A Ghost Story by KevGar
Posted by shirleycurran on 24 July 2015
The preamble wasn’t too daunting and promised us something artistic at the end where we were going to replace ghosts by something more frightening. ‘some clues contain a misprint of one letter in the definition’. That ‘some’ is always mildly disconcerting (in this case it could be anywhere from two to forty-three) though they did reveal themselves fairly quickly and spell out Virgil’s Aeneid for us so that we had a stab at the theme long before we had a full grid.
But I am leaping ahead to that rather nice Trojan dog that my ten straight lines created (he does look a bit like a scotch terrier, head on, doesn’t he?). First I had to do my usual scan through the clues to check that KevGar still qualifies for the Listener topers’ club.
What do I find? ‘Drug’ in three of six consecutive clues; ‘A cold symptom observed returning before drug (5) (SEEN< + E = NEESE), ‘Adult swallowed up by hard drug — cry of dismay (3)’ (A in H H) and ‘Reprimand detective (mostly) found with drug — no fine (6)’ (REBU(s) + KE(f) with that ‘no fine’ meaning ‘endless’) and even JOINTS at 23dn in our grid. I find food; a ‘Young person eating wild animals around start of dinner: they’re made for di[V]ing (12)’ that produces SPRINGBOARDS and our first misprint. I find a ‘Fish starter of grouper with bits of cabbage (6)’ (G + RUNTS), ‘Fluffy Scotch eggs’ and ‘partner swapping’, and someone applying paint ‘topless’. What are setters coming to! – Standards are clearly dropping – but not a drop of alcohol.
Still, these are attractive and approachable clues (there should be a club for setters who have managed to include TSETSE in their grid – or maybe a more elitist club for the stars who have managed to avoid it, and all the other old chestnuts like PA, the Maori fort or their MERI, that ubiquitous ASTI, or the revolutionary CHE). However, KevGar’s TSETSE soon revealed its thematic function so he might be excused.
Yes, we had been solving for under an hour when VIRGIL appeared and which of us didn’t study Book II of the AENEID in our Latin classes (and which of us remembers any lines other than TIMEO DANAOS ET DONA FERENTES?) Amusingly, in the context of the current Greek problems, the Numpties were quoting that ‘fear’ of what the Greeks could do to each other earlier this week. I remembered something about ‘ut’ and ‘et’ clauses in Latin that we looked up:
‘Fear clauses take the construction of ut/nē + subjunctive. They are terrifying, because the meanings of ut and nē become reversed. In fear clauses, ut means “that not” and nē means “that.”Timeō nē veniat. I am afraid that he is coming! Timeō ut veniat. I am afraid that he is not coming!’ (I think the current Greek mess is a bit of an ‘ut’ situation!)
… but, of course, what we found when we checked our sources was that older versions of the ODQ have one slight difference from current ones and that, inexplicably, ‘ferentis’ appears in the place of ‘ferentes’. Chambers resolved it all and the other Numpty cooked supper while I hunted in the grid for what had to be a Trojan horse.
An endgame like this is right up my street. None of that grid-staring that solvers on the message board are currently complaining about in Elfman’s ‘Revelations of John’. A rather lean horse quickly emerged and it took only a minute to find ‘GHOSTS in some form’ hidden in there and replace them with GREEKS.
We thoroughly enjoyed this crossword with its lovely endgame. Many thanks, KevGar.