Got Me! by Towser
Posted by shirleycurran on 7 April 2017
‘Got Me!’ That title didn’t give us any hints and wasn’t an obvious anagram of anything but we were pleased to see a relatively short preamble warning us that we were to find five clashes and a total of sixteen extra words (Oh dear, that device again – it is a bit of a minefield isn’t it as it is oh so easy to find redundant words that the setter didn’t intend us to find – and chaos ensues!) There were to be eight in across clues and eight in down clues – a kind of symmetry.
Of course I had to check Towser’s right to re-admission to the Listener Setters’ Tipsy Club and he was almost thrown out until his ‘Harmonised advanced desire for excess (6)’ (A + GREED) readmitted him. Then there was ‘Paid for abysmally small measure of Scotch (7)’ giving PAID PER* = DRAPPIE. Jumping ahead, those extra down letters intriguingly spelt out ALCOFRIBAS NASIER and my memories of teaching French and helping sons with French homework (well, Rabelais was fairly tough stuff for them when they were thirteen or fourteen!) reminded me that that was an anagram of FRANCOIS RABELAIS. The ‘ALCO’ bit was surely a fleeting reference to drink?
Not just drink; there was a fine array of food too, which was rather appropriate for a crossword that celebrated Pantagruel and Gargantua. In a whole series of very fair and approachable clues, we found CARPACCIO, ‘Strips of raw meat, fish accompanied by twice-peeled onions (9)’ (CARP + ACC + [on]IO[ns]), VINEGAR, ‘Bad temper shown by climber before Pike (7)’ (VINE + GAR), ESCAROLE, ‘Casserole cooked without special [dried] endive (8)’ (CASSEROLE* less S), ‘Italian city cooked crabs, that is (7)’ (CRABS + IE* = BRESCIA), PASTA, ‘Head of asparagus added to out-of-date macaroni, say (5)’ (PAST + A(sparagus)), VEAL, ‘Some have a [nasty] lividity in young flesh (4)’ (hidden in ‘haVE A Lividity) and finally GRUEL, ‘Archaic punishment that would be merciless if government were Conservative (5) (CRUEL with G for C). Quite a feast!
We were lucky to spot that GARGANTUA and PANTAGRUEL were appearing in the grid (with a couple of clashes with MANTUA and INK IN) and instantly suspected that PANURGE was in those letters ending in URGE at 27d. So François Rabelais was sure to be hiding in there and, of course, he was. It was enjoyable to fill the rest of the grid with just one clue resisting us, ‘Doctor’s vehicle ditching discontinued Jack. Of course we finally sussed out that we were in Doctor Who territory and the TARDIS was dropping the DIS to give TAR = JACK – nice.
The other extra letters gave FAY CE QUE VOULDRAS, (Do whatever you would like to do), Rabelais’ words, and the motto of the Abbey of Thélème. I am not sure that they would be a great help to solvers but it is always an aspect of Listener crosswords that we learn something – like that word METAGRABOLISE that climbed in the non-dominant diagonal in the grid and anagrammed RABELAIS and a few other letters. It gave us that central A. Yes, there was a massive red herring there for us as the word we knew for ‘to puzzle out’ was METAGROBOLISE but, of course, that doesn’t have the two As of RABELAIS in it. P.d.m. – now I understand ‘Got Me’ and it nearly did! It’s a compound anagram. Add that to RABELAIS and what do we get – to puzzle it out. Nice one!
I’m rather suspicious of those crosswords where I have to add a set number of bars as it is so easy to overlook one or two. It took me three attempts to confirm that I had added 34, even though there wasn’t really another way of obtaining 50 entries (one an abbreviation – USN for the US Navy – that was a bit of a downer but I can’t see how the setter could have avoided it and maybe it gives us setters a precedent and the right to sneak in an unavoidable abbreviation).
Many thanks, Towser for an enjoyable crossword.
Ah, the elusive golden HARE? Of course it’s hiding in there (with a mate); one of them is in a bit of a jumble and the other curling up, but they are there!