle at a Glance
Daily Telegraph Puzzle NumberDT 26734
Publication Date in The Daily TelegraphTuesday, December 13, 2011
Link to Full ReviewBig Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26734]
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
As Gazza remarks, "Today’s puzzle is a bit more meaty than the ones we’ve had on recent Tuesdays." I would say it is certainly bordering on the four star range for difficulty.
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.
4a Insulating material, like finest used by sailor (8)
OS is the abbreviation for ordinary seaman, a term which can take on a variety of meanings depending on the context. Historically, in the Royal Navy, the term was used to refer to a seaman with between one and two years' experience at sea, who showed enough seamanship to be so rated by their captain. Later, the term was formalized as a rating for the lowest normal grade of seaman.
The term ordinary seaman is currently used in the Canadian and Irish Naval Forces (who inherited the military ranking structure from the previous generation of Royal Navy, Army, and Air Force ranks.) It denotes an enlistee who is currently in training as a non-commission member (NCM) of the Forces.
As a civilian occupation, an ordinary seaman is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The position is an apprenticeship to become an able seaman, and has been for centuries.
11a Italian must go after fall? Don’t be ridiculous! (4,3,2)
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].
14a Ever pinch some comic in school? (13)
In Britain, a comprehensive (in full comprehensive school) is a secondary school catering to children of all abilities from a given area.
17a Minister in PA (4,9)
In the UK, the Home Secretary is the Secretary of State in charge of the Home Office, the British government department dealing with domestic affairs, including law and order, immigration, and broadcasting, in England and Wales.
25a No good coming back after glass of beer (slang) (6)
In Britain, jar is an informal term for a glass of alcoholic drink, especially beer • to have a jar with someone.
26a BSI emblem, two articles surrounded by three kings (8)
In the UK, the Kitemark™ is an official kite-shaped mark on goods approved by the British Standards Institution (BSI), the UK’s national standards body.
1d Sister outside a church in shade (6)
The Church of England (CE) is the English branch of the Western Christian Church, which combines Catholic and Protestant traditions, rejects the Pope’s authority, and has the monarch as its titular head.
3d Agree to study mould (7)
Con is an archaic term meaning to study attentively or learn by heart (a piece of writing) • the girls conned their pages with a great show of industry.
5d Hay fever sufferer may take one and withdraw from contest on Hampshire river (7,4)
The River Test is a river in Hampshire, England having a total length of 40 miles (64 km). Its upper reaches are renowned for the excellent quality of its fly fishing for trout.
6d Sentiment expressed by English poet (7)
Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.
We've seen him before. In DT 26167 (published June 7, 2010 in the National Post and February 18, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph), we had:
- 15d Moving home, a former Poet Laureate (2,6)
8d Second place, say, could make you spit (8)
The solution is a new term for me. While The American Heritage Dictionary gives only meanings related to a manner of speaking [to make repeated or sporadic spitting sounds; to speak hastily and incoherently, as when confused or angry; to utter or express hastily and incoherently], the Random House Unabridged Dictionary also provides a meaning [to fly or fall in particles or drops; spatter, as a liquid; to bespatter (someone or something)] that is similar to that found in British dictionaries such as the Collins English Dictionary [to spit out (saliva, food particles, etc.) from the mouth in an explosive manner, as through choking or laughing; to eject or be ejected in an explosive manner; to bespatter (a person) with tiny particles explosively ejected].
12d Banger in sack, fine specimen (11)
In Britain, a banger might be a loud explosive firework (when it isn't a sausage or a car in poor condition, especially a noisy one).
Gazza's mention of "5th November" is a reference to Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in England. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure.
18d Sign my post, for a change, ‘Mike’ (7)
Mike is a code word representing the letter M, used in radio communication.
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)