What an unusual grid! Not symmetrical and with so many short clues! We are going to discover a group of four artists and four of the artists’ works ‘discoloured’, then there’s a very promising ‘grid shading instruction’ in store for us that will ‘rectify one of the omissions’. Clearly we are going to colour one of those ‘works’, so I smile and get my pencils ready.
First, of course, I confirm Nudd’s right to retain his topers’ club membership card and he doesn’t disappoint. He starts off in Indiana, ‘Public houses within Indiana succeeded (4)’ giving IN [I]N + S. He’s there for the cocktail. ‘Trusting cocktail of elaterin (7)’ giving RELIANT with an extra E. I have to see what cocktail he’s on and Chambers tells me elaterin is a purgative produced by the juice of the squirting cucumber. Oh dear!
Soon we find ‘Fools consuming European ales, say (5)’ giving us BERKS round E – BEERS with an extra K; a slight improvement on the elaterin but it doesn’t last. Two clues further down we find ‘Water jug to remain away from tepid beer (4)’ That’s BE (remain) extracted from LEW BEER leaving EWER. OK, we have a jug now but the beers seem to have become tepid. There’s a little hope when we find ourselves in CAFES, ‘Diners, wine flasks less accepted (5)’ CA[R]AFES less A(ccepted) but shortly he’s back on the ales and turfed out of the cafes. ‘Doctor’s rival drinks in dock (5)’ (It was a lovely little clue though wasn’t it? ALE[S] in DK giving DALEK, Dr Who’s rival).
I’m despairing for Nudd until a gleam of light, Islay, appears in the last clue but hope is dashed. ‘Islay’s more weak when grain free (3)’. We take the GR from M[E]AGRE and find MAE – Islay’s ‘more’. I’m not sure we’d want much more grain-free Islay malt, but it was another fine clue wasn’t it?
Our grid is rapidly filling and we have spotted our group of four. BEADLES changes to BEATLES, providing the one-cell clash and our extra letters spell out (with my additions) WHITE ALBUM, BLUE JAY WAY, OLD BROWN SHOE (familiar but not our old favourites, ‘Imagine’, ‘Yesterday’ or ‘Let It Be’) and YELLOW SUBMARINE (we who frequently fly through Liverpool Airport with its horrid smelly carpets are so familiar with that!), then the instruction MAKE LETTERS OF TITLE YELLOW, THE REST BLUE.
It’s all fun from that moment on and how realistic Nudd’s portrayal of that oh so familiar record cover is! I love puzzles where we have a clear instruction that leads to a cheerfully coloured grid – give me a set of approachable clues that lead to a coherent message and a familiar picture any day in preference to a double Playfair or a carte-blanche with jumbles where letters leap from clue to clue. (The only thing missing was that the Yellow Submarine wasn’t torpedoing a Playfair square!) Thank you, Nudd.