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Question by Aedites (or when is a campanile not a tall building with a tower and bells?)

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 October 2009

The answer would seem to be (according to Chambers), when it is a tall bell tower detached from a church. I imagine this is going to be a very vexed question in three weeks’ time, since, if one hasn’t encountered George Crabbe’s, ‘What is a church?’ – Our honest sexton tells, ‘Tis a tall building, with a tower Champex Eeyore 044and bells.’, one could argue that a campanile is a building in its own right, with a portico, as well as its tower and bells. Hands up those who wrote ‘Campanile’ underneath this grid! The campaniles around us, here in Europe, are not merely towers!

This was only one of the problems besetting the junior easy-clues 8X8 team this week. We set off at a fine lick and had half the cold-solving done by noon on Saturday when disaster struck. It seemed fairly logical to assume that when letters met at intersections, we could allocate them to the same group. With our Scrabble alphabet in place, we were doing brilliantly. Then we encountered that easy clue, ‘Oblong coin masked by iroko banisters’ (5). Did Aedites put that in there deliberately to confound us? Every solver has heard of the OBANG and the OBANI hasn’t he? We ploughed on and letters began to fit into two different groups at the same time – so much so that we started to doubt our solving method.

Champex Eeyore 045Of course, our wise friend suggested that there might be a KOBAN – and we were on track again – for almost 24 more hours before we had cold-solved all but one clue! That was tough going for the team! We are beginning to loathe (with an e!) Spenser with his GRAPLE and TROW and host of other weird spellings. REAME was that elusive last word – why couldn’t he say realm? (And what’s the betting some tricky setter out there is compiling one entirely made up of Spenserian spellings?) Honestly, there are times when we are very nostalgic for the days when crossword solving meant working out ‘Stripey horse’ (5) Z???A

We were not clever enough to work backwards from the changes to the letters, but we did have an almost complete grid to give us our answer to the question. It was something with a ????? and bells. We slept on it and the other half of the team woke up muttering ‘Tall building with a tower and bells’. 

QuestionQuestion ChurchRinging the changes proved to be far easier than we had been expecting and two blocks of permutations appeared. It looks to us as though this is not just a concatenation, but also a sort of perpetual motion, as the last change leads back to the very first of the twenty. So here we go, ringing bells forever. Highlighting the lightest (G) bell seems to give us a couple of question marks – back to that vexed question.  Do we rely on what Crabbe’s sexton tells and write ‘CHURCH’, or do we go to Chambers (the primary reference) and find that a CAMPANILE best fits the definition, ‘Tall building with a tower and bells’? Well this is only a blog, so I can sit on the fence and put both! – and return to my Zebra crossword, with warm thanks to Aedites for entertaining us for almost the entire weekend and teaching us about bell ringing. We liked this one very much.

2 Responses to “Question by Aedites (or when is a campanile not a tall building with a tower and bells?)”

  1. Shirley
    I raise my hand as a campanile, and cannot bring myself to look at the solution. I vaguely remember the quotation from years ago, but it didn’t come to mind. If it had, I would have been in even more turmoil than I was over Brimstone’s Baseball puzzle with its missing central digit.

  2. shirley curran said

    But to the great relief of all of us, bell tower, belfry, campanile and church all seem to have scraped through! Sleep peacefully!

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