Listen With Others

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Right and Left by Ploy

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 Sep 2016

right-and-left-ploy-001Of course our first reaction is “What an unusual grid! Whatever can it be?” We try to guess but are soon distracted by the clues whose solutions fall out so quickly that we have to start grid-filling and leave that odd vertical central shape for later.

There is no need at all to confirm Ploy’s continued membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit as he so kindly organises the gatherings of Listener lovers every three months (on the last Sunday of January, April, July and October at the Metropolitan just outside the Baker Street Tube Station). However, with growing concern, I scan his clues for a gill of proof and find ‘spirit’ and ‘drug’ but the wrong kind. ‘Racing vehicle is a game of skill and spirit — right/’ giving GO KA RT and ‘to imagine drug agency in position heading off’ DEA is [s]ITE giving IDEATE.

Hopefully I read on and find a clubhouse: ‘Row unskilfully? Man and boat capsized going around clubhouse’ – but this isn’t the nineteenth hole – no, it’s CAT + CH + BARCA< = CATCH A CRAB, so we are in the rowing-club house. There is still hope that we might find the strong stuff: ‘Ideal situations in work time – before noon I served up/ tea with all of deli crackers to get nearly euphoric. We move the ‘nearly’ forwards in this one and produce OP + T + AMI< = OPTIMA, then, from the second clue, TEA + DEL* = ELATED. So Ploy is getting euphoric on tea and deli crackers. I am almost in despair as I approach the final clue – and there is his evidence! ‘Small (moved forward) Individual starts to suffer nerves in personal/ difficulties taking up drink’ (Initial letters SNIP and ‘ados’ reversed SODA) Taking up drink indeed – I suppose that was whisky and soda. See you in the bar, Ploy!

A lucky guess about where to enter the first few clues we solve soon helps us fill our grid and we spot WIND OWL EDGE which seems to give us WINDOW LEDGE and is confirmed by extra words we are highlighting as we solve BURP, WISEACRE (Mrs Bradford tells us that can be an OWL) and BORDER. If that is a window ledge, could that rather narrow, high shape be A DOOR. Those words seem to be emerging from the initial letters of words that are moving within clues.

Right and Left

Right and Left

The other letters produced by moving words seem so say FINDS, so that, with a full grid, we begin the head-scratching. We need a comedy duo and that doesn’t seem to suggest one to us (though it should have done – as soon as we spot those climbing plants we realise that it is F AND S). Fortunately that last instruction is more helpful; In each side of the grid, solvers must draw a thematic line notionally passing through 11 cells, but interrupted by the three starred ones.’ I read upwards and downwards and with a hoot of glee find HONEYSUCKLE AND BINDWEED. That rings a faraway bell and the Internet soon confirms the memory.

We laugh out loud as we listen to the lyrics and realize how appropriately they fit this compilation (and how Misalliance, the title, was so subtly hidden in a clue). Then I take my green highlighter and draw my two climbing plants. What exactly does that strange instruction mean? Chambers tells me that ‘notionally’ means ‘in idea, not in reality’ and ‘interrupted’ means ‘broken in continuity’ so I do just that with my plants presumably passing behind some trellis or pillar. Great fun, thank you, Ploy.

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