Listen With Others

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Listener 4217: Absolutely Pointless by Waterloo

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 December 2012

This week, we had to enter answers, but omit any compass coordinates which will dictate the direction that the following letter(s) were entered. I’m sure we’ve had something similar before, perhaps even from this quirky setter. I was unable to locate such a puzzle, but remember Waterloo’s fiDlEDE where repeated consecutive letters had to be entered in capitals … and in red?

I presumed that every answer had at least one of the eight relevant compass coordinates: N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W and NW. I also presumed that a word wouldn’t end with one, although it wouldn’t be a problem if it did. The main problem with this puzzle was that the initial direction of entries could be in any one of the eight, although entries starting in squares (as opposed to octagons) were obviously limited to four directions.

A lot of the clues were fairly easy, and I made good progress with well over a dozen in the first twenty minutes. I had a lot of the top half of the grid completed, when I found myself wondering where I’d gone wrong! I had 29 Detective gone mad with spilt gin caper (10), but there didn’t seem to be anywhere obvious to put it, apart from the P in its starting cell, courtesy of 25(i). I saw PIG going upwards, and thought the clue was referring to the slang, and somewhat abusive, word for policeman. It wasn’t that, of course, but PIGEONWING (PI + GONE* + W + GIN*) snaking upwards in four directions eventually manifested itself.

My favourite clue was the aforementioned 25(i) Plant where Morris made cars outside capital without one (10). Although I could see that it was referring to the factory where Morris cars were manufactured in the 50s and 60s, it took me a bit of time to remember it was at Cowley, and here we had COW-PARSLEY (COWLEY outside PAR[I]S). Not too difficult a clue for those UK residents of a certain age, but probably a pain for overseas solvers.

I was surprised that the whole grid took over three hours to complete. Eking out the last few clues took a long time, with 19 Trouble with illness in decent (6) and 44 This bit of step behind curtain means shorter work (7) leading to ABSEIL and RAISER respectively. It staggered me that I took so long to solve them.

Never mind. I got there in the end, and another little vignette from Waterloo bit the dust. Thanks.

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