The numpty team does like it when the clues to words that go right down the middle and the lengthy ones along the top and bottom of a crossword are easy to solve, as was the case with Kevin’s easy anagram for INTERTRAFFIC (Reciprocal dealings are cancelled when certain tariff changes), his TRINITY TERM (Trustee adjusted short trying time for court session period) and SUPERSCRIPT (Waving stirrup cup’s less socially acceptable, masking Earl’s elevated character).
Clearly we were in for a relatively easy ride after last week’s numerical slog. I can’t say often enough what a pleasure it is for newer solvers to occasionally have a Listener crossword that boosts our confidence – and this one did. Words simply slotted into place, one by one, with not a single one that would really stop conversation dead. Even GLAIKIT, a lovely expressive northern word (except that we had to spell it GLAIKET) and RHYTINA – we gossip about those all day long.
We were left with one or two gaps. I believe GREW at 32 dn (Became dull with passing year) caused friends a lot of head-scratching, but, as usual, being poor at wordplay played into our hands. It seemed perfectly obvious to me that we had ‘grey’ for dull, losing its Y which passed away or perhaps was surpassed by the W of ‘with’ to give us GREW.
KREESE (Endeavour returned conserving last of her energy for a cutter) gave me more trouble, as CREESE, FRAISE and a few other words seemed possible but I finally sorted out the wordplay – ‘seek’ returned, conserving, or holding E (energy) and the last letter of ‘her’. That ‘cutter’ was the sneaky trick, especially as we had been playing with the idea of MAYFLOWER, for the ‘vessel’ in the clue before – sneaky again! Of course it was JAYWALKER (I make reckless crossings, bobbing weakly in vessel).
One more little hitch; 30 dn. AJAR had to be the solution to ‘Just about to advance conflict’ but why? What a clever clue! A door that is ajar is ‘just about to’! And we were there!
No red herrings? Of course there were. I hate those mathematical things and assumed that the difference between an across and a down letter must be precisely that – so, if the across letter were Y (PROVOSTRY) and the down letter M (YAMA), I would be finding the difference between 25 and 39 (M next time round). Well that’s 14. You can imagine what comical words I produced before realizing what a simple task we had been given. TIMES crossed TIMES, so we assumed we had a cross word and a rather rudimentary 3 superscript appeared formed by the LISTENER letters. X cubed is a thousand (10 x 10 x 10). What sort of millenium were we dealing with? http://www.listenercrossword.com/List_Statistics.html
There was the answer. It seems the Times has been hosting the Listener crossword since number 3089. Thank you Kevin – You gave us a Friday finish that we appreciated enormously. (Especially as we were not yet aware of it but AZED’s 1984 was to be a tough challenge). Who could resist colouring in the X and the 3, even if we were not instructed to do that?