Listen With Others

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Polo by Apt

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 July 2017

Solving the weekly Listener puzzle becomes something of an OCD doesn’t it? We were on an AutoReiseZug (one of those wonderful trains where you load your car then sleep happily as the train covers about five hundred miles and deposits you and the car at your destination). A friend kindly sent me the puzzle but I was unable to print it so we drew our grid and wrote out all the clues (on the back of this month’s Magpie – it was useful for that even if it contains a rather daunting D numerical puzzle by Ned and a Shark E) then solved on the mini table of the couchette until late into the night.

A friend commented that he has often gone to similar lengths. His wife watched him with amusement as he wrote the crossword out longhand in the Atacama desert then went to great lengths to find a post office only to earn the mildly sardonic comment from Mr Green, some months later, that he had gone to great lengths to post a wrong solution.

But wouldn’t it be just our luck to have such a complex and different grid to hand-draw! A polo ‘the mint with the hole’ indeed. Of course, as I read out and the other Numpty wrote out the clues, we had spotted that Apt justified his membership of the Listener setters’ oenophile outfit with ‘Drank just over half of alcohol getting wasted (4)’ (ALCO* giving COLA and producing an A misprint for ‘drink’) Cheers, Apt, see you at the bar!

The grid filled steadily with Mrs Bradford’s help and a few doubts. YORICK had to be the answer to the last across clue, ‘In play he’d tested City, in command during second half (6)’ with YORK circling IC, but we needed to correct a misprint that must be in ‘tested’. ‘Rested’? I know Hamlet better than any other play  and that seemed to be a very weak solution to the conundrum as that skull had been in the ground for some 25 years “And smelled so? Pah!” but it took me ages to realize that the corrected word was ‘jested’. Of course, we didn’t need to know since we were, rather unusually, spelling that name out with the incorrect letters.

Our misprints spelled out HOFSTADTER’S LAW and the other Numpty had heard of that but, in any case, it was appearing around the perimeter of the grid as “IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN YOU THINK EVEN IF YOU TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THAT … it will take longer than you think – we didn’t even need to check that the unchecked letters had spelled out TATTY THRIFT HOVEL but now that we have arrived at our destination I have been able to check that Hofstadter’s sequel was ‘I am a strange loop’, and a strange loop it was indeed. Thanks to Apt for an entertaining evening’s solve.

The hares? We are in northern Germany and I rather expected to find a Hase in four letters in a straight line but the Hase was frolicking with a rather jumbled hare,  with another couple looking on from above.


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