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Listener No 4356: Mashonaland by Raffles

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 August 2015

Last week, I mentioned that Raffles had an EV puzzle in November with the same Nancy Mitford U/non-U theme that Aragon’s Listener had last week. This week, Raffles pops up with the first Listener of his/her own.

Thirteen answers have something in common dropped from their definition and must be entered in accordance with a thematic quotation. The remainder have an extra letter generated by the wordplay which spells out a contradictory quotation.

Listener 43561ac English Christmas turned essentially more commercial profit, from the 19c stage (12, two words) looked like (E CHRISTMAS)* + OR, but, not surprisingly, I couldn’t get it. The next few clues gave me a good start though, with 10 MESSIEST, no… MUSSIEST, 12 GASP, 13 CONTADINA and 14 URSULINE. The last two were thematic (no extra letters) and looked like the definitions were “country ” and “sisterly ” respectively. However, we were looking for nouns, so it was simple to deduce that the definitions were missing their feminineness. They also needed to be entered thematically, in the style of one of the quotations we were looking for. Since they were the same length as their entry. it could be that they just needed to be jumbled.

Dropping down the right side of the grid, I got 17 ORLE, 9dn OPPRESSION, 26ac AO DAI and 20 SOPRANO, this last also being thematic. A trip along the bottom of the grid and up the left gave me a fair smattering of answers, although precious few definite letters. However, the extra letters given by the wordplays had given me Th·l·dysn·t·or… and it looked like we were in MARGARET THATCHER territory with “The lady’s not for turning“. She was trying to peep out from two NW–SE diagonals on the left of the grid, so I got help with some unsolved clues when she was complete. This quotation also confirmed that the other clues were jumbles, ie were for turning.

Well that was the second quotation sorted, and a trip to the back of Chambers was required to find the first. Taking a guess and looking up lady accidentally helped me quickly find la donna è mobile from Verdi’s Rigoletto. The English translation is given as “woman is changeable”. I needed to get the grid finished in order to see that this speaker in the leading NW–SE diagonal (“three words, not all using thematic spelling”) was DUCA DI MANTUA.

The two women that I had not heard of before were the long entries at 1ac and 33. 1ac didn’t come close to having an anagram of CHRISTMAS, but was ELEONORA DUSE (E + NOEL< + [m]OR[e] + AD + USE), a 19th century actress. 33 had a nice surface reading Designer X (anonymous) cuts thin backing poorly (12), which I’m sure that Elsa SCHIAPARELLI would never have done.

Two more clues that I particularly enjoyed: 26ac Jedi Master wearing first-class Oriental costume (5, two words) for AO DAI ([Y]ODA in AI), and 20dn Society hostess leaving husband for National Opera’s lead singer (7) for SOPRANO (S + OPRAH – H + N[ational] O[pera]). I also liked 5dn Painted nails refined in big old bird (8, two words) for MONA LISA with its nicely disguised “definition”.

Listener 2015-07-25 #4356 EntryThe last hint given by the preamble was that the remaining ambiguity was resolved by a dot in the third row. This obviously wasn’t a · but A DOT in the jumble of CONTADINA, ie INCNADOTA. The title was a simple anagram (Mash) of La Donna (onaland).

Schadenfreude used the Thatcher quotation back in December 2007 with Listener no. 3960, Misprinted Choice. That was when I learned that it was a twist on a Christopher Fry play, The Lady’s not for Burning.

So thanks to Raffles for an enjoyable puzzle and a relatively straightforward week.

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