Listen With Others

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3985 – Yes by Lato

Posted by Listen With Others on 27 Jun 2008


I’m a bit late starting the crossword this week. I don’t work on Fridays and so I can usually download at 16.00 and hopefully finish on Friday evening. But I was really busy this week and hadn’t finished Odd One Out by Oyler from last weekend. I don’t like numericals and had only got the pattern for the third grid and identified the obvious clues which could be assigned to particular grids and hence very few entries. So I spent most of Friday trying to solve the rest of the puzzle(s). I succeeded but did not enjoy it one bit (other than finishing). I could not find a logical way through and ended up making a lot of assumptions – not all correct – until I finally stumbled across a unique solution almost by accident. I look forward to Erwin’s blog to find out how I should have done it. After Oyler, I checked Derek’s Crossword Centre message board to catch up and came across the ‘to tea or not to tea’ debate sparked by Sabre’s Lip Service. I was astounded once again that a puzzle’s final step, which I had found quite quickly, had caused so many problems. I don’t say this to appear clever because I have been in the reverse position myself many times before. For example last year, I did not find GAUDEAMUS IGITUR, even though I know the quotation. Nor did I HAVE TO GET TO YORK when Travelling Light with Ploy. For those serious about the statistics, these failures in being able to see the final step must surely be what separate the men from the boys. I am definitely a boy by the way but have much admiration for the men who consistently make that final leap of the imagination. But it is interesting that what one person finds easy another finds impossible. [Two weeks later- and now that Erwin’s blog is on-line I see it was all very easy wasn’t it! Well no, not for everyone. For some it was the hardest Listener numerical ever and for others 3hours work. So a typical Listener then.]

Anyway all that is merely an aside because at 17.00ish I download this week’s puzzle, a 13 x 13 grid  though somehow it looks bigger. The title suggests nothing to me and the preamble wants me to identify a group of eleven (teams?) no twelve members. Oh dear! Lots of things come in twelves and the Listener has used many of them. And there’s a relevant location from three answers. I’ll start with the shortest clues at the end of the downs.
33d Fruit most unlikely to remain fresh – Date? Not sure but I’ll lightly pencil it in.
32d French thought mostly the same about Spain – IDEE – ide(m) about E. We’ve had that recently in Sabre’s puzzle.
30d Reddish purple swelling soft on top – PLUM – P moved to the top of lump.
I now notice there are unclued entries, eleven of them which are presumably the entries to be associated with the group members.
28d With priest exorcised solicitor’s demons – P off a word for solicitors leaving demons? Bradford’s suggests imp for demon so P off pimps giving IMPS.
Looking at what crosses these,
35a PL??? Soft delicate material – suggests PLACE with no definition so that’s part of the location.
29a ??MP Worthless fool eating master’s porridge – Bradford’s gives SAMP which fits.
38a Engineer met seniors – also looks like a definitionless clue for an anagram of met seniors but nothing is obvious. Plus if 33d is date, it would end with EE, possible but unlikely. Going back to the downs;
27d don’t know. 25d Abandon earl in fix suggests an anag of earl in – RENAIL. But the re is not indicated in the clue which I can’t recall seeing before and it would put an L in 38a which I don’t want because I can’t see how else that clue could work – very lightly pencil it in then.
24d don’t know but 23d Quits taking the French team is ELEVENS (le in evens) which confirms the E of 35a Place and gives a V in 31a ?VI? Pass over bad singer – Diva backwards comes to mind but doesn’t fit the rest of the clue. 21d don’t know.
20d Get time off to tutor every one separately is (T)EACH.
19d No depth to darkish river is (D)USK making 24a ????K? Saucy broad gets a thousand for story at first which is a nice clue to CHEEKY (K for S in cheesy) which puts an E in 21d ?E?A??? Kelvin wearing upturned bowler in new versions which could be a ‘Re-word’ with a K in it. Bradford’s gives seamer under bowler giving REMAKES.
25a ?CL?? Sandy’s mount has character – not worried has could be s so I look up scl in Chambers and see SCLIM as a Scots word for climb, thus climate without ate. Which means 25d is not renail but S??A?? which I see now is SCRAPE (scrap E). The unclued word near 28a is MI?CHE?? which suggests Mitchell but is no help with the theme yet. Plus I have now solved 12 of 42 clues and not encountered a single extra word which is worrying so I decide to go to the start of the grid and see if I can find any there.
1d Doctor of Philosophy’s first lapse – DR-O-P.
12a P??? Told to provoke small dog – PEKE (sounds like pique).
2d ???E O’Neill deprived of two points – well done is EUGE(ne).
9a RU?? Drive round in wreck – RUIN – (I in run).
3d Wills likewise largely overturned – not right EGALLY (anag of largely minus r).
4d Prepared to accept contractor’s initial tenders for school is SECT (C in set) and at last I get TENDERS left over. I look up tenders but shed no light on the theme.
5d Tearing off artificial skin – INTEGRA (courtesy Bradford’s)
1a DE??ES?I?? Preparing covering letter suggests DEPRESSING (ep(istle) in dressing) and is another location word.
10a means nothing yet but 13a TIE? Drop talking cockatoo causing row – must be TIER (sounds like tear). I like the funny surface and change of meaning for row. This gives COCKATOO extra underneath which Bradford’s has Major Mitchell listed. This can’t be a coincidence so MAJOR is the first of the group. Ranks, musical terms and PMs suggest themselves but none would be a group of twelve.
10d ??I? One endlessly important piece of nature – A KIN(g) comes but not easily.
14d R??? Berry song has Prince on top Bradford’s again gives RAS-P. SONG extra.
22a PAE?? He stops tide turning giving praise to God – Chambers yields PAEAN (A=he in neap reversed).
6d G???? Flipping dog biting mother might make you this – GO MAD (ma in dog (rev)).
11d Stirs drink served up – ADOS (soda up).
18a DO?? John perhaps boxing in second bout – DOSE (doe round s).
About a third of the clues left now and still only three extra words so most of the remainder must contain extras. 17d Eat pudding away from headless apparition ((F)ETCH and PUDDING extra). 15a ???EL?NG Priest born in Belgian city back paying homage must be KNEELING but why? ELI N in that well known Belgian city GENK!
26a Triumphant exclamation about Italy – Columbus film location I spend some time on before getting OHIO (oho about I with FILM extra whereas I thought it may be Columbus)
24d CI?? Grouse about Italian’s sons – not gentlemen – C-IT-S with GROUSE extra.
16d N???H???? Be near daughter leaving old Edinburgh ground – NEIGHBOUR (anag O E(d)inburgh).
37a ?R? Prove right know-all, missing nothing – TRY (t(o)ry) with KNOW-ALL extra.
38a ??S?ME?SE? unravels to IN SOMERSET so the location is cryptically indicated by Depressing place in Somerset. I then spend far too long looking at a road atlas and getting nowhere. Nor can I see anything in common with the extra words. So I am forced to finish the remaining clues before attempting the theme.
7d ????S?AI? A pair of rooks land – one comes in for earth, one part of fence – I guess ARR for the start and get ARRIS RAIL from Chambers and working backwards see the wordplay as A R R Israel with E (earth) changed for I (one).
33d L??T Fruit most unlikely to remain fresh I now see is LAST (2 mngs) not date and FRUIT extra.
31a ?VIL Pass over bad singer – LIVE (EVIL rev) and SINGER extra.
27d O???I African animal raised in pen is now clearly ORIBI ( I BIRO rev).
36a Professor informs on doctor breaking laws – RUMBLES ( MB in rules) and PROFESSOR extra.
34a Salt to sprinkle is on edge of table – I take ages to find is EOSIN (anag is on e) despite having used it and I’m fairly sure having seen it recently in a Listener also clued as salt.
8d ????E? I can’t believe I’ve only got one letter when I’ve only got one clue to go but Incessant talk about the river rising is YATTER (re t Tay (all rev)). Which leaves
10a ?N?O?RA which can only be ANDORRA surely but for the life of me I can’t see how the wordplay works. I only have ten extra words so presumably 10a contains the eleventh.
Reviewing my thematic material I have
Title Yes
Location – Depressing place in Somerset
EXTRA words                                     and unclued entries
COCKATOO                                      .RACK
FILM                                                   .MART
SINGER                                              .E.TY
PROFESSOR                                      .URSES
KNOW-ALL                                       .I.C.
TENDERS                                           MITCHELL
SONG                                                 .NES
PUDDING                                           P??KE??
GROUSE                                             .E.S                 
FRUIT                                                 .O.ER.
I can only pair COCKATOO with MITCHELL giving MAJOR.
Perhaps .mart is SMART and smart alec(k) is a know-all but what links alec and major?
I consider Alec Douglas-Home and John Major both being Tory (poss hint from 37a?)
Prime ministers but can’t see any other Tory PMs in the words lists. I look at googled lists of PMs and ranks in case alec is wrong but get no further. Anyway there are more than 12 PMs. Then I see there have been 12 Tory PMs this century but still can’t make any of them fit the words I’ve got. And that’s as far as I get on Friday night. Lying in bed it occurs to me the lists all gave the PMs full names whereas Margaret Thatcher was better known as Maggie and Maggie May leaps to mind as a Rod Stewart SONG. I resolve to check this out in the morning and go to sleep.
On Saturday morning I'm still not surewhat the group of twelve is. Looking at the location you will not believe how long it took me (or maybe you will) to tumble DOWNING STREET but at least it confirmed the theme for me. MACMILLAN NURSES (TENDERS) followed (slowly) and then HEATH HENS (GROUSE) then ROBERT WINSTON (PROFESSOR). And there I stuck. Try as I might I couldn’t make the rest fit.
I still had PUDDING, FILM and FRUIT and a word from 10a to match to Tory PMs. It was only after looking up pudding in Bradford’s giving BETTY BROWN that I realised where I had gone wrong. It was the last twelve (since WW2) PMs not Tory ones. I then got BLAIR WITCH (project) (FILM), EDEN project as the twelfth member, CLEMENT INES (FRUIT) and WILSON PINKETT (SINGER). And then I was stuck again because I couldn’t link James Callaghan with .RACK or any word in 10a. I then remembered he was known as Jim and found Jim crack in Chambers. It still didn’t match a word in 10a and so I guessed I had missed an extra word in a clue, eventually finding WORTHLESS in 29a. The title I finally deduced to be YES PRIME MINISTER the TV series.
So I made a bit of a meal out of this one. The theme didn’t come out easily for me and I now see why. Many of the ‘associations’ were in popular culture and didn’t yield to Bradford’s or other list books. Very clever on Lato’s part. If it hadn’t been for cockatoo in Bradford’s I think I may not have got this one but I’ll never know of course. I really enjoyed this puzzle. There were some good humorous clue surfaces and the theme really made me work for the PDM which came in farthing-drop stages though all the hints were there. However, I still can’t work out the word play to 10a . I hope it is Andorra because that is what I have sent off. 10a Bullock/ in drama involving men/ out of /southern country. I did justify it by having ANOA with OR(other ranks (men)) in DR (drama) going in (to anoa) and O (of) coming out (of anoa). But I can’t really justify DR as drama. So if it is wrong all the hard work on the theme will have been for nothing.

I was away on Sunday and out on Monday and Tuesday nights but on looking again on Wednesday I see straight away it was OR in (S)ANDRA (Bullock the actress). I feel a bit dim now but relieved to confirm it was Andorra after all.

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