Buried Treasure by Poat
Posted by shirleycurran on 18 November 2016
Poat has been compiling Listener crosswords for over a quarter of a century so I clearly don’t need to worry about his membership of the Setters’ Toping Club but, having read the short preamble of Buried Treasure, I skim the clues quickly to check that he retains his membership card. There is a brief foray into soft drinks at 39 across. I wonder whether that clue is totally fair on overseas solvers who don’t have the pleasure of those fizzy bottled and canned British soft drinks. ‘Relieve dreamer of soft drink to check case in Scotland (4)’ gave us FANTASIST with the FANTA removed.
‘A few pints on us? Volumes (7)’ produces the alcohol with QUART OS so ‘Cheers, Poat!’ obviously sticking with the beer. However, we have queried the rather strange A at the start of the clue and the OS for ‘on us’ and have a faint suspicion that something is going on in the clues as well as in the grid.
Grid-filling goes full tilt, because of some lucky solves of long words, and suggestions from TEA when we have a few letters in place (like COUNTER-FLEURY – the wordplay led us to that ‘Set clue for university entry with charges going the other way (13)’ = CLUE FOR U ENTER* but I still don’t really understand the word). Soon our grid is three-quarters full, though we continue to wonder about rather strangely worded clues. It must have been difficult for Poat, for example, to find a clue beginning with H and finishing with E for BIRD (Hammerhead maybe circling daughter and wife (4)’ = D + RIB<).
The north-east corner takes us longer as we have never heard of JOE BLOW, and even when we find him, we are not totally convinced that he matches with ‘For the average Aussie, a book picked up on the cheap (7, two words)’ Is this &Lit with JOE = average fellow + B = book + LOW = picked up on the cheap?
We have been spotting clashes, often fairly generously clued, as we went along and now the other Numpty solves our doubt about RE AD EV ER ?? ?? RD (I was sure the last word had to be WORD!) ‘THIRD, he announces and that leads us to solve our last two clues YEASTS and HERDEN, to give the letters we need. He sneaks off to prepare the G and Ts and supper while I am left with the fiddly task of spotting all the unchecked letters then reading every third one of them. What do I find, ‘ONE OF THREE CLUE ACROSTICS’.
Of course, I read down the first letters (and last letters) of the clues hoping to find the key and find a red herring. I find CHAL/ LOSS and RILE as four-letter words and, to my surprise find CHAL in the grid too. CHAL is a gypsy, so why would that be the ‘ultimate goal in the search area (four consecutive letters in a straight line)’? What was it we used to repeat ‘If you are not certain that your solution is correct, then it almost certainly isn’t!’
I look again. There have to be three clue acrostics so I take every third initial letter and find THIS GOES NOWHERE/ FALSE TRAIL AGAIN and Eureka! CLOSE BY AMPTHILL. That, of course, is familiar and Wikipedia fills in all the details of that series of episodes that fascinated us thirty years ago. I fetch the book, Kit Williams’ Masquerade, from the basement and re-read it, confirming that our ultimate goal is the golden hare (maybe JACK?) and the grid-staring begins.
And continues … and continues. I can find SEARCH AREA in the grid beginning at the S in the fifth cell but I can find no HARE in a straight line there. I can find ARCH – is that another word for a GOAL? Well, not in Chambers.
There is only one HARE that is four letters in a straight line in the searcH AREa but that is in the preamble. Mr Green is adamant that he wishes those of us who live overseas and enter on home-printed documents to trim our grid with just the address details and one millimetre on each side (and to include a few used postage stamps if we can – that he donates to a charity). He surely can’t be happy if we send a highlighted preamble.
I’m flummoxed and have to admit that this one has defeated me. Many thanks, anyway, Poat for a really meaty compilation.