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The Bottom Line by Charybdis (Grow thin, Population!)

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 July 2011

I know that there are setting styles: I believe there are solving styles too. Looking back at Charybdis’ The Bottom Line, the clues all seem so transparent and logical, yet I, Numpty 1 (busy packing for a 20-hour drive home in humid 35° weather) found this one really difficult, while Numpty No 2 simply filled in the answers and had an almost complete grid in a couple of hours.

I glanced over his shoulder and completed the quotation “Something wicked this way comes”, and jointly we pieced together “We need to see a downturn at ten!”  We had a rather strange word at 10 NO?TA?U?OP. Obviously, if it was going to perform a downturn, we had better examine it the other way up. Aha! POPULATION!

Now those squares with multiple letters in them began to make sense. We had SPEC(tres) and (gutt)IES giving us SPECIES, FO(otie) and (flo)OD(water) giving us FOOD, (fat)WA and (typeset)TER providing the WATER and (Kung)FU and (evang)EL the FUEL.

Soon Numpty 2 was giving me a lecture about the linear nature of the increase in those four, and the exponential nature of the other part of the Malthusian argument – the growth in population that appeared on ‘The Bottom Line’ and climbing up to 10. Surprise, surprise, we turned the word down and real words still appeared. Cleeever!

Obviously MALTHUS (MAL – ‘Something wicked’ and THUS ‘this way’) had to replace that peculiar word we had slotted in at 19 across. (‘A thematically relevant name to replace the entry at 19’).

Food, fuel, water and thus species are going to run out, so we obviously had to delete those, leaving just one letter in each of those lights (sometimes resulting in non-words – that was a shame but it isn’t fair to expect miracles of compilers).

So there it was; a Friday finish with just that rather strange METICAL to relate to its clue, ‘Quote encapsulating capital prevailing mood’. What has the currency of Mozambique got to do with that? Capital? Well, a thousand miles further away from that solve and two days on, I have finally understood that the clue is (as the preamble so succinctly said) a cryptic one, so CITE had to ‘encapsulate’ LIMA (the capital) to give CLIMATE (prevailing mood) and that was to be cryptically changed.

Thanks to Charybdis. I thought this one all came together very attractively with a convincing theme.

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