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The Alcoholic Baseball Player by Waterloo

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 January 2015

WaterlooFirst of the year, and I didn’t have to read far down to justify Waterloo’s membership of the Listener Setters’ imbibers club – an alcoholic baseball player indeed!

Waterloo’s alcohol-inspired clues continued with ‘Wound string around bottles, initially, with unfinished wine (5)’ (S[tring] A[round] + B[ottles] + RE[d], giving SABRE) a bit of a clunky clue, but generous to the solver, as I feel the first of the year should be, especially after the difficult ones we have just struggled with.

The preamble, also, raised a Numpty smile as there was a catcher high on rye – I doubt such a drunkard would last long in a US baseball team, but we laughed at the device. We continued to laugh as solutions revealed themselves.

Some of the misunderstanding of this modern Mrs Malaprop were hilarious. We particularly enjoyed ‘Three Men in a Boot’ (A journey in an overfilled car), ‘Lord of the Files’ (The boss in the office) and ‘Knickerless Nickleby’ (A naturist at large).

The Turn of the Clue

The Turn of the Clue

Our complete list of malapropisms was: The Scarlet Pimple, His Stark Materials, Sinning in the Rain, North and Southey, Three Men in a Boot, The Den of the Affair, Bunfight at the OK Corral, The Midwich Cuckolds, Horrid Henley, The Lady Varnishes, The Thirty-nine Stops, The Code of the Worcesters, The Oddity, Pride and Perjuries, The Ragged-Trousered Philatelists, Immunity on the Bounty, Threw the Looking-Glass, Lord of the Files, Knickerless Nickleby, A Suitable Buy, The Uselessness of Literacy, and A Few from the Bridge. The word-counts of these misunderstandings were a great help: we might have had a lot more trouble had it not been for those.

This set of comical malapropisms provided a speedy and amusing Numpty solve with just the odd final doubt. That 4d clue had us scratching our heads: ‘Upright author appears from poem reading this (4)’. We had M?ST so clearly our answer was MAST (upright) but it took us a while to solve the wordplay. We had to read M ‘as’ T (poeT being switched for poeM, to produce our solution). This was a step up in difficulty from the rest of the clues but that was fair enough as there couldn’t be much doubt about the definition.

I thoroughly enjoyed this bit of fun and noticed, from comments on the Answerbank and comments that reached me later from fellow solvers, that a number of lady partners and relations of solvers thought this was great fun, while the men seemed to grumble, finding the titles obscure in some cases. When I remarked to the other Numpty that literature was perhaps a more feminine theme than some of the usual Listener ones, as we are perhaps the ones who read widely, while the men pride themselves on working out base 24 or (mis)understanding about the coincidence of clock hands, he accused me of stereotyping and claimed that he thought this one was ‘really good – different and much more fun than most’. Stereotyping or not, the truth is that we don’t see much poetry or literature in our Listener crosswords, so ‘Thank you, Waterloo’ for that romp.

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