Puzzle at a Glance
Daily Telegraph Puzzle NumberDT 26831
Publication Date in The Daily TelegraphWednesday, April 4, 2012
Link to Full ReviewBig Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26831]
Big Dave's Review Written ByPommers
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
Pommers rates the difficulty of puzzles on the basis of his solving time. I tend to rely more on how many clues I am able to solve before calling in the electronic reinforcements. Of course, that is somewhat affected by how much time I have available to spend on the puzzle. On days when I am pressed for time, I would pop open the Tool Chest sooner than I would on days when I can relax and devote more time to 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.
9a Shortly finding barrister after case of intimidation (2,5)
Brief is an informal British name for a solicitor or barrister • it was only his brief’s eloquence that had saved him from prison.
10a Talk nonsense — pressure to cause irritation (7)
My concept of 'rattle' would be to alarm. However, Chambers Thesaurus gives the following list of synonyms: UNNERVE, disconcert, unsettle, disturb, confuse, upset, put off/out, shake, alarm, throw off balance; colloquial faze, put someone’s nose out of joint.
11a Poor toolmaker ignoring a king’s instruction to musician (7)
In music, tremolo is a wavering effect in a musical tone, produced either by rapid reiteration of a note, by rapid repeated slight variation in the pitch of a note, or by sounding two notes of slightly different pitches to produce prominent overtones. No where did I find it defined as a musical direction, but I suppose that a composer might well indicate that a piece of music is to be performed in this manner.
12a Professional impression is met without the writer (7)
As a cryptic crossword convention, the creator of the puzzle will often use terms such as setter, compiler, author, or writer to refer to himself or herself. To solve the clue, one must substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms is found in the clue. Thus, in today's clue, the phrase "is met without the writer" becomes "is met without me".
19a Heath Robinson’s pulse? (5)
William Heath Robinson (signed as W. Heath Robinson, 1872 – 1944) was an English cartoonist and illustrator, best known for drawings of eccentric machines. In the UK, the term "Heath Robinson" has entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption, similar to "Rube Goldberg" in the U.S. It is perhaps more often used in relation to temporary fixes using ingenuity and whatever is to hand, often string and tape, or unlikely cannibalisations. Its popularity is undoubtedly linked to Second World War Britain's shortages and the need to "make do and mend".
21a Substitute for modesty? (7)
As a sports term, a reserve is an extra player or participant who can take another's place if needed; in other words, a substitute.
25a American English sailor with the French may be of service (7)
In the Royal Navy, able seaman (abbreviation AB). is a rank of sailor above ordinary seaman and below leading seaman. Le is the masculine singular form of the French definite article.
3d Not well and not working — show embarrassment (3-6)
In Britain, off-colour means slightly unwell or not in good health. In North America (spelled off-color in the US), it means (in reference to humour), rude or smutty.
5d Soft soap or other toiletry item (7)
Flannel is a British expression meaning (1) indirect or evasive talk or (2) deceiving flattery. In the UK, it also means a small piece of cloth used to wash the face and hands (also known as a face cloth).
Although Collins indicates that the equivalent US and Canadian term is washcloth, I personally would tend to say face cloth. I think washcloth is mainly a US term. As with many words, Canadians tend to use a mix of British and American terms (sometimes interchangeably, as is the case with face cloth and washcloth). Unfortunately, American terms seem to be supplanting British terms due to the pervasive influence of American media.
6d Viewer partly drinking son’s wine (7)
Retsina is a Greek white or rosé wine flavoured with resin [and, judging by Pommers' comment, rather nasty stuff].
7d Award given for plum hybrid (8,5)
In Britain, a Victoria plum is a plum of a large red dessert variety.
19d Thousand-kilogramme gold cover for car (7)
A tonne is a unit of mass equal to 1000 kg or 2204.6 pounds. Also called (not in technical use) metric ton (although that is precisely – or, perhaps, imprecisely – the definition provided by The American Heritage Dictionary). The symbol for the chemical element gold is Au.
20d Gunners on Rome’s river returning for a snack (7)
In the UK, the Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA), is the artillery arm of the British Army. Rarebit (also called Welsh rabbit) is a dish of melted and seasoned cheese on toast, sometimes with other ingredients.
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)