Listen With Others

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Letters Lament by Tangram

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 April 2011

Are the numpties becoming numptier or has the new team of vetters decided to select more and more difficult challenges each week? I dread to think what sort of carte blanche, double numerical playfair squares with misprints in every clue and three quarters of the clues in invisible ink they will be throwing at us by the back end of the year!

We met Tangram with his (her?) eightsome reel in Crossword a couple of months ago. Is this a first Listener Tangram?

Like that eightsome reel, this was tough!  Some clues yielded their secrets quickly. ‘One of Finnish stock rarely used command to lower head’ (ESTH with the H moving to the foot for ‘hest’), ‘Clumsy? Sheer dead drunk’ HAM + MERE + D, ‘Fruit tart consumed has nothing to replace energy’ TOM ATE with O replacing E, ‘Sounds possibly made by special wartime entertainment group’ S + ENSA, and so on. Of course, these turned out to be the type A clue where the initial letter of the solution was needed for the quotation.

The numpties had more trouble finding our letters latent and misprints but admired the subtlety of using an anagram of ‘verdant foliage’ with ‘oft’ removed and producing WALDGRAVINE. What seemed to be an extra ‘in’ – ‘Rebutted in love, I, painfully eating away’ held us up for a while but we finally opted for omitting the N of EROSION and that gave us our Y in 31d ‘take refuge …or in this road trip with top fully down YOURT.

SHELLEY suddenly seemed like a probable culprit – self indulgent Shelley, and the title was prompting us that this was a lament. We already had the bare bones of a quotation about ‘Win… come and gone …’ and the memory plays strange tricks. One numpty recalled the entire quotation and (admit it) Google quickly confirmed that this was from Adonais, ‘Winter is come and gone,/But grief returns with the revolving year’.

Suddenly we understood why TWELVEMOETH (with an E misprint in the solution) had to be ‘revolved’. Clearly we had to find some synonym of ‘grief’ returned somewhere in the grid.

If I say the rest was straight-forward, it would be a downright lie. We struggled till after midnight and still failed to understand 20ac, ‘More strikingly frocked, inspiration for a Darin hit’ – we needed a C misprint either in the clue of the solution and I was wondering whether Bobby Darin’s ‘Baby Face’ was going to produce a FACER – but with a misprint in the solution, what could a FAMER be? It is strange how we fail to spot the ‘French-based’ clues, when we are using French every day. I think there is an automatic brain cut out that comes into operation that blocks the French possibilites, even when they could be of use to us – as with LA MER.

TENE, for the returned grief was our very last clue to go into the grid. Once we had understood that the misprint had to be in the solution, it all came together. ‘Sorrow no more, take refuge in wine’ TENT, good Spanish red wine. Nice to see that Tangram shares the Listener setter oenophilic tendencies (I promise that wasn’t intended as a comment on presence at the bar after the annual dinner but here’s a rather woozy photo of some of the Listen With Others team, past and current, taken by the other numpty! Erwinch represents, of course, one notable absence from the line-up.)

Thanks to Tangram for an extrememly difficult but very fair and respectable challenge.

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