Listen With Others

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Influence by The Tall’n

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 May 2017

What a lot of clues! Three sets with a thematic third set added to the thirty-three across and down ones and we see, at once, that those thematic ones can fit anywhere in the grid, so we begin to highlight lights without numbers and find that the thirteen thematic clues more or less have the grid covered with just that one suspect white area at the bottom left. We store that bit of useful information for later when we are going to change one word to the ‘missing thematic name, which is doubly significant’ (so he, or she, is going to influence two different thematic areas).

Yes, of course The Tall’n qualifies for his entry to the Listener Setters Oenophile Elite. I find, from Dave Hennings’ Database that he has been setting Listener crosswords since 1997, so this is a twentieth anniversary, and, no doubt they all had a fair sprinkling of alcoholic clues. I didn’t have to read far, ‘Effervescent drink book announced (4)’. We had already guessed that the first word of the hint was going to be THE, THEY or THESE so ‘effervescent’ was superfluous, leaving us with MARK which we hear as MARC. Clearly The Tall’n is into the strong stuff, and he confirms it with ‘Mounting criticism for fortified Madeira wines (5)’ By the time we got to that clue, we had established that THEY WERE GREEK MYTHOLOGICAL SISTERS, so an M had to come out of the clue and it was either ‘Mounting’ or ‘Madeira’. STROP< becomes PORTS, so we chose to use the Mounting. So I raise a glass of port to the Tall’n. Cheers!

Clearly, to give solvers a chance with so many thematic lights, the numbered ones had to be straightforward and they were! With enormous pleasure we speedily filled our grid, almost in clue order, until there were just our highlighted lights and the penny dropped with a musical clang when only CALLIOPE would fill the light at the bottom left. ‘Muses’ we said with delight and Auntie Google gave us a list of nine.

Eight of those Muses fitted into our spaces but not THALIA, the muse of comedy and epic poetry. We still had five cells to fill and one of them was clearly going to accept AGLAIA so we checked on the Graces and found, to our surprise, that THALIA was there too, so she was going to be the ‘doubly significant’ name. We inserted EUPHROSYNE and were left with three names to find. “Look up the Fates in Google” said the other Numpty, and, sure enough, there were CLOTHO, LACHESIS and ATROPOS. Great fun and time to cook supper after our solve.

Ah yes, we had rather ‘jumped the gun’. It was fairly clear what was to go below the grid but we had solved only half of the thematic clues. TRAGEDY, with a G as its fourth letter, fixed the word GRACE and we ‘back solved’ finding BIRTH, ASTRONOMY, MUSIC and DEATH. HYMNS with an M as its third letter, placed MUSE for us and that was confirmed by SPLENDOUR, HISTORY and EPIC VERSE. Finally LIFE (‘defile’ endlessly returning) gave us the F of FATE which continued with DANCING, MIRTH and LOVE POETRY.

And THALIA? How I like grid changes that result in real words. That GOALIE had caused us a minute’s head scratching. Are goalies always number one? Anyway, we could get rid of him now and THALIA produced LOTO and DHOL as crossing words. Nice! Many thanks to The Tall’n.

Hares? Obviously there was no lack in Ancient Greece. They are jumbly hares but there’s no shortage in The Tall’n’s grid. We’ve had hares in almost every grid since Poat’s ‘great golden hare event’, though only Hedge Sparrow managed to include on as four letters in a straight line and then immediately had the HS2 run over the poor little devil. Clearly it must be the Listener Setters’ favourite little beast (if not the solvers’).


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