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Strange Requests by eXternal

Posted by Encota on 28 April 2017

A long time ago, in a workplace far, far away…the themed items in eXternal’s puzzle could easily have resulted in a title of The Apprentice, or similar.  I suspect many seasoned workers have taken, or heard of others taking, the (slightly bizarre) pleasure of sending their new wet-behind-the-ears Apprentice off to Stores (with a Strange Request) to pick up a “long weight”.  The Storeman is, of course, in on the joke and says “No problem, I’ll just get you one”, then disappears into the back room, puts the kettle on, his feet up and reads the newspaper, for a LONG time.  As far as I can see, all the items featured in this fun puzzle are on the same list: “I’ve lost the bubble in my spirit level – do go and pick one up from Stores for me, there’s a good lad” (or similar patronising words).  [Aside: “All my Apprentices say that I’m always patronising but I told them, ‘There’s no need to worry your little heads about that’ “.]

I did this puzzle on Saturday, having cycled from a comms-free location in the middle of Thetford Forest to the village of East Harling on the Norfolk/Suffolk border to pick up the paper,  in between (largely failed) efforts to nudge some of April’s Magpie puzzles forward.  [As of 10th April, all six grids filled but only three puzzles complete…hmm!]

26d’s MUG-HUNTER (GEM UNHURT*) and 36a’s ‘Watch’ for HUNTER were the first pair I spotted, and things progressed pretty quickly from there.

Of course the messenger requesting these things is being made a fool of, so (I think) a FOOL synonym needed removing from six of the solutions before entry, viz.:

  • FI(shmo)NGER
  • C(ass)OCKED
  • (mug)HUNTER
  • (clot)HEARS
  • BAL(loon)ING, &
  • MAL(div)ES

A clever touch from eXternal to keep all modified entries as real words – I know how this adds to the setting challenge!

I’m off now to give a private talk (at Cliveden, Bucks) on “How to solve cryptic crosswords (for those too afraid to ask!)” – hopefully by the time you read this it’ll have gone well!

cheers all,

Tim /Encota

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