Listen With Others

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3968 – Babes by Aedites

Posted by Listen With Others on 29 Feb 2008

By Daniel Goldberg

Well, this is my first ever blog. Foolishly responding to Chris’ request for expressions of interest I was apparently the first and so am honoured with the first ‘guest blog’ spot. Well, since I am adding this intro later I know how rambly and non-sensical the below is. So, here is just a brief introduction then to let readers know what kind of solver I am. This will hopefully be useful context.
I’ve been having a go at the Listener for about 7 years now, seriously for perhaps 4 or 5. I’m a 3-6 wrong per year kind of guy, it seems. But I wouldn’t class myself as a natural in any sense – finishing is often a slog and PDMs come painfully slowly. I do not own TEA but I do have Chambers on the computer. Generally, I will try to have a bash at the crossword in front of the telly with Chambers in book form and Bradford’s. Then, towards the end of the week I will gravitate to the computer.
As it happens, this solve coincided with an awful week, in terms of pressure (too much) and time (too little) at both home and work and I am afraid this has flavoured the blog. My apologies (especially to Aedites) for this. But I have tried to be brutally honest throughout. Here it is:


Crises – home & work, as predicted. Finally settle down ~11:30PM on Monday. Preamble. Shortish. But contains a kick. Could mean that hardly any entries can be entered definitively before the quotations are identified. And the quotations can’t be found definitively until the entries are made. Gulp. And it occurs to me (after only a few short seconds) that uncertainty is increased – not just be uncertain mode of entry but also uncertain location – presumably groups of 3 are entered anywhere within their group. Maybe, maybe not. Preamble is not clear about this. Let’s hope not. The clues had better be easy! And the stupid quotations can start anywhere! But at least once it’s over, it’s over. There does not appear to be anywhere to go once the quotations etc have been found.
Don’t usually do this but I’m going to look up Aedites on the Listener website. Ah. Dr Covey-Crump. A name I recognise (doubtless, all readers knew this already). Oh. Lots of previous. 3900 Dropouts – I remember that. Nice. A bit fiddly. 3876 Grandfather. Oh yes. Bassoon. Seem to remember some controversy about shape on that one. 3834 Sketch. Swallows and Amazons. Hmm. Another controversial drawing in that. 3814 Call Changes. Yes, remember that one too. For some reason it took me ages to get campy-thing I seem to remember it was one of the last combinations I tried (systematically, rather than sensibly). 3781 One or Two? American states. USA highlighted. I remember that one too. 3750 A Faulty Calculator. Can’t remember that specifically – too tired to go and find it. 3710 Minefield.  Remember that. Good fun. Can’t remember the last (first) two – 3663 The Missing Saint and 3567 Special Agent’s Cipher. I’ll probably have a look some other time. But at least I cracked all the ones I can remember, so that’s heartening. Must have faith. It’s all psychological. Deep breath. Let’s go.
[Subsequent research reveals that I did complete 3750 and 3663. I have 3567 in my files but did not seem to attempt it – I only started the Listener in 1999 and by May 2000 was probably only completing 1 in 3 or so]
Group 1. Nerve gas. Only one I know with 5 letters is SARIN. No way I can squeeze the square peg of the clue into that round hole. But convinced it must be a 5 letter nerve gas. Probably ending UN. Quick look in Bradfords reveals TABUN which seems to fit the bill. Chambers confirms this as a nerve gas. American check = TAB, not USVET or AVET as my brain kept coming up with. Goldberg 1, Aedites 0. A good start – just 47 to go. Let’s try to get Group 1 sorted.
Regularly. Let’s try every other letter of PLAYSTOTEAM then. PASOEM. Nope. LYTTA. Could be. Yes. Chambers says yes. It’s G2, A0 and in record time. Crack on. Feeling less tired now.
Cave. Almost always ANTRA. Books are NT. Could endless space by ARA? Nope, not that I can find. Hang on. On checking (rule 1. Always doubt oneself) ANTRA is a cavity. ANTRE is the cave which means AREA – A. Bingo.
Group 1 is now done. Now if one goes in and one goes out and they are adjacent in a shared radius then the first 3 letters of one = the last 3 of the other. No 2 of my 3 has this property. In fact, no 3 of LYTTA is any 3 of TABUN or ANTRE. So, TABUN and ANTRE share the radius (having T, A and N in common), which means that members of the group are entered in any order. Not good news. However, the start of the one going out IS the same as the end of the one going in. The only candidate for this is the letter A. Also, ANTRE is the one which has the T, A and N at the start or end.
So. Upshot of this is. ANTRE is entered in one of the 1st 2 bays, going out. TABUN is entered in the other, jumbled (well, either ANTBU or ANTUB). And LYTTA is entered in the 3rd bay going in. Not too many options and at least this pins one of Group 2 pretty well, I’d have thought. And 3 out of 3 clues so far.
Pencil something in (well, pen for LYTTA and ANT). Hmm. Hard to write in options. Seem to have EBL, EUL, BEL or UEL in the outer ring. Too early to be of much use yet, not knowing where the quotation starts.
Note to self:  is the order of clues within each group totally random? Ie might the 1st one always be the jumble, 2nd inner and 3rd outer? We’ll see. Moving on…
Group 2
Card Game. Far too many of these. WHIST springs to mind. Seven. Could be VII. Pieces for I.  3 letter word for pieces. VI???. Bradford gives VIDEO as a 5-letter game. Nope. I’ll return to this. G3 A1. Damn.
Volunteers. TA. And one of my words begins ATT or ends TTA or has the letters A, T and T. Promising. BITTA. Nope. Bradford under drop, 3 letters. Nothing promising but after trying some –TA words GUTTA spring to mind. Not that I really know what it means, just thinking of drops of rubber. Chambers…. BING! And it was a coincidence. That gutta comes from Malay! But gut can mean clean out, although out of interest I look it up and see that the words “clean out” are not used. “extract what is essential” is sort of opposite in meaning – removing what you want, not what you don’t want. “reduce to a shell” is not exactly cleaning out (although the concept of cleaning could just about be contained in that “etc”). But more clearing out. “take the guts out of”. Well, I’m imagining slicing open a chicken and pulling the guts out. And then cleaning it. Not really “cleaning out”. “to remove the contents of” is not “cleaning out” either. Perhaps “clean out” doesn’t quite mean what I think it means. Nope. Chambers gives only the 2 ‘obvious’ meanings. Crosswords can sometimes be frustrating to a literally minded chap such as myself. But I’m pretty sure it’s GUTTA. And chances are high that it’s an inny. 4-1
Rarely pay. An obscure word for pay. Well, chances are I don’t know it. French coin. SOU? But it’s actually “from French”. So perhaps –Fr? Come back to this. 4-2.
Not a successful group – perhaps Aedites was playing with me 1st up.
Group 3
Right. Good start. AS in UKE. UKASE straight away. Classic crossword word. 5-2
Seaweed. NORI (haven’t had Japanese food in ages). NIORI or NOIRI. Nope. Need more seaweed. ALGA? Oh. ALGIA as in neuralgia? Is precisely what it says on the tin. Naughty, naughty, given that it’s not a word.
Last one looks like a hidden. Thumb, thumb, thumb. But perhaps not. Saskatchewan. SK? Yup. Bradford gives SKEGG. BOMB = EGG. 7-2 and group 3 is done.
But Houston, we have a problem. UKASE and SKEGG share SKE. But ALGIA does not begin or end with S or G. Oh, of course. It doesn’t even share the innermost letter. So. SKEGG goes out, UKASE jumbles and ALGIA in.
Group 4
IC or AC in SPA? SPICA fits the bill.
Otic swellings? Don’t know any. Distressing? Probably too tired right now. Come back to this. But something begins or ends AIG-/-GIA.
Pips. Before food. That’s a Latin thingy. AD? AT? AC. That’s the one. Cibum. Dixie Dean. Latin teacher. Then Crusher Usher – possibly the best teacher I ever had. Although wouldn’t last a second with the child protection issues these days. So. ACATI? Nope. Pips. Bradfords gives ACINUS, so plural, presumably, ACINI. AT=IN. I hate these small ones! Yes.
No G to be seen so this gives ACINI and SPICA sharing. ACINI out, SPICA mixed. So Otic thingy must be in and end GIA, not surprisingly. Oh no. I’m wrong, possibly. Could be SPICA in. Otic thing mixed. Latest score: 9-3. Pretty good. No sign of quotations emerging yet – possibly a THE in the central ring. Must get more clues.
Group 5
Can’t see any of these straight off. I’m now quite tired and just looking for easy ones.
Group 6
Alternately looks like a giveaway. But it isn’t. Perhaps it starts TA. Silk? Bradford doesn’t have what I’m looking for but does have TASAR = TUSSER = silk for a dress. So actually TAS+AR. Fits rather too well with RASTA since they are anagrams.
Small trench? Don’t know any. SOWN in the middle = OW.   ???OW = small? Can’t think. I should go to bed but I always find it hard to when the game is afoot.
Group 7
Pharonic measure. Certainly don’t know any of them. RE + MEN? Yes. First time.
Strangely rimed is surely an anagram – can only be DIMER (think POLYMER with only 2 bits). OK, I’ll look it up. Yes.
Shakespearean word for challenge. Who knows? In whatever manner? It’s not quite A LA, is it? Surely that’s a specific manner. ALAEG? Waste of time. HOW? HOWEG? No. Oh. AS. AS and SAY. ASSAY. Chambers says yes.
Group 8
Grey coin? Nah. Laters.
Spanish hamlet? Anagram of ADEAL. ALEDA? ALDEA? The latter.
Stomachs. Nothing = O. We’ve had OMASA a lot recently. MASA sounds like African dough. Oh Mexican. And I thought I was so clever.
Group 9
Really tired now. Each extremely variable would doubtless be PERVE in Private Eye. But where’s the definition? PER, EA, EVERY? EVER + Y? I think so.
Leak. Five English should be VE. Grouse. Can’t think. Bradfords reveals PEEVE. LEAK = PEE. Perhaps this IS Private Eye.
Ordinary = O, I would think. Smooth stone. OPAL? JADE? Why Smooth? Shame. Odium? No, that’s hatred. Bradford doesn’t help. It’s 18-9 to me.
Group 10
Lots of options. But OFF + ED seems to work. OFF as a verb sounds Shakespearean rather than American to me but Chambers confirms that our cousins over the pond, divided from us by our same language do indeed habitually use this construct in their slang.
Jaguar = OUNCE. U Thant, of course, always helps me to remember Burmese gentlemen. I’ve been teaching the boy names of big cats, beyond the 4 that most children’s books give (never know what’s going to be useful on Who Wants to be a Millionaire 2018). OUNCE is on the list.
Anagram of FREED. DEFER. So Put off is the definition.
Group 10 is the easiest group so far.
Group 11
Attached – don’t like the look of
Club. Iron? Mashie? Niblick? Wood? And or cum + er or um? Nope. Later
Moral significance? ETHOS seems to fit the bill.
It’s 22-11 and I seem to be on a pretty good ratio of 2:1 for quick solving. Would that I could do this for all Listener clues cold!
Group 12
Avoid. Too many options so I’m going to ‘avoid’ this one for now. The fact that I could even think that that was worth saying shows that I should be asleep right now.
Kentish division. Rings a bell. Rape is Sussex, no? Late? Stick. What’s that Indian thing. I’ve seen policemen whip people clambering up the sides of buses. Lathi. How’s that going to work? Curtails? Lathi-something? Oh. Got it. LATHEE – E. LATHE. That’s it.
Rob. EER back about IT? Nope. How about EVER about I. Reivers? Aren’t they Scottish robbers? Seems so. Now. How is it=i? Perhaps it’s reave? Chambers supports it=a so let’s go for this.
Group 13 (we’ve just got new neighbours at 13. Apparently, they were put off by the number but overcame their worries. Wonder if it affected the price. And if we had 8 digits (surely 10 is biological chance) it would have been 15. But perhaps it’s the 13-ness (ie the 1111111111111-ness) rather than the 1 followed by the 3, although that’s what I conceptualise when I think of 13, rather than a group of 13 things. But it’s bad luck ‘cos of the last supper, isn’t it, so actually their house would be damned whatever the base. But it isn’t damned. It’s just a number, for goodness sake. Perhaps I’m thinking about this too much).
Admit. ENTER = RENTER – R? Golly. That was a pure guess but it turns out that RENTER means exactly what it needs to.
Black. Anagram of WEALD. Too many possibilities for now.
More colours. Note to self. Don’t mention colours to Chris (he’s a bit funny about it for some reason). That’s OCHRE, isn’t it. Can’t think of ?OCHRE, though. UMBER? A bit more promising. DUMBER? That’s me, not Bill. Can’t think of any.
Move through rest quickly. One sweep then bed.
Branch? Nope
Broad and slow manner? Sounds like LARGO to me. Lar is a god, isn’t it. Domestic (pl Lares more common). + GO. Yup. I’m convinced.
Spenser’s covering. Couldn’t guess without more help. E in something?
Lose letter in river? Too many options for 1AM
Shine? L in CHAFF? Too many letters.
Steel? Too late
Mosstrooper? Huh? A freebooter. Freebooter? Huh? Later
Old saddle?
Last clue. Rice upsets = ERIC + A = ERICA (if you’ll forgive my Carol Vorderman letter arithmetic).
So. End on a high. And so to bed. Fairly pleased. Slowish but making notes really slows you down (tho’ the thought of (relatively) public humiliation perhaps sharpens you up). Roughly two-thirds done though ratio decreased towards the end. Night, all.
Right. It’s the following evening. Beloved family is downstairs baking a cake. Well, one small contingent is baking a cake; a numerically larger contingent is sticking to the essentials such as bowl-licking-out, distribution of messy foodstuffs around kitchen, placement of small pieces of egg-shell into mixture, etc, etc. I’ve snuck upstairs for what I hope will be a productive half hour.
After the ramblings of last night (this morning) I hope I am a bit more clear-headed. Now that the dust has settled I can see that I have got through a fair number of clues but have not completed many groups. Group 10 is done.  OFFED & DEFER share so DEFER out, OFFED in or jumbled and OUNCE vice-versa. Damn. I much prefer Groups 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16 which at least all share a letter. Perhaps I should concentrate on these.
OK. Group 4. Just need these otic swellings. Nothing yet.
Group 8. Grey. Coin of little value. Brafords gives various 5 letter greys, one of which, LIART, Chambers confirms as a coin of little value. Unfortunately, it also gives LYART or LIARD. Looking more carefully actually shows that LIARD is the only spelling supporting both meanings, although setters occasionally seem to use alternatives for all meanings (or perhaps I have misunderstood). Anyway, LIARD is the only one which shares 3 letters with ALDEA. In it goes. ALDEA out, LIARD jumbled, OMASA in. This gives ASA for part of ASSAY in Group 7 so it is jumbled, DIMER in, REMEN out. That helped! But there still seem to be a lot of options for letters in that outer ring.
Predictably, especially with getting notes together, etc, half an hour got cut to about 10 minutes. So back to midnight vigil and intense tiredness. I can’t see work relenting for the next few days and I want to get this done before the weekend. So, it’s on to the computer. Disadvantage; less satisfying. Advantage; I can type this blog straight in! Let’s get a few of the ones I’ve been pondering.
Group 13. DWALE. Never heard of it.
Group 15. LEMEL. Should have thought of LEME really.
Group 15. TULLE = TUILLE – I (i = i’ = in. Always miss this)
Group 16. SELLE (ELL in SE – should have thought of the construction)
Group 11. WEDGE – definitely should have got this, even if asleep!
Group 12 EVADE. AD in EVE. No excuse for not getting this, either.
So. Group 12 falls. Tho’ it doesn’t give up its secrets easily. EVADE is out or jumble. REAVE is in or jumble. So LATHE (thanks to the E, at least) is in or jumble. Oh yes. That means that EVADE is certainly out. Talking about it helps.
Groups 9 and 11 would give me a really solid SW wedge.
Group 9. OHONE. Of course, that’s what a hone is. Never heard of OHONE, tho’
So, as with 12, OHONE is in or jumble which means that EVERY is out. And OUNCE shacks up with OHONE, sharing ONE. So OUNCE is jumbled and OFFED is in. But OHONE could still be either. So many possibilities. Sigh.
Now. Group 11. ETHOS has no D. So it chummies up to LATHE in 12, sharing THE. So, WEDGE is jumbled (thankyou D). So ETHOS is out and missing one is in, ending in (2 from WEGE)D. So ??WED, ??GED, ??EED seem likeliest. Attached directions to former hazard. SEWED? Yes! Chambers gives WED as wager (obs). At last. No longer solving clues cold. Always a bit of a relief. In it goes (in two senses).
And back in 12. LATHE is jumbled so REAVE is in. Big wedge now. 5 and 6 looking bare. Can I complete 6? Small trench… Nope. Nothing is coming.
Now I’ve solved 35 of the 48 – only 13 to go. But this outer quotation is a mess. I am still unsure about the location of many of the letters, both side-to-side and also in-and-out (ie if it is not clear which answer is jumbled). How about some of the others. The central ring goes TT?EGI???MADE{ON}FWHA?????? Now I don’t even know whether it is clockwise or a/c. But some sense can be made of this now. MADE OF WHA{T} stands out. THE GIN IS MADE OF WHAT? Is that worth a search?! Nope. It wasn’t. How about the inner ring. Oh. I’m so stupid. They ARE clockwise. Anyway. ASA?RAEDE??? How can this show as many as 4 examples! Could they be some TLAs? (Three Letter Acronyms). Nothing is standing out. I should solve more clues.
Oh. Group 13. Probably TENNE = TENNER – R. Cue controversy about meaning of ‘tip’. Clearly, Aedites likes heraldic colours. That helps. ENTER and TENNE share… damn. ENT, ENE or ETE. DWALE is paired with a Group 14er, not LARGO, the only one I so far have. It would be good it DWALE were jumbled…
Good. Bradfords gives ARMIL for bracelet, confirmed by Chambers. A branch is an arm. LI twisted. in = I again. This must share with LARGO, LAR, so LARGO out, ARMIL jumbled and missing one in.
Now ENTER and TENNE can’t BOTH be jumbled so there must be an E or a T (can’t be R) in the inner circle. Spenser’s covering ends E or T. But there’s no T in DWALE. So it’s E. So TENNE is in or jumbled. ENTER is out or jumbled. DWALE is in or jumbled.    So ENTER is out. So TENNE is jumbled and DWALE is in. So Spenser’s ridiculous word ends ALE. Chambers soon reveals VEALE (= VEIL) = E in VALE. Should have thought of that.
Just one each in Groups 15&16 and I’ll have Group 7 right round to Group 1. 10 to go overall.
Lose letter in river. Just too many options for definition and construction. Let’s look up lose. Not as many as I thought – LEESE announces itself. ES inside LEE. That’ll do. So. LEESE and LEMEL share LEE. So LEESE must be out, LEMEL jumbled, TULLE in. This means it must share with SELLE (in or jumbled), leaving ERICA (out or jumbled) to share with Mosstrooper. Oh. A sneaky search reveals RIDER as a straightforward double meaning. So it is jumbled.
I now have most of the inner circle: RAEDEELEASA? Still makes no sense.
But the central circle reads: MADE OF WHAT ARE LITT?E GI???
YES. The PDM. What are little girls made of? If my memory serves, it’s Sugar and spice and everything nice. That (coupled with “babes”) certainly wouldn’t get past the child protection people. Thankfully, Listener editors are more sensible. I remember coming home from school one day and saying to my mother, “Little girls are spiteful. Little girls are sly”. Couldn’t understand the sugar stuff at all, although the attraction certainly increased with age. Anyway, the quote adds to 30 letters. Hmm.
Right. With that L from LITTLE in place I can see that Card game etc in Group 2 is SOLOS. How could I have missed “pieces for one”?! Also, Rarely pay is SOLDE (SOL+DE). So. One of SOLDE and SOLOS is jumbled, one out. GUTTA in.
Just 5 clues to go now. Optic doo-da in 4. All of Group 5 (!). The small trench in 6. Right. Distressing = tragic so TRAGI, those funny things by the entrance to your ears. Who’d have thought? So. TRAGI jumbled, ACINI out, SPICA in.
Now. This is where I find it so difficult. I should stop now, go to bed and spend another hour on this tomorrow when, chances are, I’ll finish it. What I tend to do is stay up until I finish it, thereby destroying the rest of the week sleepwise. Nope. I’m off.
Right. About 8PM on Wednesday and I’ve snuck in for a quick half hour. It’s pa-in-law’s b’day today and we’ve been downstairs partying (on chocolate cake, shortbread and Werther’s Originals). I feel a bit guilty ‘cos I should be out playing badminton but I’m not feeling 100% (while the wife and son no. 1 are considerably below 70%, I would estimate). Anyway. That inner circle. It does make sense read as girl’s names; viz Rae (dim of Rachel), Dee (dim of any girl’s name beginning with D), Lea (a cow!) and Sal (dim of Sally), though I haven’t got that L yet. Must be right, I suppose, although there doesn’t seem to be any deeper significance and this is somehow far less satisfying than the central ring. But at least they are little girls.
So. We have L?R?? twice and L?L?? twice, one in, one out and one jumbled and one other. Right. The City is LILLE (happens to be French but ILL in LE). Likely candidate for out. Damn.
Some judicious searches reveals CRAWL as a double meaning for pen (lobster enclosure – I always wondered what they were called) and stroke (as in swimming). Which makes it a jumble, leaving ??RAL for calf. Lo and behold. SURAL means “about the calf” (of the leg) while LARUS is the genus of gulls. Group 5 falls leaving just this small trench in Group 6. Unfortunately, with RASTA and TASAR being anagrams of each other and one starting and one ending with an R and both having SAR adjacent I think there is no way at present of determining directions, jumblicity, etc. (was this deliberate, I wonder?) So it’s LIL?? either way or a jumble.
[Some time later]. Well, it seems to be RILLE. Certainly a small trench and the centre of DRILLED which means sown. I’m afraid I don’t like clues like this – I’m never certain about their uniqueness. Anyway. It’s a jumble so RASTA out and TASAR in. That’s it. All clues done. Will stop now, do some (proper) work and try to sort out the outer ring later in front of Newsnight to take my mind of Paxman. Yes, I know – I could always simply not watch Newsnight, but then how would I get the Listener done, stoopid? And why am I already rambling at only 8:30PM?
It’s now Thursday evening, Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough. I’m not wining and dining the missus ‘cos she’s under the weather. I’m afraid that I fell asleep on the sofa just before Paxman (or whoever) came on – woke up in a sweat at 2:30AM and blundered upstairs. So the attempted completion had to wait until just now. I had already spotted SUGAR at around 2 o’clock (ie position) but this really just hindered me since I took ages looking for spice, then kinds of sugar and kinds of spices before realising that it was a quotation, silly. I then spent ages cussing and swearing about the numbers of different possibilities for letter positions. Finally, the adjacent D and V (at 10 o’clock) followed by things that could only really be OM, OI or IO gave me VIOLETS after which the quotation came almost immediately. And then the realisation of the day. D’oh.
Just one small problem – my logic was wrong in group 2 – GUTTA was not an inny but a jumbly. I had missed the fact that SOLOS (being a palindrome) could be in as well as out. Double D’oh. Although doubtless philosophers will argue as to whether the group does really conform to the constraint fairly. (It did occur to me whether a jumble which left the letters unchanged or exactly reversed would count as a jumble too – I seem to remember this issue occurring before).
So. It’s hard to analyse this one objectively since I’m having a bit of a tough time of it at the moment – work is not brilliant, the family is under the weather and I am permanently tired. The clues were (thankfully) easy enough for lots of cold solving. The PDM was nice without being an epiphany. The inner circle was OK without being totally convincing and I found the outer quotation a bit fiddly. But in a different week I am sure I would have found the whole puzzle charming. So sorry, Aedites, for not being at my brightest and best. If it’s any consolation, noone will be reading this far down! Thanks for the puzzle and I hope anyone who’s still reading enjoyed my first ever blog.
It’s about a week later and retrospectively, and under far less pressure, I can see that I have been really hard on Aedites. I think fear of public failure also played a part.



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