Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015 — DT 27868

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27868
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, July 31, 2015
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27868]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
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


The Brits found this week's puzzles to be on the difficult side and I think today's puzzle is no different. I needed to resort to some electronic help to vanquish the last couple of holdouts.

A new reviewer — Shropshirelad — makes his first appearance on Big Dave's Crossword blog today.

If you are not suffering too much from the after effects of tonight's festivities, drop by tomorrow for a New Year's treat.

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.


7a   A vehicle's following another -- /and/ some others (8)

The definition "some others" implies "other vehicles".

Caravan[5] is the British name for a trailer[5], a vehicle equipped for living in, typically towed by a car and used for holidays [vacation] (i) they spent a fishing holiday in a caravan; (ii) a caravan holiday.

9a   Instrument for shaping clay // bed (6)

A pallet[5] is a flat wooden blade with a handle, used to shape clay or plaster.

A pallet[5] is a crude or makeshift bed.

10a   Discharge // energy (4)

In the second definition, fire[5] is used in the figurative sense of fervent or passionate emotion or enthusiasm ⇒ the fire of their religious conviction.

11a   Remark about exercise involving fifty // members of crew (10)

"exercise" = PE (show explanation )

PE[5] is the abbreviation for physical education [or Phys Ed, as it was known in my school days]. 

hide explanation

12a   Favouring dull // layout (6)

According to Oxford Dictionaries, mat[5] is the US spelling of matt[5] (or matte), an adjective used to describe a surface or colour which is dull and flat or without a shine (i) prints are available on matt or glossy paper; (ii) a matt black. I am only familiar with the spelling matte.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Shropshirelad refers to the latter part of the charade as a lot of The DT cartoonist.
Matthew Pritchett[7] (who signs his work as Matt) has been the pocket cartoonist (show explanation ) on The Daily Telegraph newspaper since 1988.

A pocket cartoon[7] is a form of editorial cartoon which consists of a topical single-panel single-column drawing.

hide explanation

14a   Honoured person // deceased, having swallowed chemical compound (8)

Urea[5] is a colourless crystalline compound which is the main nitrogenous breakdown product of protein metabolism in mammals and is excreted in urine.

15a   A thing without love, // miserable (6)

"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).

hide explanation

17a   Something precious in one // group of stars (6)

From an astronomical perspective, Gemini[5] is a northern constellation (the Twins), said to represent the twins Castor and Pollux, whose names are given to its two brightest stars.

What did he say?
In his review, Shropshirelad says I was born on the 1st of June, so these stars mean something to me..
From an astrological perspective, Gemini[5] is the third sign of the zodiac, which the sun enters about 21 May and a Gemini[5] is a person born when the sun is in the sign of Gemini.

20a   Good person to encourage // Scottish politician (8)

Nicola Sturgeon[7] is the fifth and current First Minister of Scotland [a position roughly equivalent to that of the Premier of a Canadian province] and the Leader of the Scottish National Party. She is the first woman to hold either position.

22a   Bird // publication with bits half missing (6)

A magpie[5] is:
  1. any of several species in the family Corvidae of long-tailed crow with boldly marked (or green) plumage and a noisy call;
  2. any of several species in the family Cracticidae of the Australasian butcher-bird family, having black-and-white plumage and musical calls.
23a   President // in the bathroom? Not to be disturbed (10)

George Washington[5] (1732–1799) was an American general and statesman, 1st President of the US 1789–97. Washington helped win the War of Independence by keeping his army together through the winter at Valley Forge and winning a decisive battle at Yorktown (1781). He chaired the convention at Philadelphia (1787) that drew up the American Constitution and subsequently served two terms as President, following a policy of neutrality in international affairs.

Toilet Talk
In North America, somewhat bizarrely, a bathroom[5] is a room containing a toilet and washbasin which may or may not also contain a bathtub or shower. A room containing just a toilet and washbasin might be referred to as a half bath (generally when enumerating the total number of rooms in a dwelling, such as in a real estate listing ⇒ a split-level with two and a half baths).

In Britain, on the other hand, a bathroom[5] is a room containing a bathtub or shower which may or may not also contain a washbasin and a toilet.

Pity the poor North American visiting the UK who asks to use the bathroom and is handed a towel and a bar of soap and directed to a room without a toilet.

Other North American euphemisms for a toilet are washroom[5] and restroom[5]. The former may well be a term that is not used by Brits and the latter has quite a different meaning in the U.K. than it does in North America.

24a   Rugby home // a wreck (4)

Rugby union[10] (abbreviation RU[5]) is a form of rugby football played between teams of 15 players (in contrast to rugby league[5], which is played in teams of thirteen).

25a   More beloved // member embraced by the German (6)

"the German" = DER (show explanation )

In German, der[8] is one of the several forms that the definite article may assume.

hide explanation

26a   The fellow overdue comes round in the afternoon /to be/ companion (8)


1d   Nipping one flower spoils a // plant (8)

Flower is used in the whimsical cryptic crossword sense of something that flows — in other words, a river.

The Po[7] is a river that arises in the Cottian Alps and flows eastward across northern Italy entering the Adriatic Sea through a delta near Venice.

The mariposa[10] (also called mariposa lily or mariposa tulip) is any of several liliaceous plants of the genus Calochortus, of the southwestern US and Mexico, having brightly coloured tulip-like flowers.

2d   Ordered // famous airman to finish prematurely (4)

Sir Douglas Bader[5] (1910–1982) was a British airman. Despite having lost both legs in a flying accident in 1931, he saw action as a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain (1940-1). After the war he was noted for his work on behalf of disabled people.

3d   Line worker put around church // window (6)

"worker" = ANT (show explanation )

The phrase "worker" is commonly used in cryptic crossword puzzles to clue ANT.

A worker[5] is a neuter or undeveloped female bee, wasp, ant, or other social insect, large numbers of which do the basic work of the colony.

In crossword puzzles, "worker" will most frequently be used to clue ANT and occasionally BEE but I have yet to see it used to clue WASP. Of course, "worker" is sometimes also used to clue HAND or MAN.

hide explanation

"church" = CE (show explanation )

The Church of England[10] (abbreviation CE[10]) is the reformed established state Church in England, Catholic in order and basic doctrine, with the Sovereign as its temporal head.

hide explanation

Lancet[10] is short for lancet window[10], a narrow window having a lancet arch (also called acute arch, Gothic arch, pointed arch, or ogive), a narrow acutely pointed arch having two centres of equal radii.

4d   Fruit around Australia /gets/ praise (8)

The International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code for Australia is AUS[5].

5d   Asleep, // Carol is interrupted by awful rumble (10)

The "verb" carol (which, in the clue, is deceptively capitalized) is very apropos given the current season — much more so than when the puzzle appeared in the UK in late July.

6d   Bit of food // woman served up for dog maybe to eat (6)

Una is a female given name.

What did he say?
In his review, Shropshirelad refers to Una as Miss Stubbs perhaps.
Una Stubbs[7] is an English television, stage, occasional film actress and former dancer who has appeared on British television and in the theatre, and less frequently in films. She is particularly known for playing Rita in the sitcom Till Death Us Do Part and Aunt Sally in the children's series Worzel Gummidge. She is also known for her role as Miss Bat in the series The Worst Witch and has most recently appeared as Sherlock Holmes's landlady Mrs Hudson in the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award-winning television series Sherlock.

8d   Representative /and/ politician engaged in commercial activity (6)

What did he say?
In his review, Shropshirelad refers to the "commercial activity" as one which is now not restricted to Boxing Day.
By coincidence, a very topical reference. However, I am sure that when he wrote this in late July, Shropshirelad had no idea that this puzzle would make its appearance in Canada at this time of year.

13d   Ex-PM following two others /in/ musical interval (5,5)

Sir John Major[5] is a British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 1990-7.

In music, a third[5] is an interval spanning three consecutive notes in a diatonic scale, e.g. C to E (major third, equal to two tones) or A to C (minor third, equal to a tone and a semitone).

What did he say?
In his review, Shropshirelad refers to John Major as Edwina’s secret squeeze.
Edwina Jones, born Edwina Cohen and commonly known by her first married name, Edwina Currie[7], is a former British Member of Parliament. First elected as a Conservative Party MP in 1983, she was a Junior Health Minister for two years, before resigning in 1988 over the controversy over salmonella in eggs.

By the time Currie lost her seat as an MP in 1997, she had begun a new career as a novelist and broadcaster. She is the author of six novels and has also written four works of non-fiction. In 2002, publication of Currie's Diaries (1987–92) caused a sensation, as they revealed a four-year affair with fellow MP and yet-to-become British Prime Minister John Major between 1984 and 1988.

16d   What's less productive in Civil Service? // They shouldn't sweep things under the carpet! (8)

CS[5] is an abbreviation for Civil Service[10], the British term for the service responsible for the public administration of the government of a country. It excludes the legislative, judicial, and military branches. Members of the civil service have no official political allegiance and are not generally affected by changes of governments. In Australia and New Zealand — not to mention Canada — the term public service[10] is used.

18d   Greek character and I can turn up after one /in/ institute (8)

Eta[5] is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet (Η, η).

19d   Heartless son longing /to be/ a telltale (6)

21d   London banker (6)

Banker is used in a whimsical cryptic crossword sense meaning a river (something that has banks).

The Thames[5] is a river of southern England, flowing 338 km (210 miles) eastwards from the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire through London to the North Sea.

In his review, Shropshirelad calls this clue an &lit. However, I can find nothing to justify that classification — unless there happens to be a London financial magnate by the name of Thames that I have been unable to track down.

Otherwise, it would seem to be a cryptic definition relying on the whimsical cryptic crossword usage explained above. It is gratifying to see that Gazza is of a similar view (Comment #11 on Big Dave's Crossword Blog).

22d   Covering /of/ long hair hiding end bits of tail (6)

A mantle[5] is a loose sleeveless cloak or shawl, worn especially by women ⇒ she was wrapped tightly in her mantle.

24d   It's odd having parking // behind (4)

Rum[5] is a dated informal British term meaning odd or peculiar ⇒ it’s a rum business, certainly.
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

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