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Taste and Fancy by Radix

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 Jun 2012

All done but the title and what is Radix up to, the old fox! We knew where this one was heading not long after we had started when W??LI?M SH?KE????RE appeared from our across clue misprints. We have toiled for HORSE, no I mean HOUSE, no HOURS (that is the effect this one has had) to find those double misprints in the down clues and finally come up with a set of familiar Shakespearean words that were or are ambiguous. (TURBOND, GALOWSES, PAJOCK, SNEAK-CUP, HANDSAW.)

So I look up TASTE and FANCY and wonder what Shakespeare made of those and Hmmm! To TASTE for him, was ‘to enjoy carnally’ according to Chambers and FANCY verges on the dubious, though Shakespeare seems to have accepted that it could be just love. So is Radix being naughty or have I prudishly tripped at the final hurdle?

(Some time after I had suspected Radix of naughtiness, a compiler quoted Dickens to me, ‘Do you spell it with a “V” or a “W”?’ inquired the judge. ‘That depends upon the taste and fancy of the speller, my Lord’ replied Sam Weller’ – obviously from Pickwick Papers – well, well! So there we have it – a question of wonky spelling identified by one of Dickens’ most endearing characters.)

Seriously, this was tremendously hard work. But what a mass of information and complexity Radix included in a 12 X 12 grid! Clue after clue astounded us when we had teased out its subtleties. Let me take just two:

‘Ancient Goodies and Cleese finally featuring in books (5)’.  Yes, I know the Goodies, actually skied with Tim Brooke Taylor in the Club Med in St-Moritz when he was but a lad, but were we really dealing with the Goodies here and John Cleese (and if not, how did Radix manage to slip that capital G past the editors, and a V on Vogue that turned vague later on? Another numpty Hmmmm!) Well we weren’t. These Ancient Goodies were CATES and we got to them through the astonishingly complex misprint boAks (or CATS) around the end of Clees(E) No, of course I am not complaining, I wouldn’t dare and it was a super clue.

These clues took hours and we had completed and mailed the crossword before we could solve my other example. ‘At some stage reap share (7)’. The grid only allowed us INPHASE and we had played with ‘at Home’ but our required set of misprints needed A and K (to produce SNEAK-CUP, that lovely textual error in Henry IV Part I  – probably committed by one of those scribes who were hired to sit in the Globe and scribble down a pirated text of the play). So we had to opt for ‘In sAme stage’ producing the A misprint. But the K?

Two friends finally explained to me that ‘reap’ = IN and ‘shaKe’ (with the K misprint) gives ‘faze’, which can be spelled PHASE.

Easy to write but getting to the point of those five wonky Shakespearean words took all of Friday evening. There was no Friday Club on the Answerbank (and even Saturday’s early entries were put there by solvers who hadn’t completed the task!) At this stage, we were marvelling at all that Radix had incorporated into his compilation, with the almost too demanding double misprints – one in the definition and one in the word play of the down clues, then the added boustrophedon of the extra words. (I have learnt now that that single word can be noun, adjective and adverb! Wow!)

Of course I hunted for the inevitable Listener compiler tippling and Radix gave us more than the normal amount with ‘mead after mead’, ‘wine in Italy (ASTI of course), ‘claret’, ‘wine’ again, ‘Red Eye’, ‘bit of alcohol’ – no wonder we had those clues ‘Soap alone hasn’t succeeded in dealing with what helps some to pee (9)’ (RET = soaK, + INSULAR less S) and the amusing ‘Trellis work possibly dead alluring (according to theme) (9)’ Where ‘dead’ led to Head or LAT (more smutty schoolboy stuff!) and TICING was the alluring bit (back to the Taste and Fancy of the title!)

However, for this crossword to really star, there had to be a final WOW moment – a pdm. We had assumed from the start (knowing Radix’s high standards) that all down entries were going to be real words, so across misprints were most likely to be in the across unchecked lights. We entered the downs in red and forgot about them. As I laboriously worked through all the possible misprints that could go into the other lights (WI/AIU/MN/CDAPT/HWL/EIOUY/ OA/ DKLPW/ IO/ PS etc) I decided that the numpty blog would be one of those ‘damning by faint praise’ things’ as this seemingly impossible task couldn’t lead to a flash of brilliance …. could it?

Of course it did … I AM A … I had already spotted the …ISH early in the solving process and there it was: I AM A WEAKISH SPELLER. Even a numpty can see what that anagrams! THE BARD of course.

So Radix has done it again! I hope he will be persuaded to tell us how long it took him to put such an astounding quantity of material into his crossword. Many thanks!

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