Listen With Others

A Paper Construction by Zero

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 Jan 2018

The last one before Christmas and we are going to be creating a paper construction – surely not another wren but maybe it will be another lovely star. One of my favourite Listener crosswords was that star we had to cut out some years ago just before Christmas. This time there are just going to be three folds but we have to find something vaguely mathematical if those extra words that immediately leap out of the down clues are telling us anything. Actually they told me ‘Aspect ratio of rectangle expressed as square root’ and it took the other Numpty to tell me what that meant when we returned from some pre-Christmas celebrating and got down to solving.

He patiently explained that we have a 17/12 grid and that to express that as a decimal gives 1.416666 (repeating) and that if you square that you get just about 2, so to express 17/12 as a square root requires the square root symbol and a 2 – simples! (Later – I’ve been discussing it with a young uni double maths relative at a family party and he commented that those words ‘closely approximated’ were relevant as there isn’t an exact equivalent here, but also that 2 is a numerical symbol, as is that square root symbol. It’s just a mite above my O’ level maths!

Of course we had solved a number of clues before we reached that final touch and I had checked Zero’s continued right to membership of the Listener Oenophile outfit. He seemed to be drinking Starbuck’s coffee at first ‘Original rumour to start in Starbuck’s coffee tube to restrict throughput (7)’ ‘Rumour’ we realized was one of the extra kites and planes that were appearing but I have to admit that I don’t understand the rest of the VENTURI that appeared in our grid and fitted the definition.

The next fluid clue was ‘Down under turn poorly after fluid’s gone (4)’ We know how sick an Aussie can feel when there is no wine or beer left, but ultimately we decided this had to be an Australian turn, or UEY (FLUEY, minus the FL), with one of those intriguing spaces that were appearing – four in all, as well as the centre section where we very early on spotted that the song title was LET’S GO F.LY A KITE (so that it was going to be a kite or a plane or bird we were creating).

I was beginning to despair about Zero’s membership ticket until the PUBLICAN appeared. ‘Jockey club expressed pain to host (8)’ The ‘expressed’ was needed for that description of a quantity so that left us with the lovely anagram indicator ‘Jockey’ and CLUB PAIN*. Nice one – so cheers, Zero. See you at the setters’ dinner in Paris in March?

We were lucky in that we spotted those empty cells at the start of ELBOW-GREASE, SCRAGGINESS and LUDO, and at the end of ADVANCE and UEY fairly early in our solve so that we knew which cells were to be used to complete our construction but actually producing a kite took me almost as long as our solve. My original attempt had so many creases in it that Mr Green would surely have eliminated it. Happily, I finally managed to produce a pointed thing that looked plausible.

I have relentlessly hunted for that Poat hare in four consecutive letters in a straight line every week of the year and found him in contiguous letters (as he is on a couple of occasions this week), being transfixed by a Hastings arrow, run over by the HS2, hiding in the preamble or in the clues, or simply cavorting in setters’ grids but it must be time to call a Christmas truce and accept that he simply doesn’t exist. RIP Hare.