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‘Shock Therapy’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 4 August 2017

 

I loved this puzzle.  The bottom half went in fairly straightforwardly, revealing the letters that would finally form the first row: WIG TOUPÉE HAIRPIECE.  The top half I found much more challenging!

The next stage for me was to find the ‘Condition’ talked about.  Given it had to be 2 words and 18 letters in total, I had no idea.  Some combination of BALDNESS (male pattern or otherwise) or ALOPECIA with something else, maybe?

I’d solved half a dozen or so of the upper Down clues, so had an attempt at finding words that began with the first letter followed by a jumble of all but one of the Upper Down answer’s letters.  For example, in 16d, four letters  E _ _ _ , with the letters of SOYA to choose from seemed to yield either EASY or EYAS.  I then tried to spot a synonym for either of these in the Across clues: 43 across had SIMPLE in it that I’d already removed from an earlier solve of:

  Behave like bird and others in [simple] turn (7)

i.e. EMU and (ET AL)<, giving EMULATE.  So EASY it was – one found, seventeen to go!  The A and the S helped me find 20a E-MAILED and 22a SNAILED, so identifying Woman and Eddies as two more of the required final synonyms.

After some consultation with Auntie Google, the only plausible 18-letter, 2-word condition appeared to be ANDROGENIC ALOPECIA, so I pencilled that in and happily found that each Row 1 letter was also found in the Upper Down clues I had already solved.  Phew!

Did anyone else notice how the puzzle also had a secret, secondary plumbing theme in it?  There was RING (Row 4), for olive rings etc used in compression fittings.  There was ROD (Row 5), for that part in the cistern connected to the float.  And there was COCK (Column 5), as in stopcock.  Clearly Serpent appears to have a DIY interest, too 🙂  Oh, and TRAP (i.e. a U-bend) upwards in Column 14.  Even a PLEET and a TROG were present diagonally, those Suffolk-dialect plumbing terms…

Many thanks Serpent for a very enjoyable solve!

Cheers all!

Tim / Encota

 

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