Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Girl, by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 December 2010

A couple of weeks ago, the Numpty team boasted about the confidence that comes with experience in the solving of Listener Crosswords. Eat my words! I think that in our two years of solving (or attempting to solve) we have only encountered one grid with neither bars nor grid numbers and that was that maze where we are still stuck (sorry, I don’t have the number or compiler – we never found the thread or even encountered the Minotaur! We are still wandering round in the maze in a despairing daze).

Gloom descended when we saw this grid but we attempted to be cheerful. At least there were only extra words, not jumbled misprints with printer’s devilry and wandering clues – and it wasn’t numerical!

GLOSSIER, TISRI, OLEA, KAMPONG, PLACER, TOPSIDE, ENTERTAINS and BEERGARDEN. This cluing was very straight-forward and soon allowed us to have a rough skeleton of a grid working downwards from the top, upwards from the bottom and assuming that ENTERTAINS and BEERGARDEN were going to be in the centre of the grid. (And Xanthippe joined the long line of tippling Listener compilers with that obligatory touch of alcohol in his brew, sack, and beergarden!)

The north-east corner gave us the most trouble but we finally put the words we had (ARBOR, VERGE and LOWEST) in putative positions, and, working backwards (as usual) from the instructions that had now appeared: FORMERLY A TWO-HUNDRED AND FORTIETH OF ONE POUND, and FOLD OVER TWO DASHED LINES. CUT ALONG THICK LINES, were able to solve our final clues.

Isn’t it so often those little words that cause the most trouble? We had ?ORE for ‘Rather gloomy Dalmation without bone (4)’.  We knew, now, that Dalmation was our extra word but it took a fair amount of head-scratching to come up with MOR(os)E.

A complete grid, PENNY the obvious girl we were looking for and part of PENNY down below the BEERGARDEN. Now what? The instruction said we had to fold over two dashed lines and cut along thick lines, but when I folded over on the line between ‘entertains’ and ‘beergarden’, then on the one next to ‘gnomons’, I couldn’t see any thick lines to cut along.

It was some hours before Mr Clever Numpty pointed out that there were ‘hints’ that included two grid numbers. That meant there had to be other hints too. (Rule Number One, read the preamble carefully!) Sure enough, we found TOPSIDE, LOWEST and perhaps even ENTER, telling us which way to put our little folded grid (of course, the second dashed line went inside!) and even, perhaps, where to begin with the nail scissors. Of course, A PENNY DROP MOMENT dropped out. Delightful!

Almost there except for the dilemma of what to send to Mr Green. Does he want our mutilated grid or a complete one with those words still in place, perhaps highlighted. After all, we had to ‘appropriately interpret’ those instructions, and there was that conditional ‘should enable solvers to extract a four-word phrase …’ Does he want envelopes filled with little chopped-out letters?

Great fun, anyway. Thank you, Xanthippe.

2 Responses to “Girl, by Xanthippe”

  1. Shirley

    Yes, although I didn’t mention it in my blog, I also had that moment of doubt about whether to send in a butchered grid. After all, we weren’t specifically required to follow the instructions; they were just a means to identify the hidden phrase. Anyway, I did send in a mutilated grid, but not the little bits of paper – John Green has enough of a filing problem as it is, I suspect!


  2. shirley curran said

    Not being as experienced as you, Dave, in these matters (though we too are familiar with the old 240 pence but, having lived overseas for most of our lives, don’t recognise all those funny new coins), I sent poor Mr Green my little clipped out bits, stapled on. You never know whether you might have been penalised for sending only 87.5 of your grid 🙂

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