Listen With Others

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Absolutely Pointless by Waterloo

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 December 2012

Is Waterloo making a subtle dig at himself in his title or warning us that this Listener solving addiction is leading us nowhere? Ah, we don’t have to read far into this beautifully short preamble to understand that the grid is going to be ‘pointless’. In retrospect we reflect that no other title would have been so appropriate.

I’ve commented before that short preambles seem to lead to long solves. Will this be the case? Clearly, we are not going to be sure that we have entered clues correctly until several, if not all, are in place.

We set to work and the first few of these very short words (somebody told me the crossword has a 5.3 average word-length or thereabouts) fall into place astonishingly quickly. Within an hour we have well over half of them and a good idea of how some of them fit. We notice, along the way, of course, that Waterloo is a confirmed member of the Listener Compiler Tipsy Club with his ‘Stopping drunkenly nearly all night (7)’ (HALTING = AL[l] NIGHT*) and ‘Detective gone mad with spilt gin caper (10)’ (Oh my, that was difficult – as were a number of these clues! PI – Private Investigator, + GONE*  W(ith) GIN*, to give a ‘caper’ or a leap in a dance).

Fitting them into the grid is fun and we work from the top downwards, leaving a few ambiguous cells along the way. MISER, for example, might begin at 11 and move to the right, then SE to an R or it might go upwards, then go SE, putting an R in cell 12. That would easily be resolved if we had solved 12, ‘Almost enjoying the favour of old instinctive knowledge (5)’ (INWIT[h]) – but at this stage we had a yawning gap there and were wondering whether RISER would fit the definition.

Fortunately, some words, like PSEPHISM at 31 and ISLET at 27 dictated the mode of entry so that a skeleton grid appeared. I was particularly amused by the words that had a U-turn built into their structure so that they used the same cell twice. BLEB, for example, CORNO, TINT, ODSO and DYED. Seeing these made me wonder how many other words that Waterloo chose not to use are hidden in the grid.

However, he gave us enough to complete every cell, with some lovely long words meandering enchantingly around like ROWANBERRY, COWPARSLEY and BRAINWASH. This was different and fun. Thank you, Waterloo.

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