Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Annual Turnover by Ragtag

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 October 2010

After our struggle last week, it was a relief to have a crossword where we were slotting in solutions almost as fast as we could write; the clues were superbly unambiguous and the numpties struck lucky in recognising almost immediately that certain clues were being entered in reverse. We had HATRED, PORTHOLE, AVOWAL and CUSP producing our first clash and convincing us that  ECHT must be entered in reverse.

The same occurred in the north-west corner with DETER, PINUP and TYROL, which suggested that TIME should go in as EMIT and that ‘Fruit could be unprepared if not peeled’ was going to be an ENURP! Of course we had our doubts and I had GNOME reversed at 2d. (Old writer’s surrounded by about a thousand gone beserk’). GNOME is a form of old writing but it did seem to roughly fit the wordplay and I hadn’t the wit to look up EMONG. Of course, the result was the same, but it did make a mess of what was turning into a nicely striped grid as I highlighted the reversed words.

SERPENT and ELAPS soon confirmed what was happening and we had a complete grid in an hour or two (with, of course, a drop of ALE and some ROUSSETTE thrown in – that’s a local slightly sparkly wine in the Geneva area – so Ragtag clearly shares the oenophilic trend of Listener compilers). 

It should have been a final sprint to the finish line at this point but ?OF?TROPH?DE? didn’t immediately spell out anything except, perhaps TROPHY (Yes, I know that is from the Greek tropaeum – a turning but that was another stinky bit of red herring) and we had only CHAESSWAI, of the extra letters and five convincing clashes. Not auspicious!

It seems like good advice to ‘sleep on it’ when the final step is not clear. The light of day on Saturday produced CHARLES’S WAIN, the seven stars of the Plough (though I am still not absolutely convinced about the L we found in OWL, whom I assumed to be the epitome of wisdom – AVOWAL ‘Epitome of wisdom in grandfather’s confession’) and, of course, BOUSTROPHEDON – that ploughing to and fro in parallel furrows that has been the theme of a couple of crosswords we have attempted recently (one in the Magpie, I believe).

I thought finding those twelve extra letters was the most difficult aspect of Ragtag’s crossword. The extra R in ‘Cold-blooded type mostly backsliding’ slithered away from us at first as I was convinced that RELAPSE ‘mostly’ could give us ELAPS. I suppose this is where familiarity with the Listener is so useful – knowing what is meant by ‘mostly’.

All in all, very enjoyable. Thanks to Ragtag.


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