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Listener 4156: Parsnip’s V (or Five Clues in Search of a Substitution)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 Oct 2011

This was Parsnip’s second Listener, his/her first being a couple of years back featuring the nursery rhyme “What are Little Boys Made of”. More versification this week, with the opening three words explaining how or why words removed from five clues replace words in five others. So, ten clues which aren’t to be read as they’re printed. That doesn’t sound too difficult, only 1 in 4.

Starting, as is usual, with the acrosses, I solved four in the first pass: 1 HOW, 17 HIGH-LEVEL, 22 CARIES and 36 DYE. Not very many, and the odds favoured (justifiably as it turned out) that none would be a special clue. Four down answers came next: 3 WEE, 6 GREAVE, 17 HECKLING and 32 RAD. Not very many, and the odds favoured (justifiably as it turned out) that none would be a special clue. (Sorry to repeat myself.)

11ac came next AREOLAR, helped by the E of WEE and the R of GREAVE: E (European) in AR (arab) SCHOLAR (student) – SCH (school), so Parsnip was in tricky mode with this puzzle! This was the first special clue with a superfluous word, fiddle. 33ac NOTT came next, where thrive seemed to be an extra word (although it may have needed replacing). There didn’t seem to be anything that fiddle and thrive had in common. Another extra word, treat, appeared in 12ac, but I still had no idea as to any clue that definitely needed a word to be substituted. The first of those came with 34ac Journey Marg did for the world of men (a clue that firmly planted the world of the Simpsons in my head!). Journey needed to be replaced by an anagram indicator, perhaps fiddle or treat.

And so I found that progress was relatively slow, which was hardly surprising given some of the tricky misprints that were used! When the grid was finally completed, after about 3½ hours, these were the ones that I found most cunning:

21ac ENABLE Make double doable bass participant in English national antique festival
27ac LAVATORY In Perth, took toot possible slag to track
toot is an Australian word for toilet
35ac HOYDEN Boisterous gaming gamine room on boat
4dn MORPH Money or personal wealth at the very outside is to change thanks to CGT CGI
M (money) + OR + Personal wealtH
15dn AGGRAVATE Matter Hatter (as it was) very active in silver jar
You need to look up hatter to see its “trouble, annoy” meaning

Listener 4156The corrected letters of the misprints were finally revealed as Rage against the dying of the light from Dylan Thomas’s poem Do not go gentle into that good night. The first three words thus revealed the rationale for the removals/substitutions: words meaning do replaced words meaning go. Thus:

11ac fiddle goes to 2dn
12ac treat goes to 34ac
33ac thrive goes to 18dn
34ac journey becomes treat
1dn short becomes note
2dn game becomes fiddle
9dn take goes to 28dn
18dn harmonise becomes thrive
28dn bet becomes take
29dn note goes to 1dn

I think my favourite substitution was in 18dn, where we have Harmonise Thrive unexpectedly in cunning, ousting five with smooth movement: THRIVE (anag) – V (five) in SLY (cunning).

The cryptic representations of the remainder of the verse were MAGGOT (gentle) in HOW (good) BYE (night) in the top row; GAOLED (anag of old age) and STORM (rave) + Y (end of daY), both in column 6. I actually had a bit of a problem justifying BYE for “night”, but I was convinced by the final representation of a large letter T suitably augmenting the initials of the answers to special clues to give Dylan Thomas.

All in all a fine puzzle from Parsnip, one which took me the best part of four hours to complete. It just remains to explain the meaning of the title, but I’ll leave that to someone else!!

Listener 4156 My  EntryAs a postscript, I only discovered the following as I was writing this blog: the poem is a villanelle. From Chambers, it is “a poem, on two rhymes, in five tercets and a quatrain, the first line repeated as sixth, twelfth, and eighteenth, the third as ninth, fifteenth, and last.” Alternatively, à la Wiki: “The first and third lines of the first stanza are rhyming refrains that alternate as the third line in each successive stanza and form a couplet at the close. A villanelle is nineteen lines long, consisting of five tercets and one concluding quatrain.”

4 Responses to “Listener 4156: Parsnip’s V (or Five Clues in Search of a Substitution)”

  1. David Rotheray said

    re: the problem with ‘bye’ – i believe maybe ‘how’ = ‘that’ and ‘bye’= ‘goodnight’

  2. shirleycurran said

    So was Villanelle the reason for the V of the title?

  3. David: Yes, you are correct, and that is how I deciphered the top line when I solved the puzzle … but not when I wrote the blog! However, my discomfort was, and still is, with ‘bye’ = ‘goodnight’.
    Shirley: I did consider that, and since the opening words of the published solution refer to the poem as a villanelle, that rationale is probably correct. However, it seems a bit loose, and would be like Phi’s Gormenghast puzzle (‘A Keep’) having the title ‘T’ (for trilogy)!

    PS: if anyone can come up with a word that describes the difference between my solving process and what I end up writing in my blog, I’d be very interested!

  4. David Rotheray said

    Re: the title – the only other thing that occurred to me was v=versus=against as in ‘against the dying of the light’ but that’s even more tenuous than the ‘villanelle’ explanation I feel

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