Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

‘Doing A Sort’ by Elgin

Posted by Encota on 16 February 2018

What a brilliant puzzle.   If this isn’t a strong contender for 2018 Puzzle Of The Year then there’s no justice!  Remarkable!!

[surreal mode on]

However, my logic might have gone something like this …

By complete chance I saw the comedy writer Graham Linehan’s excellent adaptation of some old Ealing comedy only last Autumn – you may remember it – I think it was called THE LADYKILLERS or something?  Perhaps it came to a town near you too?

So, because of this, I had Graham Linehan in my mind.  Early on in the solve I was looking for a relevant phrase with letters pattern (2,6,6).  I had, at that stage, the letters ON C.AG.Y I.LAND already from the cells marked with a * and suddenly it all became clear: this was ON CRAGGY ISLAND, an obvious hint to the excellent FATHER TED, co-written by Graham (of IT Crowd etc. fame).  Surely The Listener isn’t going to get a bit edgy and quote the endlessly swearing Father Jack?

If that’s the case (again, surely not?) then the two word phrase at 1ac may well be FOUR-LETTER WORD?  Let me check if that’ll create real words with the down clues:

  • First letter F?  Well 1d as .ESTAS could readily become FESTAS
  • Second letter O?  That’s unchecked, so put it in.  O
  • Third letter U? At 2d we have .TEN so, yes, UTEN. All on track
  • Check one more random one e.g. 9d. .ISEN gives RISEN.  Excellent

I’ll leave the rest as an exercise for the reader, as they say in all the best text-books.

But if this unlikely theme is right, then there’d be some of Father Jack quoted in the Grid, wouldn’t there?  Again, surely not – we are talking about The Listener here, after all.  Recalling (some of) what he used to say from his armchair – some of which is unprintable – there it is, in black and white, on Rows 5 & 6!  “ARSE. ARSE”

Of course perhaps I’m mistaken with all this?  I must be, surely?  Double check using the letters in cells marked with a + sign: TIOLETSTRODTEH.  Oh, goodness: “…OR TED’S HOT TITLE”.  And I thought I’d been joking – it really is Father Ted!

And so below is my final Grid to prove it.  The Preamble seemed to say, in some long-winded way, kill off all unrequired characters, so this must be the result:

2018-01-29 13.22.32


Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

[surreal mode off]

P.S. You’ll have to read the blogs from Shirley and Dave to get more of what was really going on.  Having the full quintet featuring in the grid was excellent, as was the falling signal knocking Professor MARCUS onto the GOODS TRAIN.  As an aside, I can only find 1d, assuming it is an alternative plural for TESTA, in the Quinapalus machine.  Everywhere else appears to have TESTAE, though I don’t doubt that usage will have ‘created’ the alternative TESTAS plural somewhere.  Or I am missing something (more than likely)!  Best puzzle of the year so far for me – and haven’t we have had some good ones already!

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