Common Acid Test by Stan
Posted by shirleycurran on 28 October 2016
It wouldn’t be normal for the Numpties to download what was, in effect, a carte blanche, with clues that have no word lengths and to read that ‘the grid is made up of square cells, not all of the same size … ‘ without a mighty grumble. There was the redeeming feature that ‘clues are given in conventional order’ but then we had that so familiar ‘the wordplay leads to the answer with an extra letter that is not entered in the grid’. Oh dear!
Of course I checked Stan’s continued membership of the Listener Setters Oenophiles Society and although he gave me initial concern with ‘Inclination to get high put out near conclusion’ (PU[T* END = UPTREND) and followed that by ‘Lament one from Perth entering house of disrepute’ ([A]E in KEN giving KEEN) he seemed to be yielding to the need for a drink with ‘Hesitancy built up amongst teetotallers? (BUIL[T]* in AA giving ABULIA – loss of willpower).
Yes, the willpower was clearly gone as Stan then told us ‘Vintage measure of Champagne quietly discovered in rustic tavern’ (Giving us TA[V]ERN* around P so the measure was just any old French plonk or even soil) then we had a stimulant, ‘Stimulant — extract of cantaloupe, perhaps’ Hidden UPPER with an extra E. No wonder Stan was ‘Slightly drunk, Earl travelled round missing first left’ (another anagram giving us ELEVATED with an extra R. Well, Cheers, Stan, see you at the bar!
There were lots of difficult clues and we could, as yet, see no way of entering them but slowly some probable words emerged from the message that was appearing in the extra letters: ILLUMINA… MAN..CR… VERS.. IN LARGEST C.L. It was the other Numpty who explained that the Acid Test is LIT MUS and if we make that ‘Common’ by removing the U. we get a ‘lit’ or ILLUMINATED MS or MANUSCRIPT. I had no idea that a VERSAL was the large ornamental letter that is at the beginning of an illuminated manuscript (though we have been enthralled by the Book of Kells)
So at last it all made sense. ‘VERSAL IN LARGEST CELL’ Those six-letter words that shared an initial A were going to share a large illuminated letter A, and since the grid was to be symmetrical about the NW-SE diagonal, once we had those four words (AUREUS, APERCU, ABULIA and ARPENT) in place, the rest of the words paired off nicely and filled the grid.
I was so excited that at last we had a grid fill, that I almost overlooked that last requirement. ‘Solvers must also highlight a thematic three-word title in the grid. It was, of course, obvious what I was looking for but it took me surprisingly long to find it BOOK OF KELLS so neatly symmetrically crossing the grid just below the other diagonal. What a clever and attractive compilation, Stan. Many thanks.