Listener No 4424: Fieldwork by Ferret
Posted by Dave Hennings on 2 December 2016
Ferret’s previous Listeners have been based on the old British Rail logo (no 4207, Loco), Pete and Dud’s one-legged Tarzan (no 4257, A Short Entertainment) and the Origami staircase from Swing Time (no 4319, Feature Film). This week, a two-word phrase would provide the theme.
The preamble was very busy, but basically each 4-, 5- and 6-letter word lay wholly within one of the quadrants; two would need modification (according to the theme), two had misprints in their clues and the other was unclued. The remaining clues were normal.
For a bit of fun, I decided to tackle the normal 7-, 8- and 9-letter words first. I was pleasantly surprised at how many I got. PREMIER, FULL-TIME, TETANIC, MIASMAL and UNPEELED were the acrosses which I plonked in fairly quickly, followed by REAPING, HARD-WON (?), ARMHOLES and AIRBUILT down. 20 minutes in and feeling happy.
Next, I decided to try and ferret out (no pun intended) the misprints. 1ac HIRAGE and 5ac SLOPE were next to fall followed by GRIFFIN, OVERREACH, PROMISORS and HOPED. I was getting annoyed at missing the entries that needed modification before entry, but that was soon rectified with 5ac SODA which looked as though it became ADOS in the grid. I also realised that HARD-WON should have been HARD-GOT. Next came 21ac BERET which looked like it needed truncating to fit the B and E I already had. RIAS at 26 becoming SAIR confirmed the anagrammy entries and 24dn EARL[Y] confirmed the choppy ones.
I sat back mildly contented and tried to come up with the thematic phrase:
– Clocks changing (wrong time of year)
– Chop and change (too many words)
– Chop around (a bit vague)
– Irish stew (clutching at straws)
– Short change (now that’s a possibility)
The rest of the grid came together fairly quickly once I had identified the two methods of entry, and the two misprints in each quadrant enabled GARLIC, CARROT, BARLEY and — ah-ha!! — FALLOW to appear. CROP ROTATION was obviously the theme, and I tried moving the four unclued entries clockwise. Some new words were revealed, so I knew I was home and dry (although it didn’t stop me checking other rotations).
Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Ferret. It wasn’t as tricky as your previous Listeners, but it was one that I could explain to a non-crosswording friend over a couple of pints to give him an idea of our fascination with these beasts.