No 42 The Missing Vwels Rund by Shackletn
Posted by shirleycurran on 17 August 2012
There was no doubt at all that the numpties were expecting this theme. It was rather like crosswords on the sinking of the Titanic or the faithful Christmas themes. Still we had a long hard solve before we could confirm our suspicions.
Shackleton,we know, is one of the stars of the compiling world, and, of course, some of those misprints were well hidden like the ‘site of Brunel’s tunnel, short dilapidated one (6)’. I’m a bit of a Brunel fan and know that his splendid engineering works stand out, so there was something fishy there, but wasn’t that clever? [BOR(e) was the short tunnel followed by dilapidated ONE giving us the site of BRUNEI - BORNEO, of course!] Shackleton must have hooted with joy when he thought that one up.
Some solutions came quickly, though. Whoever needed a ‘Warning about approaching tame hens, keeping wide (4)’? The answer for this ‘warning about approaching tIme’ was OMEN so were we women the ‘hens’ and were we losing rather than keeping that W(ide)?
We floundered our way through these clues adding some fine new words to drop casually into table talk this week, “Just happened to spot MOERA in the NARTHEX, organising the ROSELLE and BIXA in a ROSTRE”. Of course Shackleton gave his fair share of tippley clues too: we had a ‘Vineyard holding’, ‘drunk maids’ and ‘Drink with mild taste drained by John’, though, as so often with such boozy clues, that one had its touch of bathroom humour, when it turned out to be LATTE – a drink with milK and T(ast)E was drained or emptied out by a LAT or John (tut-tut says the prudish numpty!)
As soon as we read that there are misprints or extra letters producing a message, that yellow highlighter strip goes alongside the clues and this one was producing a most odd truncated message: VICTRIA CIRCLE NRTHERN DISTRICT CENTRAL CLUR SLWER DEEPER SHAKIER.
Even we overseas solvers have some notion of the London Underground and it didn’t take a genius to work out that there were five – yes FIVE Os missing from that message. What’s more, every freebie diary that comes our way when the bankers are in a super-generous mood has a dinky little underground map that isn’t a lot of use in Geneva but heigh ho: it does show us that those lines are blue, black, red, yellow and green.
I thought the preamble was beautifully unambiguous this time. With that lovely touch of humour, we were told that ‘SLOWER, DEEPER, SHAKIER’ might describe those underground lines. I remember that Marylebone used to be described as the deepest underground station in the world but I am sure there must be others deeper now: I was astonished how shaky the DLR seems to be: but ‘slower’? You spoilt Londoners should try to cross Geneva one day!
We had to write the classical antithesis of those three comparative adjectives beneath our grid. Of course we fitted the picture together and immediately slotted in the Olympic motto CITIUS ALTIUS FORTIUS (by this time Her Majesty and Daniel Craig, aka James Bond had leapt from that helicopter and the 204 teams were seemingly endlessly making their way into the Olympic stadium).
We were playing a silly game predicting which team was going to appear next and generally failing miserably as 2 a.m. local time approached (well, could you predict who was going to follow Turkmenistan? See below) and, as usual with Listener endgames, I had a fixed idea in my mind that didn’t quite square or circle with the five Olympic rings I needed to see in the grid. They represent five continents don’t they? And I expected to find Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Oceania there. (Post script: I have just learnt from Derek’s message board that I am totally out-of-date and that those colours had something to do with the flags of the relevant countries. I am not convinced but …)
The usual putting it to bed (though for a short night) produced those Olympic rings and all that was left to do was to draw the circles in the right order being careful to leave the cell contents legible, and to congratulate Shackleton on a crossword that came together beautifully.
(Yes, it was Tuvalu!)