HMS Arcady by Hedge-sparrow
Posted by shirleycurran on 14 October 2016
We began by highlighting the unclued lights in Hedge-sparrow’s HMS Arcady. We soon realised that they were symmetrical and we also realised that there were rather a lot of them – long words, too, which meant that the average length of the solutions to clues that we had to solve was fairly low. I like that, as, unlike our new blogger, Encota Tim, my favourites (as a pretty second-rate Numpty solver) are the relatively easy Listener puzzles and, when there are lots of unclued lights, the clues to the others obviously have to be approachable. Indeed, the short solutions are often the ones that cause the most head-scratching but they didn’t give us too much pain in Hedge-sparrow’s compilation.
We had been solving for about twenty minutes when TIN TRAYS and PIG-LEAD appeared and led us at once to John Masefield’s Cargoes.
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
Slotting those evocative words into the unclued lights was great fun and in a few minutes, the grid was full. A lucky guess put the GALLEON and COASTER in the right places and we realised what the jumbles we had been highlighting had to lead to. There was a moment’s panic when we saw that Masefield misspelled his ship QUINQUIREME, but, of course the compiler and editors had foreseen that issue and told us that we had to adopt the Chambers spelling of the word we put below the grid. The solution to ERNE made it clear, too, that we should ignore Masefield’s spelling of AMYTHYSTS.
After completing our solve, an hour or so later, I used different colours to highlight the contents of the GALLEON and of the dirty British COASTER as we were delighted to find that those cargoes were grouped. When we had worked out the six ‘consecutive jumbles’ from the down clues, we had a third neatly grouped rather exotic cargo for the QUINQUEREME. Yes, by then we were back-solving as we knew what we were looking for: peacocks, ivory, cedarwood, sandalwood, apes and sweet white wine.
Did I say ‘Sweet white wine’? That was a lucky find (anagrammed to ‘when we tweet is it’) as Hedge-sparrow had me seriously worried with regard to renewal of his membership of the Listener Setters’ Toping Outfit. All my initial scan through the clues had produced was ‘Departs, overcome by suspect brewskis (4)’ At first we suspected that the SKIS of BREWSKIS was going to be one of the consecutive jumbles but an urban dictionary told me that BREWSKIS is slang for BEERS, so the clue was probably most appropriate, leading to SUS. around D = SUDS, another slang word for beer, and, of course, I know what coasters are used for! So here’s Hedge-sparrow mixing the wine and beer – and ‘sweet white wine’ from some Ninevehan Quinquereme – worse and worse! There’s a German saying for that isn’t there? ‘Wein auf Bier, das rat’ ich dir. Bier auf Wein, das Lass’ sein’ (First beer, then wine, you’re fine: first wine then beer, oh dear!) Cheers anyway, Hedge-sparrow. See you in the bar.
I loved this solve and was mixing a sweet G and T to celebrate when I realized that we hadn’t even glanced at the ‘Thematic‘ clues. We attacked them and found ourselves seriously challenged, even though we knew that they had to give us emeralds, iron ware, diamonds, tin trays, cinnamon (that was the tough one CAMO around INN + N), firewood, amethysts, road rails, topazes, pig lead, Tyne coal and moidores (as they did, in that order). So yes, it was an easy solve, but with a sting in the tail for those who took on that final challenge. Most enjoyable, thank you Hedge-sparrow.