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Chapstick by Tangram

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 December 2017

Our first reactions were to the rather unusual grid – 15 by 13, then when I recreated it in crossword compiler, there was the added surprise that it wasn’t exactly symmetrical with a central column of an 8-letter and a 7-letter clue. We stored that information as that was likely to have something to do with that ‘stylised object’ that contained a line, that we were ultimately going to highlight.

Of course, such a large grid led to rather a lot of clues and we checked that there were indeed 50 which were to be treated in three different ways: 30 misprints in the definitions, 10 missing letters in the definitions and 10 first or final letters of solutions. Well, Tangram has opted for an easier way to produce his message than attempting to find a suitable misprint for every definition (which can be a real struggle as any compiler will confirm).

Does Tangram retain his admission ticket for the Listener Ebriates Outfit? Well that speaks for itself doesn’t it? ‘The modern version of Will’s fat bride ate crackers (8)’ gave us EBRIATED (bride ate*) though at that stage of our solve, we were not aware that the message emerging required a P, producing ‘paf’ for Shakespeare’s ‘drunk’. I tried ‘cat’, ‘hat’ ‘dat’ and was delighted to find ‘wat’ which is guess what! A HARE. That’s an original way of playing Poat’s game!

We read on and found ‘In which are two cups. European, back at Celtic Park (4)’ The two cups sounded promising – is Tangram already in his cups? Ah no, we smiled when we realized that these were ladies’ cups in a BRA + E(uropean) which gave us BRAE, so that we had ‘baNk’ rather than ‘baCk’. We supposed it would be a fine malt in those cups at Celtic Park, but no, the very next clue was ‘Aussie might term it frog recipe with fruit (5)’ giving us R + AKEE = RAKEE and Grog for the Aussie.

Tangram hadn’t finished his boozy clues. We struggled at the very end of our solve with ‘What’s a bit of an English pine? (3)’. By this time our message was emerging and we had OVERLAPPING NAMES DEPIC? NEARVERSION OF LANGS FIFTH LINE, so that had to give us a ‘pinT’ for ‘pinE’. I know you could cut a LOG off a pine, but wasn’t aware that it was a Hebrew liquid measure, just a bit short of a pint. That clue was cleverly deceptive too, could it have led to LOP, or LOW for a bit ‘off’.

Pint of what? Well after the RAKEE and the malt, and grog, there was the gin; ‘Singular gin engine managed base for cotton (5)’ Luckily we were aware that a ‘ginn’ or ‘jinn’ is the singular of GENIE or DJINNI etc. so we ducked (or cut) the base of cottoN from an anagram of engine, producing the GENIE, and I raised my glass of gin and tonic to toast Tangram. Actually, the evidence was staring us in the face when we completed the puzzle. There was that fine bottle in the centre of our grid. Cheers!

A couple of hours of solving and we had the message which was unambiguous (if rather wordy) and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations produced only one Lang and only one quotation with five lines – well six, from his Brahma (which led us to Emerson, and the Upanishads – what a lot this Listener thing teaches us!) ‘I am the batsman and the bat’. So that was the significance of ‘Chapstick’ – not something to smooth the effects of the weather on our winter sports’ lips but a chap and a stick.

That line we had noticed earlier and some loop, made up of presumably cricketers’ names had to produce a bat. GRACE and RICHARDS leapt out at us, then we teased out EDRICH and decided it had to be symmetrical so we needed STEEL and ELGAR. I am originally from Yorkshire so should know a little about the county’s sport but Elgar was a new one on me. thanks for the education Tangram. We noticed that RAVEL was there in the grid, parallel to the bat, just below GOWER, so both men were clearly waiting in the wings.

We went to bed amusing each other with comments about the musicians eleven: “It’s Elgar and Strauss scoring now, Elgar, new to the field, a bit of an enigma, wielding his bat(on) with pomp and circumstance. What an over(ture)! Who is the ninth man? Has to be Beethoven” etc.

Poat’s HARE? Well the plot thickens. Now I am hunting for a WAT, DOE, MARA or HARE in a straight line and they were all out there batting, if somewhat jumbled and confused, but it was the poor little creature that had been rather mangled at the base of the bat who got my sympathy.

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