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Seldom Seen by Piccadilly

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 December 2015

A mere three and a half lines of preamble – that was a change from recent crosswords and there were going to be only nine clues where an extra letter  in the wordplay would lead to a word specifying how the entire grid

EPSON MFP image

should be filled. The nine words in question were to be replaced thematically in the grid. It sounded feasible and promising so we started our solve.

Not, of course, before I had checked Piccadilly’s membership of the Listener Setters’ Alcohol Appreciation Society; hmm! What do I find? Three clues into my quick scan, ‘Private tutor accepted cases – rum (7)’ Mrs Bradford suggests ‘c[o]achaça’ and Chambers suggests that that word needs a cedilla. Interesting!

I read only two clues further down and find that not content with cases of rum, Piccadilly is into the Tokay. ‘Member of old religious fraternity bottles cold Tokay wine (7)’ (essene round c = essence).

I can hardly believe my eyes when a mere two clues further on Piccadilly is into the Chianti and the Champagne; ‘Finishing off Chianti and bubbly serves to show inebriation in Paris (7)’ [Chiant]i + serves* = ivresse. I wonder what is coming next and find a couple of prostitutes; ‘Lacking shred of evidence book prostitute (3)’ (tome less e[vidence] = tom), and ‘Prostitutes initially lacking practical skills (4)’ ([t]arts) and a joint, ‘A very small amount gets Republican a joint in Greenwich village (5)’ (mite + r).

Solving was speedy and soon we were faced with an intriguing dilemma. ‘More than one lord of the manor retained by Neuchâtel as inspectors (10)’ seemed to suggest ‘châtelains’ – hidden – with an extra S produced by the wordplay, but intersecting with ‘pastrami’,’orc’, ‘tom’, ‘owl’, ‘afar’ and ‘hexagon’, there was only one word that would fit – ‘circumflex’! Penny drop moment. We were on home ground and, as we are still traveling in the USA, I even have my nasty little French P.C. with its ludicrous French keyboard.

We realized that diacritical marks were a feature of Piccadilly’s game and ‘lavallières’ could become the name of its mark, ‘grave accent’. ‘Vendémiaires’ went in as ‘acute accent’. Our set of nine was completed by the ‘space’ in ‘ao dai’, the ‘hyphen’ in ‘ukiyo-e’, the ’tilde’ on ‘señor’, ‘apostrophe’ in ‘sou’wester’ and, of course by ‘umlaut’, we guessed that one.

EPSON MFP image

Our grid was full and we had the extra letters O,A,S,L,E,R,C and E. Obviously they were telling us that we had to complete our grid in’lower case’ so that those accents would be orthodox but we had one gap in our process – what was the umlauted word that would lead to an extra W? It was amusing really – here I am in Silicon Valley toddler-sitting for my half-German little grandson as his small sister comes into the world but could I solve that one? ‘Nanny takes married woman back after cutting countess (6)’ Of course ‘Gran’ takes [w]if (e)<, producing Gräfin.

What an enjoyable and polished construction that gave us the p.d.m.s nicely spaced and an entertainingly different finish. Many thanks to Piccadilly.

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