Listen With Others

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Listener No 4470, Rod and Bill: A Setter’s Blog by Stick Insect

Posted by Listen With Others on 22 Oct 2017

This puzzle has taken a while to get to publication – I started work on it in November 2012 having thought the phrase “man is the measure of all things” might be promising. I had the idea that the phrase had originated with Leonardo da Vinci and his Vitruvian Man drawing, which of course a quick bit of research showed was wrong, but the idea of revealing the author as a stick man in the grid still seemed a good one. I constructed a grid, wrote the clues and sent it off in January 2013. At that point it was called MISTIME – M(an) IS TIME was the idea.

I heard back on it in August last year – I had sneaked a quick turnaround with Reductio ad Absurdum in for early 2015 so this one was justifiably pushed back in the queue. The editors thought it was promising but the grid didn’t work, with an average entry length of 5.1, so proposed an amended grid which required rewriting the majority of the clues. While I was working on that, King’s Album also overtook it and was published about this time last year.

The reworking was completed and sent off in September last year and also included a change to the puzzle title as MISTIME hadn’t been considered much help by the editors. I came up with MISS ALISHA JOHNSTON – M(an) is S(econd), AL is HA, JOHN’s TON. When the feedback came back this year, the editors didn’t think much of that — quite rightly: with hindsight, even I can see I was trying to be too clever – and came up with the much better idea of Rod and Bill.

I think it’s fair to say the reaction has been mixed. The theme and the final grid worked for most, but the clueing was too simple for many and then of course there was the ambiguity over the correct entry for 34dn. DAN is what I intended. I was aware MAN was possible but thought that could be ruled out as names were clearly used elsewhere, but I hadn’t realised that CAL could also be a valid name. Apologies for my ignorance and any annoyance caused to those left wondering if they had the right answer. With hindsight, I should have done more to make sure at least two of the letters were checked in this grid, as they were in my first version of the grid.

Thanks to all those who sent feedback – it’s much appreciated.


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