24 Across by Pilcrow
Posted by shirleycurran on 3 August 2012
Here I am, sitting in front of my completed grid and wondering about the preamble. A speedy Friday solve produced a full grid, and, as the fireworks went off all around the house as the local French celebrated le quatorze juillet, la fête nationale (Bastille Day), we saw that a French topic was the theme. Could it be Arsène le Lupin (detective hero of French adventures). No, of course it was Arsène le Wenger. “They can’t be serious!” said one Numpty, as the other, soccer hater, fiddled on a piece of scrap paper, turning the lower case ‘e’s into ‘a’s, inverting the W or Wenger to get an M and fiddling with five of those central letters to produce Arsenal Manager. “They are!” she replied – a living person as the theme of a Listener crossword. I thought that contravened the rules. We’ll be getting Wayne Rooney and Andy Murray next or even that Scottish manager fellow. Heaven forbid!”
Solving had been fun with the linked clues giving convincing surface readings and sometimes deceptively concealing the split between the A and the B part. I was keeping a careful record, as we had been told that there were ‘ten pairs each way’ but I needn’t have bothered as our last two sets proved to be one of each kind.
There was a moment of satisfaction when the resolution of the endgame produced only real words. SEA-KING became SNAKING and FORE-HORSE became FORM HORSE (I had to look that one up in Chambers but of course, any frequenter of Ascot could have told me what it was). Radix would surely approve!
‘Vessel used by Easterner, on the drink for an /eternity, getting tipsy after one Scotch’ had to be my favourite clue. Not only did Pilcrow demonstrate his participation in the habitual Listener compilers’ tipply club but he also beautifully concealed the join between PRO + A (for an) and AE (one in Scotland) + ON (getting tipsy).
So why am I sitting here, staring at the grid and wondering about the preamble? It’s that word ‘Initially’ (Our hero is to be deduced at 24 across – ARSENE WENGER -, with an article befitting his country of origin inserted before his surname, – LE – and initially entered in lower case apart from the initials of his forename and surname (to remain as capitals).)
An ‘initially’ implies a ‘subsequently’ or an ‘ultimately’. When we have performed the turning and repositioning of five letters, are we expected to leave those letters of Arsenal Manager in lower case, or do we submit, as usual, in upper case? Oh the dilemmas of these preambles! Well, I suppose that a crossword submitted entirely in lower case would be acceptable and this won’t be the first that requires or tolerates a mixture.
Still, this moaning numpty thought the preamble was ambiguous and loathes the wall to wall soccer that seems to dominate much of British ‘culture’ but thank you, all the same, Pilcrow for some entertaining clues.