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What’s Missing? by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 July 2015

Dames 2 001“What an unusual grid!” was our first reaction. We saw a carte blanche that wasn’t symmetrical and had double unches around its borders and – horror of horrors – three unches in six. There must be some typical Artix brilliance in this for it to get past the editors! Or maybe he was just slipping them a couple of strong drinks at the last setters’ dinner – quick check to confirm that he is still a member of that elite Listener oenophile set-up, and I didn’t have to read far.

I know Artix is a wine expert and sure enough the drinks are there; ‘Dog star sounds to you like exotic drink (5)’ (giving LASSI, a homophone – but it was a sweet little clue wasn’t it?) I find that ‘British are stopping drinks and dances (6)’ (B A in RUMS giving RUMBAS) and ‘Southern porter etc supporting folk in Irish resort (7)’ (S ALE round KIN giving KINSALE).

There’s a wide-ranging set of surface readings here: rather a lot of fish, ‘Chopping tail off fish, they may have scars (4)’ (TORSK less K giving TORS), ‘Called freshwater fish after native habitat (5) (PA + GED), ‘Fish used water (4) (LANT – a double-definition clue), then there’s a rector in a penitentiary producing BRIG, and quite a lot of sex – really Artix! ‘Capital (on atoll) offering sex for guys (4)’ (We had to check that MALE was the capital) and ‘Need women, one living in colonies (4)’ (W ANT – well that was a generous clue!)

We notice, too, that there are rather a lot of references to places in the South Pacific. There’s GUAM ‘Island invaded by Japanese put America in sticky situation’ (that event did indeed put A in the GUM didn’t it!) and NIUE (we had to look that one up), MALE, Pacific, Polynesian setting, and, if we needed more clues (which at this point we did) Broadway and Hollywood director, ‘need women’, theatrical American, film from the ’60s (OK it was filmed in 1958 but it was a sixties favourite), WWII 4 X 4. Artix was certainly spelling something out for us!

Once we get our heads round those clues that ‘wrap around the edges’, with this set of fine clues, our grid fill races ahead and we are soon able to work out where we have words that have to overlap. Clearly, since BWANAS and JAMJAR are the two 6-letter words that will fill the second row, CLAMBAKE and WELLS are going to overlap and we need to squeeze a shared word in-between them. BAKEWELL? They are tarts aren’t they? Is Artix into baking?

Of course, in our clue read-through, we have seen the proliferation of references to ‘girl, society women, group of peeresses, baronesses, women and Dame Vivien (as was) (yes, I looked her up on the Internet and found that CLORE fitted the clue) ‘…learned something after college (5).

We had already spotted that our three unclued lights were SAILOR, MARINE and SEABEE and the penny finally dropped. Not tarts, indeed, but DAMES! (my caps.) How I loved South Pacific! (Bit of history for me – I went with my very first boyfriend way back in the last century, in his little sports car to the nearest city, to see the film and sang the songs for weeks afterwards ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘Younger Than Springtime’, ‘Bali Ha’i’ and, of course. ‘There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame’.) I can still picture those marines singing it. So that explained the unclued seabees.

What does the Internet tell me? Sailors, Seabees and Marines sing:
We got sunlight on the sand,
We got moonlight on the sea,
We got mangoes and bananas
You can pick right off the tree,
We got volleyball and ping-pong
And a lot of dandy games!
What ain’t we got?
We ain’t got dames! …..”

So I have to find nine dames. Almost full grid but, oh dear! Only six dames and a few clues we hadn’t accounted for. BASSEY, ATKINS, SPARK, BAKEWELL, DENCH and TE KANAWA had appeared (what a spectacular piece of cluing with KARATEKA and NAWAB overlapping and that KARABINER remaining when we had blanked out her name!)

Dames 001Fortunately, we were given word lengths and could work out where our missing three dames had to be so I teased out the last three. Astonishing, Artix to manage to fit three dames going in the other direction, where we had already found dames. InerT HORN and DIKEs gave me Dame Sybil THORNDIKE to share a cell with Dame Penelope LIVELY; Dame Diana RIGG appeared in the cell already occupied by Kiri TE KANAWA; and finally, there was Dame Diana RIGG sharing Dame Judi DENCH’s cell.

What a shame to have to delete them all and enter blank cells – but that doesn’t, in any way, detract from our immense admiration of this stunning compilation. Many thanks Artix for a very rewarding puzzle.

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