Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Ocean-going vessel by Pointer

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 Mar 2018

Trigger’s Broom

“Nice little grid and this looks like fun” said I and we proceeded to fill the grid with disturbing ease, considering that this was set by Pointer. We’re used to struggling with relatively difficult Pointer compilations in the Magpie. The preamble didn’t sound too daunting, though we completely passed over that interesting statement that one change was going to ‘trigger’ another (wasn’t there one about the second amendment a few weeks ago? – Surely not more guns!).

The phrase that emerged with no unchecked letters ‘SKIP OF THE SEAS’ was rather odd and we have heard of the SHIP OF THESEUS paradox (which must apply to so many objects stored and restored in museums) and suspected that with two changes we might be heading to that. Can an object whose original parts have been renewed, one by one, still be the object it started as?

Let me say at once that I bungled completely in working out which letters were extra in the triplets we were extracting from the down clues, even when we had the pairs of changed letters, as I stupidly read them in the order clues appeared in the grid and began with an unconvincing TNR… The family are staying after a week of ski-ing in almost three metres of superb snow and when, later, I asked “Has anyone heard of TRIGGER’S BROOM?” they all responded with great hilarity. Of course they had. It’s in Only Fools and Horses‘ “In the episode “Heroes and Villains“, Trigger wins an award for having owned the same broom for 20 years. He reveals that it has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles, but insists it is still the same broom. Well, there we are. We solvers who live overseas and don’t have the joy of watching East Enders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and things like that do have a slight disadvantage when it comes to things that seem to be common knowledge in the UK (as a US solver friend said – “Thanks for Google!”)

The same friend said he found the endgame relatively simple. I wish I could say the same. I went up a few blind alleys, chasing RECITE, CTENES, COUPLE, SCENTS – you name it – before I found the series of replacements that worked:

LASHERS/ DESIRE/ HEADSET/ PATENT/ SOUPLE/ STIRS/ ARCHER/ ENTAME/ TOMCATS/ COMSAT/ STENOS/ SOSS/ SPINETS/ ELSE/ SPLINES/ NARAS/ PALS/ SEWN/ LAND/ FATWAED/ POSEUR/ INSULT/ SAUCER/ RESUME/ SHIP OF THESEUS (and not a drop of alcohol in the grid unless that SOSS in the SAUCER could have admitted Pointer to the Setters’ Wine-loving Setup, but cheers, anyway),

This really was an impressive construction and I wonder how many hours went into creating that astonishing grid – especially working with words like FATWAHS – who would think that could be changed into anything! So many thanks to Pointer.


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