Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

No 4117, Great Expectations, by Samuel, Season’s Greetings.

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 January 2011

The last one of the year, and we have managed to solve them all, with a lot of head scratching, a few nudges and, undoubtedly, lots of silly errors, so we are determined to manage this one. What do we get? Two! Are they compensating for next week – Christmas Day, or is this another case of Double Cross (Radix’s April double where we agonised for a while about which grid to send) or Pointer’s August Double Devilry (where the two grids were duplicates)?

We jumped to and fro for a while, solving haphazardly, but Grid B filled with far more ease than grid A and soon we had a full grid and a bit of typical Samuel – the requirement to arrange our extra word-play letters into alphabetical order of the solutions in order to produce an instruction. I wonder how he managed to compile this with the added requirement, later on, to have a number of letters from this grid popping up through quaint little doors in the other grid!

Samuel was the power behind ‘Listen With Others’ until Dave Hennings took charge over a year ago, so surely, this time, we’ll be honoured by a setter’s blog that will tell us which came first. I imagine he must have fitted 25 solutions in with the necessary letters that had to do double duty, then forced his wordplay to contain those extra letters that gave the instruction, ‘CUT OUT DOORS AND PASTE A OVER B’

It sounds easy so far, but we are not experts yet and,  of course had our red herring, 18ac. ‘Irish betrayed fair woman’ “Well, that must be I + SOLD, but a fair woman is ISOLDE, so we’ll put an E as the extra letter!” Woolly thinking, I know – the extra letter had to be in the wordplay! It was IR + SOLD, giving us DOORS and not DOOES!

We had been expecting something seasonal and an advent calendar was clearly in front of us. That would mean cutting out 24 little doors, and we needed a 38-letter message, so we started hunting for it and Samuel didn’t disappoint. Like about 90% of oenophilic Listener compilers, he had included some old wine in this grid (and even the effect of it ‘EGURGITATE’ at 8d), but we decided to complete the other grid and look again.

Not so easy! This was cold-solving for most of the time and it wasn’t until we had a symmetrical set of thematic numbers emerging, that we managed to sort out our last solutions. (We took the morning off to ski in deep powder snow before returning to the task!) We were troubled by T???SCH?I?S ‘Towed boats could be stuck with this English river’ (11) (TREKSCHUITS – an anagram of THIS, STUCK and E R) How grateful I am for electronic devices! Now there’s the useful word to casually drop into this week’s frivolous chat!

I’ve said it before – I don’t like the short words. 8d. King leaves fish dish’ (4) That could be SA(R)GO or S(K)ATE and, by now, we had worked out what was going on and that we needed a G in that light – but was this it, or were we going to compute the difference between the T of SATE and the G of TUGS to get door number 13? That was the great advantage of these little doors. We ticked them off numerically, from 1 to 24 and soon, with two letters to decide upon, had two numbers still to find and could work backwards. We needed a door 20 and that gave us Y at the end of REKE? Eureka!

All that was left to do was the cutting,  gluing and highlighting (and to wonder about those extra little doors that opened onto nothing!) I am sure there will be a number of people fondly reminiscing about last year’s wrens at this stage.

There it was – our advent calendar, wishing us SEASON’S GREETINGS TO ALL SOLVERS AND SETTERS. Thank you, Samuel, and the same to you.

One Response to “No 4117, Great Expectations, by Samuel, Season’s Greetings.”

  1. erwinch said

    I made a meal over finding the theme here and it was not discovered until 24 hours after completing the two grids.

    Grid B was fairly easily completed and the instruction found:

    Cut out doors and paste A over B

    Could the doors be Grids A and B?  Grid A could be pasted directly over Grid B, obscuring it completely, or over the top making the grid 9 × 22.  If the former then the message would have to be completely in Grid A.  Could the doors be a clue to the theme, perhaps Blake’s doors of perception?  What could the preamble mean in saying carry out without detachment – how do you cut something out, such as a tumour, and not detach it?  Cutting out all instances of the letters DORS looked unhelpful.

    Grid A took a bit longer to complete revealing the numbers 1 to 24 in an apparently random order.  I looked at the equivalent letters in Grid B in correct numerical order and also the letters to the right and left of the numbers (straying into Grid B or wrapping round in Grid A) but found no message.  Joining the numbers by line made a mess.  What could be thematic about 24: a day, a TV programme (that I have never seen)?  Were we looking for a Christmas theme at this time of year?  Despite the title, I was not expecting it to be Dickens related.

    There were some words to be seen between the two grids, notably mescal – Brave New World?  Great and wine appeared in Grid B.

    To cap it all, I could not fully understood one clue, which also had a pretty meaningless surface:

    16acA See past bedbug where scientists work (3) lab – LA + B  How did past bedbug = B? (I have since learnt the answer: look at B flat or B in Chambers.)

    I was expecting a decent PDM after all that time but it was more of an anticlimax really.  We never had Advent calendars as children, perhaps they had not yet reached the UK in the 50’s and 60’s, and so did not know how many doors they had.  So, another mutilated grid but no doubt about the required solution this time with the doors to be left hanging by a hinge.

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