Listen With Others

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3974 – Lots by Viking

Posted by Listen With Others on 11 April 2008

 

Am I in a time warp? Didn’t I do this crossword for my last blog? Have ‘they’ posted the same crossword twice? Impossible at The Times! OK, my last blog was Lots to Find. Just a coincidence then – or just my lot! Well one thing is for sure the theme won’t be collective nouns. ‘Lots’ doesn’t make any immediate connections with me – I’m just going to have to work it out. I was on holiday last week and came back to Collusion by The Magpie which was a real toughy. I’m glad I didn’t have to write that blog and hope as I begin ‘Lots’ that I have an easier time of it. I’m not going to repeat the clues in these notes so if you keep a copy of the crossword, you will need it if you really want to follow every word.
 

Might as well tackle the theme head-on and begin with a run through of the across clues even if I can’t enter them. I can’t see 1a but 5a is a straightforward anagram of MrToads yielding STARDOM. 10a is an ‘and lit’ clue R + EMOTE. 12a and 13a I can’t do. 15a I think is (ex)CITE. 16a T + ANNOY. I’ll quickly check downs crossing 5a and 15a. Can’t do 7d or 8d but 9d is ‘em’ turning up on ‘at’ Y(ard) MEATY. So the M of stardom hasn’t changed/moved but CITE must have moved T to the end – unless the word has changed completely before entry, which may still be so. 17a IT (or SA) exchanged for D in a word for showy? 18a Don’t know. 20a simple hidden of RETRO. 22a I get LETHE for forgetfulness from Bradford’s and work back to LET (Poor service – I like that!) + HE. 25a is a composite anagram and lit – anag of hypnotiser minus letters of rise – PYTHON.
27a airman is often erk but can’t see anything else. 28a I don’t understand the form of the clue yet. 30a a 4 letter piece of music – Aria? If so I don’t see why. 32a looks like an anagram of ink-blot test minus a couple of letters but I can’t see what yet. I’ll leave it until I’ve got some crossing letters. 33a A word for enthusiasm without the first and last letters meaning ‘put an end to’. Don’t know. 34a is TUSSLE anag of TU less. I can’t do 35a and 36a and I’m rarely any good at … linked … clues.
 
7 answers to across clues and 1 down entry. Well I have no guesses on the theme so I’ll do a quick run through of the down clues to see if I can shed any light on the method of entry. 1d there are too many possible ways of interpreting this clue. 2d script regularly could be CIT but can’t see the rest. 3d No idea. 4d anag of pro(tes)tor – TORPOR.
5d Word for old age without O or nil? SE(nil)ITY. Is that a word? Yes. 6d is a simple (ga)ROTTER. 7d might end with an anag of ‘or its’? 8d still no idea. 14d looks like a anag of unrotten + h which I work at to get ON THE TURN but don’t really like as a clue. It feels like a very forced and lit to me. 19d anag of o+ pinot – OPTION. 21d Lots of possibilities for sailor + d or ob inside a word meaning gun? Leave it. 23d ipso facto springs to mind but it’s too long though ipso occurs in isotope. Anag of iso(t)ope?
Ipso eo/oe – no. EO IPSO well I never knew that! 24d A word for a tango + o giving an Italian city – that’s most of them ending in o! 26d UMIST involved? Don’t know. 27d Fleet changing L to R, FREET? Sounds like it could be a Scottish word – and it is.
 
Let’s have a look at 30a as I’ve got 3 letters in it. TRIO would fit and fits the clue –  riot with last letter first. So either across answers are anagrammed or the T moves (but not always to the end because of 5a stardom which ends in M). All the other across answers I’ve solved have got Ts in them as does ‘Lots’. For now I’ll assume the T moves. I’ll finish the down run through. Of the last three downs, I can only get 31d RE(pa)ST.
Right, now to try and fill in some areas of the grid. At the bottom, going back to 32a I see anag of ink-blot test minus LB (lawyer) gives KNOTTIEST – lots of Ts to move. 33a Bradfords suggests ESTRO which is dESTROy so the opposite way round to the way I first thought the clue worked. 35a Scrambled ‘not’ could be the TON which I now know begins the entry, so the first word might be ON with T moving. ON TOAST (oast oven). 24d now seems obvious as T(ango)+RENT+O. The times I have missed the phonetic alphabet – and I was in the Navy!
 
I can now see PROUST staring at me on the diagonal TR to BL so the theme must be Marcel Proust’s ‘A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu’ which wikipedia tells me is usually translated as ‘In Search Of Lost Time’ hence the roving Ts. So now it’s a matter of going through the remaining clues to try and fix where the T moves to, or if there is more than one T where they each move to.
 
Is 36a (h)EATER (definition oven from 35a)? If it is I can confirm my dislike of … paired … clues. Working on the clues crossing my confirmed diagonal, 12a is OR(n)ATE.
27a is FO+rote(rev) FOETOR and nothing to do with erks. Bradford’s shrub list gives 28d as TUTUS which also fixes the letter order in 35a. Only one T is lost because if it was both Ts the unches would make the entry ambiguous ie TONTOAS or TONAOTS.
Similarly, 26d is MIT in hue – HUMITE fixing 34a letter order. 18a  is another comp anag and lit, anag of ‘put on trial’ minus anag of ‘unit’, PATROL though I’m not overly convinced by the ‘and lit’. 7d is an anagram of OR OR OR (three times or – clever!) and ITS giving ORRIS ROOT and fixes the T in 5a stardom as starting 8d which must be TAM plus EST (‘is’ in French speaking Martinique). This in turn fixes the letter order in
20a and suggests 17a T for D in dressy giving TRESSY.
 
The home run now. 1d is rav in tail – TRAVAIL. 1a T+(w)RITE – not sure about ‘beginning to skip’. Whether it is skipping the beginning of write or beginning of ‘to’ skipped from write I can’t tell but don’t like either. I also don’t like the word order in 28a which is an anag of couldn’t minus c(ollege) UNTOLD. 29d I also think is weak. ca(about) R (Queen) taken from Carlisle. I must be getting grumpy now. I’ve got the theme and I’m losing interest and getting picky about the clues. 21d is OLDSTER d in (h)olster. 2d is RECIT. Ugh! Touching for re. 13a is air reversed in actual – ACTUARIAL. 3d is (g)et at – ETAT. 11d air in fly – FAIRLY.
 
I have gone through these notes and removed some (not all) of the adverse comments on clues. Why? Because it’s not fair on the setter. I enjoyed the puzzle and just because I don’t agree with the setter and/or editors doesn’t mean I’m right. I know it’s a blog and I can largely say anything I like but I don’t want to seem too churlish when as I said I largely enjoyed the puzzle. Plus Karma is coming into play because as I type these notes just over a week after the puzzle, I can’t remember highlighting Marcel Proust! I have just got my stats for last year from John Green and besides the two I didn’t enter because of holidays, one which the post office seem to have lost and two I couldn’t solve, I made five stupid errors including forgetting to highlight the required bits of grid. So it’s quite possible I’ve done it again. I suppose, quite appropriately, time will tell…

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