Listen With Others

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Spiral of Salami and Walnuts by Wan

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 September 2014

Wan Two 001“There has to be an anagram in that title!” Those were the first words of the other Numpty while I was scanning the clues and finding lots of food, the odd drug, a few animals and birds, evidence of dancing, ships, Keynesian economics and a fair smattering of Scots, but not the usual Listener setter tipple.

What I did notice, though, at once from the few very evident solutions was a feature I always appreciate – the very ‘close to Chambers’ nature of Wan’s definitions.

Yes, there was an anagram and what a generous gift from Wan. STANISLAW ULAM took us straight to Wikipedia and an account of his doodlings (during a dull presentation) when he was working on the Manhattan project and the spiral of prime numbers that he produced.

Two clues into our solve and the other Numpty also had the device. We were discarding the non-thematic elements (the letters in alphanumeric positions that were not prime – thus, for example, the first, fourth and sixth letters of GREASY) from a single word in each prime-numbered clue.

“An oral examination – not before greasy Scots food (6)” gave us VIVA less A(before) + (g)RE(a)S(y) = VIVRES and Chambers confirmed that that was Scots food.

Walnuts and Salami 001We worked on those clues first and found some that were sheer delight: “Legal reps losing money, burnt twofold perhaps (6)” It had to be MEMBERS less M but the word play was ‘Laugh out loud’ when we realised that taking only the prime-numbered letters of (t)WO(f)O(l)D gave us WOOD.

Indeed, we were working backwards from the solution for a few of these. TAIRA must be the ‘weasels cousin (5)’ and we had to construct that from (m)AR(z)I(p)A(n) with Toffee’s first.

“Will’s long spanglet (4)” gave us 8s)PA(n)G(l)E(t) and we somehow had to relate PAGE to a Shakespearian word for LONG. Mrs Bradford came to our rescue this time with SIDE.

The solving was entertaining from start to finish and within a couple of hours, we had a full grid. I laboriously numbered the cells in a spiral, got out a table of primes and highlighted those cells in the grid then checked that I had 39 pink cells. I tried to read a message there and found a rather odd EEDESUR and so on, but it only took a few seconds for the other Numpty to pronounce happily that we were being treated to HIGHLY SEASONED SAUSAGE AND EDIBLE TREE SEEDS.

A lovely diet. Many thanks, Wan.


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