Listen With Others

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Right and Left by Ploy

Posted by Encota on 30 Sep 2016

I’ve recently been encouraged by shirleycurran to post some of my (what she calls ‘quirkier’) Listener solving experiences here – so here goes!  As an aside I’ve been solving cryptics since a teenager and am beginning now to get some puzzles published under my pseudonym Encota.  I’ve loved attempting to solve The Listener for some time but only started sending them in after a fortuitous meeting with Roger, one of the Editors, last December.

What an intriguing and innovative puzzle – thanks Ploy!  Putting the first pairs of answers in I was lucky to guess right (or was it left?).  Spotting which words needed moving within clues was hard in places; the three to be removed appeared fairly quickly which, combined with generous checking, meant that the WINDOW LEDGE was relatively quickly fitted into place and it felt like everything was heading towards a speedy completion.

However, in finding the comedy duo I did end up going through this scary train of thought:

1) Early on, Column 6 seemed to have ‘Wee Boy’ hiding between the Stars.  Surely The Listener hasn’t stooped to defining ‘The Krankies’ as a comedy duo?  What about the Trade Descriptions Act? (Do I need an ‘allegedly’ here?  I’m new to this blogging lark! I think I’m allowed to share personal opinion!)

2) Once the WINDOW LEDGE appeared, I thought about the funny Pete & Dud sketch sometimes known as ‘Film Stars’.  You may recall it?  The one where the semi-naked Greta Garbo is (supposedly) hanging by her fingertips from the WINDOW LEDGE outside Peter Cook’s bedroom window.  Could it be this perhaps?  Is this why Stars have been chosen?

[Aside: available at time of writing on Youtube at

I always love watching Dudley Moore trying (and often failing) to keep a straight face!]

Looking more closely at Columns 6 & 12, the spacing in them below the WINDOW LEDGE is in the form  — — – downwards, i.e. G in Morse Code.  Two of them make GG, one of Greta Garbo’s nicknames!  This looks very promising!

However, only ten cells are being used in each column, so it can’t really be right as the Preamble says 11, even though I’d dearly like it to be, and I’m not quite sure it’s Listener material (though hopefully closer than 1!).  Has Ploy included this as planned misdirection?  With The Listener I am never sure!!  I look forward to a Setting Blog, should one appear!

3) So the F and S appearing in the Down clues most likely does refer to those two Westminster School chaps (rather than Dawn and Jennifer, another possible planned piece of deception?).

A bit of investigoogling leads to ‘Misalliance’ (which, incidentally, is neatly included in 7a – respect!), so HONEYSUCKLE AND BINDWEED must be the two 11-letter clockwise and anticlockwise upwardly spiralling thematic lines each side of A DOOR.  Not too sure about the ‘interrupted by’ bit of the Preamble but it must be right…(doh, just got this ‘interrupted’ bit – they are regularly passing behind something – a pillar or similar!)

I was desperately hoping that, given the ‘dual’ nature of the puzzle, that BOTH (2) and (3) were going to be right simultaneously.  However, on re-reading (and re-re-reading) the Preamble, I simply couldn’t make (2) fit as well.  The ‘interrupted’ bit seems to fit the Morse Code idea as well as the spiralling, but I couldn’t successfully modify the ten moved words for this idea to work, for example.  The more I look at it though, the closer it looks.  Why else Stars, for example – unless simply part of 2’s deception?  I’d love to hear if this was at least partly in mind when setting!

Great fun – very enjoyable!

Tim / Encota


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