Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Not a Blocked Grid by Lavatch

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 August 2014

LavatchI always appreciate it when the letter count at the end of the clue immediately identifies which solutions are going to behave differently. Of course, although we were told which eleven solutions had to have two letters squeezed into one, we still had to find five clashes. Looking back, on completion of the grid, I smiled when I realized that Lavatch had to include both devices in order to make his double message and the final entry letters fit into the grid – quite a feat.

I believe Lavatch is busy with a young family: I haven’t ever seen him in the happy drink till dawn gang at the Listener Setters’ dinner, so I had to do a careful run through his clues to check that he qualifies for the setters’ tipsy club but the evidence was there. He had ‘Wretched people dropping in for parties (5)’ (INSECTS less IN), ‘Local wanton imbibing foreign booze, shows old piercing (6)’ (RIVING = RIG round VIN) and ‘Glaswegian picks women’s drinks (W + ALES) so all was well.

August 1st is the Swiss national day, with a magnificent firework display as soon as night falls, so we set to with our solve at breakneck speed, and, with a few grunts of pleasure at some of the really subtle and rewarding clues, had the grid almost full before dinner. It became clear, very early on, that the clues with two letters squeezed into one cell were performing that trick in the unchecked cells, so clearly the five clashes were going to be in words where the endgame hadn’t permitted that.

Those clashes were the difficult ones to find and we struggled for a while trying to find a word STEM?S for ‘Incline to fill vessel in Highland springs (6) (to intersect with BRIM – ‘Dash shaking over motorway, almost run over (4) BRI(o) + M) It was the other Numpty who finally pronounced that to ‘stend’ is to bound in Scotland. Another of our Lavatch2clashes!

Of course, the top area of the grid was the tough part to complete as there were three clashes there, but I hit lucky and spotted that the letters we already had in the grid gave ???DON TRAFFIC JAM/ ???ER THE SOLUTION. It didn’t take much imagination to work backwards from that to LONDON. (Surely not another Londoncentric crossword after we ‘minded the gap’ just a week ago!) That gave us our final clues and clashes and I called to the London-based children who were clearing the supper dishes downstairs “What was the solution to the London Traffic Jam? And who was the ‘instigator’?” “Every fool know that! CONGESTION CHARGE – Ken Livingstone’s thing!” responded my son.

I had enjoyed the crossword, finding the clues difficult but compiled with Lavatch’s usual panache but it was his endgame that produced a broad smile. As each of those letters created a real word, or two real words where there were clashes, I was almost excited and remembered why we besotted Listener addicts do these things every Friday. BETHER and TRUSH held me up for a moment but then, of course KEN appeared, just south and east of symmetrical, and all was well.

Great stuff, thank you, Lavatch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: