Were we the only people expecting this theme? I doubt it. Jago has given us welcome breaks from weekend-long Listeners in the past and this was no exception. Solutions were being slotted into the grid as it came off the printer and we had the bottom right-hand corner completed faster than we could write. This is not a complaint!
When I blogged Samuel’s Spiral three weeks ago, I commented that we liked a few 1s and 2s on the scale of difficulty to balance the Mash and Sabre 9s and 10s (I notice Mash won the Samuel – appropriate really!) Well, we had our 2.
It’s the Jubilee weekend so, as soon as we had a J in JEWRY ‘They’re said to be a group sworn to uphold justice — maybe Israel? (5)’, we were looking for JUBILEE (in fact, it was one of those clues where we slotted in the answer then looked for the clue - oh dear!). I don’t pronounce JEWRY and JURY in quite the same way but I suppose it passes as a homphonic clue.
I am less sure about SEEPY Snow ‘Sounds rather like Mr Snow, initially, could be quite wet? (5)’. I wonder what CP Snow would think of that, even admitting the ‘rather like’ of the clue. But then, I rarely find a homophonic clue satisfactory, as what sounds like something for a home-counties person probably doesn’t for a true-blooded Yorkshireman and even if Chambers has the same phonetics for two words, the stress pattern in context will change one of them.
Gripe over! We were delighted when our anxiety about getting all those cell dividers in the right place proved to be groundless. A diamond shape emerged, defining the other squares that were to be split, and we were on the home straight. Within an hour our grid was complete and DIAMOND had appeared neatly bisecting JUBILEE. That made thirteen letters and left four to find. ‘MARM’? muttered one numpty. ‘Don’t be silly!’ said the other – look, she’s just below as E11R.
This was a celebratory weekend so I naturally looked for the usual Listener compiler’s alcoholic tipple and was initially rather disappointed when Jago seemed to be celebrating with a dish of potatoes and cabbage (Sea captains to steer entering Panamanian port for dish of potatoes and cabbage (9)’ COLCANNON) but, of course, he redeemed himself in 36ac, ‘Range about, looking for a swig of Scotch, perhaps (5)’ (double definition).
Thank you, Jago. That was a bit of Jubilee fun from start to finish.