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Listener No 4315: Homer by Dysart

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 October 2014

Our annual outing with Dysart appeared this week, last year’s (No 4266, Special Protection) being based on a Stanley Baldwin quotation about flowers, wild birds and Prime Ministers. Here there were just ten clues to be wary of, each missing one letter in the wordplay.

Listener 43157ac SLEET came first and I am somewhat mortified that 10 Before an age that’s ultimately become electronic (3) initially baffled me despite its relative simplicity — ERE. I was lucky with 11ac Moment in play regularly done as farce (9), as PANTOMIME popped into my head courtesy of ‘moment’, although I had never thought of a pantomime as a farce. A check with Chambers provided “a play or an entertainment in mime;” followed by what must be one of the longest definitions in the BRB: “a theatrical entertainment, usu about Christmas-time, developed out of this, no longer in mime, with showy scenery, topical allusions, songs and star attractions of the day, buffoonery and dancing, centred loosely on a nursery story, formerly ending with a transformation scene and a harlequinade”! Finally it mentions farce.

Unfortunately, the rest of the clues seemed to be slightly less easy. My initial scan of the acrosses yielded a paltry half dozen more. These included 34 More fragrant vin rosé, though not very fruity (for Californians) (6) for NOSIER (VIN ROSE – V)* and needed me to look up ‘fruity’ to see that it’s “crazy (US inf)”, the anagram indicator here. I’ll leave it to others to discuss the validity of the acute accent in rosé!

The downs were equally slow in coming, although I finally got my first of the ten wordplay-minus-a-letter clues at 30: Bit of fruit squeezed into apple puree in turn (6) which was DRUPEL, the D being omitted.

Slowly the grid filled, my favourite clue being 13ac Carrying a weight, terrorist drops food container (5) for [bin] LADEN. The letters omitted from the wordplay spelt COLDITZ and the RIVER MULDE could be seen flowing beneath it in the bottom row.

We thus had to find four “companions” who escaped successfully and made a “home run” (hence the title). Although I knew of Major Pat REID, who is mentioned in the Brewer’s entry for Colditz (and was lurking in one of the NW–SE diagonals), I hadn’t heard of the others. I could see Lieutenant Commander William STEPHENS in the last column, as well as Flight Lieutenant Howard WARDLE in alternate letters of the top row, courtesy of the rather explicit wording of the preamble. Those three accounted for the 4-, 6- and 8-letter words, and it didn’t take long to identify the ten letters of Major Ronald LITTLEDALE in the first column.

Listener 4315 My EntryA few snips with my scissors and my grid finally resembled a castle, although, I have to say, nothing like Colditz Castle which didn’t have battlements. Nonetheless, thanks to Dysart for an entertaining puzzle, celebrating our heroes’ successful escape from Colditz in October 1942.
 

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