Listen With Others

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Phiz by Be-Ro

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 January 2012

Phew! I started this one 24 hours ago and worked at it till after midnight, and most of today too. My third check has just convinced me that those Os Is and Ts must be eyes, nose and teeth. Phizog? Decidedly there must be a few ‘all corrects’ lurking out there and the dastardly editors have decided to opt for the evening of all the drunken office parties (the ROISTERS) and morning-afters to finally eliminate them.

We were in the middle of a snow blizzard as I attempted to download Phiz and the power failed and re-failed and re-re-failed, leaving me just enough time to read that preamble. I almost abandoned on the spot! The other Numpty did just that and disappeared to cook dinner.

No, it wasn’t the clues. We had all but five (NABK, ROULES, TERETE, STALL and TRIE) after a few hours of head-scratching and a lot of grumbling. We managed to fit TIE around R (‘Ed’s to turn out, take a bow outside’ (4)) but we got TIRE and decided that that must be a Spenserian version of ATTIRE (in the sense of a smart ‘turn out’) Oh dear the pitfalls! But just look at those words! (And BANIA, JATROPHA, POITREL, PROINE, PHOTS, ATROPOUS – what language is this?) Yes, our blizzard continued so there was no ski-ing today and I’m feeling pretty ROYNISH!

Knights’ moves and things like this get thrust into my camp so I set to work and made fine progress until MARQUETRY and RE-ENTRY refused to make bedfellows. Second attempt: ATROPOUS and ROULES clashed – and so it continued with the light slowly dawning that it was important to keep track of my moves. However, as with those Knights’ moves, the remaining words suggested themselves as I progressed. Apart from that bit of ‘grid help’, this was almost a 100% exercise in cold-solving wasn’t it? What I would have said a smidgin over two years ago when I first attempted a Listener crossword. I dread to think!

Fitting those words in was fiendish, as all but the north-west corner presented problems. NEEDLE (Ah, the Laced Utah alcohol – at least BeRo upheld the Listener compiler tradition of incorporating a drop of alcohol into his clues) went in in every direction before it agreed to live side by side with DIRL.

At last a full grid that seemed to work. Of course, we hadn’t finished. We had to complete another forfeit and copy those unchecked letters into the last little grid. (Just as an irrelevant aside – the Fizz-Buzz game is a wonderful way to teach language-learners to count in their new language – numbers divisible by 3 get BUZZ, 5s get FIZZ – so Un, deux, BUZZ, quatre, FIZZ, BUZZ, sept, huit, BUZZ, dix, onze, douze Oh dear, I’m eliminated! I gather there is a rather more racy adult party game along the same lines too.)

Our first attempt produced a rather odd PHIZOG (obviously that was what we were aiming at) as it had an extra squinty eyelash dangling, so I took myself in hand and coloured and numbered squares as they were used once or twice, finally producing the desired result. (Look at her hideous smile above!)

What a lot of bloggy grumbling about what was in fact a magnificent challenge. What a wonderful feeling of achievement, too, to have got there in the end.

Thank you, BeRo for filling my entire Saturday with this demoniacal puzzle. (Back to ski-ing – it reminds me of my small son’s map of the ski resort when we had stretched him:  – Blue Pistes = fun, Red = difficult, Black = impossible – this was verging on the black!)

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