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Here and There by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 July 2012

Just a short preamble: that bodes ill! ‘All answers require amendment on entry in the grid.’ That could be daunting (ugh, they might all have to go in as jumbles), but on the other hand, it could be an impressive feat if all answers are real words. Then we come to that description of a clue that consists of two definitions (either of which might produce the entry) and ‘a letter mixture of all the letters involved in amendments to answers, plus one additional letter.’ That is almost encouraging as it suggest that there are going to be single letter amendments of all 46 clues. We had better keep tabs of them.

We are going to be given additional information by reading 22 letters that are either additional or omitted in down clues. My! This is becoming complicated. We draw our coloured bands down the side of the clues and set to.

COMPOSED appears at once (Collected schoolgirl clutching broken mops (9) COED around MOPS*) and we tentatively add a T and insert COMPOSTED (with our spirits soaring – are these all going to prove to be real words?) OVERP(L)AY, [C]OLDEST and PROSPER[O] speedily follow. How I like the use of ‘awful’ in that clue (Rep’s old pro playing the Bard’s awful Duke of Milan (7)) Wasn’t he the ‘lawful’ Duke who was cast out to sea with his daughter Miranda, by the usurping Antonio?

Solving proceeds at a spanking rate but worrying gaps appear. You don’t have to be a northerner to know that the queer COD down the road is just a ‘chap’ but the clue ‘About to finish up (4)’ (C + DO rev) leaves an awkward gap (COED, COND, COLD, CORD etc. are possible) as does 20d (Applying drug to muscle (with i[R]on supplement) creates euphoria (8) This could be GELATION, DELATION or RELATION). (What a lot of parentheses – I am losing the place in archetypal Numpty fashion, just as I was in my solve!)

We shelve the problem for a moment. Neither of those clues can be the one with two definitions – a more promising one has surfaced, ‘Mental disorder: Hebrew woman rings NICE doctors for a pill (4)’ We have ?A?A and MANIA could be ‘Mental Disorder’ but MARIA might well be the Hebrew woman, leading to MARA, and the 24 remaining letters don’t look like conventional wordplay!

We know, by now that ALL ENTRIES ARE REAL TERMS. We hardly needed that prompt from the extra or missing letters in down clues but it does just light a tiny candle in our flail, as why has Hedge-sparrow used TERMS: One might have expected WORDS but that might have given him an awkward W.

We’ve spent about four hours tussling with these clues and produced an almost full grid but with so many small gaps and doubts. I take a breather and hunt for the usual Listener compiler tipple in the grid – yes, Hedge-sparrow has his  evil earl taking to drink (E + ALE = putative evil for the bard!) – time indeed for hot toddy and bed!

Morning brings a kind of pdm. There are 24 letters in that clue but we need 46 – one for each clue amendment, with an ‘additional letter’ that solvers must identify ‘and use it to resolve the ambiguity in this entry’. Why did it take me so long to see that each letter was going to be used twice? I write out 48 letters, RR II NN GG SS NN II CC etc. and tick off the letters in my pink marginal stripe and it almost works. I have two Ns and two Rs left.

No, Numpty solving is never so simple! I also have an A, as I have been unable to solve 27ac ‘Game, set and match (4) I have put PITA in there but thought T must be my extra letter. I wonder how many other people were frustrated at this stage by their lousy lack of ability to solve. Of course, this clever clue had three PIT definitions, and thus placed that vagrant A.

There is no such word as NELATION, so 20d has to be (R)ELATION – relegating the other extra R to CO(R)D and leaving an M for MA(N)A (prestige!) What a compilation and what a struggle it was for us!

Many thanks, Hedge-sparrow.


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