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Hexes by Stick Insect

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 April 2010

The Dumbos were hoping for a slightly less challenging crossword than last week’s stunner – and we got it. What a wonderful feeling it is to be able to start solving as the printer rolls out the grid and to continue steadily until the grid is full on Friday evening.

What was even more thrilling was that a familiar set of names seemed to be appearing along the edge of the clues, though what the extra H kept appearing for, we didn’t really understand. Soon, we were chanting that old school mnemonic (I wish someone would give me a mnemonic for spelling that word!) ‘Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived’ and there were three Catherines, two Annes and a Jane.

Finding the names helped complete the solving (as usual – we worked in the wrong order!) and soon it seemed that H, or Henry, was responsible for the interruptions in his wives’ lives, especially as he didn’t seem to be intervening in Jane Seymour or Catherine Parr’s lives (though wasn’t Catherine Parr due for the chop, had he not conveniently died first?)

Two solutions left me puzzling. MORASS at 7ac was the only word Chambers offered that fitted the definition of ‘a risky situation’ but it wasn’t until Saturday morning that I followed the trail in Chambers to find that MOR is a version of MAUTHER for a clumsy big lass up in the north. That confirmed REAP which didn’t seem to fit too well with the definition ‘to win’ but I finally realised that PATER was standing up and losing his T. Aaah! It was a good thing for me that there were no unches in that corner. I imagine that Stick Insect got away with that because of the nature of the material that had to be fitted in.

Just some highlighting left before the weekend loomed empty of crosswords except for AZED’s challenge on Sunday. There was an ANNE lurking in the south-west corner, but no Catherines at all – just a CAT up at the top – so that wasn’t it. It had to be HOWARD, SEYMOUR, CLEVES, BOLEYN and ARAGON – and, sure enough, there they were, with the shorter names conveniently interrupted again by H(enry).

A pleasant surprise at this moment as VIII appeared (though I did wonder what Mr Green would do with any entry that highlighted the N between the O of ARAGO and the Y of BOLEY – why not? OK, I can see why not; the four Roman numerals all end neatly on the same line)

Final pdm! The H exes are Henry’s exes and, of course, Catherine Parr wasn’t exactly that, so she gets a little slot of her own. Nice!

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3 Responses to “Hexes by Stick Insect”

  1. Jake said

    Thanks for the blogs. I got on OK with this – I got lucky as this is pretty much my first Listener puzzle.

    One thing though 22ac I thought Katherine Parr was spelt with K not C, but the clue wouldn’t work then.

    I’ve started on the Enigmatic Variations and find them fun. Usually with the Listener in the news agent I pick it up look at it and think, I have no chance and put it back on the shelf.

    However- thematic puzzles are more like games and alot more fun to solve knowing that one gets a great sense of satisfaction from it…..

  2. shirley curran said

    Jake, I believe the Catherines and Katherines Henry married spelt their names (Boleyn/Bullen too) in a variety of ways. Certainly several spellings of Katharine, Katherine, Catherine, Catharine exist in historical sources.

    Welcome to Listener solving – we’ve been doing it for about a year and a half – and it becomes addictive.

    You started with a relatively approachable one, but they usually make sense in the end – sometimes after hours of struggling!

  3. Jake said

    Shirley Curran

    Thanks for that bit of info. I know K/C atherine is spelt either way (in modern), but every where I looked it was with a K in ye olde days.

    I’ve been attempting this weeks Listener ‘Bandmaster’ and the EV ‘Loda’. I don’t know if they have the same theme, I haven’t got that far in the Listener yet. However themed or not, I do find the EV more solvable at the moment. I only discovered cryptic crosswords less than two years ago, and have no-one to solve it with 😦

    I’ll keep solving away.

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