Listen With Others

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3975 – The Cause of Much Pain by Samuel

Posted by Listen With Others on 18 April 2008

A Guest Blog by Chris Jeremy
It’s 2.25 pm and I’m checking the Times website ridiculously early. Today’s puzzle title’s already up there, though. The good news for the debutant blogger is that it’s not called “Carte Tres, Tres Blanche”. The bad news is it’s by Samuel. That’s bad of course only in the sense that as Samuel is chief commissioner of blogs I might be about to bite the hand that feeds me. Whereas many bloggers at this point would consult the volume labelled S in their exhaustively cross-referenced Listener archives, I must rely on memory. Samuel has had only one previous Listener that I can remember: It was about extra terrestrials, involved moving things about after solving, and there was controversy about colouring aliens in an appropriate colour. I had no sympathy at the time, but since my only known failure this year has been sending in a blue-coloured 9 of Diamonds, I am now less dogmatic. I was convinced the grid to Carte Blanche was a stage and the theme was Macbeth. That’s what happens when you google “Scottish Curse” instead of looking it up in Chambers. In desperation I was looking for something to shade that might possibly be “The last syllable of recorded time” before I finally did the obvious. Still got the colour wrong, though.   4.10pm and the puzzle’s printing out on my £ 26 HP deskjet printer bought specifically for Listener printing. Based on the principle of “you get what you pay for “I was expecting a John Bull printing set but so far it’s printed everything out without problem. A first reading of the preamble is intriguing. I think Samuel strives to find novel devices in his crosswords and letters dropping to the clue below is novel in my experience. It seems at first glance to have everything I want in a Listener: plenty to do after completion including a bit of highlighting. I also don’t understand the last bit of the preamble- which is how it should be. 

I always try to do a first reading of the clues in order. Sadly I lack the self discipline and if I can’t do the first few I panic and start to skim them randomly looking for an easy one, usually a badly hidden anagram. The slow full toss on leg stump that gets us off the mark this week is 23 across: a garter snake is elaps. I can see the asp bit so win must =el somehow. Chambers says el= wing so we’re off. We have a g dropping down. Excellent, Smithers. Next one that sticks out is 40 across. Orczy jumps out as creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel. And as a Baroness an S needs to drop down to make he she. Not an easy word to hide, I guess. 38 across now reads: beat an unknown one of the lowest in the RAF. When I see RAF I think erk, so it must be nerk or yerk . Chambers confirms yerk. No letter movement. Next: 2 down. I never pass by an “every other letter” clue. Person regularly avoided trap. This makes “pro” =prostitute= tramp, presumably. This seems a bit dubious so I’ll only write it in lightly. Actually this is confirmed by the M dropping down from 1down. Measures of hep, hashish. It’s that ubiquitous measure ephas hidden in the middle. Next: 27 down Dad capturing two rooks with a bit of ease for famous naturalist. There aren’t many famous naturalists: with two Rs in it must be Durrell. And dad= dead= dull. So six clues done on a first run through. Fairly respectable and the rest all look fairly accessible. My instincts are that I will solve this even if I still don’t understand the preamble. Back to 1 across. Smitten sweep travelling west carrying nurse’s heart. Out with my trusty Bradford’s. Battered, cruelly mistreated in fact, but still good for all words between Absorbed and Wood(en). It gives me Epris for smitten. As “sipe” equals seep, we have our opening extra letter, W. This can only go into 5 across at two places. Towny or Swelling. The latter is more promising. Breaking secondary picket could present red Tony with means of reducing swelling. Doh. I never get these clues as quickly as I should. Its “ Icepacks”. Icepacks +redtony = secondary picket. Nice one. Now that opens things up nicely. 5down must be ills but I can’t see why. 6 down has to be erg but why? It’s a unit of work. When all else fails look it up. Erg is shifting Sand. Fancy that! 15A has got to be ankle which means A is redundant. The A must go into 6 across to make one interrupting interminable complimentary launch. I in Fre(e)= fire.

At this point, just as I’m getting going, I must put my pen down and head to the station to pick up my family off the train. My wife and children have been at her mother’s in Blackpool for a few days. The main reason for their absence was to allow me to sand and varnish the living room floor. All went well until I plugged the edging sander in at the wall. It had been left switched on and so sprang into life thrashing around and gouging the floor boards. For some inexplicable reason I ran over to it rather than pulling the plug out again giving it time to make a real mess. Will my wife notice I’ve had to move the settee to cover up the carnage ? If she does will she buy my back-up story of having the house feng-shui-ed in her absence?
Well it’s now 8.30pm. Kids are retrieved, fed, bathed, and in bed. Clare after complimenting the floor is now well into the Corry-Eastenders-Corry sandwich. I have opened a beer (my current favourite tipple is Harviestoun’s Bitter and Twisted) and I’m checking some of the answers I got sitting on Penrith station for 10 minutes. 5 down is ills because ay is taken out of “I’ll say!” Very clever clue. 4 down is Sapele. As inverted over pele. That takes me back to my days working at B and Q. The clue should read Wood used to make suites, perhaps, in the aspect of overturned goddess.
The U must come from duress in 3 down making it dress down under finally cut short Aussie oaf having trouble with money. Aussie oaf is ocker. It must be rocket= dress down= reprimand severely. Don’t see where the final t comes from, though. Stick it in anyway. Similarly in 10 across Plausible lines added to copy of a will expunging the rights of Auntie Ruth. It’s got to be proball. Probate- te +ll but the Auntie Ruth baffles me. Is it the last letters of Auntie Rut? This is a bit contrived and they’re the wrong way round. Anyway, can we drop the H, so to speak? Yes we can! 12 Across becomes Equip in full all but height. Which is rig out. Ht removed from right out. Same principle as 5 down. A good clue. I now have WHAGSMUE in the hidden message. It must start WHAT so let’s take a Tout of 19 across. Er, if I’m right then it would read Def fish swallows a mound of debris which isn’t promising. 21 across would be stupidly narrow minded and backward girl almost cut the top. Oh dear. Let’s find something with some letters in. 7 down must read A number of card holders knock out who’s only just left. Put a KO with the PI I’ve already got……. Pinko! That’s a lovely clue for the cryptic definition of Pin (card number) and Pinko(only just left). 8 down must be get one old turn for a flier. It’s got to be co-pilot . Cop +I+ lot. Does lot= turn? A more meticulous man than me would probably check that. But my first penny has dropped. In a moment of clarity which can only have been caused by the bottle of Deuchars I’ve just started, I can see the message could make WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN. It’s 22 letters and there is the link with letters thrown up to the clue above dropping down through gravity to the original clue. I’m sure that’s right! 29 across must be Man goodbye to . Wordplay must be man= goodbye + t. Bradfords supplys me with vale = goodbye. Another nice clue. Ah, but 32 across Huffs, only child,roughly ten leaving   doesn’t fit into my master plan as I can’t see where to put an o into the clue. Let’s ignore it then. I’m on my best behaviour here so I haven’t used Tea to solve 26 across which I’m ashamed to say I might well have done so in other circumstances and therefore missed the satisfaction of solving a long anagram . Each week I start these ascents up Everest without the oxygen of Tea and Chambers full search only to strap them on at the first wheeze. Abandoning new rule Lord Lieutenants smash up bangers. Andouilletes ! Good clue, bad sausage. 24D has to be Liana for climber but why? For a link with missing leaders of Icelandic sledge expedition arrest missing British climber. I guess it’s Liaise –ise + na(b). A bit of a cumbersome clue for a small word. 13 across is Lagnappe which I would have got ages ago if I hadn’t ignored “lagniappe” in Bradford’s as being too long. It’s getting late now but I want to finish this tonight. 9 down is Steeds which brilliantly misdirected me as I hadn’t thought of horses for Arabs at all. Knowing which letters to drop is really helping and in 11 down I can see that Dane = Dance so it’s balloon. 14d becomes A universal god character. Which is now obviously aura. 19 Across has to be stellar by the letters in it. Which at 11pm on a Friday seems a bit of a stretch to mean def, frankly so it’s probably time to call it a night.
7.30 am Saturday and I’ve just returned from setting my wife’s market stall up. The kids are watching Finlay the Fire Engine and I’m on the couch with a coffee and a Listener. Where was I? In 16d the fruit must be apple but the word applet is a new one on me. This lets me see that 21ac is polled. A clue which involves the cheeky use of the word po to mean stupidly narrow minded! I seem to be solving this crossword in clue order, with the top half done and the bottom half empty. 22 across has just fallen based on the fact that its remaining checked letter has to be a vowel. It’s Toto and the definition “Oz’s dog” is even cheekier! I have just surveyed my work so far and spotted (2 hours later than every other solver) rocket and balloon which along with apple and co-pilot all go up and come down. Not all rockets come down, though, come to think of it. I don’t see a 5th (or 6th) thematic entry either. Let’s keep going. 20d is tongue. I see now that The M from mutter drops down to make 24 D form a link as opposed to for a link as I previously thought. Tongues go up and down, I suppose. Given that all Hydrocarbons end in -ane -ene or -yne 18down must be retene. Rete = network, but does in =en? It does in French, I suppose. What about 34 across? The clue should read Brick office bass. It’s burden. It isn’t in Bradford’s as meaning bass but bur= brick is and Chambers confirms. 28down is shouting abyss at me. Actually it must be aby + sms= abysms. Does a chasm = a gorge? 31d is Tooart. Too + art. I can’t believe I didn’t spot hoard =hard sooner. The wordplay for 44 across gives mildew quite nicely but this only works if nit is unit. Which means used in 41ac must be sed which is iffy but not impossible. Still can’t do it though. A reluctant trawl in Bradford’s for 3 letter tribes gives me iwi for 42d making the n in Amin redundant so 43 has intron or electron in it. Aha! It’s ace. Nice numanoid surface, possibly lost on some more seasoned solvers. The only movable w to complete “Down” in the message is in 35d making it read Some seized in arrest ere supplying barbiturate maybe. I look up ester as a complete long-shot and what do you know? This w must drop to make About a quarter of Wales used colourings cut by France. I wouldn’t have got Dyfed without the letter dropping. Very well disguised. 41ac looks like it ends in –ite as many rocks and minerals do. Chambers gives French chalk = soapstone = steatite. I’m writing it in without a clue about the wordplay. I’ve just spotted though that 30d is a very nice clue indeed. Off becomes doff and the answer is lift. Lifts go up and down! I’m trying to finish the clues before addressing the movement in the grid. 25d is stirrer. I was held up by tirr= strip. 36 ac is Ivoried. I assert this because this means with teeth. Go Warne must mean Ivor in some way I’m currently not seeing- like his googly. 45 ac I should have got ages ago especially knowing it was losing a P. Err in tace makes terrace. I have 4 left to do. A bit of heavy Bradford-bothering gives me nickar for 33d with Ann becoming anon=a. 47ac must be tired. Red = squadron apparently. 46 down is a very nice clue which I can’t believe has taken me this long. It’s Silurian. Dr Who has had a run in with them, I’m sure. Welsh girl is Sian and ale becomes pale = lurid. So lurid means pale and bright. Fancy that. 39d = peen . Nice surface. Leak = pee. Yes I did go been, ceen, deen till I got there. Which leaves 32 ac as Inns. God knows why! The wordplay must be oc + ent removed from innocents. So the o must go in huffs……. well hound-doggy as Jed Clampett would say! Houff is a pub.( Huffo, my first try, isn’t.) That’s it! The grid is done. Let’s look at the moving clues. I expect to be able to see gravity either before or after the movement and I know Rocket ,balloon, lift, are “movers” along with co-pilot and apple-which as the ever-dwindling readership of this blog realised ages ago hit Newton on the head and -oh look! Apple will drop down onto an N. Newton’s head. That is a very nice touch. The scope for transcription errors is massive but it is quite a satisfying process as I can see gravitation appear. This only works if Liana too comes down. So that’s the 6th thematic object. Does a Liana have to come down? Couldn’t it rot in situ? It’s done! I’ve completed it. I feel pleased with myself for not using TEA and I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. I thought the theme was excellent (the title suddenly makes sense) and it extended into all areas. The gimmick of a letter going up then coming down was a great idea and the letters were well disguised-though it inevitably put a strain on some of the surfaces, I thought. There will be some moaning minnies who will have liked the final grid to be all real words. This doesn’t bother me at all. The solution is unique, ingenious and unambiguous and I got to do some shading. The apple and Newton’s head was a very nice touch. The movement of parts of the grid after solving is a bit of a signature of Samuel. It appeared in the extra-terrestrial puzzle and also in a Magpie puzzle where a roundabout rotated. To finish before Football Focus is a good effort for me. This would put this puzzle on the easier side of average. But after Collusion that’s no bad thing. Thanks Samuel. I thoroughly enjoyed that.


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