Listen With Others

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Earthquakes As Well by Tut

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 Jul 2016

TutRather a long way from home (attending a Greek Orthodox church wedding and baptism) with no ODQ to hand, we were full of trepidation when we managed to get a printed copy of Tut’s ‘Earthquakes As Well’ and to read that extra letters were going to spell out some items that according to a poem were not vital. ‘Earthquakes’ seemed like an anagram of HEART so we decided it was going to be some sort of poem about unwanted love (or could it be about The Last Days of Pompeii? But that thought came later when Lytton seemed to fit into our cells at 1d).

Nothing for it but to solve and that was not too difficult – at first. Of course I had checked that Tut was renewing his membership of the Listener Setters’ Tipsy Outfit and that was speedily confirmed when we slotted RAKI into our grid (Mediterranean spirit, brown from container mostly (4) – Now that was the type of clue the other Numpty moans about, almost a separate clue for each letter of the solution [B]R(own) + A(b) + KI(t) producing an extra B which later concluded the ‘AUTHOR’S JOB’ but not much reassurance  about Tut’s drinking habits).

We were not reassured either by ‘Tortured prose among lots of words about ersatz drink (8)’ giving us GEROPIGA (GIGA around PRO[S]E) which we learned was a port substitute; but “Cheers” anyway, Tut. The other Numpty suggested that Tut should be encouraged to up his act and indulge in a few first class malt whiskies in his next crossword

Solving went full tilt with generous clues that speedily populated our grid. CROWN ROT held us up for a while, especially as it had one of the clashes with BOOKS. BROWN ROT or BROWN RAT seemed likely candidates for the light but neither of them quite fitted the clue ‘Rheum disease peculiar in a vegetable (8, two words)’. Of course, the vegetable was the C[A]RROT around OWN = ‘peculiar’.  The other Numpty had to explain ROYALS to me too: the flags flown at the top of ships’ masts. I liked that clue ‘Beleaguered City further reduced what’s rigged at top level (6)’ leading to [T]ROY + ALS(o).

Then we came to an abrupt halt with just a few vacant cells at the top of our grid and a probable LYTTON at 1d but no justification for that in the wordplay and – consternation, 5 clashes to identify.

Our extra letters had obligingly spelled POETRY MUSIC ART CONSCIENCE FRIENDS: SHADE AUTHOR’S JOB. A hunt in the grid revealed VICEROY so we had our suspect, Bulwer Lytton, but I am ashamed that I have very little knowledge of his writings.

Feeding those key words into Google finally gave us an amusing verse about the dinner hour

We may live without poetry, music, and art;
We may live without conscience, and live without heart;
We may live without friends; we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.
He may live without books,—what is knowledge but grieving?         20
He may live without hope,—what is hope but deceiving?
He may live without love,—what is passion but pining?
But where is the man that can live without dining?


– something to do with LUCILE (so she gave us 2 of our 5 clashes, and clearly COOKS/BOOKS gave us a third). LYTTON had to give us two more and we ‘back-solved’ to get PYTHON. We found this end game tough but, otherwise enjoyed the solve. Many thanks to Tut; we’ll look forward to the next one (with, I hope, an improved taste in alcohol).

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