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Listener 4113: Liberty Bell by Pieman

Posted by erwinch on 10 December 2010

This was only Pieman’s fourth Listener as a solo effort, he paired with Mr Magoo in Collusion, but he has gained a formidable reputation with this small output.  He went undercover for 10 by 8 last year, which was one of the most difficult Listeners in recent memory.  So, anticipation was high when we saw a large grid, with many bars missing, accompanied by a shortish but tricky looking preamble.  I thought it odd that we were told to expect no indication of obsolete or other restricted usages in clues.
I was able to make steady progress but struggled to understand the clue for ciborium (42dn) until realising that Pieman had exploited the current vogue for removing apostrophes, even from long established usages to be found in the OED such as mind your P’s and Q’s (1779) and the three R’s (1825):
Is welcoming neighbour aboard with vessel (8) ciborium – BOR in (I + I) in CUM
Pieman liked the device so much he used it a second time, in 27dn:
Irritation as flushed from bad anaesthetics (10) tetchiness – (A)N(A)ESTHETICS (anag)
Hands up all those who first looked for an anagram of (A)NAE(S)THETICS – there is an unsatisfactory one.
I have yet to see us in this context but perhaps Pieman thought he would get the two in early for I can see this becoming as instantly hackneyed as a bit of a kip for at.  Also, it is patently absurd for we are never going to see the likes of the following sentence: embarrassed is spelled with two rs and two ss.  I dislike seeing people getting Trussed up over such trivial matters.
Talking of hackneyed, when did you last see rhino in a crossword clue (63dn) that was not to be read as money?
I thought the anagram entries a clever way to delineate certain areas of the grid and liked the way that bars could be deleted by joining letters or words: E|V|I|TATE became evitate and MAY|FAIR Mayfair, etc.  Eleven formerly unchecked letters could be arranged into the four-word quotation:
I have a dream … (Martin Luther King, 1963)
Finally, changes affecting the anagrammed entries only left a cryptic representation of a second quotation:
Let freedom ring (Samuel Francis Smith, 1831)
If you look at the full text of the I Have a Dream Speech you will see that King also used the phrase Let Freedom Ring repeatedly.  Both quotations appeared in the grid as follows:
The preamble told us to leave only real words and names when adjusting the red bars so are the isolated single letters (G,R and B) real words?  I would say that they certainly are.  Chambers lists all the letters of the alphabet as nouns and they appear in the very first books that we read: A is for Apple, B is for Bear …  Besides, we had two clues where the plurals of single letters were to be considered valid.  Thematically we might have freed the three ‘imprisoned’ letters and had they been MLK or SFS then I would have had to think again.
Following from Xanthippe last week, I felt that there were no real PDM’s here.  The red bars could readily be seen to be forming letters although there was something funny going on in the SW corner.  So, great fun but perhaps on the easy side for Pieman.  I have to say that I did not notice the lack of obsolete or other restricted usage signals in clues.

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