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In Self-defence?

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 February 2018

In Self-defence?

Before we even started to solve Lavatch’s ‘In Self-defence?’ I looked up ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ to see whether there was any likelihood that Lavatch had been out doing a bit of shooting, but, of course, it was going to turn out that the guns were used rather differently. And what about the alcohol? Naturally I scanned the clues to see whether he qualifies for his admission to the Listener Setters’ Wine-lovers’ Setup and the outcome was dubious. He had ‘Spilling almost 10 litres? 50 fully overturned for little birds (7)’ What a convoluted clue! We back-solved later when PULLETS had to be the answer and we had worked out that the ‘Spilling’ was to become Shilling, giving us S. Almost TE(n) + L = 50 + L = litres, UP = fully and the whole lot ‘overturned’. Well there might have been some good wine there but the whole lot was spilled.

1d seemed more hopeful as it started with ports, ‘Ports initially missing building projections (5)’ But it was not to be. Those ‘ports’ became ‘parts’ = LEAVES and we removed the initial letter to get the EAVES or ‘projections’. ‘A part liquid once in other packaging one upended (5)’ seemed to be the last hope, but, sadly, it turned into ESILE, a ‘tart’ liquid once – no wonder it was ‘upended’ (ELSE round I<). I despaired about Lavatch’s admission right to the Listener Setter’s Oenophile Club (Enophile?) – but did I need to worry? We had spotted the SECOND AMENDMENT and had even worked out which words contained 14 of the 15 letters it contained and sussed that ‘STICK TO ONE’S GUNS’ was the four word idiomatic phrase and I was desperately struggling to find a final N to complete SECOND – and there it was! ECOLOGY turned to ENOLOGY (the US spelling, of course, justified by a little note at the start of the ‘OEN’ headword in Chambers). Well, if Lavatch is an OENOLOGIST/ ENOLOGIST, what more is there to say? Cheers Lavatch!

It sounds as though we solved easily and a couple of friends tell me they solved this in about an hour but it took us a lot longer. The four corners of the grid were almost separate and indeed, we solved them one after another with two or three unfamiliar words (BRUTER, TILLERED, SKELLIE) helping us on our way. Fortunately, our solve speeded up when we realized that the message appearing from the misprints was THE RIGHT OF PEOPLE TO BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. Now we could work backwards to discover the misprints and complete our solve.

Skip this paragraph if you hate groan-worthy cracker jokes (though I am told Charismatix’s Christmas EVs that ask you, for example, why Rudolph and Prancer didn’t manage to be sold on E-Bay (they were TWO DEER!) get almost record entries – that set of compilers is a group of us who store up these dreadful things). A fellow solver sent me this: “Why does Michelle Obama wear short-sleeved shirts?” Answer: “Because of her right to bare arms.”

I bungled not only in finding the N by converting ECOLOGY to ENOLOGY, but also as I had opted for the E of EASE to give me the final M of AMENDMENT (EASE/MASE).  I kicked myself this morning when it was perfectly clear to me that ATOK had to change to AMOK. We had the last T of STICK TO ONE’S GUNS. What a clever construction, managing to include those letters that would spell the theme and anagram to an apt idiomatic message. Nice one, Lavatch!

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