Listen With Others

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Listener No. 4404: Earthquakes As Well by Tut

Posted by Dave Hennings on 15 Jul 2016

This week we had Tut’s second Listener, following on from no. 4313 Weak Force with its quark and Muster Mark theme. That was pretty straightforward, and I wondered whether Tut would let me off so lightly this week with extra letters in the wordplay and just five squares with clashes.

Listener 4404My first pass through all the clues was embarrassingly pathetic… so I’ll fast forward 45 minutes. There was a brief flurry of activity with a few more clues solved, but the grid was still looking somewhat dreary.

The bottom right corner in particular was causing me a headache with only BRAE, TIARA and RAKI after a couple of hours. Even a simple (in hindsight) clue like 37ac Wild animal cavorting in bed (4) was taunting me, since I hadn’t come across a DIEB before — it’s a North African jackal. 30dn Underlings no longer plough down in the deep (6) then became clear as SUBS + EA[r].

Before leaving the corner, I noticed that I hadn’t crossed off 43ac Maybe Delphic music came from this pointlessly vulgar, athletic god (7), even though I had blithely entered CITHARA. This was because it was KITHARA, being KITSCH – S (ie pointless) + A (athletic) + RA (god), C being the extra wordplay letter. A close call, and not for the first time recently.

As I was nearing the end of the grid (after about four hours, I think), the extra letters in the wordplay had given me poetry, music and science. However, each of those words had a vast number of entries in my ODQ index — and together in a Google search.

Meanwhile, I still only had two clashes, LATENCY/PYTHON at 1 and BOOKS/CROWN ROT at 22. Although I had been convinced that 15ac Oriental gang, some might say “the crowd” (4) was TONG (rather than HON•) it took me a while to decipher it as T’ [m]ONG. 6ac was also being a nuisance, staring at me as L•C•LE.

Of course, when I realised that the extra letters had nothing to do with science, but poetry, music, art, conscience, friends, part of Robert Bulwer-Lytton’s The Dinner Hour was finally revealed by Google:

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.

Thus 22dn was CROWN ROT, not BROWN ROT, changing 22ac BOOKS to COOKS. LUCILE went in at 6ac, being the book in which the poem appears. It was not, however, the answer to the clue Voracious yob chopped tree (6) — that was LUPINE, and accounted for the outstanding two clashes in becoming LUCILE (LOU[T] + PINE).

Listener 4404 My EntryFinally, the remainder of the extra letters were Shade author’s job, and VICEROY didn’t take long to spot in the grid. He was Viceroy of India from 1876 to 1880 and it was indeed fascinating to read about the whole Bulwer-Lytton family.

Thanks for a fairly tough challenge this week, Tut.

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