Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

22SEs Square by Tibea

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 April 2016

Tibea Listener 001Tibea? That’s the two editors working as a team isn’t it. They gave us a relatively easy numerical crossword (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) some time ago. I wonder what devious tricks they are up to this time. Well, the sight of the grid raised a mutter: we couldn’t create this, at least, not easily, on Crossword Compiler (which is always a useful asset as it prompts us with possible words when we have a normal grid – any port in a storm!)

Then we read the clues. Did I say clues? Call those clues? A friend commented to me later that with some careful Googling of the Times website, you could find all of these texts and render the first part of the task easy but we didn’t need to resort to that. With only a few errors, we were able to complete these texts and discover that we had excerpts from The Times of March 23, 1991, so evidently we were dealing with a twenty-fifth anniversary. Obviously the demise of the Listener. (Our errors were guessing TEXT when ultimately we needed LINE, and SORROW, when Mr Barnes reaction was stronger and HORROR was required at the state of the oiled cormorants.)

Yes, of course (as if there was any need to!) I checked that Tiburon and Kea have retained their membership cards of the Listener Tippling Gang and they emerged as honorary founder members with that entire anecdote, Altruism in a glass, recounting the sale of a £45,000 consignment of 12-year-old House of Commons own-brand Scotch whisky with the comic line, ‘While delighted by the prospect of the deal, the gin-drinking MP was unable to add a personal recommendation. “I never touch the stuff,” he said,. “It makes me feel sick.”‘ One has to wonder what the other MPs who do like the stuff thought! We poured ourselves a measure and began to hunt for jumbles to fill the rest of our grid. Cheers, Tibea!

This task was laborious rather than difficult with the most difficult aspect being finding the section of text where, for example, we were to look for a three-letter word that began with F or D and was repeated several times (FOY and DOR) or checking the spelling of CONVEYER/CONVEYOR (jumbled in VERY ENCOuraged – how easy it would be to put an O in that final unch – I wonder whether some solvers will!)

We had gaily put TEXT in at 25NE but were faced with a corner that wouldn’t work, as no TE?HE would fit at 25SE – clearly that had to be LETHE and the jumbles were in each LIST. With that obstacle removed, we completed our grid, refreshed the glasses of 12-year-old Glen Morangie and began the grid stare for the milestone. TIMES, of course, emerged at once and the Tibea team had generously told us that we were looking for a ‘symmetrical’ 13-cell representation, which left very few possibilities. We had already spotted the ambiguity in clue 35SE which could yield FAST or RAST so we knew roughly where to look  and, of course, found FIVE TIMES FIVE – the twenty-five year anniversary of the day when ‘Many crossword enthusiasts will be delighted, therefore, to see it reappear from today unscathed, and under the same joint editorial team, in the Saturday Review.’

I can’t resist commenting on the lovely coincidence with today’s news. We have just learned that the Inquisitor series will not die with the print version of the Independent – ‘It is inconceivable (to borrow words) that a puzzle with such a following should be allowed to die with its magazine’ and we are delighted that it is appearing from today in the Saturday I.

Thanks to Tibea for an enjoyable and very different challenge.

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