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Dilemma by Aedites

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 August 2017

A lovely short preamble (yes, I know that can be the precursor to a dastardly crossword but fortunately, this was not the case). We at once speculated – “What was the location of the Gettysburg address?” Well, Gettysburg, probably. “Where did Churchill make his ‘blood, sweat and tears’ speech?”, “… Chamberlain’s ‘Peace in our time’ was on some aerodrome runway wasn’t it?” The possibilities are endless. It was a rather misleading preamble; as usual nothing to do but start solving. So we did.

Of course I scanned the clues to check Aedites’ right to his Listener Setters’ Alcohol Promoters membership card and drinks were rather restrained but one of the earliest clues we solved produced an EWER, ‘Less without front container for liquids (4)’ FEWER minus the F, and the very next clue we solved produced the ‘red’ to fill it; ‘Red cover disrupted levees (6)’. LEVEES* gave us SLEEVE and we had found a misprint since that had to be a ‘rod’ cover. Clearly that red was being imbibed in quantities as  the next misprint we discovered came from another decapitated word ‘Fight thwarted without force (5)’ which must be FOILED without the F telling us that now he was OILED with a misprint giving TIGHT  So cheers, Aedites. Membership confirmed. Hope we’ll see you at the bar in Paris.

Solving was speedy and we admired the economy of the compilation. When I once said that a  personal maximum number of words in a clue was twelve, I earned a horrified reaction from an editor who said he aims at an average of six. Some difficult words oblige a setter to use eight or ten, and a device, like misprints, can add length but Aedites had three and four-word clues to give a fine balance: ‘Territory for stags (5)’ gave us STAGE producing the E corrected misprint and STATE (Surely definition was rather too close to solution? Ed.). ‘Safe to keep dog in sight (6)’ giving SEE round CUR – what a lovely surface reading.

Last week I spent about seven hours finding Sabre’s bees so I appreciated a relatively gentle solve this week. HAMLET quickly emerged at the head of the message produced by the corrected misprints. I love the play having spent my last year of uni studies focusing on it, and it was clearly going to be ACT THREE SCENE ONE that was going to produce a large question mark and ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’ with a word missing – and there it was. We had just one Numpty red herring; ‘Apparently raise temperature in dressed spud (7)’ had mystified us (and I still don’t understand the wordplay) but we had opted for CURRIED on the basis that a SPAD can be a horse and dressing a horse is ‘currying’ it. No, it had to be SPED!

The end game – creating that large question mark – changed that to HURRIED and SPED, which, of course brings me to the

Couple of existentially challenged hares

HARES. Obviously a Lewis Carroll-style white-rabbitty HARE had just sped off the lower left hand corner decapitated (by the grid margin), like those Aedites clues, but there were a couple in a typical hare boxing match up there in the centre of the question mark (possibly somewhat existentially challenged beasts). Good fun, thanks, Aedites.

 

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