Teeing Off by Nutmeg
Posted by shirleycurran on 1 April 2016
We were in Windsor for the Listener Setters’ Dinner – what an impressive venue! A restored chapel, albeit with an appalling sound system but the 130 or so attendees clearly enjoyed themselves all the same. Many thanks to Jago and Jan for their impressive organisation. Of course we had to spend the day visiting Windsor Castle so there wasn’t much solving time and as we had several long marches (about a quarter of a mile to our room and a good mile to the Fox and Castle where early birds were carousing), solving was done in snatches so it was a great relief to see the pseudonym Nutmeg at the head of Teeing Off as her impeccable and enchanting cluing style is well-known (and I believe she is the only other lady Listener setter but will be happy to be corrected as who knows who lurks under some of those cryptic pseudonyms? Could Beardy, Muggins or Grumpy be a lady?)
Of course I checked Nutmeg’s continued membership of the Listener Tipplers’ Club and didn’t need to read far down her clues before I found one that had to lead to the solution TIPPLE. ‘Present pupil with hat passed round for booze (6)’ (TILE round PP) and Nutmeg was also making a ‘Move on pub’s leading man who’s got lighter (6)’ giving BAR + GEE. Membership confirmed.
What was also confirmed was that there was a strange imbalance between the length of solutions and the spaces left in the grid. This was clearly the way into this crossword and we carefully established that there were two lights that were 11 cells long but no 11-letter clues, so here were our candidates for the symmetrically placed thematic entries. More surprising were the 18 6-letter clues when we could find a mere 6 lights of that length and 6 3-letter lights with no 3-letter clues. Something fishy here! Hmmm! Nothing to do but cold solve for a while.
In between the long marches, the happy get-together with old friends and the participation in the LTC (see above) we slotted in answers next to the clues, noticing that some of them began with the same three letters: BRUNEI/BRUTES, SCAMPI/SCALAR, POMADE/POMELO, TARMAC/TAROTS, BARAZA/BARGEE, ROSTRA/ROSILY. The very generous clue to the 14-letter light ‘Spontaneous songs, you can count on using them (14, two words)’ (NATURAL NUMBERS) and the fact that all the non-suspect solutions went into lights with no ambiguity soon led us to a partial gridfill and the penny-drop moment.
RIGHT ANGLES fitted into the right-hand side unclued light and not much later we could fit BIFURCATIONS into the other unclued light. The rest was pure pleasure as we split those suspect six letter words, allowing them to BIFURC and shoot off at RIGHT ANGLES. Lovely, Nutmeg!