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Listener No 4293: Shrub by Aedites

Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 May 2014

It had been only seven months since Aedites last Listener with its King Charles I theme. He is a setter who also dabbles in mathematical puzzles, so I assumed he wouldn’t be doing the May one two weeks later. Here we had misprints in the across clues and clashes to resolve. I assumed that the absence of “Down clues are normal” implied that down clues were normal.

It seemed logical to start on the down clues then. A dozen were polished off fairly quickly, including the central 13-letter entry TRILATERATION. We weren’t told that this had any relevance to the theme, but you could never tell.

Listener 4293Obviously the across clues were a bit less forthcoming, given their sneaky misprints. I should have got 1ac on first reading: Old penny and pound dropped from overcoat in sloth (6), but I was tring to fit an AI sloth in there somewhere. (It turned out to be a DUSTER cloth.) 7ac ECHOED came next, followed by 16 IOTA. The clue at 18 showed an entry length of (6), but the grid only had five spaces. No other clue seemed to be wrong on this score, so I assumed it was just a mistake.

[As I write this blog — yes, well after my entry was on its way to St Albans — I notice that 42ac is also wrong, giving (5) instead of (4). I begin to panic! Did I overlook some hidden element of the puzzle? There hadn’t been an apology in the following week’s paper. I normally think that’s overkill, but two mistakes in the same puzzle!! I relax, for no reason other than my blood pressure is too high without getting fretful over a Listener.]

21ac gave me my first clashes, with TEER crossing REPLETE, TRILATERATION and HERAT. This gave one E/T clash and two A/E clashes, so perhaps E was involved in them all. This idea was dashed by 35 RHYTA (thanks, Mrs B), 38 PAEAN and 43 AGAS that all had an A/T clash with 28dn BATATATS. A few minutes later, and RATATAT at 29 gave me another two A/Ts. None of the clashes could be resolved by having real words in both directions, so an interesting endgame lay ahead.

Progress was steady, and the correct letters of the misprints seemed to be giving Camellias in ens…. Was there a painter who specialised in camellias growing in Ensenada, Mexico, like Van Gogh and his sunflowers and Monet’s water lilies? Well, no. Chambers tells me that the camellia is a genus of shrubs closely related to tea, and the ODE gives the family Theaceae (which explained all the vowels gathering at the end of the across message).

It needed Google, however, to fully decipher the corrected misprints: Camellia Sinensis Theaceae. Luckily for me (and unfortunately for Shirley), we weren’t required to resolve the clashes into a pretty picture of three tea plants. Instead, the clashes were part of a three-letter word which was writ large in the grid: TEA.

Listener 4293 My EntrySo ended a satisfactory morning’s work. It was Monday lunchtime and a cup of tea seemed a suitable way to finish… I never drink tea before midday. A final read of the preamble and I saw that I had forgotten all about the thematic character. Good old THOMAS LIPTON was lurking NW-SE in the top right and bottom left quadrants.

Chambers gives trilateration as “a technique involving the measurement of selected sides of a triangulation network, for map-making, surveying, etc”. In Shrub we had to measure the height and width of our 3-letter word in the grid network, so everything was now tied up nicely. Thanks, Aedites.


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