Listen With Others

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Rentokil, by Jago (Vicious avicide!)

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 January 2010

Stoned wrens - brutal avicide


“Rentokil – bet it’s the Pied Piper of Hamelin! Rats and mice and that sort of thing!” That was the first ‘Stripey Horse (5) Z????’ team reaction. We had missed those significant words ‘as spoken of” in the title, though it didn’t take us long to get to TROGLODYTES. I can thank Chris Lancaster for that. When I first volunteered a blog to Listen With Others, Chris remarked in an email that he invariably quickly scans the opening and closing letters of clues – just in case. It was a great habit to adopt and has paid off – again.     

Knowing that we had to FOLD GRID TO ORIGAMI BIRD SO ONE IS HEAD, SEE WING was a great head start (Oh dear, the ‘head’! My first four practice origami birds, for some inexplicable reason, produced heads at the ends of their wings and no hidden message at all!)    

 This was, by a long way, our fastest grid-fill yet. The definition-letter-mix formula suits our dubious skills and Jago had given us the extra Christmas bonus of ‘beginning at the start or ending at the end of a word’. We could hardly believe that DENOMINATIVE could be our first answer; it didn’t quite obey the method we have come to expect, as there were those two extra words ‘to myself’ at the end of the clue, ‘… red vino meant I was giving a title to myself (12)’ Of course, a quick read through the rest of the clues soon made it clear that this was some kind of tippling and gormandising festive diary of Jago’s with a few clues and definitions scattered here and there in amongst the wining and dining.     

Within minutes the grid was looking healthy and Mr Math said, of the unclued light at 27ac. “It’s going to be something like ‘octahedrons'”. “No,” I argued, “It has to be four words or more – something like ‘On the Feast of Stephen’.” Brewer did the rest and, with suitable shock and disgust, we recognised that the HUNTING THE BIRD that we had to do when we had converted the grid to an origami bird, was a poor little bludgeoned wren.  (I spared a thought for Don Manley’s joy at seeing his bullfinch – I wonder what his reaction was to this avicidal theme!)     

No red herrings (or red herons)? Of course there were. Any compiler who is prepared to put us through the finicky task of converting his grid to a minute bird is going to expect a real wren. I downloaded the instructions for Colin Weber’s origami wren and got past ‘rabbit ears, mountain folds, valley fold, swivel, swivel, …’ and about eighty-two more steps before the mangled paper disintegrated. I have delighted visions of the Oxbridge dons, who usually romp through these things, labouring on their first origami constructions with clumsy fingers and producing crumpled monstrosities.     

Even when I lowered my ambition-horizon and opted for the basic bird, the first four attempts inexplicably had that head end at the wingtip and no message at all on the top of the wing (where, naively, I was hunting!) I slept on it and morning produced not only a more bird-like scrumple, but also a potential WREN hidden under his right wing (with, of course, some stretching of the imagination. If letters are able to change identity so easily, we shall soon be able to simply slot in a row of OOONNNZZZMMMNNNNSSS – more or less as we did last week with Pilcrow’s X, and submit it).      

The final WRMN


Did anyone else have the mischievous thought of completely rewriting the innards of the bird and submitting it just to see whether our small flock is going to be disemboweled to confirm that the giblets are in order?     

No, Jago, I didn’t like this one at all 🙂 I’m far too unhappy about all those tiny birds being stoned to death even though the other half of the team has explained that, “It’s all made clear by statistics. There were very few people then and lots of wrens!”

4 Responses to “Rentokil, by Jago (Vicious avicide!)”

  1. Philip Crabtree said

    Hmm. Not sure about the denouement to this one. Several other answers seem equally valid to me, for example shading an anagram of WREN which one can also find ( the WREN is “stoned” after all) seems an entirely valid final step, not to belittle yours, Shirley.

    Presumably other answers will be marked as correct but this preamble didnt seem to be precisely specified.

  2. Interesting, Philip. I never even saw an anagram elsewhere – but this version with the rather imagination-stretching wren under the wing seems to have been what was required. Can you, though, submit the origami paper wren with the anagram showing – somewhere near the wing? If not, I fear it would be marked ‘incorrect’.

  3. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one to have guessed a Pied Piper theme based on the title.

  4. […] should have paid more attention to the advice given to Shirley Curran by Chris Lancaster: “he invariably quickly scans the opening and closing […]

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