Listener 4240: Forlor by Nutmeg (or What! No Oile?)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 May 2013
This was Nutmeg’s fourth Listener, following on from themes of Franglais, Winnie the Pooh and The Grand Old Duke of York. For some reason, I had it in my mind that Nutmeg puzzles were of average difficulty, but a check of previous LWO blogs indicates otherwise. Winnie the Pooh’s Unsettled Spell in May 2011 took me well over 4 hours.
Here, Nutmeg had a wish that was likely to be unfulfilled. The clues had an extra letter in the wordplay which would spell out a message revealing a reason for this wish and would be reflected in the method of entry of ten clue answers.
The last across clue was number 36. 34ac Being short of members, support group welcomes graduate priest (6) was the first that I solved, and I only got that by looking up legless in Mrs B where the first word was AMELIA! 36ac looked as though it was a jumble of PLANE followed by some sort of short coat, and ALPENHORN was squashed and squeezed into the four squares.This was obviously the first of the ten answers needing treatment, but I would need more help before that became clear.
Mrs B assisted again with 13dn Agile rugby player almost dances enthusiastically (9), giving ACROBATIC — BAC[K] in ACROSTIC – S, with C as the extra letter. I think this clue illustrates how tough this clue type is, since the BA really bears no relationship with the rugby player. I’m not saying that it’s unfair, just that it’s not surprising that I get so few answers in my first pass through the clues.
My barely superficial knowledge of football helped with 19dn, with NE< in [T]ARSAL giving ARSENAL. If only 21dn The Paris woman dances enthusiastically (7, three words) had been as obvious, but the fact that it was a 3-word answer of only 7 letters hinted that it was likely to be one of the clues needing treatment. It was also probably an anagram of ‘the paris woman’ minus one letter. WARM HOT SPAIN + E was the first attempt I had, and I looked out the window at the wind and rain and wished I was in Spain playing golf. WITH OPEN ARMS didn’t reveal itself for another half hour. Similarly STANHOPE PRESS at 5ac (an anagram of SPO[O]NERS PET HAS) was some time coming.
Luckily ANOPHELINE was solved reasonably early and IONA at 1ac and OMELET at 10ac meant that it was probably to be entered as ALINE. It looked as though a jumble of PHONE had to be removed, but that didn’t really help to explain what was going on.
It was the message produced by the extra letters in the wordplay that was needed to help with that, and as the puzzle progressed they seemed to be making less and less sense. France and Scotland looked like they were there together with ‘grand’, and I wondered whether it was Nutmeg’s wish that grandchildren living in France moved closer to the setter’s home in Scotland!
Eventually, however, all became clear as the message was revealed as:
Motif based on Gran Vals by Francisco Tarrega
It seems that the Gran Vals was the melody on which Nokia based their (in)famous mobile ring tone: daddle-a-dah dadle-a-dah daddle-a-da-da! And Nutmeg’s Forlorn Hope was eventually shown to be a world with no mobile phones with the phrase “Honey, I’M ON THE TRAIN” being consigned to history!
My only disappointment with the puzzle, Nutmeg, was that you couldn’t weave OENOPHILE into the grid. That would undoubtedly have made Shirley’s day!