Listen With Others

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Redraw by Nod

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 October 2013

Redraw by Nod 001Nothing too threatening in Nod’s preamble.  That device of an extra word seemed to promise a relatively generous route to the cryptic statement (as indeed it was; half way through our solve, we worked the message out then worked in reverse, in typical Numpty fashion, to the words that were likely to be the extra ones).

After reassuring confirmation that Nod is a confirmed member of the Listener setters tipply club, ‘Take short step with designated driver in drink WADDLE = W(ith) + DD in ALE, and ‘Diner ordered aperitif very late – starters unavailable’ EATERY = (v)ERY (l)ATE*, solving continued steadily with some clues producing a smile. ‘Euro-MP sets forth from old road in the middle of Brussels’ had us wondering for a while until we realised that the ‘old road’ was a TART in (Bru)SS(els). What, I ask, was the Euro-MP doing in that situation? OK, I realize that he was providing the extra word and giving us the E of A NOVEL TWIST REVEALS TWELVE NEW WORDS.

Those extra words were used effectively by Nod to improve the surface readings of some of the clues weren’t they? We usually solve by focussing on the word play and sometimes do not even consider whether the surface-reading is plausible but, when writing a blog, I tend to look at those surface readings and frequently a pattern emerges. As well as the ‘undressing’, ‘drink driving’, ‘aphrodisiacs’, ‘violent record’, ‘light-fingered squad’, ‘ecstasy’, and ‘obscenities’ that suggest that Nod has rather strange preoccupations, there was a series of unlikely words in ‘Redraw’.

Miles, Jessel, Flora, Quint and even Henry James (albeit separated by a comma) are in those clues and I claim to be the literary Numpty but did I spot it? I seem to operate selective cognitive dissonance when solving a crossword. I wonder whether Kathryn Friedlander has noticed this in her research. We, for example, who use French daily, rarely spot the obvious references to French words in our solving, as we have deliberately closed off that part of out thinking. The same was true of Henry James in this case, even though MISANDRIST was our first solution. ‘Henry, James, etc, administers fluid without ecstasy’ (ADMINISTERS less E*). Perhaps the hint was just too blatant to be believed.

We were lucky in that our next three solves were those long words ICOSANDRIA ‘Hope this [event] might produce one aphrodisiac class of plants (clever subtraction here! HOPE + ICOSANDRIA* = ONE + APHRODISIAC), RINGLEADER and COMPANY MAN. The grid filled speedily after that and in a generous hour, it was full. I need to apply for membership of the Listener Grid-starers’ Club as Numpty head scratching began at this point. We knew that we must be looking for a NOVEL in the grid and that we were going to ‘TWIST’ it but the obvious solution escaped us for a while.

We were living it up in Dubrovnik, down in the quiet little backstreets away from the milling masses (three cruise-liners a day admitted, giving an average of 6000 happy tourists from the Costa Packet or Costa Fortune) so we took time off for a plate of cevapcici and a bottle of Mali Plavac and, of course, on our return the light dawned. Of course it was Henry James THE SCREW that we had to turn. A couple of fiddles and it turned satisfactorily (as did, of course REDRAW, to produce a different type of SCREW – a WARDER).  I had thoroughly enjoyed the relatively gentle clues but Nod’s final touch earned the real smile. What mastery to make those twelve changes all producing real words. Thank you Nod.

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