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‘The Evolution of East Perry’ by The Ace of Hearts

Posted by Encota on 1 Sep 2017

For some real comment on this excellent Listener by The Ace of Hearts then do read Shirley’s and Dave’s blogs.  For something a little quirkier, read on…

So was I the only one who spent almost as much time on finding the Honduran town of Duyure as the rest of the puzzle (Clue 10)?

There I was, wondering how to find out how to find border towns in Honduras when it occurred to me – why don’t I ring their equivalent of Citizens’ Advice in the Honduras capital.  It was only then, when dialling the international Country Code for Honduras – 504 – that I realised what was really going on.  I mean, you’re not telling me that a code that spells out Fifth (5) Wheel (O) Four (4) (for the four-wheeled carriage) is a coincidence here, surely ….?  It’s obviously a heavily-disguised phone-oriented puzzle…

People even only marginally associated with telecommunications all have their FAVOURITE TELEPHONE STORY [Are you sure?? Ed.]   So you can’t tell me that this is a jumble of the puzzle’s Title by accident…can you?

As examples, here are three candidates for such a story:

  1. There used to be a red telephone box in Esher High Street in Surrey, UK where one could precede a number with a string of around thirty extra digits and get free international calls – to Honduras, for example (so a friend from Tegucigalpa told me)
  2. Do you remember locks for telephone dials?
    Perhaps one of the world’s dumber inventions.  The key-operated cylinder slotted into one of the holes in a telephone’s dial (remember them?) and locked into place, so the dial couldn’t be turned and so calls couldn’t be made….
    …unless of course one simply tapped out the number on the buttons that the receiver sat on. Tap.  Tap-tap.  Tap-tap-tap.  And the Speaking Clock was yours!  ‘Experts’ used a finger on each button alternately for the longer numbers, doing their best to tap at a rate of ten per second.
  3. When the new digital exchanges came in during the 1970s and 1980s, they were (and still are) incredibly reliable – and would normally stay so unless some well-meaning repairman tried fiddling with the electronics.  So each came with a reduced support team of just one Man and a Dog.  Initially it might appear that the Man was a Fifth Wheel but no, he had a clear purpose – and that was to feed the Dog.
    But what was the Dog’s purpose, I hear you ask?  Answer: to bite the Man if he ever tried to touch the exchange…

Back to the puzzle.  The Ace of Hearts as a pseudonym is clearly no accident but carefully chosen as a pointer to the real number required.  Use the A and H in the keypad below as X-Y coordinates and locate the number they point to: 5.


Now switch back to the dial format to match the puzzle’s shape and add the Fifth Wheel at its centre.  Solved!

Laid back

So why did solving the following Clue 10 take me so long?

  Here border of Honduras is near last of old-timer’s buried jade (6)

I had YU or NAG as the likely pieces of wordplay for ‘jade’ and I guessed the answer had to be somewhere in Honduras – but the rest took me an age!  Eventually I spotted YU (jade) in DURE (an obsolete term meaning last), located DUYURE in the atlas and all was sorted.  In defence of my slow solving, it might have helped if I had known any of YU, DURE or DUYURE in advance.

Finally, picture the scene some time in the future: you’re at your regular Pub Quiz at ‘The Slum & Dog’, and the decider question to win the million is: ‘What is the International Country Code for Honduras?’  Immediately recall Duyure in ‘The Evolution Of East Perry’ by The Ace of Hearts with the Fifth Wheel of the Four (-wheeled) carriage and shout out ’504’.  Your future fortune is assured!*

Thanks to The Ace of Hearts – great fun!


Tim / Encota

*or not


One Response to “‘The Evolution of East Perry’ by The Ace of Hearts”

  1. I don’t think ‘quirky’ comes close to describing your blog this week, Tim 🤡

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