Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Quiet Guests by Schadenfreude

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 Jan 2018

“First of the year – they’ll have given us a gentle romp to encourage as many solvers as possible.” Blithely, I downloaded … Schadenfreude! Oh no! Sure to be impeccably set and rich in theme and fulfilling but also sure to keep us solving for some time (and it was almost midnight when we finished!) When we had solved barely three clues after almost an hour of solving, I was saying “There goes our hope of a 2018 ‘all correct’!” Fortunately things speeded up once we had had that lovely penny-drop moment and the theme emerged (as, of course, it should have done when we saw those P RESIDENTS of the title).

Yes, I had checked Schadenfreude’s continued right to membership of the Listener Setters’ Tipplers Outfit and his clues left me in no doubt. ‘Tipsy cake for Irish broadcaster (5)’ gave TO RTE . Soon after that came ‘Stop and rob drunken sailor (5)’ which gave us HIGH JACK (producing the JACK of JACKSON – but this was our very last solution, when we had worked our way through the SEQUENCE OF PRIME NUMBERS to find fourteen US Presidents and entered all the others).

There was an entire keg produced by ‘Keg Charlie found in Spanish Harlem café perhaps (7)’ C in BARRIO giving BARRICO, so ‘Cheers, Schadenfreude, hope to see you in Paris.

It was when we spotted that INRUSH (‘Influx ruins refurbished hotel’ – RUINS* + H) produced three extra letters USH, that coincided with the B or BURNING (‘Ardent poet out of sun on northern meadow’ BURNS less S on ING) giving BUSH, that we realized that our quiet guests were to be P RESIDENTS. At first we felt that there were rather a lot of presidents. Wiki tells me that there are 45 (though I imagine this crossword was submitted before the arrival of Mr Trump). Fortunately that message about prime numbers was emerging and, in a second p.d.m. we understood that Schadenfreude, with typical aplomb, had limited the selection to fourteen and that we needed to insert their numbers in the place of those names.

From then on, we were almost back-solving. Jefferson had to appear so we needed a word with JEFF in it and JEFFING (no longer gambling) obliged at 10d, neatly tying in with BAR-PERSON at 7ac. and so on. We could only admire the skill with which those fourteen were fitted symmetrically into the grid (and, of course, when we spotted the symmetry, we knew where to look for our last few presidents) and those difficult names combined into subtle and tough clues. This was the work of a master. Many thanks to Schadenfreude.

Entombed hare

No, I am not going to mention Poat’s HARE – he was dead and buried last year and was curled up in a little hare tomb in the bottom right-hand corner of Schadenfreude’s grid (Thought you had sent him off on his holidays. Ed.)


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