Listener 4248: Class by Augeas (or On the Fast Track)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 19 July 2013
Yet again, I wondered whether googling “anniversaries June 2013” would tell me the theme of this puzzle. I’d try and remember to check at the end. Meanwhile, here we had Augeas’s third Listener with Nancy Mitford’s headless chicken and the Great Vowel Shift having preceded it.
Extra words in clues, achiever and achievement and some optional highlighting all had to be found. There was also the warning that numbers in brackets were the length of grid entries, so there’d be some gaps to be left in the grid perhaps.
The naked extraterrestrial at 1ac Strange being undresses, found beside the road in Perth (12, two words) wasn’t obvious but 9 Great North Road mainly runs [through] new St Andrews club (4) was AIRN, the Great North Road being the A1. Mrs B helps with 10ac RABAT, the rotating capital, and also with 18 Tent-like dwelling (grand for centre of camps) flaps to and fro (6) giving WIGWAG…at least, I think it’s that rather than WIGWAM. So I had 11dn beginning with B, which was a simple hidden BUSSU, and a nice smattering of Ws and Gs in the NW quadrant. This led to 14dn FOG, 13ac RIFELY and finally 1dn NARROW.
19 and 20ac were unclued, but 24 RYOKAN followed by LYINGS, URSULA, SWEIR and IDEE gave a good finish to the acrosses. Given that we had two barred-off squares in the NW-SE diagonal, I checked to see what I had: NI•E•GR•S•E•, but I couldn’t see anything obvious. The second letters of extra words in the clues began •HI•DJ•LY and I presumed something relevant happened on the third of July.
I proceeded with the down clues and about an hour later the grid was nearing completion…except in the pesky SW corner. At 21dn What might this signify? Some hear Atkins ate army biscuit (6) I had •BY•WO, and it looked like it should be FOUR-BY-TWO or SIX-BY-TWO (or even TEN-BY-TWO), all of which sounded like timber sizes. A check in Chambers , however, showed that four-by-two was an army biscuit: ‘Atkins’ was the extra word, and 4 by 2 was 8, sounding like ‘ate’. So, there were no gaps in the grid entries but numbers replacing their word equivalents.
A short while later, and I had 20ac reading 446• and it looked as though we were playing with trains again. In double-quick time came the unclued DUCK, MALLARD and 4468 with NIGEL GRESLEY in the diagonal (so WIGWAG was correct). I knew enough about railway history to know that Mallard set the world speed record of 126mph for a steam train, which still stands. My ‘anniversaries’ web site for July had the record as 124.5mph, but Wiki shows that to be a German train’s 1936 record. Mallard’s record was set on 3rd July 1938.
Finally, I had the optional thematic word to highlight. Unlike Queen’s A Kind of Magic in gwizardry’s recent puzzle, which was pretty obvious, only 16ac WORLD-CLASS looked vaguely appropropriate here. I scanned the rest of the grid, but perhaps not very seriously, and highlighted 16ac. If nothing else, I had an idea for my LWO animation. Plus, if it were wrong, I would finally have answered my thought on optional steps in a Listener…are you penalised if you get it wrong?
And so, following on from Ifor’s Flying Scotsman puzzle last September, another fun outing along the LNER, this time from Augeas.