Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016 — DT 28209

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28209
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, September 2, 2016
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28209]
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


In his review at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Deep Threat awards this puzzle three stars for difficulty. While I would agree with that rating, I would say that those stars are very well earned as this puzzle — in particular, the upper portion — proved to be a strenuous mental exercise.

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   Awful noise in part of garden // separated off (9)

Garden[2,10] is the British name for what is known as a yard[10]* in Canada and the US, namely an area of land, usually one adjoining a house, where grass, trees, flowers and other ornamental plants, fruit, vegetables, etc, are grown. Note that a British garden includes the lawn as well as everything else whereas a North American garden would comprise only the flower and vegetable beds and any trees or shrubs contained therein and exclude the lawn and any trees or shrubs growing there.

* In Britain, a yard[10] is a piece of enclosed ground, usually either paved or laid with concrete and often adjoining or surrounded by a building or buildings.Thus a yard in Britain typically has no grass or other vegetation and is surrounded by a wall, fence, or buildings (or combination thereof).

9a   Valuable coin perhaps /offered for/ food (7)

In one sense, as Deep Threat mentions in his review, bit is "an American word". In US and Canadian usage, a bit[10] is the value of an eighth of a dollar (spoken of only in units of two) ⇒ two bits or four bits but never one bit or three bits [presumably because there is no coin worth 12½ cents].

However, bit[2] is also an obsolete British term (used in compounds) for a coin, especially a small coin ⇒ threepenny bit.

Rarebit[5] (also Welsh rarebit) is a dish of melted and seasoned cheese on toast, sometimes with other ingredients. The name is an alteration of Welsh rabbit[5] (probably originally used humorously).

10a   Keeping // gold inside the theatre (7)

"gold" = OR (show explanation )

Or[5] is gold or yellow, as a heraldic tincture.

In heraldry, a tincture[5] is any of the conventional colours (including the metals and stains, and often the furs) used in coats of arms.

hide explanation

11a   Unusable material // was given label 'Fifth grade' (7)

I had interpreted "Fifth grade" to be the fifth letter of the word "gradE". However, in his review, Deep Threat provides a different — and no doubt better — explanation.

12a   Financial funds // revolutionary's hidden in straw stupidly (3,6)

Che Guevara[7] (1928–1967) was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia within popular culture.

14a   I am restricted by someone acting for another // group of soldiers (8)

15a   Spotted // policeman outside front of library (6)

In Britain, bobby[5] is an informal name for a police officer. The name comes from a nickname for Robert, the given name of Sir Robert Peel[5] (1788–1850), British Prime Minister 1834-5 and 1841-6, who as Home Secretary (1828–30) established the Metropolitan Police [perhaps better known as Scotland Yard].

Blobby appears in most of my British dictionaries[1,4,5,10] but not in my American dictionaries[3,11].

Behind the Video
Those of us in North America should be thankful not only that the word "blobby" does not exist on this side of the pond but even more so that the character featured in the video in Deep Threat's review has not made it to our shores.

Mr Blobby[7] is a character featured on BBC television's Saturday night variety show Noel's House Party. A bulbous pink figure covered with yellow spots, he has a permanent toothy grin and jiggling eyes. Mr Blobby communicates only by saying the word "blobby" in an electronically altered voice, expressing his moods through tone of voice and repetition.

Proving there is no accounting for British taste, he topped the UK Singles Chart with the 1993 Christmas release "Mr Blobby" — regarded by many as the worst single, and indeed, song, of all time. His followup 1995 track "Christmas in Blobbyland" (a number 36 UK entry) was voted the worst festive song ever by British Christmas shoppers in 2011 and 2015 polls. Mr Blobby: The Album (1994) was voted the worst LP ever made in a 2016 listener survey.

In March 1994, Elizabeth Kolbert of The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Blobby's rise to stardom has provoked anguished commentaries about just what he stands for... Some commentators have called him a metaphor for a nation gone soft in the head. Others have seen him as proof of Britain's deep-seated attraction to trash."

A Sun article published the previous month had reported that Blobby reduced a young girl to tears after throwing her birthday cake onto the floor during a show, causing the girl's father to mount the stage and assault Blobby.

17a   More inclined // to fade into last position (7)

20a   Never mind -- / these nasty creatures / have been caught! (6)

An usual construction -- the definition is found in the middle of the clue, squeezed between the hidden word fodder and the hidden word indicator.

23a   Go to the east of county /in/ economic decline (8)

The clue parses as TURN (go) following (to the east [or right] of) DOWN (county).

Down[5] is one of the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, since 1973 an administrative district; chief town, Downpatrick.

25a   A soldier clutching leg, sitting by grass // fretting (9)

"soldier" = GI (show explanation )

A GI[5] is a private soldier in the US army ⇒ she went off with a GI during the war.

Contrary to popular belief, the term apparently is not an abbreviation for general infantryman, but rather derives from the term government (or general) issue (originally denoting equipment supplied to US forces).

hide explanation

"leg" = ON (show explanation )

In cricket, the leg[5] (also called leg side) is another name for the on[5] (also known as on side), the half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) away from which the batsman’s feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball ⇒ he played a lucky stroke to leg. The other half of the field is known as the off[5] (also called off side).

hide explanation 

Grass[5] is an informal British term meaning:
  1. (noun) a police informer; and
  2. (verb) to inform the police of someone’s criminal activities or plans ⇒ (i) someone had grassed on the thieves; (ii) she threatened to grass me up.
This expression may derive from rhyming slang (grasshopper being rhyming slang for 'copper'). (show explanation )

Rhyming slang[5] is a type of slang that replaces words with rhyming words or phrases, typically with the rhyming element omitted. For example, butcher’s, short for butcher’s hook, means ‘look’ in Cockney rhyming slang.

hide explanation

Sing[10] is a mainly US slang term meaning to confess or act as an informer.

26a   Market town /showing/ success, tortoise-like (7)

Winslow[7] is a market town* and civil parish designated as a town council in the Aylesbury Vale district of north Buckinghamshire. It has a population of just over 4,400.

* Market town[2,5,10] is a mainly British term for a town, often at the centre of a farming area, where a market is held regularly, usually on the same day every week.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Deep Threat refers to Winslow as the protagonist in a play by Terence Rattigan.
Sir Terence Rattigan[5] (1911–1977) was an English dramatist. Notable plays: The Winslow Boy (1946) and The Browning Version (1948).

27a   Something small and alive // Robert fed to rodents (7)

28a   No slate used in construction /of/ sheds (4-3)

The word "of" (show explanation ) is used as a link word between the definition and wordplay.

When used as a link word, "of" denotes that the definition is formed from the constituent parts found in the wordplay.

This is based on the word of[5] being used as a preposition indicating the material or substance constituting something ⇒ (i) the house was built of bricks; (ii) walls of stone.

hide explanation

29a   Great side involved /in/ terrible events (9)


2d   Bar protecting a dry // lock (3-4)

"dry" = TT (show explanation )

Teetotal[5] (abbreviation TT[5]) means choosing or characterized by abstinence from alcohol ⇒ a teetotal lifestyle.

A teetotaller[5] (US teetotalerabbreviation TT[5]) is a person who never drinks alcohol.

The term teetotal is an emphatic extension of total, apparently first used by Richard Turner, a worker from Preston [England], in a speech (1833) urging total abstinence from all alcohol, rather than mere abstinence from spirits, as advocated by some early temperance reformers.

hide explanation

My dictionaries differ on the definition of rat-tail with Oxford Dictionaries appearing to diverge from the others:
  • Oxford Dictionaries - rat-tail[5] is an informal British term for hair hanging in lank, damp or greasy strands;
  • The Chambers Dictionary - a rat's-tail[1] (or rat-tail) is a thin coherent dangling lock of hair;
  • American Heritage Dictionary - a rat-tail (or rattail) is a long, thin length of hair that hangs down the nape of the neck, usually when the rest of the hair is cut short;
  • Collins English Dictionary - a rat tail[10] is a hair style characterized by a long thin tail of hair growing at the back of the head.
Scratching the Surface
Dry Lock

3d   Small growth on horse -- // hard bit of ear (7)

A cob[5] is a powerfully built, short-legged horse ⇒ he’s got a nice young bay cob if you want to hack*.

* hack[10] is a British term meaning to ride (a horse) cross-country for pleasure.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Deep Threat describes cob as being the hard bit of an ear of maize.
Maize[5] is the British name for what is known as corn[5] in North America (as well as Australia and New Zealand). In Britain, corn[5] refers to the chief cereal crop of a district, especially (in England) wheat or (in Scotland) oats.

Nevertheless, in the UK, maize for human consumption is known as sweetcorn[5], the core of an ear of maize, to which the kernals are attached, is called a corncob[10], and when eaten straight from the cob it is referred to as corn on the cob[5].

4d   /In/ each part-song you /find/ keenness of observation (5,3)

A glee[5] is a song for men’s voices in three or more parts, usually unaccompanied, of a type popular especially circa 1750–1830. This sense of the word gives rise to the term glee club[5].

Despite their positioning in the clue, the words "in ... find" function in the same manner as a link word. One can see the equivalence by rephrasing the clue (although doing so destroys the surface reading, which explains why the clue is worded the way it is):
  • Keenness of observation /found in/ each part-song you  (5,3)

5d   Nod off // in bad row seemingly (6)

6d   Alloy that is given to engineers /for/ one form of support (9)

"engineers" = RE (show explanation )

The Corps of Royal Engineers[7], usually just called the Royal Engineers (abbreviation RE), and commonly known as the Sappers[7], is a corps of the British Army that provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces.

hide explanation

7d   Article trimmed with fabric, not one // worn down (7)

Despite identifying the correct solution early on, I delayed writing it into the grid as I was unable to parse the wordplay — thinking that "trimmed with" must be a containment indicator. It isn't and when I finally twigged to that, the parsing became clear.

Braid[5] (often as an adjective braided) means to edge or trim (a garment) with braid ⇒ braided red trousers.

8d   That heartless Etonian out /to get/ recognition (9)

It seems to me that the phrase "that heartless" could be interpreted as either TT {T[ha]T without its interior letters (heart)} or TAT {T[H]AT without H (hearts; a card suit)}.

Scratching the Surface
An Etonian[5] is a past or present member of Eton College ⇒ an Old Etonian.

Eton College[7], often informally referred to simply as Eton, is an English independent boarding school for boys located in Eton, Berkshire, near Windsor.  (show more )

Eton was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor". Not only is it an independent* school, it is one of ten English schools, commonly referred to as public schools**, regulated by the Public Schools Act of 1868.
* In Britain, an independent school[10] is a school that is neither financed nor controlled by the government or local authorities; in other words, an independent school[2] is not paid for with public money and does not belong to the state school system.

** In Britain, a public school[2] is a particular category of independent school, namely a secondary school, especially a boarding school, run independently of the state and financed by a combination of endowments and pupils' fees.

Another category of independent school is the private school[2,5] which is a school run independently by an individual or group, especially for profit and supported wholly by the payment of fees.
What we in North America would call a public school[2], is known in the UK as a state school[5] or a maintained school***.
*** In England and Wales, a maintained school[5] is a school that is funded by a local education authority.
hide explanation

13d   I rush the wrong way -- no good /for/ commercial activity (7)

While one could further decompose the wordplay into N (no) and G (good; for instance, a grade received on a school assignment or test), NG[3,4,10] and/or its variants N.G.[11], ng[1,4,10], and n.g.[11] are listed in several dictionaries as abbreviations for no good.

15d   Woman at match we will /put in/ gaol (9)

Gaol[10] is a British variant spelling of jail.

Bridewell[5] is an archaic British term for a a prison or reform school for petty offenders. The name comes from St. Bride's Well in the City of London, near which the original bridewell stood.

Delving Deeper
Bridewell Palace[7] in London was built as a residence of King Henry VIII and was one of his homes early in his reign for eight years. Given to the City of London Corporation by his son King Edward VI for use as an orphanage and place of correction for wayward women, Bridewell later became the first prison/poorhouse to have an appointed doctor. It was built on the banks of the Fleet River in the City of London between Fleet Street and the River Thames in an area today known as 'Bridewell Court' off New Bridge Street. By 1556 part of it had become a jail known as Bridewell Prison. It was reinvented with lodgings and was closed in 1855 and the buildings demolished in 1863–1864.

The name 'Bridewell' subsequently became an occasionally-used nickname for a police station or prison in England, Ireland and Scotland. It was also used as the name of the city jail in Chicago in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

16d   Savagery /of/ British game that's ending with Italy beaten (9)

Today "British" = B rather than BR (show explanation )

Both B.[10] and Br.[10] are abbreviations for British.

hide explanation

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).

18d   Time in closing of the day /for/ equestrian sport (8)

Eventing[5] is  an equestrian sport in which competitors must take part in each of several contests, usually cross-country, dressage, and showjumping ⇒ he will begin his eventing career in March.

19d   African // rushed, carrying pale and sickly daughter (7)

Here, things only fell into line when I realized that WAN is clued by "pale and sickly" and not merely "pale".

A Rwandan[5] is a native or citizen of Rwanda[5], a landlocked country in central Africa, to the north of Burundi and the south of Uganda; population 10,746,300 (est. 2009); official languages, Kinyarwanda (a Bantu language), English, and French; capital, Kigali. Official name Rwandese Republic.

21d   Girl embarrassed /to be showing/ Lancastrian hue (4-3)

The Wars of the Roses[5] were the 15th-century English civil wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster, represented by white and red roses respectively, during the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, and Richard III. The struggle was largely ended in 1485 by the defeat and death of the Yorkist king Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and the accession of the Lancastrian Henry Tudor (Henry VII), who united the two houses by marrying Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV.

22d   Naughty Nigel, old boy held /to be/ worthless (7)

"old boy" = OB (show explanation )

In Britain, an old boy[5] (abbreviation OB[2])  is:
  1. a former male student of a school or college ⇒an old boy of Banbury County School; or
  2. a former male member of a sports team or company ⇒ the White Hart Lane old boy squared the ball to present an easy chance from 12 yards.
It is also a chiefly British affectionate form of address to a boy or man ⇒ ‘Look here, old boy,’ he said.

hide explanation

Ignoble[10] is used in a sense denoting of of low quality or inferior.

24d   Least experienced // artist heading towards America maybe (6)

"artist" = RA (show explanation )

A Royal Academician (abbreviation RA[10]) is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts[5] (also Royal Academy; abbreviation also RA[10]), an institution established in London in 1768, whose purpose is to cultivate painting, sculpture, and architecture in Britain. 

hide explanation

Of course, one must interpret the phrase "heading towards America maybe" from a British frame of reference.
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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