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Typtoing in Grammar’s Footsteps by Jaques

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 May 2013

Grammar 002We Numpties solved this at breakneck speed, laughing all the way, and we are laughing still. What’s more, Numpties soared to famous heights again – not walking on the cracks as we were a couple of weeks ago in Ron’s X and Y but with a head docked this time! ‘An indefinite number, idiot having no [enumerate] number (5) [N]UMPTY.

No, I tell a lie! Consternation was our very first reaction. Have the editors gone completely bonkers? Is that a typo in the title? What would I do if my Grade Seven wrote a sentence like ‘Each of the clues contain an extra word, none of which have less than four letters’? Three red pen howls there, but it gets worse: ‘In clue order their first letters spell a message about what solvers must do symmetrically in the completed grid out.’ Then the first joyous guffaw as we get to ‘Down answer’s …’ Hah – grammar! The fun continued as the grammatical errors piled up in the clues – and what a BRILLIANT idea, Jaques, to select a theme like this where you are freed from that sometimes horrendous task of attempting to give a recalcitrant clue a plausible surface reading by the need to include some atrocious grammar.

I just went back to a communication from an editor where he quoted back at me a totally implausible surface reading – I was going to quote him but the embarrassment is just too great – Did I really write that? Well Jaques did! We get things like ‘I’m completely surrounded, even [occasionally] swimming, chlorine are ingested (7)’ (EVEN CL A)* giving us ENCLAVE. Sadly, though, Jaques wasn’t claiming membership of the Listener setter tipply club – I think chlorine was the only thing he are ingesting!

Solutions just flowed onto the page and we soon had enough letters to sort out some of the down jumbles. I thought I hated jumbles but, a couple of days ago, treated myself to Ross Beresford’s TEA. What an amazing tool it is. Yes, indeed I will use every device on the planet to help solve a crossword; Anne Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary, Quinapalus’ website. They add to the fun rather than diminishing it and, somewhere deep down, I have a sneaking suspicion that the game is meant to be about pleasure.

Pleasure it was! QUOTE had appeared in the message with the first five clues we solved. Next came SHOULD BE HIGHLIGHTED and, with TEA’s help, we teased out AND SPEAKER IN BREWER. Instantly Brewer led us to SIGISMUND I and there he was, of course, at the foot of the crossword. ‘Symmetrically’ was such a generous gift to solvers. Almost all our remaining gaps were filled as we fitted ‘EGO SUM IMPERATOR ROMANORUM ET SUPRA GRAMMATICAM’ (‘I am the Roman emperor and am above grammar’). What a delightful story, too!

(Just one mini whinge in parenthesis too! I say goodbye to a wonderful group of International Baccalaureate Literature A students next week as they head for their final exam. They are stars at grammar and all ‘quote’/verb and produce ‘quotations’/noun, and pick each other up if any one dares to talk of ‘quotes’. OK OK, Numpty pedant! Even Chambers allows, now, that ‘quote’ exists INF as a noun, and I suppose Jaques was eschewing grammar.)

All that remained for us was to fill in a few missing letters in the jumbles, and they were particularly helpful too, as we had to have three identical letters in the unches in 15 down, for example, and the I of SIGISMUND told us that they were all Is. Only two of the remaining clues caused a head scratch. ‘One [excused] over sin? Unusual snuggle up and speak whiningly (8)’ COSE + CANT – that was devious, using that variant of sine! And ‘An old bribe, it a negligible [daily] amount turns up (4)’ ‘T + FIG (rev)

Delightful, thank you, Jaques!

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