Listen With Others

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At Spes Non Fracta by Chalicea

Posted by clanca1234 on 23 June 2013

Right, Friday night, Listener time – and time for a blog! It seems a long time since I’ve written one of these, which just shows how time flies. It was only a few years ago when I used to blog every Listener. I’m sure that readers are grateful for not having to struggle through my entries any more! But tough luck for those who fall into that category, because here goes. Chambers at the ready, pencil in hand, and… let’s go!

Okay, it’s Chalicea, which makes this her solo debut – despite her being incredibly prolific elsewhere. Latin title, it seems – At Spes Non Fracta. My schoolboy Latin tells me that this means ‘hope is not yet crushed’. Hmm. That could indicate anything, really. What famous people called Hope do I know? Bob Hope? Unlikely. Hope Sandoval, singer with Mazzy Star? Even more unlikely. Let’s just get on and solve.

Quick scan through to see if any clues fall easily. Well, 14ac gives us our first misprint, with a fairly simple to spot EATERY dying to get out from AT in EERY. 15ac looks like an anagram… hmm. Anagram of OR EASTERN gives me, after a couple of minutes of playing, ROWAN TREES, which seems to fit the definition. So there’s a W missing from the wordplay. Interesting. It’s always hard when there’s a mixture of clue types to cope with – in this instance normal clues, misprint clues, and clues where one letter isn’t generated by wordplay. I’m sure this good start won’t last.

Forty minutes later, and despite my misgivings, the good start has continued, and we have a half-full grid.  Oddly we have another three clues where W is missing from wordplay – AVO[W]ABLE at 37ac with another easyish anagram, ATWEEL at 44ac, and JOWL at 2dn. We also have something that looks suspiciously as if it might be BLUESTOCKING at 27ac – at least I can’t think of any other word that has the pattern BL??ST?CK??G. Chambers gives the definition of BLUESTOCKING as ‘an intellectual woman’ – perhaps this means that we are missing W(omen) from wordplay in those where we aren’t generating W? That would make sense, I suppose. Just imagine, a world without women! Hmm, that doesn’t sound great to be honest. Things would be a lot duller. Speaking of women, there seems to be the sounds of cats fighting outside, and my wife shouting for me. Sigh. Time to leave the puzzle for a few minutes…

Hmm. What is it about cats? Ours are never happy unless they are sleeping, fighting or killing small mammals. Unfortunately, in the summer months the latter two are far more common than the first, and barely a day goes by without a mouse or bird being deposited somewhere in the house, or our cats emerging scarred and bleeding from some scrap or another. Even more worrying is the fact that we occasionally find small pieces of animals, or simply clumps of feathers, but never anything more. I have a grave suspicion that somewhere in the house is a stash of animal body parts that will slowly rot until the smell gives it away. Despite all searches, however, this hasn’t yet been found. I suppose the cats could just eat the remainder of the corpses…

Anyway, back to more cheery matters. Let’s look at what’s left… Aarrgghh! How did I not spot that before? I’ve literally just sat down, and seen that the bottom row reads SEMI?YDAVISON. I’m not an expert on suffragettes, but wasn’t EMILY DAVISON a famous member of the movement? Let’s go and have a quick Google, shall we? Okay, EMILY DAVISON threw herself under a horse called ANMER on June 4th 1913… June 4th being next Wednesday. That must surely be what we are celebrating then! And yes, at the top of the grid we have ANME? in the centre… yep, if I put RETE in at 8dn, that completes ANMER. Excellent! After that moaning, thank-you to Emma for calling me, and thank-you to Bill and Boris (the cats) for fighting, and meaning that I went outside, and came back to the grid with a fresh pair of eyes. So what else have we got, then? Well the Ws omitted from wordplay must be WOMEN, as I suspected. What else do we have to do? The misprints tell us which of ANMER and EMILY DAVISON must be highlighted, and there’s then two phrases through which lines must be drawn. If in doubt, look at the diagonals… and yes, from NW to SE there is what must turn into VOTES FOR WOMEN. Not so sure about the other phrase, though, although the other diagonal ends with WORDS. WORDS, or is it SWORDS? I suspect my lack of knowledge about the history of women’s rights is an issue here. Let’s solve some more – I’m still conscious that I need to work out what to highlight. Actually, no I don’t – I’ve just realised that CHERCHEZ LA FEMME can be obtained from the corrections to misprints (and ties in with Chalicea’s expert knowledge of European languages). It looks as if the words aren’t split wholly between across and down clues, though, which is a shame. Unless I’m being thick, it would have been better if, for instance, CHERCHEZ had been obtained from misprints in across clues and LA FEMME from those in down clues, rather than CHERCHEZ being split between across and down. Oh well, can’t have everything. So we know what to highlight – EMILY DAVISON. What about this other phrase, though? Let’s solve the remaining clues.

Ten minutes later and we’re done, so about 75 minutes all in all, plus whatever time the cats took up with their antics. The other phrase is DEEDS NOT WORDS, and drawing lines through this and through VOTES FOR WOMEN makes a cross, presumably to represent a cross on a ballot paper. That’s a really nice touch!

A fairly straightforward puzzle, but lots of thematic touches in there – the Ws omitted from wordplay were a nice thing, and the significance of the cross in the final grid was a joy. Excellent stuff from Chalicea, and proof that a puzzle doesn’t  have to be super-duper hard to be enjoyable and a good Listener. As a friend once said to me, it’s harder to set a really good easier puzzle than an average puzzle of average difficulty. This falls firmly into the ‘really good easier puzzle’ category, and I enjoyed it greatly. Here’s to seeing more of Chalicea in the future. One of the cats – I can’t tell which. they look the same – is now on my knee purring, so perhaps he feels the same way.

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