Listener 4224: Colleague’s How to ____ (Tango?)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 1 February 2013
Colleague’s fourth Listener, and the third that I have attempted. 4093, Times Group, related to the three Rs, five Ks and 15 Os found in Chambers, and 4150, Garden Scraps, was about the Wars of the Roses. Here we had four members of a group who survived a 50’s line-up change. All the clues were normal butthe final grid (quite large at 15×13) would reveal all.
The first two clues I solved, 12ac CESTUI and 16ac EASE, were in rows two and three of the top left corner. I decided to concentrate my efforts there for the time being rather than give the clues a quick read through. 1dn ACERB, 21ac BWANA and 13dn ULNA wre next, followed by 19ac KARNO. I’m not really sure how I got to learn of Fred Karno (he was way before my time), but I suspect it was my father who used the phrase ‘Fred Karno’s Circus’.
Anyway, I was off and running. My solving route turned out to go down the left-hand side of the grid, across the bottom to the end of CAPELLMEISTER, which provided a ladder back to the top and then down the right-hand side to the end. This sounds straightforward, but there were some tricky clues on the way. I had a real tussle trying to get 43ac and 38dn whose second letters intersected and were ••TE and ••LE respectively. 38dn was Use the other side in old wall for crack concealer? It was a long time before I sussed ‘mure’, a Shakespearean word for wall, changing to MULE, a drug smuggler. This enabled me to get Set reduced by half — it’s shaped like half a pear leading to LUTE, being half of ‘resolute’. Luckily not all of the clues were this tough, but they were all fine. I particularly liked 22dn Fast reptile — zoo’s 500 becoming 250, which was ‘Whipsnade’ changing to WHIP SNAKE.
And so the grid was finished, in about a couple of hours I think, and it was time for the endgame. It didn’t take long to find the four members in the grid, with a quick scan of the rows revealing NOVEMBER in row 4, ALPHA in row 6 and TANGO OSCAR in rows 8 and 10 respectively. The theme was therefore phonetic alphabets, but it needed Google for me to resolve them all, since my Brewer’s didn’t seem to help much, despite the advice in the preamble. It turns out that the Nato phonetic alphabet was the successor to the British Forces alphabet in 1956 and the grid reflected those that changed and those that stayed the same. In particular, NAN became NOVEMBER, ABLE became ALPHA, TARE became TANGO, and OBOE OSCAR. Additionally, CHARLIE, XRAY, VICTOR and MIKE stayed the same and needed highlighting in the grid.
Finally, what went under the grid? I pencilled Tango in, but that was hardly thematic. It required another look at the chart that I had found online to show that HOW pre-1956 became HOTEL afterwards. Great fun, and thanks to Colleague for a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt.