Listen With Others

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Jury by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 January 2018

Just four lines of preamble! We suspect that Twin is a new setter and also that there is going to be a fair amount of thematic material in the grid since he has managed to get away with ‘two final entries are abbreviations’. The title. ‘Jury’ immediately suggested to us that there were going to be twelve jumbles of extra thematic names (plus a letter) in the clues and that maybe we were with Twelve Angry Men, or Alice in Wonderland but it was a long time before we found out who these twelve really were.

First, of course, I needed to scan the clues to see whether Twin qualifies for the Happy Listener Setters’ Toping crew and he had me worried for a while. I read right through the across clues finding only Perrier water. Perrier immediately leapt out as one of those names (PIERRE with an extra R) and we struggled to work out that we had to remove the ‘water’ or ‘hose’ from the those of the clue (Those spilling Perrier water after pay ends (4)) to get a T to put on the end of FEE, giving FEET or ‘ends’.

Very early in my setting career, an editor commented to me that the surface readings of my clues really didn’t pass muster. He said that a fairly good rule of thumb was ‘Could you pronounce that sentence at the dinner table or as you walked into the pub, and be understood?’  I’m not sure that clue passes the test. However, the next drinkie one certainly does. ‘Special thirst for bottle (5)’. S + PINE giving us a different sort of bottle. Twin confirmed his rights for club membership with ‘Frivolously try climbing mountain after Irish drink (6, two words)’ OK, it was TAY with ALP<, (just Irish tea) giving PLAY AT but “Cheers!” anyway, Twin. See you au bar at the Paris setters’ dinner?

Those names that were appearing as we solved didn’t say anything to us until we had spotted the name that appeared in the unclued lights and the one that was in the leading diagonal: his name was the first to fall, as those letters in circles spelled out LITTLE GREY CELLS and, at first, I was full of trepidation as GREY can be spelled GRAY. How were we going to remove that potential ambiguity?

GRETA + E = ERGATE (5ac), JOHN + A = JONAH (12ac), MARY + S = SYMAR (16ac), HILDEGARDE + T = GRIDDLE-HEAT (23ac), HECTOR + E = TROCHEE (37ac), PIERRE + R = PERRIER (45ac), CAROLINE + N = CORNELIAN (3d), NATALIA + S = ALSATIAN (6d), ANTONIO + T = NOTATION (8d), EDWARD + A = AWARDED (10d), CYRUS + T = CRUSTY (25d), RUDOLPH + E = UPHOLDER (34d).

Nice, wasn’t it. Those extra letters unambiguously gave us EASTERN STATE, ‘Eastern’ = ORIENT and ‘state’ = EXPRESS so that the ORIENT EXPRESS replaced HERCULE POIROT and, at last it was confirmed that the theme was Murder on the Orient Express. How very satisfactory, too, that only real words were left in the final grid (even if there were those two abbreviations). What a fine debut! Many thanks to Twin.

Oh, but wait a minute, the Poat hare! Last week he was sneaked into the clues but this week things have really gone too far. There he is in the clues again. ‘Snack of cold hare, chopped with duck (6)’ That is just not on! He’s been run over by the high speed train and transfixed by an arrow in  Listener crosswords since Poat ignominiously hid him in the preamble, but chopped and eaten? No way! Fortunately, however, the hares have been multiplying in the grids of late and there were still a couple of survivors, sitting together in the grid.

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