Listener 4130: Augeas’s Rattle (or Animal Farm)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 15 April 2011
Augeas is the third new setter this year in the Listener stable (pun intended). The Augean stables housed vast numbers of cattle, and the title seemed to shout out a misprint; either that or a tailless ‘rattler’, so a couple of animal references before I’d even read the preamble. Little did I know that the theme would turn out to be related to another animal.
With only an extra word in every clue to contend with, I was much relieved after the multiple clue types of recent weeks. I solved over half the acrosses in less than thirty minutes. Half of the down clues were the next to go, and I was quickly on the way to completing the grid. In hindsight, I’m surprised how easy some of the clues were. The two long anagrams, T MANN ECHT plus E N and ELLAS WORSE plus the drug E pretty much jumped off the page when I sribbled them down: they were ENCHANTMENT and SLOW-RELEASE respectively. And Very small [pointless] war between Germany and France didn’t even try to camouflage ‘war’ as ‘conflict’ or ‘struggle’ for DWARF.
The only real difficulty was with the unclued entries, most of which crossed each other. This resulted in only about half of their letters being checked, and it was necessary to wait for the quotation to reveal itself, from the first letters of the extra words, before any further progress could be made with them. The beginning of the quotation was finally revealed as “An aristocracy in a republic is which was finished with like a chicken whose head has been cut off; it may run about in a lively way, but in fact it is dead”, from Nancy Mitford.
So, the unclued entries were anagrams of chickens after their initial letters had been dropped. For once I found Chambers Crossword Dictionary far more useful than Bradford’s. Using the first letters of the unclued entries, A RUN ON GUINEA (note chicken run and guinea fowl), plus a bit of logic, all but the unchecked letters of 4ac, 20ac, 34ac, 1dn and 17dn could be deduced. These were then required to be entered alphabetically. This sounded a bit weak when I first read the preamble, but I found it an enjoyable little endgame. The chickens and corresponding unclued entries required were as follows, with the letters entered alphabetically underlined:
|20ac||RHODE ISLAND RED||ISDNRDHLEEOAD|
I needed help from Tea to resolve the title. Far from being bovine related, it represents an anagram of Partlet, a hen, without its P.
All in all then, I’d like to thank Augeas for a nice straightforward puzzle. I suspect that this was deliberate planning by the editors given what was to manifest itself the following week!!