Listen With Others

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Post-it Note by Tramp

Posted by shirleycurran on 11 Nov 2016

tramp-larkin-001What do we have? A new setter! Well, Tramp isn’t completely new is he? The first time I encountered his pseudonym was as one of the setters for the 3D Calendar Puzzles for Erik Westbrook’s BBC Children in Need and RNIB project. We have solved some entertaining Grauniad crosswords of his and I understand that he has written several puzzles for the Indy including two barred-grid puzzles for the Inquisitor (as Jambazi) and one puzzle for the FT (as Skitnica) but this seems to be his first venture into the heights of the Listener’s advanced thematic cryptics. We must welcome him and check whether he is granted admission into the Listener Setters toping set-up. Oh dear, what do I find! This setter clearly has other habits but apart from a touch of sack’ in ‘Electronic trails to sack for online comments (5)’ (DO with E ‘trailing’ and an extra OC that will contribute to our curve in DOOCE) I don’t find a trace of alcohol. Now ‘dooce’ is an intriguing new word for me (and probably what I’ll be getting for commenting on all Tramp’s sexy clues and his even more sexy endgame ‘to sack for online comments’).

‘I like nurses (4)’ gives us an additional A and I +AS (AIAS). Then he’s into the foreplay: ‘Kiss on date, ignoring one of fusion dishes (6) ‘ Gives us TEX-MEX with the ME as additional letters. Then it’s ‘Choose endless sex on request (5)’ (PLEA + SE(x)) My oh my! At least he’s grateful, ‘Requests some Valentine’s red roses must be sent back (6)’ (ORDERS is rather laboriously hidden in there with ‘Valentine’s’ merely producing the final S).

It gets more intense, ‘Red-hot topless sex, kinky girl urged (8)’ [(R)ED-HOT with (S)EX]* = EXHORTED with the extra girl giving us an R for the six-letter narrator of the theme that we are hunting for. We find a ‘boob’ and some ‘going up to bed’ and ‘Uses right to interrupt old lovers (6)’ (RT in EXES = EXERTS but it must be time to draw the curtain on these randy activities.

Seriously, though, this was a most amusing and fine set of clues and our grid filled steadily. Better still, six extra words produced letters that they shared with their relative solutions (CHILDREN, FATHER, GIRL, KEEP, HOMILY and LENGTH) and in reverse spelled out LARKIN for us. What an original and intriguing device.

Of course several Larkin poems spring to mind and after all that sexual activity in the clues and the fact that CHATTER/LEY  had already appeared in our grid, I suspected that we were going to find some reference to the f**k word ‘They f**k you up your mum and dad …’, but then the title (that I still haven’t understood – I am told that it is a witty one) led me on a wild goose chase. When I entered ‘Larkin Post-it Note’ into Wikipedia, I was led to another Larkin whose novel ‘The Shadow Girl’ name contains the line ‘Despite the post-it note with her phone number on it, she’s little more than a fading memory’. But it wasn’t to be.

Of course the ODQ is the solution. If you submit a crossword based on a literary quotation that isn’t in there, your editor is likely to send it back with a sad little comment about attempting to exploit obscure literature. Fortunately, there, in the ODQ, I find the very first Larkin quotation:
Sexual intercourse began/ In nineteen-sixty three/ (Which was rather late for me) – Between the end of the Chatterley ban/ And the Beatles’ first LP. (Annus Mirabilis 1974)

How well I remember both of his benchmarks. My father was one of the Justices who was asked to give a professional opinion on D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and he endearingly had it wrapped in brown paper on his bedside table. You can imagine what a temptation that was to his young daughters and which pages we devoured with wide eyes. The Beatles’ Please Please Me (PLEASE TWICE ME) – how we loved it and how social mores had changed when it was released in 1963.

The grid was full and here was yet more sex! Tracing those letters ‘SEXUAL INTERCOURSE BEGAN’ in our grid produced a rather strange shape that looked a little bit like a couple of intertwined hearts (or participants) but it didn’t take a lot of imagination to see ’63 there – and to smile! Thank you, Tramp for a stunning start.


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