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Listener 4136: Cross-reference by Nudd (or Coalition Politics?!)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 May 2011

Another new setter this week, at least to Listener solvers (Nudd is known to Magpie readers and had an Enigmatic Variations puzzle last year). In Cross-reference, we had three clue types: double clues (two clues side by side), clues with a misprint of one letter, not necessarily in the definition, and normal clues. However, I reckoned they should be easily distinguishable. I didn’t like the way that the preamble said that the corrected misprint letters would be a hint to a prototype for each double clue’s grid entry, but that was only because I didn’t think I’d seen the word “prototype” in a preamble before! Perhaps it meant alternate letters from each word, but only time would tell.

I felt that I should have got either 1ac or 4ac on my first pass through the across clues, but it was left to 9ac for that. As luck would have it, it was a double clue, leading to DECENTLY and SESAMOID (which I got by looking up til in Chambers). Unfortunately, my luck was short lived and I only got a half-dozen more across clues, with no more doubles.

The down clues were a bit more productive, with 4dn DEODAR/CANAPE being the first. However, it resulted in a complete hash of letters in the fifth square of the second row … A/E/M/N. It was beginning to get a bit worrying! By the time I finished my first pass of the down clues, I had a couple of more doubles solved: SATEEN/PARROT and ELBOWS/EDITOR, but any idea that a selection of letters from each of these words could give the entry seemed quite remote. I vaguely thought that the title might refer to hybrid animals, like tigron and zebrinny, but nothing seemed obvious at this point, so it was just a question of ploughing on and seeing what happened. And believe me, the ploughing turned out to be quite hard work. The breakthrough for me came with 37ac ESCAPIST/ETALAGES where I finally realised that the first half of ESCAPIST could be entered as it was, since I had .SCA..T., and then ETAL reversed could give ESCALATE.

Whether I could have sussed out what was going on earlier than I did, I don’t know, but it was well over three hours before the penny dropped. It wasn’t helped by some devious, but very fair, clueing. For example:

4ac COLD BOOT
PANSTICK
Spooner’s impudent bird, to turn back on foundation, harshly criticises work
with the break between the clues after on, COLD BOOT being to turn back on, as in “Have you tried switching it off and back on again?!!”*
13ac AGED Old French artist mostly painting the wrong way
Old being the definition, not Old French artist
8dn PROPER
SELDOM
Tramp in the direction of very rarely dressed models
where the clue break is after very (the definition), not before it

 
Anyway, while clues were being solved, the hint provided by the correct letters of the misprints was revealing itself, but proving to be of no use to me. The last word was obviously animal, but the beginning seemed to want to spell out half or thing. The animal bit of it, however, had already enabled me to make the leap to Doctor Doolittle’s push-me-pull-you creature, with it’s two heads facing away from each other, and … oh, where would I be without Google? … it was in a series of books by Hugh LOFTING. Well, excuse me if I never knew that! And there it was in the main NE-SW diagonal, spelt PUSHMI-PULLYU:

**

An excellent puzzle from Nudd, which had me guessing all the way through, and another pretty difficult one in what seems to be turning out to be a difficult Listener year.

* Courtesy The IT Crowd on Channel 4
** Excuse the brief foray into politics!
 

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