Listen With Others

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Listener No 4472: Sharp Work by Puffin

Posted by Dave Hennings on 3 November 2017

A new setter here today in the guise of Puffin, and no sign of him elsewhere either. Just an extra word to identify in each clue, their initial letters spelling out some useful info. There were also four clues whose answers would fill in the preamble.

With 1ac popping out as ODDS ON, it seemed appropriate to concentrate on that corner and, indeed, it was soon filled in. That led me down the left-hand side of the grid, courtesy of POSTAGE, FISCAL YEAR and ANT EGGS. The only slight hiccup was putting in AHAS instead of AAHS at 27dn Henry disrupts leaderless bleats with youthful expressions of satisfaction (4).

I spotted the likely HASTINGS at unclued 16, and immediately thought of Poirot’s associate in the Agatha Christie novels. Of course if I’d reread the preamble — “8 and 16 are the name of a claimant and where he chose to press his claim” — I’d have realised that this was the location, not the person.

Although not quite as speedy as this blog may indicate, I swooped across the bottom of the grid and up the right-hand side, happening across a new word in the guise of DEPURENT in the process. [Guise an appropriate word. Ed.]

WILLIAM at 8dn told me that we were back in King Harold territory, presumably with an arrow in his eye. It didn’t seem that long ago that we had the marvellous Bayeux Tapestry puzzle, King’s Album by Stick Insect.

I was somewhat confused by 25ac That woman’s old lady loves English busts, sometimes two-faced (6) for which I already had the letters HERM••, but HERMES didn’t seem to come from either a definition or wordplay. No doubt I’d sort it out later.

I soon had a completed grid, having corrected OSMOSES at 1dn to OSMOSED. The trouble was that, given 35ac was HAROLD, that only left OSMOSED for 24dn. Surely the editors wouldn’t allow two OSMOSEDs in the same grid, especially as 1ac could be changed to OSMOSES. Anyway, I was running out of time since I was off to Prague for a week the following day.

One last try, and I looked up HERMES again in Chambers, and spotted HERMAE. That, followed by a reparsing of 12dn where Tailored penal* minus levies* gave DEPURANT [Bingo. Ed.], and I was home and dry. Harold hadn’t been OSMOSED, he had been “effectively” (preamble wording) DEPOSED.

Of course, I had absolutely no idea how William, Harold and Hastings had anything to do with what had been spelt out by the initial letters of the extra words in the clues — Arthur Mailey’s ten wickets for sixty-six. Actually, I did, having googled Mailey and discovered his cricketing feat against Gloucester in 1921, and also the name of his autobiography, Ten for 66 and All That.

A lot of highlighting, including ONE IN THE EYE in the leading NW–SE diagonal, 1066 and All That under the grid, and job done.

Thanks for an entertaining puzzle, Puffin.
 

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