Listen With Others

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3960 – Misprinted Choice by Schadenfreude

Posted by Listen With Others on 4 January 2008

Saturday, 7pm. Forty-nine Listeners ticked off, three still to come. I’m cautiously optimistic about my record this year: as far as I know, I’m correct, but then I never properly check the published solutions and don’t keep copies of my submissions, so who knows what idiocies I’ve committed along the way. All will be revealed by that nice Mr Green in a couple of months. Meanwhile, here’s that nice Mr Schadenfreude, surely one of the most prolific setters around at the moment. I've always rather liked his puzzles, fair and elegant, and it was one of his about an old Goon Show song five years ago which gave me my first Listener pen.

So, here we have a symmetrical 14 x 14 grid and a simple, run-of-the-mill preamble. Some misprints and some clashes. Starting at the top, then: 1a is Nuns are quiet after Mass (4). The wordplay gives MASH but they’re not nuns as far as I can find. Or buns, or nans. However, I’m trying to get out of the habit of plugging away at stubborn clues while there are still plenty untried, so I’ll hasten on to the next one and assume this’ll sort itself out in time.

5a isn’t obvious, but 13a is easier: Love goddess takes the place of mother in Man of Straw (5). (What, precisely, is that surface about, by the way? Am I missing it?) O + [goddess] + N = ‘of straw’ so the goddess is ATE and the first answer goes in the grid. Or at least the unchecked letter does; the others may yet clash. There’s a clear misprint in 1d (Coots caught hiding in seaside trees (6)) where ‘coots’ is so uncrosswordy it must be coats or boots or cooks or something, but I can’t think of any seaside trees just now. 2d a nice easy AHOY, with a misprint of ‘ranker’ for ‘tanker’ and the first clash.

Assuming MASH at 1a, then 3d is ST_ _ _: Jock’s pale yellow fiddle with echo, no depth. Hmm… ORGUE is yellow + fiddle + echo, but that’s only an obsolete portcullis… no, it’s good old STRAE, the fiddle being a strad rather than the more popular gu. That crosses with OVERSEE, simple at 19a. Now 15a is _OR_ _ _: Potent dope found in small boat. We all know COT as the standard small boat, so COR_ _T = potent, or perhaps patent. And after a second or two it’s potent, and COGENT, so another clash. Making these seaside trees _OC_O_ but no clearer.

4d raises a smile (This could bear the name of a local in New Cross (7)), if only because it’s nice to see my little unloved part of London get name-checked in the Listener. (I think I live in Brockley, but the taxi drivers insist it’s New Cross.) Anyway, it’s INN SIGN, which I’m slightly surprised to see given specifically in Chambers. It gives a third clash, all of which so far are on the leading diagonal. And no cell on that diagonal is unchecked, so I’m betting that’s where they all lie.

17a has second letter S… ah, well I can count the legendary Irish lovers I know on the fingers of one finger, so in goes ISOLDE. And 17d has second letter R but a clash in the first cell if my assumptions are right: Horrible German meeting King John turned up with a touch of yaws (6). G + R + OOL + Y is, to my consternation, in Chambers as a portmanteau word combining ‘gruesome’ and ‘grisly’. Did someone really need to invent that? Harrumph.

The four consecutive clashes on the leading diagonal are O/H, G/R, I/G, S/I. Aha – thought it was about time for a CHRISTMAS puzzle. That’s my bet anyway, which makes these seaside trees begin with a C… well I never knew coconuts came from the coco tree. So that’ll be ‘Roots’ as the misprint, I suppose. Further education comes from 20d: apparently the ten is an honour in bridge. Now 23a is S_ _OG_: Smoke almost obscuring old comic’s feet. Almost STOGEY around O is a comic’s feed, OK. Though I’ve never really been happy with ‘obscuring’ used like this: it just doesn’t seem to make sense, somehow, in a crossword grid.

Now then, one choice of clashing letters is going to give CHRISTMAS, but the other choice so far would give MAGGIE. And THATCHER does fit in the rest of the diagonal. But what on earth has that woman ever had to do with festive, Christmassy crosswords? Oh well, press on: 28a is Without my backing enjoy more crazy fighting with spears (7), a clear anagram of ENJOORE… Jeroneo? REJONEO, would you believe, the art of bullfighting on horseback with lances.

These clues are pretty good but a bit on the easy side, I think. (Which is fine, my masochistic needs are currently being satisfied by the two Mash puzzles in this month’s Magpie.) ELUDE at 7d crosses with ENEMATA, a little-known (to me) plural of enema, at 21a. I’ve decided to fill in all cells not on the leading diagonal. 8d ends -EN: Two pounds a tree (5). Bah. Trees, like fish, could be anything. 14a is a help, though: Bold golfer’s not going round (6) – absolutely all golfers are Ernie Els as far as crosswords go, so we’ll have NELSON as a hold rather than a bold. So the tree was ASPEN, and a neat clue as it turns out. Nice and easy COQUETS at 9d.

UNDER follows at 18a, but I can’t see any way into 10d at all: Black language interrupts the other service (6) just isn’t resolving itself into its separate cryptic chunks for me. And I’ve been working at 5a on and off for a while: Busy party chief with no time to deliver a sermon (9). With a slap of the forehead I now see it’s an anagram, and PREACHIFY, which I should have had ages ago (although I don’t think I’ve seen ‘busy’ as an anagram indicator before). RED LETTER at 6d. Hang on – hang on – RED LETTER means it can’t be CHRISTMAS in the clashes at all, dammit. Bang goes that idea. OK, so we’ve got MAGGIE T and CHRISTO, so Christopher Someone… or other. Hm. The only misprints in clues I’ve got are HLADRT… and… the penny… slowly… drops. Gotcha. The Lady’s Not For Burning, or Turning, written by Christopher Fry and bleated by Maggie Thatcher. Actually I can’t find it in my ODQ, but I’ve only got the fourth edition, and it must be right. Excellent.

So that makes MAST, not MASH, at 1a, ‘nuts’ being misprinted as ‘nuns’. Should be a breeze to finish off the clues now. FREE at 10d, and YGDRASIL is the Norse tree at 11d. (Chambers rather intriguingly says it comes from drasil meaning ‘horse’, which is a bit odd for an ash tree, isn’t it?) GAED at 16a, and the service at 10d was IBADAT, with IT rather cutely clued as ‘the other’.

Oh, very clever Mr Freude. Just spotted the trickery at 2d: the misprint could be either B or T, banker or tanker, so both quotations are given. Round of applause there, I think. Moving on, TATT is easy but 26d is irritating: You can’t have any fun with this dislocated in a head-on (9). Must be AHEDONIAN, being someone impossible to have fun with, but Chambers won’t let me have it. Oh, and anyway the Thatcher/Christopher clashes mean it can’t be that, so it’s… ANHEDONIA. Of course it is. SERAI and THALI, and then one of the best clues so far: Charles Stewart, father to queen Eleanor (7). A most satisfying build-up of PARNELL.

Over half the grid filled, and it’s going speedily. I put in ACRE at 36a and – crossword-trained eyes always checking the diagonals for messages – spot CENTENARY going up the non-leading diagonal. (Following diagonal? Off diagonal? Does it have a name?) Check Christopher Fry in Collins, and sure enough he was born in 1907. So I guess that means Fry’s in and Thatcher’s out. Splendid. Just to knock off the bottom two corners.

Quick work now. There’s a neat anagram of BROWN COAL at 52a (Low carbon volatile fuel) and a slightly peculiar clue at 39a: Belted earl has to be seen in finest restaurants (7) It’s TEA SHOP, with ‘belted’ as a misprint for ‘bolted’, which is functioning as an anagram inidcator. Is this ‘bolted’ as in ‘moved very fast’ or ‘hit hard’? Either way it’s not wholly convincing. And there’s another new anagrind at the crossing 24d: ‘blind’ (meaning, I suppose, drunk) which is better.

Last corner, get a bit cross with 46a: Food for the castle officer on account (6). It must be POONAC, which is a sort of cake, but that leaves PO = ‘castle officer’. A castle is, historically, a large ship, and a Petty Officer is a naval officer, but that’s too tenuous to be truly sound. Frowning, I fill in a few more answers, before spotting that the misprints in clues means it must be ‘food for CATTLE’, so it’s actually OK (assuming one feeds oil-cake to cattle, which I can’t be bothered to confirm). The last one to fall is a terribly fiddly build-up for AEOLIC at 37a: Very old language incorporates the essence of Polish dialect) AE + O + C with LI inside.

Done. That was a neat and enjoyable one: I had two moments of realisation, fell into and climbed out of a few traps, and had no doubt at all about what to do at the end. Pretty classic stuff to end my year’s bloggery. Still waiting for a properly hard one to end 2008, though. Thanks Schadenfreude.

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