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‘Shady Characters’ by Malva

Posted by Encota on 14 July 2017

Do I recall correctly that the last Malva Listener was the MINSMERE one?  Clearly in the weekend where Radiohead* are playing their fourth ever Glastonbury live set, we’ll need to be transported from the Suffolk coast to the depths of Somerset, i.e. there must be a Radiohead-based clue hiding in here somewhere.  Ah, yes, there it is, 15 down – with the track ‘Dollars and cents’ from their fifth album, Amnesiac (2001):

  Dollars and cents adult invested in baking equipment (4)

Mr O’Brien (one of R’s guitarists) and his sour dough bread-making project get a mention in this same clue, too.  [What??? Ed.]

Back to reality: …what is going on in 12 across?

  Men abandoning magic to practise crystal-gazing (4)

This was one of the clues where the wordplay indicates the answer with an extra letter.  My first parsing was perhaps ‘original’, by which I mean wrong:  ‘MM’ for Men (it seemed to work in Chambers, just about) being removed from a word for ‘magic’, namely SCRUMMY (in the ‘delightful’ sense), leaving SCRUY.  Remove one letter, U, leaving SCRY, which was definitely the definition.  But this led to a jumble of LLYUOW being required at the end!  Once I later knew it had to be LLYEOW, i.e. YELLOW*, then eventually I spotted S(or)C[E]RY, with OR for ‘men’.  Phew, I’d made hard work of that one…

The remaining challenges came at the end – which words to colour as which, and which to leave alone.  With there being a REDSHANK and a GREENSHANK to choose from, luckily there was one other place to put RED, in REDSTART and nowhere else for GREEN, so that one was sorted.  But what about a possible BLUE-EYE at 9d?  This didn’t look promising, as its intersection with (TAN)AGER at 7a meant that one character would have to have two different colours.  For its defence though, BLUE TIT was the only two-word (two word?) bird involved – was that relevant, somehow?  A careful re-read of the Preamble seemed to suggest No, so BLUE TIT it was.  And a BUTTERBUMP as a bittern was a new word for me, too.

That left whether to write the letters in the appropriate colour or to highlight them.  Well, there’s no mention of highlight anywhere, so it appears to be that the letters should be written in the appropriate colour.  And the title, ‘shady characters’ seems to back this up.  Some, however, especially a yellow HAMMER – and even more so a butter BUMP – aren’t going to show up too well, so it may need a bit of gentle background shading simply to make it readable.

2017-06-24 19.01.52

However, I’d rather No Surprises: I wonder where I could check that that is OK: Computer?
[Radiohead cracker joke mode off]

Finally, thanks to Mrs. Encota for colour advice and use of her appropriate colour
pencils 🙂  Words that sounded like ColourSoft and InkTense (?) and ..and …. kept appearing, along with the ‘what particular shade of Tan were you after?’ questions.  I think I got away with nodding ‘wisely’.

cheers

Tim / Encota

*One of those that Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You might call “a modern beat combo”.  And if all goes to plan (given I’m writing this on 24th June & scheduling it for reading after 14th July) I will have seen Radiohead live again in Manchester last week!  Does anyone else remember that Douglas Adams piece in the H2G2 series where he talks about the biggest problem with ‘time travel’ not being the engineering but actually the need for new verb tenses, e.g. for describing what you did in the future last week?  I’m getting déjà vu feelings from the future about it right now…

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