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Noye (Not Yet) by Samuel – jus wha he numpies waned!

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 July 2011

Samuel certainly earns a double numpty/nudnick vote of confidence this week. This was the crossword I have been pleading for for a few weeks, as we struggled with Sabre’s Knight’s moves or looked in dismay at those cartes blanches. We are still nearer the Sahara than London, with very limited resources and right from that delightful streamlined preamble, we were hooked.

‘Noye,’ we said, ‘that’s drowned in the local speak: is this one going to be about Ophelia?’ But it was not to be. There was something very slightly tantalising about that preamble (or should I say analising? No, ha would be cheaing, as we didn’ spo wha i was unil much laer when we realized here wasn’ a single EE in he enire compilaion excep for ‘THREE WORDS’ and ‘TWO WORDS’ and wha a giveaway HREE WORDS would have been!)

In retrospect, that was probably the most satisfactory preamble of the year so far. Three and a bit lines with

a comment about across answers being penned in and suffering (some kind of drought-affected sheep?) – but no, not the RASTRUM type of pen of clue 15ac, but just a simple pen (But does Samuel really believe we have the confidence to work in PEN? We’ve seen Dave’s little red pencil stub already this year and mine is even tinier.)

It didn’t take a genius to see that we were going to remove a letter (or even two or three) from each across clue. The fact that it could be more than one suggested that it was going to be the same letter.

‘Each down clue has a similar change.’ Were we going to add or remove that letter? Fairly quickly we saw that ‘Rue woman changing hands for sail’ suggested VERA changing to VELA. Vera is a ‘TRUE woman. That T seemed to be appearing in a few of our across solutions, LOVAT – ‘Vessel following slow away from borders is bluish green’ – VAT after (s)LO(w) and SMELTER ‘Ore processor sensed erbium’.

TENTS clinched it ‘Glaswegian heeds old fashioned probes’. Two Ts had to go, so our theory was confirmed. From here on it was magic as we added Ts to down clues and produced relatively approachable conundrums, though I have to have a grumble, I wasn’t happy with the definition part of ‘Over one African Queen’s overwhelmed by SARS’ leading to HEREROES (presumablyHEROES round ER).

Solving the across clues and entering words with the Ts removed was not so easy. I wonder whether that was the same for everyone else or whether it is a feature of our solving ability (or lack of it). However, the grid was soon complete with lots of enjoyment along the way.

That repeated clue at 12 and 31ac, ‘Vessel following slow away from borders is bluish green’, producing both LOVAT and LACTEAL [(s)LAC(k)+TEAL] was one moment of delight. We are not naive enough to believe the Listener Editors have made an error – no, this was a touch of Samuel subtlety – and what fun.

TINATION had appeared down the centre of the grid when we put a couple of Ts in those barred-off cells (just where we were expecting something to appear) and completing the word with that PROCRAS gave us a fine T in our grid and tied nicely into the theme, that obviously had nothing to do with Ophelia after all.

‘Nine more cells require shading, which reveals a germane warning phrase; a pair of words also modified as Across answers are.’ The usual head-scratching. Nothing was obvious. Were we going to put STITCH into TIME or find some sort of CARPE DIEM in our grid. Obviously these words had to have at least one T in them and to fit a concept into two words, Latin was going to be the best option – English equivalents like ‘Thief of time’ would tend to be three words.

We opted for a swim in the pool that was edging above 30 degrees by now (and the sun was edging over the yard arm sooo…) and then Numpty 2 gloated, ‘I’ve got it’. There it was – TEMPUS FUGIT – or EMPUS FUGI, flying like a natty little pair of wings down below the T (or time) that had been escaping from clues and solutions and even the preamble. I’d beer do a Lisen wih Ohers blog and say how much we liked Samuel’s offering, I said.’

‘Don’t you mean Tinsel with Otters?’

Hank you, Samuel. Delighful!

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