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Listener 4080: Hexes by Stick Insect

Posted by Gareth Rees on 23 April 2010

This was the first Listener crossword by Stick Insect, and it was pleasant and straightforward (especially in comparison with Shackleton’s spectacular last week). “The wordplay in each clue indicated the answer with an extra letter or with one letter omitted … In clue order, the extra and omitted letters spell out a set of people’s names, some appropriately interrupted.”

The extra and omitted letters spelled CATH(H)ERINE A(H)NNE JANE AN(H)NE C(H)ATHERINE CATHERINE. These were the six wives of Henry VIII, with four of them “interrupted” by an H (for Henry), namely the four whose marriages were ended prematurely. For Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves the H was central, which I think was supposed to represent a divorce (although properly speaking these marriages were ended by annulment), and for Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the H was second, beheading the initial letter. Jane Seymour (who died) and Catherine Parr (who survived Henry) were uninterrupted.

“All but one of the same set, similarly interrupted, must be highlighted in the grid (34 cells).” The surnames of five of the wives—ARA(H)GON, B(H)OLEYN, SEYMOUR, CLE(H)VES and H(H)OWARD—could be traced downwards in the grid in the form of Henry’s ordinal VIII. (This numeral, and the “34 cells”, resolved the possible ambiguities in tracing the names.)

There was the usual trap for solvers having trouble with wordplay at 12d, where both CASTOCK and CUSTOCK fitted the grid and the definition.

A very similar theme was previously used in Listener number 3728, Who Am I? by Amicus.

No

Clue

Answer

Wordplay

Extra / omitted
1a

Employed to remain unchanged, quiet, subdued

BESTOWED

BE ST COWED

C
7a

Local girl followed by saints—a risky situation

MORASS

MOR SS

A
12a

Plant extract claiming active energy compound hides ulcer’s origins

CATECHU

C[laiming] A[ctive] E[nergy] C[ompound] H[ides] U[lcer’s]

T
13a

Mistake to precede east wind

BISE

BISH E

H
15a

Fish murmur softly

COHO

COO

H
16a

Idiotic gambling game with a counter

OAFISH

EO A FISH

E
17a

Dry up Scottish inlets, expelling ordinary marine mammals there

SEALCHS

SEAR L[o]CHS

R
18a

Laments over type of salad

SLAW

WAILS reversed

I
19a

Stagger in Perth street bearing large weight

STOT

ST containing TON

N
20a

Hypothetical rule applied to type of particle

HYPERON

HYP R ON

E
21a

African bird that lacks hint of tunefulness

TAHA

THA[t]

A
23a

Faires losing second axe handle

HELVE

ELVE[s]

H
25a

Indian bullfinch circles enclosure

MOHAWK

MONK around HAW

N
28a

Upset, temperature dropping twice, imagine total blood disorder

OLIGAEMIA

Anagram of IMAGINE [t]O[t]AL

N
32a

Beat old cow that’s facing west

TAN

NEAT reversed

E
34a

Springbok’s celebration in rabbit settlement

COLONY

JOL in CONY

J
35a

Vintage brew of Zaire accompanies old, old bread

CRUZEIRO

CRU, anagram of ZAIRE, O

A
36a

Poison for Will precedes radical form of promotion

BANNER AD

BANE RAD

N
37a

Alpine stage slopes up

RISS

RISES

E
38a

Distasteful to retain all sections of prickly shrub

GORSY

GORY around AS

A
39a

Noble’s wife rages about deer section

BARONETESS

BATES around ROE; S

N
2d

Try Liberal Lord

EARL

HEAR L

H
3d

Originally, Stonehenge towered over Neolithic art’s range of columns

STOA

S[tonehenge] T[owered] O[ver] N[eolithic] A[rt’s]

N
4d

Refreshment suppliers sat up to welcome sportsman’s companion willing to participate

TEA WAGONS

SAT reversed around WAG ON

E
5d

Informal letter in seven days almost reaches the old bird

WHITE-EYE

CHIT in WEE[k], YE

C
6d

American in hole ground up antiseptic preparation

EUSOL

US in anagram of HOLE

H
7d

Wrongly perceived, rabble follows young lady endlessly

MISHEARD

MIS[s] HERD

A
8d

Father stands up to win

REAP

PATER reversed

T
9d

Outrage loses king’s support before satire is played to expose feeble arguments

SOCRATISE

SHOC[k], anagram of SATIRE

H
10d

Hush—is he hiding inwardly?

SHH

[i]SHEH[iding]

E
11d

Skua—oddly bird of song

BOS’N

B[i]R[d] O[f] S[o]N[g]

R
12d

Cabbage stem, one to be located in a small pile of hay

CASTOCK

A SIT in COCK

I
14d

Desires to upend part of carcase

SEY

YENS reversed

N
19d

Fish woman gets widow’s stipend, unknown amount

SHANNY

SHE ANN Y

E
22d

This fat removes depth of a scar

HILAR

HIC LAR[d]

C
24d

Five in command rule holder of designated authority

VICAR

V IC R

A
25d

Grieve for Irish girlfriend holding repository for the dead

MOURN

MOT around URN

T
26d

Australian male in Zambia gets cross when sent north

OZZIE

HE I’ Z ZO reversed

H
27d

King pays close attention to difficulties

KNOTS

K NOTES

E
29d

Wolf left boor in confusion

LOBO

L, anagram of BOOR

R
30d

Delay destiny

MORA

MOIRA

I
31d

Legally secure venerable saint

VEST

VEN ST

N
33d

Reads about primitive soil turners

ARDS

Anagram of READS

E

*

And that’s it from me. I’ve enjoyed writing about these puzzles, and who knows, perhaps I’ve inspired someone to have a go. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Shirley Curran, Erwin Hatch, Dave Hennings, and the other Listen With Others contributors.

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4 Responses to “Listener 4080: Hexes by Stick Insect”

  1. shirley curran said

    Gareth, why are you leaving us? We value your clear blogs and I learn a lot from them. So sad!

  2. I shall miss the Gill grids and the clear descriptions.

  3. 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…..

  4. Shirley, Alan: thank you for your kind words. I’m afraid that other commitments leave me without the time to solve the crossword, at least at present. I may return occasionally, as time permits.

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