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Listener No. 4387: One-man Band by Emu

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 Mar 2016

Here we have Emu’s first Listener, although he has a string of Evs under his belt, albeit the last being back in 2006. We were in fictional territory this week, with a race and obstacles which would, with the help of unwanted characters, reveal a quotation. Just to be awkward, the quotation and a final instruction were interleaved so probably wouldn’t become clear until most of the clues had been solved.

Listener 4387I started on the acrosses, but after half a dozen clues got nowhere so decided the downs were a better bet. Luckily, 2 DISHWATER and 4 Spirits perish in albatross shoot (12, two words) ASTRAL BODIES were slotted in. (OK, so I needed help to disentangle DIE in ALBATROSS* and was lucky that the anagram indicator contained the extra letter — shoot for shot.)

5dn was SOME, and I felt I could go back to the acrosses for the top left corner. ADMISS, FIASCO, TAY and STABS went in before I tried 10dn Mangles data covering second quarter of year (6). At first glance, it looked like M was the extra letter and FICHES (angles) and FICHES (data) were first guesses, but the T of TAY finally led me to FACETS.

The bottom left corner was equally forgiving, and most entries west of the Greenwich meridian were soon complete. If only the eastern bloc had turned out to be as easy, but no. The long 13dn Bill, a Newfoundland fisherman, is enthusiastic about reactor (12, two words) wasn’t as helpful as its opposite number, despite the extra character almost certainly being the A in ‘reactor’. As a result of this, the quotation and instruction were still a mystery.

Gradually, the grid filled with some devious extra letters needing to be discovered. My favourite clues were:

10ac If turned away after [c]losing time, a Scotsman produces a flask (6)
IF< + A SCOT – T
23ac WWI soldiers about to hold tru[c]e following petition for release of prisoner (6, two words)
BEF about GO + F
9dn Feline cry of assent in Rome[o] and Juliet concealed from James the First of England (7)
SI + JAMES – J + E

It was very late in the grid fill that I managed to identify the quotation although the instruction had to wait until the end. Before disentanglement, they gave Ancdisimprleclfaiththeao from the acrosses and nnonrevomanwnelblood. Thus, “…and simple faith than Norman blood” was the quotation from Tennyson’s Lady Clara Vere de Vere and Circle one vowel was the instruction.

The quotation is preceded by “Kind hearts are more than coronets…”, and the classic 1949 Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets immediately came to mind. The film is told in flashbacks of the life of Louis D’Ascoyne Mazzini (played by Dennis Price) as he awaits death on the gallows. The film depicts his killing of eight characters of the D’Ascoyne family who stand in the way of his becoming Duke, a title that he believes he deserves. All the victims are played by Alec Guinness: the DUKE; Lord Ascoyne, the BANKER; REVerend Lord Henry; GENERAL Lord Rufus; ADMiral Lord Horatio; Young ASCOYNE; Young HENRY; and LADY AGATHA D’Ascoyne.

These characters could all be found in the grid in the shape of the gallows and hanged man from the children’s game. Unfortunately, my first spot of the ADMiral at the beginning of the top row didn’t look quite right. I searched the grid for an alternative. This was found diagonally as the support for the top beam and resembled hangman as I distinctly remember it. Was this a deliberate trap? The hanged man’s head that needed circling was the A of BANKER.

Joining all the lines into a continuous grid may have been aesthetically pleasing, but I decided against this since, in theory, this didn’t demonstrate that I had identified the names accurately — ALADY AGATHAN and YADMY?!

Listener 4387 My EntryA most enjoyable puzzle, thanks Emu. It’s a shame that I only possess the VHS tape somewhere that I cannot now watch. I decided that my animation wouldn’t be too gruesome!

2 Responses to “Listener No. 4387: One-man Band by Emu”

  1. shirleycurran said

    Your comment about joining the lines to form a continuous grid is interesting. We also decided that the continuous grid was more aesthetic and that the instruction “… a final instruction that must be followed in such a way as to complete a depiction of the prospective end of the race” told us that the depiction had to be ‘completed’. You can hardly hang a man if the timbers are not joined up. However, the solution illustration on the Times website leaves gaps, so your caution seems to have been wise. It’s these niggly little points that can be so frustrating.

  2. Encota said

    I’m hoping some leeway will be allowed by The Marker here, as there is a way to draw straight lines passing through all the relevant squares AND have them all join up symmetrically, so long as the lines don’t have to pass through the Centres of each of the squares. I presumed this was another layer of subtlety added by Emu – it’ll be a bit miserable if the asymmetric disconnected version printed in today’s paper proves to be the only acceptable answer! However, I am of course optimistic!

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