We immediately noticed that Colleague’s Spots had a 12 by 13 grid, so clearly his 26 cells to be highlighted were going to somehow twice do the vertical trip – maybe round it. I also scanned his clues to confirm that he remains a member of the Listener Setters’ topers’ club and he left me in no doubt with ‘Drinking bout without us about to make packets (6)’ (SESSION less (u)S< = NOISES so that ‘packets’ gave us ‘rackets’ with the P and R converting to H and producing the first of our letters of the hidden name). The following clue pronounced that ‘spirit’ was not needed,’Brilliant discovery – spirit not needed accommodating Chinese wish (6)’ (EUREKA less KA round CH giving EUCHRE and producing our second hidden letter since ‘wish’ had to convert to ‘dish’ – outwit, giving an A). However, later we found ‘Celebrate drinks as relics (9)’ (KEEP + SAKES) confirming that all was well and this was a fairly boozy crossword.
These were not easy clues but we solved steadily and, in a couple of hours had an almost full grid with JOHN AUB??Y appearing as the hidden name. We needed an R and an E to complete AUBREY and obviously the clue about flexible sex was a candidate. ‘Sex being flexible – is it clean? (9) (Crikey what sort of clues are the editors allowing through these days!) Of course IS IT CLEAN* gave us INELASTIC and back solving produced the misprint SET and the required R – and no rumpy-puppy after all.
The necessary E to complete his name was even more difficult to find but we eliminated clue by clue of the six potential ones and finally opted for the clue to SNORER, ‘Maybe a nuisance who’s put rook with large bird in Stepney before sun rises (6)’ and decided that the nuisance had to be ‘out’, giving us P + O = E.
Clearly a visit to Wikipedia was needed now, and what we found there suggested that we were somehow going to find the Aubrey holes represented in our grid. However, Wiki told us that there were 56 of those within the circle of Stonehenge and we were to highlight a mere 26 cells. A bit of Numpty head-scratching until we spotted Stonehenge in a diamond shape in the centre of our grid. That occupied only 10 cells. We hunted further and smiled when that diamond shape was echoed by 26 cells further out in the grid giving us Gleneagles, Hoylake and St Andrews. Eighteen holes on a golf course X three golf courses. The next numerical crossword is due in November but we don’t even need a calculator to tell us that we have 54 holes there, falling two short of the Aubrey 56 holes.
Very entertaining, thank you Colleague.