Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 — DT 27961

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27961
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27961]
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 National Post has skipped DT 27960 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday, November 16, 2015.


The editors at the National Post are up to their old tricks again and have skipped a puzzle. Today's puzzle appeared in the UK on a Tuesday and is the work of the mystery setter whose puzzles often include instances of North American usage.

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   Hard to control // a child, perhaps, after work, hollowed out (7)

5a   David Cameron about to steal from the French? /That's/ a worry (7)

David Cameron[5] is a British Conservative statesman, prime minister since 2010 (2010–15 in coalition with the Liberal Democrats).

"the French" = LE (show explanation )

In French, the masculine singular form of the definite article is le[8].

hide explanation

9a   Loving // a short time hugging soldiers (American) (7)

"soldiers" = OR (show explanation )

In the British armed forces, the term other ranks[5] (abbreviation OR[5]) refers to all those who are not commissioned officers.

hide explanation

10a   Peter out with tough // conservative (7)

11a   Go for a walk /and/ get lost (4,1,4)

This would seem to be the "Tuesday" setter who has a penchant for North American terms.

Take a hike[5] is an informal, chiefly North American expression meaning go away (used as an expression of irritation or annoyance).

12a   Team missing one member, heads of state extremely // agitated (5)

Eleven[5] is the number of players on a cricket[7] side or an Association football[7] [soccer] team — and is often used as a metonym for such a team ⇒ at cricket I played in the first eleven.

13a   Horrible about good, // slow piece of music (5)

"good" = G (show explanation )

The abbreviation G[10] for good likely relates to its use in grading school assignments or tests.

hide explanation

15a   Bar's grime -- possibly // an ash-grey, strong-scented substance (9)

Ambergris[5] is a wax-like substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, found floating in tropical seas and used in perfume manufacture. The word comes from Old French ambre gris 'grey amber', as distinct from amber jaune 'yellow amber' (the resin).

17a   Suppress urge /for/ food (6,3)

Scotch egg[5] is a British term for a hard-boiled egg enclosed in sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs, and fried.

19a   Shrew, rat, hamster coming together /in/ anger (5)

22a   Praise // former lover returning fortune (5)

23a   Journalists and friends, maybe // they try to get you on board (5,4)

Historically, a press gang[5] was a body of men employed to enlist men forcibly into service in the army or navy.

25a   Teach about the Queen/'s/ country (7)

"the Queen" = ER (show explanation )

The regnal ciphers (monograms) of British monarchs are initials formed from the Latin version of their first name followed by either Rex or Regina (Latin for king or queen, respectively). Thus, the regnal cipher of Queen Elizabeth is ER[5] — from the Latin Elizabetha Regina.

hide explanation

26a   Catch-22 // novel after cover's turned over (7)

Emma[7] is a novel by English writer Jane Austen (1775–1817) that was first published in December 1815.

A catch-22[10] is:
  1. a situation in which a person is frustrated by a paradoxical rule or set of circumstances that preclude any attempt to escape from them; or
  2. a situation in which any move that a person can make will lead to trouble.
Delving Deeper
The term comes from the title of the satirical novel Catch-22[7] by American author Joseph Heller (1923–1999) that was first published in 1961. It is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century.

The novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier, and other airmen of the fictional 256th Squadron based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy.

The novel's title refers to a plot device that is repeatedly invoked in the story. Catch-22 starts as a set of paradoxical requirements whereby airmen mentally unfit to fly did not have to do so, but could not actually be excused. By the end of the novel it is invoked as the explanation for many unreasonable restrictions. The phrase "Catch-22" has since entered the English language, referring to a type of unsolvable logic puzzle sometimes called a double bind. According to the novel, people who were crazy were not obliged to fly missions; but anyone who applied to stop flying was showing a rational concern for his safety and, therefore, was sane.

27a   Put a stop to // religious education by force (7)

... the sort of force employed by the blokes at 23a.

In the UK, religious education[10] (abbreviation RE[5]) is a subject taught in schools which educates about the different religions of the world.

28a   Was afraid of // editor after report initially coming in late (7)


1d   A page in old hat /getting/ changed (7)

"page" = P (show explanation )

The abbreviation for page is p[5]see p 784.

hide explanation 

Scratching the Surface
Although page takes a publishing sense for cryptic purposes, in the surface reading page[5] is used in one of the following senses:
  1. a boy or young man, usually in uniform, employed in a hotel or club to run errands, open doors, etc.;
  2. a young boy attending a bride at a wedding;
  3. (historical) a boy in training for knighthood, ranking next below a squire in the personal service of a knight; or
  4. (historical) a man or boy employed as the personal attendant of a person of rank.
As we see from the above, the title of page traditionally applies to a male person. However, in North America, the name page is applied to university students (Canada) or high school juniors (United States) who are appointed as non-partisan employees of the two countries' legislative bodies to perform ceremonial and administrative duties. In a departure from traditional nomenclature, these positions are open to both males and females.

2d   One who criticises // that gets hammered before opening? (7)

3d   Atmosphere /from/ a group of travellers (5)

Across the pond, traveller[5] (usually Traveller) is a British term for a Gypsy or other nomadic person.

Roma[10] is another name for Gypsy.

4d   I diet, pass out /and/ fade away (9)

5d   Father/'s/ flat note (5)

Flat[5] is the British term for what would be called an apartment[5] in North America.

In music — specifically, in tonic sol-fa — re is the second note of a major scale. In Britain, where the more common spelling is ray[5], re[5] is seen as a variant [or even worse, American] spelling.

6d   Topple // across woollen wrap (9)

Gazza's description of throw as being "a mainly North American term for a woollen wrap or shawl" may even be a bit of an understatement. I found this meaning in only one British dictionary, The Chambers Dictionary, where throw[1] is defined as a woollen wrap or small rug (especially North American). The American Heritage Dictionary defines throw[3] as a scarf or shawl while the Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary lists throw[11] as a scarf, boa, shawl, or the like.

Ironically, not being familiar with this usage myself, I looked it up to see if it might be a British term.

7d   Student // thinner when eating right (7)

8d   Strange end in religious service? // Nonsense (7)

14d   Help! Cut with axe! Upset when hospital leaves // excuse (9)

Exculpate[10] means to vindicate or exonerate which is hardly the same as excuse.

16d   Arrogant // tailor: he'd be glad, I being short of length (9)

17d   Lieutenant in clear // retreat (7)

18d   Cut, touching blooming // exposed edge of rock (7)

Scratching the Surface
In the surface reading, blooming[5] is an informal British term used to express annoyance or for emphasis ⇒ (i) of all the blooming cheek!; (ii) a blooming good read.

20d   Drink, holding weapon? Penny /gets/ worried (7)

In the British currency system used prior to Decimal Day[7] (February 15, 1971*), a penny[5] was equal to one twelfth of a shilling or 240th of a pound (and was abbreviated d, for denarius).
* the date on which Britain converted to a decimal currency system.
21d   Writer/'s/ tired and gaunt (7)

Sir Rider Haggard[5] (1856–1925) was an English novelist; full name Sir Henry Rider Haggard. Published under the name H. Rider Haggard, he is famous for adventure novels such as King Solomon’s Mines (1885) and She (1889).

23d   Yearn over small // underwear (5)

Pant[3,4,11] (often foll by for) means to yearn; to have a frantic desire; to long demonstratively; to long with breathless or intense eagerness (i) was panting for a chance to play; (ii) to pant for revenge.

What's Under Your Pants?
If I were to remove my pants in the UK, I would be far more exposed than if I were to do so in North America!

The following is a slightly abridged version of how Collins COBUILD English Usage explains the difference between British and North American clothing terminology:

In British English, pants are a piece of clothing worn by men, women, or children under their other clothes — in other words, underwear.

Men's pants are sometimes referred to as underpants. Women's pants are sometimes referred to as panties or knickers.

In American English, a piece of clothing like this for men is usually referred to as shorts or underpants. For women, they are usually called panties.

In American English, the word pants is used to refer to men's or women's trousers.

In both British and American English, shorts are also trousers with very short legs that people wear in hot weather or for taking part in sports.
24d   Very stuck in one // crack (5)
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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