Listen With Others

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X XX XXX by Somniloquist

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 September 2017

 

X XX XXX

The Numpties are child-minding in California and the the temperature outdoors rose to 114°F as we worked our way through the Somniloquist’s offering. We felt more like somnambulists; I believe he is a new setter but what a debut!

But does the Somniloquist qualify for the Listener setters’ oenophile outfit? Well, I scanned his very dense clues, admiring the subtlety but not finding much evidence of alcohol unless we count ‘Begin once treats assembled (6)’ (which gave TREATS* = ASTERT) or the effect of those ‘treats’, which seemed to plaster the locals, ‘Support sound local plastering (7)’ which gave a word that was new for me, TEE + RING = TEERING. Fortunately there was the Napoleon in the last clue (which was also the last we solved) ‘Napoleon perhaps loses head after Jack hewed (4)’ Frankly rubbish as a surface reading [Isn’t that rather harsh? Ed.] but it gave us J(ack) + COIN less C = JOIN or ‘wed’, and the last two letters of that line of poetry. Well it’s quality stuff, le Napoléon, so ‘Santé, Somniloquist, see you at the bar in Paris?

Those kisses didn’t tell us much at first as we couldn’t see how they were going to lead to any exchanges. “It must be that we are going to remove one, two, or three letters from each of the down clues in order to produce that line of poetry.” said the other Numpty, as it proved to be. However, it was rather a long way into our solve and we had found the FOX – ‘Fine for Abe’s second in fight (3)’ BOX with F for (A)B(e), the BOAR – ‘Old Russian aristocrat expels unknown (4)’ BOYAR less Y, and the DEER – ‘Captain out of crucial game (4)’ DECIDER less CID = DEER – before vague memories of a text I have taught in years gone by (and remember as being tough and not half so much fun as Chaucer) surfaced. Something about one kiss being the reward for the head of an innocent slaughtered deer, two kisses for a fierce wild boar and three for the cunning fox [Obviously some sexual Middle English innuendo there; Ed.] So the title made sense.

We had already looked up Fox and Boar and found that it was a fable by Aesop but that didn’t seem relevant to a set of kisses or to the strange FAYRE HEDE that was emerging from the letters that we were extracting in order to produce meaningful clues. We had solved almost every clue and entered all the down ones and a fair number of the acrosses before the penny (or the head) dropped. THE FAYRE HEDE FRO THE HALCE HIT TO THE ERTHE. Simply lower the head of all those across clues that we had laboriously been entering as jumbles!

There was an even bigger thump as the final hede hit the earth. All those letters that we were lowering, in their clue order, spelled THE GREEN KNIGHT; what did the others spell? SIR GAWAIN, of course; so that was what that word ‘initial’ was doing in the preamble.

Grid full and quotation found but we had a rather strange clash of RHO and AT TABLE and that strange requirement that the quotation to be entered below the grid was to be 32 letters and not 36. One answer was to resolve this issue and, of course, it was THORN.

Hares in danger of decapitation.

All that was left to do was confirm, that Poat’s HARE is still frolicking in preambles, clues, grids or setters’ pseudonyms and there was a complete guddle of hares misbehaving at the centre-top of the grid – in fact the grid was full of the beasts (I am surprised they didn’t live in fear of being decapitated for a kiss as, according to Google, the hare, with the fox the boar and the deer, was the object of venery in the fourteenth century).

What an impressive amount of thematic material! Great setting, thank you, Somniloquist.

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