Listen With Others

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3991 – Flower Arranging by Dipper

Posted by Listen With Others on 11 Aug 2008

Friday evening. Deeply relieved to see the correction for last week’s puzzle; I’ve left it unposted for a week, agonising over whether I can justify AIR = REMEDY or whether it’s a terribly cunning trap. But it was just a terribly cunning typo, so all’s well. And today it’s Mr Dipper with another one of his botanical entertainments. Are there any other such prolifically single-theme setters, I wonder? Dipper’s name at the top of the puzzle doesn’t cause too much consternation – they’re normally pretty unconvoluted ideas, though not trivially easy. I’m fiddling around trying to set a puzzle of my own at the moment, which is proving fruitlessly frustrating so far. It seems to use a quite different set of muscles than solving does.It’s always nice to see a single-sentence preamble. So I guess some flowers are removed from the answers and some are jumbled within the grid? We’ll see (it says). First up: Compere introducing desperate character before turning on old hoofer (12). A compere is an MC or possibly an EMCEE, the desperate character will be DAN, so it looks rather like MDANCER. Something thematic going on here. Do the crossing letters help? 1d isn’t transparent, but 2d is POLDER which doesn’t work with 1a at all. Hum.

11a is Foregoing any working, city certainly ill-prepared for standing charges (17). Clear subtractive anagram of… LECTRICITY? Gotcha: Statice, being (apparently) a sort of sea-lavender, gets cut. It’s looking like 1a and 11a are entered normally but 2d gets jumbled. If so 4d has an N and a C in it somewhere: Catholic, maybe, for the time being (5). That’s a really very neat clue for NONCE. And 5d is a simple FINDERS, also jumbled.

So how about: answers with flowers in have the flowers removed before entry, and anything else gets jumbled? Let’s go with that. 7d raises an eyebrow: Allow her to take two-handled drinking bowl (3), if only because we had CAP defined the same way last week. Skim over a couple of unobvious ones until ARIA, presumably jumbled, at 8d. So far, all the Acrosses have the flowers cut and all the Downs are jumbled, is that it?

9d: Digestive fluid achieving a twenty-fold reduction in food in stomach (5). CHYLE and CHYME have the same etymology, which doesn’t necessarily make the clue flawed, but it does rather lessen its elegance in my eyes. There’s an original bit of wordplay for me at 10d (GESTALTS) which uses po = pole; Chambers confirms it but leaves me wondering what walk of life needs to abbreviate ‘pole’… Swinging back over to the Acrosses and some more flowers, 13a is the old PI PINKERTON, here without his PINK. Are all the flowers going to be cut from the top of the word? That would be a nice, gratuitously thematic touch. Ah, but no, 16a is KE(ROSE)NE.

1d takes a good five minutes’ struggle: Catch about a thousand in contest (4). Who knew that to kep was to catch, or that a kemp is an old reaping contest? Not me, anyway. If I’m right that only the Acrosses have flowers cut then 12d is jumbled, and as it has two unches it must have two letters the same: Certain part of fish. It appears in Northern river (8). Doubtless it’s just a result of doing too many crosswords, but clues involving fish or rivers are becoming something of a bête noir for me. This one’s DEFINITE.

Now I’ve broken the back of this and got some momentum, the clues start to fall without too much resistance. O[SCILLA]TE and LOW[LILY] add their flowers to the arrangement and the grid takes shape. 29d is worth picking out: Broadcasting endlessly on radio channel (5) is excellent for DRAIN. But I wonder if it’s a weakness that you don’t have to see the flowers in order to enter the answer? 35a, for example, is wholly checked and ALED, but the clue (Frightened Welshman?), while neat, leaves me none the wiser about what’s been cut. But most are clear enough, and an iris, an erica, a weld, a stock and a flag get added to the increasingly cluttered display.

Now 20d puzzles me. (Which I suppose is the point.) Flattered old French artist in speech (6) must be CLAWED with the obsolescence not indicated, but I’ve always pronounced the painter as if he was ‘Clode’. Have I been wrong all these years? Dear me, Chambers implies so. So concerned does this make me that, later that weekend, I resort to Googling mp3 pronunciations – and it seems that your genuine Frenchman has it sort of midway between ‘clawed’ and ‘clode’. Which sets my mind more at ease, but does make me wonder if it’s a good word to use as a homophone in a clue.

Back to the puzzle, it seems that all the double-unched jumbles in the Downs have two pairs of repeated letters, which if intentional is pleasingly clever. I’m working on getting the grid filled without worrying too much about the flowers; I’ll work them out later. DIS[ASTER] AREA, MARSH[MALLOW]S and ACC[RUE]S are the last three I find before finishing the grid. Nearly finishing, anyway: there’s an ambiguity at 31a which can’t be resolved without the flower. Ring involves one soprano that’s alarming (6) could be either DISING or TISING… but I think I’ve had enough floweriness for this evening.

Saturday morning. See if a little concentration can’t knock this one on the head. After an awful lot of racking my brain eventually comes up with the ORRIS of the morris dancers at 1a. But 21a could be almost anything: the grid entry is CALL and the complete flowered answer means ‘rousing sound’. A bugle is a plant, but ‘bugle-call’ is hyphenated and the clue specifies two words. Bah. A slog through Chambers resolves 31a as DIS[MAY]ING, and another finally provides H[ALOE] EFFECT. I can’t say I’m revelling in this bit of the puzzle, but one has to be thorough in these things. Dredge up IDA [LUPIN]O from some back lobe or other. And Aled was AL[ARUM]ED, I suppose.

This is taking far too long, and if they don’t come to you in a flash they can hardly be worked out. With three left I’m resorting to the RHS Encyclopaedia of Plants and Flowers for inspiration. IN[VIOLA]TE, yes of course. 26a was Container I would fill with old narcotic substances (11), which I have as TINOID and very nearly leave it at that, having exhausted all the flowers I can think of and run out of ideas (and interest). But I persevere and aren’t I glad I did: it’s [CANNA]BINOID and the container was a bin, not a tin. That’s as close as I’ve come this year to getting one genuinely wrong (as opposed to making silly mistakes, which I’m sure have been plentiful). And finally I decide it must be BUGLE-CALL and damn the hyphen.

Well, I made a bit of a meal of that one. It’s actually a neat grid; I suppose all the wholly-unchecked answers aren’t really a flaw if no entry is actually a word. The flower-hunting got to me after an hour of it, but all in all this was another polished Dipper with some nice clues and some very neat thematic touches.

One Response to “3991 – Flower Arranging by Dipper”

  1. We really love reading your posts, i just used this website Swap my Seeds, as a way of giving away my unused seeds. Anyone know what I can sell them for? I have maybe 150 begonia seeds left.

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