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Fruitless Effort by Hypnos

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 February 2012

‘Fruitless Effort’ indeed! Was this Hypnos’ anticipation of my performance? He wasn’t far wrong. The first half hour of gazing at his clues produced very few solutions. We did meet Belize a couple of weeks ago didn’t we and we learned that it was BH ‘Decry in Belize boiled fare (5)’ so we sussed out BROTH, giving us ‘Decay’ rather than ‘Decry’ and an A misprint.

A few Scots words helped. The Scottish numpty actually uses the words TRAUCHLE and OCHONE and we had a stab at those, working backwards from what we decided had to be the solution, to the wordplay. ‘Drudge from Edinburgh given tons by male in Glasgow touring hospital (8)’.  T(ons) was followed by RAUCLE around H(ospital). The Pacific resident had to be a COHO so, for some reason, we were removing the NE from OCHONE and anagramming the OCHO. I still don’t know how the N corrected misprint in TOP persuaded us to do that!

Our struggles continued with the pattern being repeated – think of a word, make the wordplay fit! It only became easier as the grid was populated, but we had lots of doubt. Could SHOT really be the answer to ‘Part of firm spell (4)’? If it is ‘part of fiLm’ the ‘spell’ is ‘informal’ and also comes from the same headword. Hmmm! NOTE held us up for a while as well. This too seemed to be the same head word used in two different senses (Cry of bird in murk – mArk). Double hmmmm!

‘Striker loud once in lines about end of union (5)’ We had HENR? so this looked like a reference to Thierry HENRY but surely we are not allowing Arsenal to invade Listener territory? Was that ‘loud’ giving us an A misprint in ‘loAd’? (And the ALL BLACKS seem to have snuck in too – is Hypnos a sports freak? At least he had the decency to include the usual Listener compiler tipple with a bottle of fine BEAUNE at 42ac.)

Fortunately Dr Arbuthnot appeared and put us out of our misery. The letters we had confirmed that the fruitless effort of the title was the breaking of a butterfly on a wheel. (WHO BREAKS A BUTTERFLY UPON A WHEEL? of Alexander Pope’s EPISTLE TO DR ARBUTHNOT.)

As usual, having those misprints helped us solve our final clues, especially those nasty little four letter ones – ‘Retired Latin with a look showing dejection (4)’. Now we knew that we had to produce a Book, so our retired Latin had to be an RC going into reverse mode before AB, and CRAB conveniently produced ‘dejected’ in the bumper vermilion volume.

Am I moaning again? Yes, but more about my own solving ability than about Hypnos’ subtle clues. Once we had the quotation, life became easier and, for once, we were not desperately struggling to find the endgame for a couple of days after filling our grid. We knew we had to find a butterfly and that it had to be ‘upon a wheel’, and there, of course, right in the centre, was our Camberwell beauty. I think my effort filled more than sixteen cells – heigh-ho. Thank you, Hypnos.

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