Company Liquidation by Kruger – now that was a helpful title wasn’t it? The preamble wasn’t too disturbing either. We were going to have yet another crossword with the wordplay leading to an extra letter and those letters were to spell out a quotation and its originator. Slightly more worrying was the information that the quotation would ‘describe the treatments affecting most answers’. Was that going to be the jumbles I loathe? The title actually prompted us to suspect that we were simply going to ‘liquidate’ a company or two (C for corps? CO for company?)
We immediately spotted that the word lengths didn’t correspond with the cells available, and were thus given the extent to which we were to remove letters or parts of words and the very first clue we solved, ‘Off key singer or grand instrument player (12)’ gave us ORGAN-GRINDER with an extra S and suggested that the company we had to liquidate might be a GANG, since we had room for only eight letters. That was the first moment of dismay, when we suspected that our solution was to be made up of ‘not real words': ORRINDER indeed!
Kruger had almost immediately (on the first clue read-through) confirmed his renewed membership in the Setters’ Oenophile.org with ‘Ran around kiln, intoxicated (7)’ which gave us BLED round OAST = BLASTED with an extra O (but we had that extra letter dilemma). He had TALENT ‘Attractive young girls almost cry without wine? On the contrary (6)’ (CAL[l] in TENT with an extra C) as winophile company too … Hmm Kruger!
The dilemma was soon resolved: ‘Speak fondly about trees with new romantic author (7)’ gave us COO round O[A]KS + N, Catherine Cookson, but when I attempted to remove the C, the K clashed with LOTUS ‘Perhaps jujube beside lake is unusually stout (4)’ L + STOU[T], it began to look as though the S was the victim of the liquidation.
Of course, a couple of generous clues soon confirmed that suspicion, ‘Unruly classes – ones without divisions throughout the year (6)’, was obviously SEASONLESS (with an extra C produced by the wordplay) and since our entry had to lose four letters, those were going to be SSSS. ASSESSED was the final hint we needed, so the gridfill, after about twenty minutes, was a logical teasing out of words from the letters that were slowly peopling it.
I had to admire the ingenuity that had gone into making all these non-words intersect – quite a feat.
We still had to suss out the quotation about SOCIETY, too and, of course, Margaret Thatcher’s words slowly revealed themselves, ‘There is no such thing as Society. There are individual men and women, and there are families’. I wonder how deeply she had thought about that statement before having it appear in Woman’s Own. She is a great source of quotations for compilers, isn’t she? Like A A Milne and Lewis Carroll.
We slotted in our last two words TRENI[S]E and that unusual spelling of HAMP[S]TER and sent a silent vote of thanks to Kruger for a straightforward and relatively gentle solve. The other Numpty says each week, ‘All those solvers who claim a crossword is ‘not hard enough’ should be careful what they wish for – a real stinker must be on the books’.