Listen With Others

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Two’s company by Augeas

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 February 2015

Augeas 001Our first reaction on downloading this was surprise at the rather small and unusual grid – 11 X 10 with vertical mirror symmetry – I wonder why! That response was instantly followed (as I copied it into Crossword Compiler, which is a great help when solving) by my astonished comments about the number of two-letter words, but, within seconds, the other numpty, who had already solved RECIPE, CHIC, EGER and OVERMASTERED, had seen what was going on. “We obviously have to put two letters into each cell, as all the clues are for even-numbered words.”

I was still busy confirming Augeas’ continued membership of the Listener Setters’ Tipplers’ Club and was mildly anxious at first with ‘Throbbing gout among ex-boozers starts to metastasise, old ulcer soon fertilising itself (10)’ (giving GOUT* in AA + first letters M O U and S = AUTOGAMOUS).

Augeas Two's Company 001

The deep deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise longue.

Things didn’t improve much (though here were some convincing and amusing surface readings) as I read down the clues to ‘Ground maize in San Diego intoxicates old sailor at clubhouse (10) (CORNS + TAR + CH) but then there was ‘Fresh tasty Rhône red for New England shellfish (8)’ Our local wine being anagrammed to produce DEERHORN. All was well, and a few clues further down, not surprisingly we found ‘Dominated vast REME horde, breathlessly drunk (12)’ – another anagram with the H removed, giving us OVERMASTERED.
With such lovely and not vastly challenging cluing, the grid filled rapidly and soon we had enough extra letters to suggest that BEATRICE somebody-or-other was the person we were looking for. We tried Beatrix Potter and Beatrice Webb but they didn’t have long maiden names. Then came a lucky find. BEATRICE STELLA TANNER became Mrs Patrick Campbell.

A brief visit to the ODQ produced a delightful quotation that justified this entering of two letters into each cell. ‘THE DEEP DEEP PEACE OF THE DOUBLE BED AFTER THE HURLY BURLY OF THE CHAISE LONGUE’ (I don’t suppose it is entirely PC to wonder what deeply peaceful activities she was up to in the marriage bed – hmmmm! Or, to make things worse, whatever she had been indulging in in her chaise longue – the mind boggles!) But of course, the logic behind the mirror symmetry producing a ‘double bed’ now became evident.

No red herrings, our last clue led us to gastropods ‘Guesses at ancient destruction finally [L] numerous gastropods (10)’ (HARPS + HELL + (numerou)S) but we had a bit of head-scratching wondering how we were going to ‘ensure that letters are encountered in the correct order in all entries and the perimeter’. Obviously, this is essential, otherwise Mr Green would have a nightmare of a task, checking up to 600 grids with each cell containing letters in either order.

It seemed to me that there were two possible solutions for this: putting three letters into an ambiguous cell so that each set of two could be read in its correct order (three perhaps not entirely acceptable in any bed, especially with the hint of the title, that ‘Two’s Company’), or placing the letters diagonally, with the correct order indicated by the first letter that would be ‘encountered’ by the reader. Well, obviously, that was the solution required, so a tense few minutes followed as I attempted to get that right for each of the words.

A lovely compilation, Augeas, with the thematic couples enjoying their deep, deep peace in each of the cells. Many thanks.

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