Got Me! by Towser
Posted by Encota on 7 April 2017
Many thanks Towser for a very interesting and not too taxing puzzle. I found this one contained quite a variety of elements! Many of the clues seemed fairly straightforward and generous to the solver. For example:
Handled glasses, rereading long, endless letters (9)
looks like a simple anagram of LONG (l)ETTER(s) and yes, LORGNETTE it is. Clever use of ‘Handled’ in the clue’s definition, I like it!
The missing bars at first seemed strange too, since, given the placement of the clue numbers one could deduce the position of all the bars straight away. But hold on a minute: these ones aren’t part of a 180-degree symmetric grid! Some clearly will need to move later on.
With around half of the entries placed in the grid I suddenly noticed Row 4 contained RABELAIR. Given its closeness to RABELAIS, I soon confirmed that the cell with the final R in was one of the five clashes mentioned in the preamble since, in the appropriate Down clue,
All parts of manuscripts introduced by base, sick acts? (6)
…the answer/entry was EMESES, MSS with each character preceded by an E to represent base.
At this stage my total knowledge of Rabelais consisted of ‘French writer?’ with the emphasis on the Question Mark. Auntie Google soon helped me out with PANTAGRUEL as one of his works; an across clue looked very like GARGANTUA though I hadn’t realised this was Rabelais too. Column 2’s down entry looked certain to be Francois (though the ‘RACK’ in the original 14d clue had thrown me a bit – the original answer surely still had to be FRANCK though. And I recognised PANURGE (no idea why!) when it appeared, too.
Once these were in place there was only one sensible way to include the 34 bars and the 50 entries, though this did take some care and I wouldn’t be surprised if I made yet another crayoning error here – though hopefully not!
The phrases that came from the hidden 16 words:
FAY CE QUE VOULDRAS, and
were also new to me. Finding out that Francois Rabelais first published under an anagram of his own name (what’s a cedilla between friends?) was delightful. Though I would have quoted SIR FABIAN’S ORACLE myself. That’s half the fun of a good Listener crossword – it introduces you to things you might never otherwise have happened upon – a bit like a really good book group does.
I could see that the second diagonal looked very like (what was to me) an uncommon word. At first sight it looked as if it could readily have contained an O or an A in the centre and the BRB confirmed numerous options were possible, though with only two of them ending -ise. I’d suspected the Title from the beginning as being part of an augmented anagram and so it proved. The two As in Rabelais, plus the whole anagram being of RABELAIS GOT ME, meant that the middle letter had to be an A and all was sorted as METAGRABOLISE. I think.
But was there something more hiding here? Was this anagram really a reference to Henry Louis Mencken, the so-called BALTIMORE SAGE? Was there a hidden insult, given MISERABLE GOAT is there? Or was it a reference to Towser’s analysis of a recent LWO problem, I BLAME STORAGE? Er…no, no & no again.
Tim / Encota