There’s a touch of Schadenfreude in beginning the very last Radix Listener: pleasure that it is there at all, yet sadness that he isn’t able to give us any more. He was almost the founder member of the Distinguished Listener Setters’ Oenophile League so I didn’t need to scan his clues to confirm his membership – but he did confirm it (of course) in style with five separate clues!
‘Railway team (drunk) drink but not in station … shipped taters for philosophical customer (6)’ Giving us TAM* and RAKI less I = AMTRAK and STATIO(n)* = TAOIST
‘Buckets of lager entertaining Australia (5)’ giving us PILS round A = PAILS
‘Cold drink, litre served by Neddy to ye maids and domestics (5)’ giving us LASSI and HELPS that we had to multiply to get RETRO
‘Tots bar person gives tots (4)’ giving NIPPERS less PER = NIPS
‘Dirk’s like in Ed’s bar: drink fortified wine and do something Amis put in shot (6)’ giving SHERRY and HANJAR that had to be added to give OSIRIS.
Let’s raise a last glass to Roddy – he did us proud! Even his title, this time, was reminiscent of a fine malt – ‘Stiff Listener-like Special’ by Radix – so we poured ourselves one and got down to the serious work of attempting to solve the clues, knowing that there was some sort of numerical treat in store for us at the end.
We were colouring yellow the clues that were clearly ‘normal but each answer must be entered with one unchecked letter misprinted such that the entered letters, … in clue order, reveal the source of the quotation’ and, not surprisingly, as it turned out, we soon had sixteen yellow clues and a whole series of potential letters for misprints (but none of those difficult ones we later coloured orange).
It was perhaps fortunate that we realized that the quotation was going to be ?????????? by ??????? and, when the other Numpty said “That looks like ASIMOV, we quickly checked in Wikipedia and established that the source was ROUNDABOUT by I ASIMOV.
The ODQ provided only one ‘Roundabout’ quotation; the famous one about the three fundamental laws of robotics (which, of course, led us to the title ‘Stiff Listener-like Special’ (ROB + OTIC + S) so Roddy wasn’t prompting us to enjoy a double malt at all but hinting at what was happening in his crossword.
Producing our solutions for the other half of the clues was tough. It was a good thing that some of the words like OSIRIS, SEA STARS, RADARS, GENOESE and HEADMOST were the only words available but we still had to virtually blind-solve the two clues, ‘side by side’ that had to be mathematically adapted to give us the entry.
As solutions went into our grid, I suddenly realized that it was not ROBOTICS but ARITHMETIC that was appearing as our quotation and we took a lucky stab at THE THREE FUNDAMENTAL RULES OF ARITHMETIC, and an even luckier stab at our choice of addition, subtraction or multiplication, to decide how to combine the two clues.
It was after some time and lots of flailing (with no efficient calculator – just a pencil and paper) that we realized that the appropriate method for each pair of words was the one that had not appeared in the clue so, if one of the pair of letters had been added and one subtracted, the method to adopt in the resolution of the solution was the third method – multiplication.
What mental gymnastics we needed to cope with misprints, then blind solving, and finally a typical Radix requirement of deciphering of a kind of code. But we managed after perhaps eight hours of solving to produce:
1a FRUITION × GREEN BAN = PLASTRON
11a AMTRAK + TAOIST = UNIATE
13a HAYLOFT + SUFFECT = AVERTIN
17a VISUAL – DHOTIS = RADARS
23a GLUMMER × FASCIAS = PLIMMED
24a WYTE X DEEK = STOT
29a LASSI × HELPS = RETRO
31a ENDORSES + WICKEDLY = HEADMOST
32a JAWS + THUS = DIRL
1d DRIB + LILY = PAUA
6d ZOONOMY + SPLEENS = SEASTAR
7d HANJAR + SHERRY = OSIRIS
14d EFFETELY + HINDUISE = MOTIONED
15d BRAVURAS + UNEVENER = PREPARED
19d OFFCUTS + HARN-PAN = GENOESE
21d PANAMA × REGIME = BETIME
25d PRESS – VISOR = TILDA
26d CONE × KADI = GODS
Roddy is sorely missed – thank you Roddy for a fabulous finale!