Listen With Others

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Les Six by Raich

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 February 2011

I commented a week ago that some kind of Listener deity was smiling on us and giving the Scots at CERN living on the Swiss-French border a whole series of crosswords set especially for us. I had expected the series to come to a halt but here we go again. ‘Les Six’ here generally refers to the original six countries of the Common Market, but they didn’t quite fit, – even in their own languages, Deutschland, France, Italia etc. 🙂 – into the unclued lights, so we set to with our solve.

This was the evening after the superb party put on at the Spectator’s offices to celebrate the 2000th crossword puzzle and we were miles from home without resources (But without regrets, too – what an impressive gathering of able and charismatic people!). It’s quite a shock to find how much more difficult solving is without the Internet, Anne Bradford’s wonderful Solver’s Dictionary and the large red book but we were travelling hand-luggage class and our efforts on the tube and on airline pop-down trays were mediocre, producing some rather strange letters in the unclued lights (RK?OSYA, A?D?SINT and TAME?DI?TN).

We were clearly in French territory as (ROSE)MARIE ANTOINETTE had appeared but I realise now that that was just a stinky red herring dangled in front of us by Raich to distract us from what we suddenly saw intersecting with it! Could RK?OSYA be anyone other than our treasured President, M Sarkozy? His letters were anagrammed or ‘Mélangées’, so we suddenly understood the rather strange French words that had been appearing: MELANGEZ LES PRESIDENTS DE LA CINQUIEME REPUBLIQUE – and we did. DE GAULLE, POMPIDOU, GISCARD D’ESTAING, MITTERRAND and CHIRAC helped us fill those unchecked lights.

No problems? Of course we had. We have been living here for a long time but didn’t know how to spell M Mitterrand’s name, and, with only one R, were heading the wrong way down Les Champs Elysées. Then there was the wordplay of what we assumed led to LESLIE  ‘Man consistently cut title (European)’. The solution was totally confirmed by checking letters but an entry was in the post before we understood that the title ‘LES SIX’ had to be docked ‘consistently’ thus producing LESI + E(uropean) with that extra L coming from the required extra letter.

Thank you, Raich. We thought this was enjoyable and very fair. I can’t say often enough how good it is that every now and then, there is a puzzle that numpty lesser solvers can handle and enjoy.

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