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Listener 4172: Fruitless Effort by Hypnos

Posted by erwinch on 3 February 2012

Only a second Listener but Hypnos is a familiar name from elsewhere and especially from the Inquisitor series in my case.
Getting started was rather difficult with the misprint in each clue appearing anywhere and not just in the definition part as is more usual.  Here are my first five grid entries, some of which were tentative at the time:
4dn See free video? (7) release + T – two definitions
27dn Free usher not having got married (4) acer + T – (M)ACER
This left 25ac with the fourth letter E and final A.  It looked as though the definition might be flier so I looked in Bradford’s (5th) for a 9-letter bird that would fit:
25ac Flier, remarkable ace accepting an op (9) talegalla + N – (A + LEG) in (TALL + A)  I wanted to check that the talegalla could fly but it was a right wild-goose chase in Chambers (and the OED).  Talegalla led to brush turkey then E Australian mound-bird and finally megapode with no mention at all of flight capability.  Resorting to the Internet, I found a short video of a brush turkey hereWikipedia tells us that some species of megapodes can fly but I don’t think that the talegalla is one of these.  However, I will accept that it would probably fly away in the terrestrial sense if you tried to catch it.
8dn Decry in Belize boiled fare (5) broth + A – ROT in BH
2dn Gusto better shown about bible (5) verve + L – RV in VEE
Eventually the correct letters in misprints revealed A Pope at the end preceded by the name Arbuthnot.  There are six pages of Alexander Pope quotations in ODQ5 and finding the required one took me a lot longer than you might expect.  Initially I made the mistake of assuming that A Pope was the only reference to the source and Arbuthnot part of the quotation.  There are eight Arbuthnots listed in Everyman’s Dictionary of Fictional Characters (1973) but none are characters from Pope.   However, I found it in the end:
Who breaks [a butterfly] upon a wheel? ‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot‘ (1735) A Pope
The missing element, a butterfly, was represented in the final grid by Camberwell beauty (unbroken) in the shape of a circle:
Pope for one would have been puzzled by this solution.  He died in 1744 yet Chambers tells us that the Camberwell beauty was first recorded in England in 1748.  I wonder if he knew of the chequered skipper, which also has 16 letters and is found in Chambers?  Still, the Camberwell beauty is a little more colourful and makes for a striking image here.
Later, a friend supplied the following from Chambers that would have also fitted: peacock butterfly, cabbage-butterfly, thistle butterfly, monarch butterfly (see milkweed butterfly under milk) and skipper butterfly (see Hesper).  Having butterfly in the name though seems a touch unsatisfactory so I consider Camberwell beauty to have been a good choice.
As an explanation of the title, Chambers contains the entry: break a butterfly (or fly, etc) on the wheel to inflict a punishment out of all proportion to the offence; to employ great exertions for insignificant ends.
But I had not quite finished.  I had three clues marked with an asterisk to indicate elusive wordplay:
30ac Old core principles from college kept by one associated with York? (5) abcee + W – C in A BEE Given York, I originally thought that this might have had something to do with a railway guide.
36ac A King, in retreat, sat on a mount (6) Ararat + E – A + R + (TAR + A) (rev)
39ac Top Gaelic expression of lamentation when bereft of NE Pacific resident (4) coho + N – C + OHO(NE)
So, to conclude, I found this difficult to start but then straightforward fun in the classic Listener style – thank you Hypnos. 

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