Spotting the theme before we enter a single clue is getting to be a Numpty habit. Well I am Yorkshire Dales born and bred and we have been living with the hype for the past few weeks with several friends who live overseas, like us, going back specifically for the big Yorkshire event. Still, it could have been about Wimbledon (and Jago, by giving us a twenty-minute solve allowed us to watch Roger Federer win his semi-final). Roger is such a decent fellow and so popular over here where we live.
Yes, the Yorkshire Dales are all set for tomorrow’s departure and Holme Moss, where my sister lives, has been giving helpful advice to the cyclists who are heading their way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3h-hE-4X4Q
We were so busy slotting in YORKSHIRE, GRAND DEPART, TOUR DE FRANCE CYCLE RACE, LEEDS, HARROGATE, DALES, RIPON and YELLOW JERSEY that I didn’t have time to scan the clues to check that Jago was maintaining his place in the Listener setters tipsy club (as if I had any doubt) but when, after completing our grid, I did a quick check, I found a surprising quantity of bananas, Ecstasy, sausage, headless kipper and pork but not much drink to accompany that queer diet.
Yes, these were very easy clues but, in a sense, they had to be, as so much of the grid was unclued. When I find myself highlighting 70 cells before even beginning to fill a grid that only has 150, there is almost a sigh of relief as the clues ARE going to have to be easy to permit solvers to complete the grid. And we do still appreciate a really easy solve from time to time. About five years ago when we first attempted a Listener crossword, one like this would have encouraged us to have the confidence to continue – or at least to have a look at them each week.
I am adding to that last comment twenty-four hours later. I invariably go to read the thread on the Answerbank when we have completed our solve. I know it isn’t approved of by the purists but there is considerable restraint demonstrated by the people who visit it and share their views and it does give a forum before the official one that appears on the Crossword Centre’s message board three weeks later. It is, I know, visited by some compilers who can test the air about their new creation (or newly published creation) as the reactions appear. There are a few almost rude comments appearing this week (Ho ho – you might be eating your words if we are treated to a Sabre’s Knights’ moves style treat next week or another Klein Bottle) but there is also the more thoughtful comment that a few new names have appeared on the thread – people who have been encouraged by the comments on the thread and who have braved the Listener for the first time. I believe this is what we are all hoping will happen and, (dare I be political without getting my hand smacked?) that the extra money The Times is netting as of this week, with our raised subscriptions, is going to the Editors and not into some obscure Times black hole.
Were there any difficult clues? Well we had to check on “Exotic timber found on the reverse of a watchcase (4)” to make sure that the hidden reversed word was TAWA (did you know that it is also ‘a griddle used in Indian cookery’?) and that “A sort of flowering plant, or type of tree, chopped back (5)” was OR PIN[e].
So thank you Jago – for giving Yorkshire a Listener mention too.