Recipe by Parsnip (All things nice, indeed!)
Posted by shirleycurran on 25 September 2009
We can understand Listenercoholism; the sheer ecstasy of having an almost complete grid on Friday evening. Words went in at a steady pace and we were hooked. The junior 8X8 team can cope with straight-forward clues like Parsnip’s, that led to answers that fitted together so neatly in a helpful grid. (Yes, I can anticipate those experts on the message board muttering that they had a long empty weekend looming ahead, but spare a thought for the neophytes!)
Filling the grid did give us some problems. DARWIN was the obvious answer for 15d, ’Scientist’s book with one recipe initially contained’, especially since we already had ORIGIN at 30d (Oliver’s first set up at home: Fifteen’s work securing this start) but the wordplay tested our skills. We finally understood that DAN was the book, (W)ith one (I ) and (R)ecipe going in initially (thus RWI) - but we do, so often, have to work backwards from putative solution to wordplay!
Grannie must have been a bit of a sexist, as she used to quote that rhyme at her grandchildren; ‘What are little girls made of? Of sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of. What are little boys made of? Of slugs and snails and puppydog tails, that’s what little boys are made of’ (Not very kind to my poor little brother but we girls were very smug about our ingredients! And it was ‘slugs’ in those days, none of the ‘snips’ or ‘frogs’ that Wikipedia produced.) Some of those ingredients (rather ambiguously ‘the last two’ in the preamble) appeared on the top and bottom lines of the grid, fairly early on, so we were obviously meant to put little girls and boys into the remaining unclued lights (‘little’? We expected diminutives until Reginald and Melissa banished that delusion).
The ingredients with only wordplay seemed to have no function at this stage. We had seen ANISE (One found in parish minister’s house with no roof – I in (M)ANSE), SUCROSE, NERITE and VANILLA. To our simple minds, these were just confirmation of the ingredients. Ah, the team was in for a tumble!
REGINALD had already appeared, with SINE, VERA, UNA and a probable CLARE , PETE, MELISSA, MARTIN and DON (we eliminated RON as he wasn’t in the Chambers appendix as a short form of Ronald). This was fabulous – after about three hours work we had only two cells to fill. We slept on it.
Morning light revealed the complexity of the endgame. Were we going to put MAT, MAX or MAY? Should it be CORA, DORA or NORA? How could we ever have imagined that a Listener Crossword was going to be problem-free? But was it possible that we had a 51-letter anagram to sort out in those ingredients, in order to find which two letters went into our last two cells? Oh dear, yes!
We needed one more sugar and guessed at DEMERARA (from DEME +? – Denis, we need your help again!) and we needed a couple of slugs and a snail. LIMAX would give us the X of MAX (IMA ino LX – but how are we ever going to learn all that ‘wordplay speak’?), so we had 12 of the thirteen letters of our last two ingredients and one of them had to begin with a T.
Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary reminded us of the existence of DODMAN, so we triumphantly worked our final letters (PTEGNRA) into TREPANG and gave a hearty sigh of relief. DORA was the culprit.
All in all, this was a fine test for us. The initial phase was rewarding and the final stage challenging – an ideal recipe. Thank you, Parsnip!