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Location, Location, Location by Shackleton

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 July 2011

Numpty despair! Why? Well, a couple of reasons. I have completed the solving of Shackleton’s Location, Location, Location and don’t have one more single fabulous clue to glow over – in the end, I was getting up and walking away in order to spin out and savour the last few (with a sneaking hope that he might put a foot wrong, or at least a little toe – just to make the rest of us feel less inferior!)

There’s the next reason for despair. How can hopeful compilers ever compete or to rise to anything like that standard of cluing?

Well, there was at least one source of delight. This one absolutely confirmed my conviction that there’s a thriving oenophile community of Listener compilers. It was simply oozing out of the clues. ‘In depression (he says, predicting how we lesser setters and solvers might be feeling) there’s time for a whiskey – single malt?’ Well, I nipped off and enjoyed one before realizing that I was actually being offered a ‘single male’ – a STAG (so we get sTag in the place of sWag).

Dare I admit it, I am actually beginning to enjoy the cartes blanches. Those four thirteen-letter words around the perimeter were a gift, then the grid made sense with only four rows left to sort out before I had slotted in a single clue. Splitting the across clues in the centre suggested that 7 and 31 down were going to share that centre letter (as they did, ARAGORN – R in Aragon, taking the upper half of the ultimate N and LANOLIN, ‘LA’ and ‘lin’ around ‘no’ fitting in below). The two letter clues were surprising, but clearly the reason would emerge for an obvious TA (‘return last couple of meat shanks – for ‘thanks’) and MO (‘Way of working ‘ – Modus operandi’ – a pit – for ‘bit’).

Those two illustrate the reason for my sheer joy in the solving of this one. The surface reading was flawless and completely deceptive. What about the Lake poet? ‘Coleridge, essentially (ERI – his middle letters) English (E) lakeside poet’ – gives ERIE, a lakeside port. This magic went on and on with every clue producing a new burst of laughter. ‘Spread feed around pig’ (3) The grid was telling me that SOW was the answer but could I see the misprint? (Of course, that’s to ‘spread seed’!) This is what Listener solving should be like! I just wonder how many hours (months? years?) have gone into honing down these gems.

Once Havana and La Floridita had appeared, it was clear that we really were in alcoholic company with none other than Papa Hemingway and it was a short step to the Ritz Bar in Paris and Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West. I like it when there is a penny drop moment half way through the solving that renders the rest of the unsolved clues easier to find. For example, ‘Agent’s seen to load of things’ looked like HOOFER, GOOFER etc. but that Y solved the clue. A DOOFER is a ‘thingy’ (for things) so we were going to load OF into DOER.

Full grid and a title to hunt for. It was going to be ‘resonant’ so I didn’t waste time looking for The Snows of Kilimanjaro or even The Old Man and the Sea. Do I get my knuckles rapped for saying that I really dislike just about everything Hemingway wrote – just a load of repetitive, self-indulgent maundering. I can hear howls of protest but bet none of the defenders have waded their way through The Old Man and the Sea half a dozen times with bored tenth graders. Even Listener numericals are light relief in comparison.

Yawgnimeh

F,H,B and S in those leftover lights made For Whom the Bell Tolls. And disappointment set in. Was that all there was to it? A bit of a Shackleton letdown? (Well, numpty blogs will have to cease if we ever have a clear ride!)

I couldn’t see a useful G, W or Y anywhere so where could the culprit be hiding? The Internet produced one startling fact. Today is July 2nd, the fiftieth anniversary of his death! What fine Listener timing. Clearly that number (1961) had to be hiding somewhere. Memories kicked in of Pieman’s Liberty Bell, where we had ‘LET FREEDOM’ made out of the bars in a RING or circle. Could Hemingway be hiding in the bars? Sure enough he was, (where else in this boozy crossword?) and his symmetrical year of departure. (Did you try turning the whole grid upside down? I did!) Now that’s what I call 180 degree symmetry.

Shackleton has done it again. Many thanks for all that enjoyment.

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