Not the Rockies by Kruger
Posted by shirleycurran on 14 April 2017
On first sight ‘Not the Rockies’ was rather daunting since it was almost carte-blanche except for those bars and the circles and we were given just the one clue number. I made myself a grid with Crossword Compiler and realized that the key to solving was going to be that one 12-letter word that actually broke the symmetry with a 7 and a 6-letter word sharing the other vertical edge. Oh dear! What a lot of 7, 6 and 5 letter words with just four 4-letter ones that might help us to fit our solutions in. Clearly we were in for a lot of cold-solving before we got anywhere.
Yes, I saw Mr and Mrs Kruger at the bar at the setters’ dinner not too long ago, so didn’t really worry about his annual admission ticket to the setters’ tippling club but he confirmed it anyway with ‘Gang drinks American bottle (5)’ What fun – we have CREW and US bottled as an anagram so we put an extra W in our coloured strip down the margin of our clues and mark CRUSE as the solution. So Kruger must have opted for the California reds – but no! ‘Clearly showed wine, and so on outside front of Education Department (7)’ gave us E[T]C + ED around some of the French stuff VIN = EVINCED. Well, cheers, Kruger! See you at the next gathering.
Fortunately INEQUALITIES gave us our way in, ‘Ignore mass in principal characteristics putting Earth in deviations from orbital motion (12)’ MAIN less M(ass) with an A as the extra letter followed by E(arth) QUALITIES. (What a clever clue!) and we were able to begin a putative grid fill, with IYNX, YULAN, NITRIC, INYALA and so on obligingly filling that top corner. A probable message was emerging: ANSWERS CONTAINING N … TOP ..S TO THE BOTTOM seemed likely and the penny dropped. We hadn’t made any use at all of that hint in the pre-ramble that ‘grid entries are clued in pairs. In each case, one answer from the pair must be entered somewhere in the upper part of the grid and the other answer in the lower part’ but now we realized that we had an N in all the entries in the top half and an S in all the others. Even better, the letters D,W,R,T,F,A and a ? had filled our circles and we smiled as WATFORD was the obvious anagram (and put an O in the remaining circle.
Of course that gave us a smile when we realized that the word INEQUALITIES was appropriate in two ways. We northerners (or at least some of us from rural areas where there are very few or no public services) have a chip on our shoulder about the inequalities that mean that spoilt people in the south east seem to have cushy lives and all the facilities they could desire and more – inequalities indeed, and, in the context of the puzzle, what a splendid word that has its N in the north and S in the south.
Hah, the Watford Gap that we believe divides us! Wiki tells us all about it being the place where northern and southern English divide. And sure enough, DIVIDE fills the unclued light and with a bit of searching, we see that we have NORTH above it and SOUTH below it. How good to have an unambiguous end game. But did I say ‘end game’? With consternation, I realize that we still have unsolved clues and gaps in our grid. ?A?NOR is ‘Woman spotted locally playing horn (6)’. The woman must be GAYNOR with the H of ‘horn*’ as our extra letter so GAY must be a dialect word for ‘spotted’. The Big Red Book confirms that for me and I am left with ?SHMO?E and one remaining clue ‘Old antiquarian spy supports growth of hair (7)’ That leads to our last p.d.m. as we remember learning how the Ashmolean Museum burned or destroyed the infested remains of the last dodo. So ASHMOLE it has to be ([T]ASH + MOLE). Thanks to Kruger for an enjoyable challenge.
Ah, I almost forgot – the hares. They had obviously received the Ashmolean treatment this week and were rather mangled but they were there!