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Listener No. 4340: Red Shift by Nudd

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 April 2015

Nudd’s fourth Listener faced us this week, although he has had a fair few other thematics in the last five years. (And my crystal ball tells me that he’ll have an EV the week after this puzzle. If only predicting the lottery were as easy.) Anyway, two types of clue this week. Eighteen acrosses suffered a fate we don’t see too often: a word has to shift from one clue to another before solving with their initial letters spelling out some key information involving two grid entries. Downs suffered the somewhat more mundane extra letter in the wordplay and would reveal an instruction.

Listener 4340I decided to tackle the long down entries first in the left, middle and right columns. I was rewarded with the straightforward anagram at 1, ‘raps Delia’s foo[d]’ giving FOOL’S PARADISE, and the only slightly trickier compound anagram at 14 With introductions to Tolkien’s Lord, this ancient giant could make Sauron ultra-nasty (13), R in INJUN* in DUE[L]* for UNINJURED. The compound anagram at 9dn With introductions to Tolkien’s Lord, this ancient giant could make Sauron ultra-nasty (13) would have to wait until I got OTT at 7ac for me to see (TL + TYRANNOSAURUS)* = (SAURON ULTRA-N[A]STY)*.

I must admit that I enjoyed disentangling the shifted words in the across clues, although we were spoilt in that they were limited to words in the definitions. Having repositioned them, I was relieved that they began to spell out something meaningful, finally giving Key is an author’s name. Assuming that this author wasn’t known by a nickname such as Flashback Emery, Hairgrass Rapper or Tyrannosaurus Massy, it didn’t take long to find ALAN GARNER at 2 and 31.

Meanwhile, the down clues were giving an instruction to decode something. Despite initially making a total pig’s ear of the last six clues’ extra letters, this finally gave Decode Carroll cipher NE to SW. We’ve had the Caesar cipher before… and will have it again next week (more spooky premonition), but I’d not heard of Lewis Carroll’s cipher.

In fact, the two are fairly closely related and probably the simplest of encryptions. Carroll’s is based on a key word or phrase (or name) which determines the offset for each letter to be encoded.

The first thing to do, though, was to find out more about this chap Alan Garner. Seems like he’s an author of children’s fantasy novels, one of which is Red Shift. At least the title confirms that I’ve got the right Garner. Moreover, Wiki tells me that one of the titles has 13 letters, The Owl Service, and it doesn’t take long to confirm that the NE–SW diagonal does indeed become that when decoded.

Listener 4340 My EntryAll in all, an entertaining puzzle from Nudd, although I’m not tempted to read the books. There were some nice clues on the way. My favourites were 1dn Sadly raps Delia’s food — “it’s heaven but based on false hopes” (13, two words) (although slightly unfair on Delia perhaps), and 10dn Bagpipe tune played back in melody — this is poisonous (7)… which is nowhere near critical enough of bagpipes!

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