Phi’s wit showed immediately in the very first clue (which I suspect Shirley will mention – can’t think why 🙂 ). It initially appeared like a strong contender for “Pedents Corner”, as it included the spelling ‘whisky’ preceded by ‘Irish’! But no, of course this was Phi’s gentle way of nudging us into noticing that one or other of ‘Irish’ and ‘whisky’ was out of place and thus a likely word to be removed before solving, as per the Preamble’s instruction. This was going to be fun!
Aside: I’m currently watching Series 3 of Black Mirror, that brilliant-but-scary Charlie Brooker view of a dystopian near-future tech-laden world. Some grisly, thought-provoking stuff. I’m picturing a final scene, with a final decision to be made:
Sit loads: hear last radio. She also has tried to share dials, as this ordeal is old as Earth. I herald a toss: “Heads or Tails?”
OK, the above is pretentious garbage. But one thing that does surprise me about the phrase HEADS OR TAILS is how many plausible ‘anagrammed phrases’ it reveals. We’ve already seen ‘I HERALD A TOSS’ as the appropriate anagram so cleverly used by Phi down the left-hand-side of this puzzle: for those with a spare few minutes over the weekend (or should that read seconds for this audience?) feel free to try these ones:
- Graham Norton maybe (8,4)
- The crew’s demise (7,5)
- Perhaps three-in-four drastically reduced to one-over-the-eight, say (5,7)
- Places to buy specific perennial garden plants (6,6)
- Lost the plot? (4,4,4)
- 2001 computer’s minor planet? (4,8)
- A possible problem for Fallen Angel? (4,8)
- Cut off tall pointed London landmark (7,5)
- Didn’t find that prize in Kit Williams’ Masquerade (4,4,4)
[this one is LOST SAID HARE]
- A rare scratch? (8,4) and
- What this blog could be named, if only I was paid for it (8,4)
Back to the real subject – this super puzzle. I know I’m a novice when it comes to Listener crosswords – but is the clue type ‘Two Definitions of Words that differ by only one letter plus Wordplay for only the Common Part’ Phi’s own invention? Certainly these sorts of clues were new to me and fabulous they were – thank you Phi for introducing me to them. I do look forward to seeing them in use again sometime soon! Here’s one example:
Persistent psychiatrist introducing singular punishment (7)
Definition 1 = persistent -> LASTING
Definition 2 = punishment -> LASHING
Wordplay = S(ingular) in LAING (psychiatrist) = LASING
and, as I enjoyed them so much, here’s one more:
Encourages busy store to stock unknown screws (7)
Definition 1 = encourages -> EXHORTS
Definition 2 = screws -> EXTORTS
Wordplay = X (unknown) in STORE* = EXORTS
And there were six more to enjoy, all delightful.
For me, the SW corner went in first, though solving 35ac (correctly) as SEA GODS then immediately entering SEA DOGS was a great way to slow me down! Luckily it soon became obvious what I had done. Last quadrant in was the SW: 36ac’s Scots downpour had me thinking it was PLASH not BLASH for ten minutes or so. Once I spotted BLAS(e) for ‘…unimpressed because of familiarity, mostly‘ then all became clear.
There was one plural not directly provided by my (admittedly slightly older 2014) versions of Chambers, namely 11d’s GIRRS. The third definition under gird says (Scot): ‘A hoop (also girr)’ but girrs doesn’t automatically appear in my WordWeb Pro version (bought this year) as the plural. I suspect it’ll be updated soon enough.
I felt Phi had been particularly clever in picking words to fit the two phrases, i.e.
I__H (IrisH) etc.
Picking either the Head or Tail of each word revealed the two 12-letter phrases: I HERALD A TOSS and HEADS OR TAILS. The skill here as the setter of course was to pick words that would also fit suitably unobtrusively into the twelve chosen clues – no mean feat and done here brilliantly, I felt.
And finally, the Title. Fairly straightforward this week, at least with hindsight: ‘bit’ as a coin helps create a clever pun. Overall – great fun. Thanks Phi!