Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015 — DT 27796

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27796
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, May 8, 2015
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27796]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Deep Threat
BD Rating
Difficulty - Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
- 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
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved


It is always disheartening to see a puzzle receive a single star for difficulty from the reviewer at Big Dave's Crossword Blog when I have resorted to electronic help to complete it. Today, I needed a bit of assistance with the piece of furniture in 1a as I knew it only by the anglicized version of its name.

As usual, there are at least a couple of clues requiring a bit of obscure British knowledge, such as the workings of the British postal system and a 19th century English painter who — ironically — has not received much exposure.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

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.

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (&lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//). Definitions presented in blue text are for terms that appear frequently.


1a   Cabinet/'s/ bit of private information given publicity endlessly (10)

A secretaire[5] (also escritoire or secretary[10]) is a small writing desk.

6a   Packing material this person /used for/ dry bed (4)

"this person" = I (show explanation )

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as (the) compiler, (the) setter, (this) author, (this) writer, or this person to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must generally substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms has been used in the clue.

hide explanation

In certain Arabic-speaking countries, a wadi[5] is a valley, ravine, or channel that is dry except in the rainy season.

9a   Well ought to supply // this water in Ireland (5)

Lough[10] [pronounced identical to the Scottish word loch[10]] is an Irish word meaning lake.

10a   Fan, a clot I suspect /that's/ liable to be disruptive (9)

Scratching the Surface
In the surface reading, clot[5] is an informal British term for a foolish or clumsy person ⇒ Watch where you’re going, you clot!.

12a   International agreement that sees top cricketer suspended for a while? (4,3)

This clue, which I see as a cryptic definition, takes a bit of decoding.

A Test[5] (short for Test match)[5] is an international cricket or rugby match, typically one of a series, played between teams representing two different countries ⇒ the Test match between Pakistan and the West Indies.

Naturally, only the top cricket players would be invited to participate in such a match.

Thus if a top cricket player were to be suspended for the duration of a Test match, it might be called a "Test ban".

13a   Sauce /can give/ headache when served with duck (5)

"duck" = O (show explanation )

In cricket, a duck[5] is a batsman’s score of nought [zero] ⇒ he was out for a duck. This is similar to the North American expression goose egg[5] meaning a zero score in a game.

In British puzzles, "duck" is used to indicate the letter "O" based on the resemblance of the digit "0" to this letter.

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15a   Determination // to crack again (7)

17a   Pompous, // like one able to look down from a great height? (7)

19a   Cross // girl you had once found harbouring love (7)

"love" = O (show explanation )

In tennis, squash, and some other sports, love[5] is a score of zero or nil ⇒ love fifteen. The resemblance of a zero written as a numeral (0) to the letter O leads to the cryptic crossword convention of the word "love" being used to clue this letter.

Although folk etymology has connected the word with French l'oeuf 'egg', from the resemblance in shape between an egg and a zero, the term apparently comes from the phrase play for love (i.e. the love of the game, not for money).

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21a   'Elvis' sits by vehicle // making music for those passing by (7)

Elvis Presley[7] (1935–1977) was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as "the King of Rock and Roll", or simply, "the King".

22a   Small picture /of/ group beside home (5)

24a   Wind, // one penetrating church recess (7)

27a   Sparkling // old lover of the upper class with silly banter (9)

"of the upper class" = U (show explanation )

In Britain, U[5] is used informally as an adjective (in respect to language or social behaviour) meaning characteristic of or appropriate to the upper social classes ⇒ U manners.

The term, an abbreviation of  upper class, was coined in 1954 by Alan S. C. Ross, professor of linguistics, and popularized by its use in Nancy Mitford's Noblesse Oblige (1956).

In Crosswordland, the letter U is frequently clued by words denoting "characteristic of the upper class" (such as posh or superior) or "appropriate to the upper class" (such as acceptable). 

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28a   Exhausted // writer sitting in street (5)

29a   What shop may put on /in/ part of Greater Manchester (4)

Sale[7] is a town in Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, historically in Cheshire. It is on the south bank of the River Mersey, 5.2 miles (8.4 km) southwest of Manchester. In 2001, it had a population of 55,000.

30a   Yet pleader will go wild // again and again (10)


1d   Son unwell -- // one lies horizontally (4)

2d   Mistress /of/ violent nature so cold initially (9)

3d   Distinctive spirit /of/ English Society, although briefly hidden (5)

S[10] is the symbol for Society.

4d   A couple of females, competent /and/ friendly (7)

5d   Repudiates // diatribes about London's business quarter (7)

The wordplay is RANTS (diatribes) containing (about) EC (London's business quarter).

EC4 is a postcode district within the EC postcode area.
The setter uses "London's business quarter" to refer to the City of London, a district in central London where the United Kingdom's trading and financial services industries are concentrated and, by extension, the EC postcode which serves the City of London [postcode being the British counterpart of the Canadian postal code or American zip code]. Due to their geographic basis, postcodes are often useful for purposes other than the routing of mail. For instance, in London (and perhaps elsewhere in the UK), the first two or three characters of the postcode (which identify the postcode district) appear on street signs located within that district.

The EC (Eastern Central) postcode area[7] (also known as the London EC postcode area) is a group of postcode districts in central London, England. It includes almost all of the City of London as well as parts of several other London boroughs.

The City of London[7] (not to be confused with the city of London) is a city and ceremonial county within London. It constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond the City's borders. The City is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of London, though it remains a notable part of central London. It is one of two districts of London to hold city status, the other being the adjacent City of Westminster.

It is widely referred to simply as the City (often written as just "City" and differentiated from the phrase "the city of London" by capitalising "City") and is also colloquially known as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 sq mi (2.90 km2), in area. Both of these terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's trading and financial services industries, which continue a notable history of being largely based in the City. This is analogous to the use of the terms Wall Street and Bay Street to refer to the financial institutions located in New York and Toronto respectively.

7d   Lady /taking/ a long time to capture knight (5)

"knight" = N (show explanation )

N[5] is the abbreviation for knight used in recording moves in chess [representing the pronunciation of kn-, since the initial letter k- represents 'king'].

As an aside, it is interesting to note that the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines: 
  • K[2] as an abbreviation used in chess for knight. 
  • K[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a king. 
  • N[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a knight.
The dictionary fails to specify how one differentiates an abbreviation from a symbol.

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8d   Sounds like I am fond of pets /in/ this part of the capital (4,2,4)

The solution sounds like "I love dogs".

The Isle of Dogs[7] is an area in the East End of London that is bounded on three sides (east, south and west) by one of the largest meanders in the River Thames. The northern boundary has never been clearly or consistently defined (the name Isle of Dogs had no official status until 1978, with the creation of the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood by Tower Hamlets Borough Council), but many accept it to be the (former) line of the West India South Dock.

11d   Mischief-maker with affectedness // improves? Quite the opposite (7)

The definition is, in effect, "an antonym for improves".

14d   Rare song is surprisingly /offered by/ those putting on an event (10)

16d   Stuff for someone very young // you put in milky drink (7)

18d   Idiot /getting/ a hangover? (9)

20d   Dying /to find/ relaxation at end of final month (7)

From a grammatical perspective, "dying" is a gerund used as a noun meaning death.

Decease[5] is a formal or legal term for a person's death ⇒ he held the post until his untimely decease in 1991.

21d   Something hairy /makes one/ react angrily (7)

In the phrase "makes one", the pronoun "one" refers to the solver. Thus "makes one" is interpreted as "produces [for] the solver", thereby denoting equality between the two definitions.

23d   Brain? /It's/ what a rower may need, we hear (5)

A scull[5] is:
  • each of a pair of small oars used by a single rower; or
  • a light, narrow boat propelled with a scull or a pair of sculls.
25d   Start // where the actors are being filmed (5)

26d   Elizabeth's heading off /to become/ an artist (4)

Betty[5] is a common diminutive for the name Elizabeth.

William Etty[7] (1787–1849) was an English artist best known for his history paintings containing nude figures. He was the first significant British painter of nudes and still lifes.

Delving Deeper
Etty's Cleopatra's Arrival in Cilicia, painted in 1821, featured numerous nudes and was exhibited to great acclaim. Its success prompted several further depictions of historical scenes with nudes. All but one exhibited at the Royal Academy in the 1820s contained at least one nude figure, and he acquired a reputation for indecency. Despite this, he was commercially successful, critically acclaimed, and was elected a Royal Academician in 1828, at the time the highest honour available to an artist. Although he was one of the most respected artists in the country he continued to study at life classes [art classes in which students practise drawing or painting the human figure using a live — typically nude — model]  throughout his life, a practice considered inappropriate by his fellow artists. In the 1830s Etty began to branch out into the more lucrative but less respected field of portraiture, and later became the first English painter to paint significant still lifes. He continued to paint both male and female nudes, which caused severe criticism and condemnation from some elements of the press.

He suffered from extreme shyness, rarely socialised and never married. He lived from 1824 until his death with his niece Betsy (Elizabeth Etty).

In his review, Deep Threat shows what may be a rather atypical Etty work. A more representative piece might be Musidora: The Bather 'At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed' an illustration from the poem Summer by James Thomson. 

The painting shows a scene in which the titular character, having removed the last of her clothes, steps into "the lucid coolness of the flood" to "bathe her fervent limbs in the refreshing stream", unknowing that she is being watched by her suitor Damon. Etty's composition is shown from the viewpoint of Damon; by so doing Etty aimed to induce the same reactions in the viewer as Damon's dilemma as described by Thomson; that of whether to enjoy the spectacle despite knowing it to be inappropriate, or to follow the accepted morality of the time and look away, in what art historian Sarah Burnage has described as "a titillating moral test for spectators to both enjoy and overcome".
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. Thanks for the Etty rundown and the beautiful painting! Playboy Magazine has announced they will no longer be publishing pictures, so we'll be depending on Big Dave's and your blogs to keep us amused.

    1. Always happy to fill a void!

      It is interesting to observe that people didn't always have an aversion to the beauty of the human body that our Victorian ancestors seem to have bequeathed to us.