Listen With Others

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Listener No 4301: It’s Over Here! by Jago

Posted by Dave Hennings on 25 Jul 2014

It was a beautifully sunny Sunday lunchtime, and a quick visit to the local pub was in order. The Crown seemed the obvious choice since there were chairs and tables outside which enabled drinkers to watch the world go by. The previous day had been taken up with golf, so my Listener hadn’t been started and this would be the ideal opportunity to dabble with a few clues. This week’s wasn’t by Sabre or Kea, but Jago, so I guessed that I might be able to make some progress… assuming there were no origami wrens needing to be folded.

Listener 4301As I approached the pub, I couldn’t see anyone that I knew sitting outside, so it was a safe bet that I could tackle my Listener in peace without outside influence. This was especially true of Mark the Bull, who was also a Listener devotee, but invariably tried to show off about how simple he had found that week’s puzzle and then proceed to spill the beans about some of the clues, or worse, the theme.

The outside bar was open at the side of the pub, so I bought my beer (lager on hot days) and sat at a table with an umbrella that would provide some shade if the sun got too intense. I opened the paper at the Listener page and looked for the pen that I was sure I had clipped to the top of the paper. It had obviously dropped off somewhere on the way to the pub, so I went over to the bar.

“Got a pen or pencil, Ryan?” I asked.

“Sorry, ” he said, “someone has just borrowed it, but try at the main bar inside.”

“Thanks” and I went in the side entrance as suggested. Just as I asked Peter for a pen…

“Aaah, I was wondering if you might be down here today” boomed out a voice from one of the tables behind me, and I froze in my tracks. I turned round, knowing exactly who I would see… the Bull! “I think you owe me a pint, don’t you?”

“No, I don’t!”

“Lager, please. And Colin will have one too. He’s just gone to the loo. Oh, and some salted peanuts.”

Fortunately, Colin the Chimp didn’t know one end of a crossword from the other, so there was a chance that we would stay off that subject. Unfortunately, Colin could talk for England about cycling, a sport about which he had become obsessive in recent years. It wasn’t unusual for him to take a 50 mile bike ride to work, even though his offices were only about 800 yards from where he lived. It was also a sport in which I had absolutely no interest at all.

Taking the easy way out, I ordered two pints of lager for them. “And one for himself,” shouted Mark to the barman. I shook my head, and was given just the pints for the other two and the pen that I had originally requested. The day was suddenly beginning to take a turn for the worse, and my Listener would have to wait patiently outside, held down by my beer in case there was a sudden gust of wind.

As I walked over to the Bull, Colin joined us. “Thanks,” he said as I gave him his beer. Mark remained silent, but downed the half pint left in his glass and started on the one I had bought him.

“Sit!” he demanded, but I remained standing. “Have you done this week’s Listener?” he continued, and, not for the first time, I regretted that evolution hadn’t endowed us with a way to close our ears as well as eyes and mouth.

“It’s all about the…” but the rest of his diatribe was drowned out by Colin who wasn’t listening to anything Mark had to say.

“Did I tell you that I went up to Yorkshire yesterday?” began Colin. “The Tour de France cycle race started in Leeds this year — it’s called the Grand Départ — and finished at Harrogate. I stationed myself in Ripon. Brilliant, one of the best days of my life. What I’d give to touch the Yellow Jersey — that’s what the winner of each day’s racing is privileged to wear the following day. I was so near the front of the spectators I could almost touch the cyclists, only about six back, but the thrill as they went through…”

Twenty minutes later, and I could see that Mark had gone into a catatonic trance. I was close to joining him, so took the opportunity to return to my table outside since neither of them was at all interested in what I was doing.

I sat down and took a sip from my still-cool pint. I picked up the Listener and read the preamble. My jaw dropped open in disbelief as I realised that it wasn’t Mark who had spoilt my enjoyment this week, but Colin and his bloody Tour de France exploits!

Listener 4301 My EntryA quarter of an hour later, and the puzzle was complete with TAWA being the only word that I hadn’t come across before. This was surely one of the easiest Listeners in its history, and I could almost hear the moans of disappointment from solvers who were wondering how they were going to fill the remainder of the week!

I’d be playing golf.

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