Listen With Others

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Listener No 4455: Silence by MynoT

Posted by Dave Hennings on 7 Jul 2017

MynoT’s last puzzle at the beginning of last year was the superb Stomach with its map of the solar system from Sun out to Neptune.This week’s puzzle made me think of the film Alien with its tagline “In space, no one can hear you scream”!

A carte blanche here, with a phrase running across the top and bottom rows. Unfortunately the tagline was a couple of letters short of filling the 30 squares. Two other unclued entries were explained by this phrase.

Now, MynoT can be one tricky cluesmith, but here they were fairly straightforward. At least, the down clues were. With only half a dozen acrosses solved in my first pass, most of the downs were cracked and enabled the top of the grid to look almost complete after only 25 minutes.

I felt somewhat smug, although that was tempered by my embarrassment at getting 18dn at first reading. Conceal call for attention in ’80s sitcom (6) led to HI-DE-HI, an 80’s sitcom that I loathed (and consequently rarely watched); I also loathed the one set in a railway station.

The clue across the centre of the grid Having different music throughout for Humperdinck to broadcast (but not loud) (15) was almost certainly an anagram of (FOR HUMPERDINCK TO – F) but my doodles failed to reveal anything sensible that was one word. It would eventually turn out to be DURCHKOMPONIERT. In hindsight, I wondered if this German word was deliberately chosen to give us a hint.

If only I had resorted to Tea to solve this anagram, perhaps all the following kerfuffle would have been avoided. As it was, after about 1½ hours of solving, I had BED in row 5 with AD REM running through it. I also had TRY in row 9, and eventually solved Heard au pair goes before pregnant by … (5, two words) for DUE TO (O with DUET before), and stifled a titter. Cry of protest perhaps heard at Billingsgate: “It’s a shellfish” (6, two words) also raised a smile (SEE ‘ERE).

When I finally got the central entry, it looked as though ADREM and IN KEY should both start one square lower, but that would mean that the first square of row 5 and its opposite would be unchecked.

I suppose I should have tried to solve the phrase in the top and bottom rows earlier than I did as that might have helped get me on the right track. WO appeared in both, and after wondering about WORD, WORT seemed a possibility. Without anything in the preamble to help, I tried the section on foreign phrases at the back of Chambers, and was rewarded with KEINE ANTWORT IST AUCH EINE ANTWORT — No answer is still an answer: silence gives consent.

So it looked as though the two 7-letter unchecked entries in row 6 and 8 had to remain blank. I briefly wondered whether SILENCE and/or CONSENT would fit to give new words for the four entries that crossed, but no.

All in all, an easier than normal MynoT puzzle, but still enjoyable — nicht wahr?

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