Listen With Others

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Listener No 4445: Strange Requests by eXternal

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 April 2017

Another visit from eXternal this week, the setter my spell-checker is constantly getting annoyed at with his capital X not being at the start. It was just a year since his last, with Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulating the earth with stones which turned into men and women. (Personally, I think stones would be a more intelligent alternative to some people we’re currently lumbered with!)

Anyway, here we had six answers losing a messenger, six items made from two parts, in five cases one part clued and the other forming an entry, and thirteen clues with an extra word reflecting all this.

1ac MAGNET, 10ac OLOGY, 3dn POOR, 4dn EYOT plus ARTISTIC, ELEGIAC, VOLUNTEER and a couple more all went in within fifteen minutes. Of course, POOR didn’t mesh with MAGNET, so I guessed that one of them was my first two-part clue. The rest I wrote in as though they were final entries rather than requiring other halves, and luckily this proved true for some these first few. And only one extra word had come to light, in 3dn upright, but that was soon joined by mirror in 5dn.

Solving then became a bit sporadic, and it was only when I got to 26dn MUG-HUNTER for a 6-letter entry that I presumed I had my first ‘messenger’ clue. But was it MUG or HUN that had to leave? Luckily, a short while later, I came to 38ac FISHMONGER for another (6). I say ‘luckily’, but either SHMO or MONG could leave. Both were words for a fool, like MUG, but it looked as though I was on the right track. (Here it would prove to be SHMO that got banished.)

So, fools were being dropped and the only thing that came to mind was “A fool and his money are soon parted.” However, the puzzle’s title didn’t really gel with that idea, although 1ac COPPER could fit. Even though answer lengths were given, it was sometimes tricky to determine which were the ones losing a fool and which needed a counterpart. This was especially true of SPIRIT LEVEL at 22ac, where BUBBLE proved to be the entry.

All in all, it took some googling to track down what was going on here and it was only when I could see LONG WEIGHT in the main NW–SE diagonal that everything came together.

1ac COPPER (defined by the extra word “bobby”) MAGNET
22ac BUBBLE (insubstantial) for a SPIRIT LEVEL
37ac GLASS (mirror) HAMMER
9dn STRIPY (banded) PAINT
11dn ELBOW (joint) GREASE
NW–SE LONG (marathon) WEIGHT (pressure)

I particularly liked the fools and the words they were leaving:

6ac MAL(div)ES — males
30ac (clot)HEARS — tries
38ac FI(shmo)NGER — pilfer
1dn C(ass)OCKED — upright
22dn BAL(loon)ING — bundling
26dn (mug)HUNTER — watch

I must admit that I was totally out of my depth with this puzzle, never having been asked for any of the items in the grid. Well, in IT you wouldn’t be! Good fun, thanks eXternal, and a shame that Handyman took the previous week’s slot.


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