This is Lavatch’s fifth Listener, although he/she has a smattering of Magpie’s as well. Many of the puzzles have a literary theme, so we’ll see what this has in store. It has a smattering of extra or missing letters in the definition part of each clue, which makes a change from their being in the subsidiary indications. Additionally, left and right sides of the grids need to be entered in two different thematic ways.
This started off being fairly tough, with only about half a dozen clues being solved in the first, albeit quick, run through. Luckily 1ac MELLITE and 2dn IN SE were two of them. This meant that either 1ac needed to be jumbled, or 2dn needed to be entered upwards (or jumbled), and the top left corner had a fairly promising start.
15ac ENATION, 19ac OSSA came next followed by 7ac TRIPPLERS and 3dn GRAIL. GRAIL crossing MELLITE seemed to confirm the upwardness of down entries, and TRIPPLERS was the first answer on the right hand side of the grid, and was too long by two letters. Actually this was a given, since the numbers in brackets for the seven across entries on the right gave the lengths of the answers not those of the entries. A couple more of the right hand acrosses were soon revealed as 29 OPPOSING and 34 NIPPERED, again too long by two letters for their entry space, so it looked like the double Ps needed dropping. 16ac was too long by three letters, and a couple of others by just one, so perhaps it that was how many Ps in the answer that needed to be dropped.
The thematic treatment on the right side of the grid turned out to have nothing to do with the letter P. 29dn PINCH had put paid to that idea, and meant that OPPOSING was entered starting with a P. That seemed to indicate that POSING was the entry. Examination of the other acrosses as they were solved revealed that other words could be created with the omission of one or more letters, starting with 7ac TRIPLES. Writing these excess letters, in order, to the right of the grid revealed the phrase Private property.
I didn’t zip through these clues, and I think about 2½ hours was the time it took me to complete the grid. Life was made a bit tricky by putting REGAL in for 8dn Note probing actually existent object of organa. Life was also made a lot tricky by some of the clues and missing/extra letters. The main culprits for me were the following:
|16ac||INVALID[ATE]||Avoid hot girl I see (10)
Avoid became Void; getting hung up on the extra letter being the O didn’t help †
|31ac||PROCAINE||Anaesthetic drug needed with my back in agony (8)
COR< (my = expression of surprise) in PAIN (agony) + E (drug); although the drug is mentioned first, it goes after the rest of the wordplay
|39ac||IRON[Y]||Current associate Conservative leaves in calculated display of ignorance
I (current) + CRONY (associate) – C (conservative)
|4dn||MENTAL||Inane drudge swapping tips for investment
Inane became Insane; MENIAL (drudge) with I swapped for T (tips of InvestmenT)
|25dn||EMIGRE||Foremost of royalists escaping revolutionary government, taking refuge initially (6)
REGIME< (government) – R (foremost of Royalists) holding R (Refuge initially)
The two sets of letters, extra and missing, gave R W R K S O E and A L A P A I C T, and it didn’t take a genius† to unravel them as WORKERS and CAPITAL respectively. The theme looked as though it had something to do with Karl Marx, and it remained for me to find what had to be lost from the left hand side of the grid to be filled with Marx and one or more others, perhaps LENIN.
I looked through the rows of the grid and the columns, followed by the diagonals. Now when I say through I mean forwards, not backwards. It took me a further 15 minutes to try that and to finally reveal YOUR CHAINS going up in column 2. Obvious really. Reference the ODQ : “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains” from The Communist Manifesto written by Marx with Friedrich Engels.
So MARX and ENGELS were written up in column 2 to reveal new words in the crossing entries. H/NEMATOLOGIST was particularly impressive.
The WORKERS went in the entry at the top of the left side of the grid, representing workers rising up, and CAPITAL went on the right, representing private property being lost. A neat puzzle from Lavatch, of average Listener difficulty, unlike what was to follow the following week!!
† Post postscript: Just realised that I had too many extra letter clues, and reference to the Listener detailed solutions shows that 16ac (avoid/void) isn’t one of them!! Some genius!