Listen With Others

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Listener No 4494: Overseas Outing by Chalicea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 April 2018

Chalicea’s last Listener was a mere 36 weeks ago and concerned the Owl and the Pussycat and their lack of a ring, represented in the puzzle by the lack of any letter O. Here, as if to remind us, the title had that letter prominently placed — twice!

The grid looked as though it had been constructed by the Beer, Lager Or Alcoholic Tipple Squad! It had no symmetry, had six blank cells completely barred off and one entry across the bottom with a double-unch.

Time to see if any alcohol was hidden in the clues. Well, 20ac Valets put beer into containers (6) CLEANS (extra w/p letter A) was very lacklustre, but 32/35ac was slightly more robust Container for wine, vintage from French vineyard etc … (5) … besides what’s bottled by feeble losers (4) for CRUET (extra w/p letter C) and ELSE (extra w/p letter O).

Just three alcoholic clues?! Well, even a teetotaller could see that there was more lurking. Indeed, eight of them (9ac, 13ac, 22ac, 24ac, 2dn, 5dn, 25dn, 30dn) contained all the letters of that 8-letter beverage most commonly associated with Ireland: GUINNESS. And the day of the puzzle was 17th March, Saint Patrick’s Day. Too much of a coincidence, methinks.

On with the puzzle, then. A swathe of across solutions quickly got slotted into the grid. Despite there being no 1ac, 1dn Dreadful pests … (4) for SEPS (extra w/p letter T) and 2dn … turning up in Taiwan, topless (4) for NAIA (extra letter W) were obligingly straightforward, and it seemed that it wasn’t alcohol but serpents that may be missing from the grid, especially if 1ac itself were to be SNAKES…

… which it was, and a flurry of activity enabled the grid to be completed in double-quick time. The extra wordplay letters spelt out Erase one across. Colour twenty one. Complete six.. As well as the seven entries which were snakes, BOA and ASP were also lurking in the grid and needed to be erased. That left 21 SEA to be coloured in the 40 cells now empty within the grid which would represent a map of Ireland, and 6dn to be completed to give SAINT PATRICK.

Legend has it that St P. chased the snakes into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast atop a hill — sounds a bit vindictive to me. Of course, every schoolboy knows that wasn’t the case and that there haven’t been any snakes in Ireland since the Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago.

Be that as it may, I was left with one gnawing question: what colour to use for the sea? Blue would be normal, but green is the colour most commonly associated with Ireland. Obviously, then, cyan should be used and I managed to find exactly the right shade for that. I know that JEG is a stickler for colouring to be exactly that required by the setter. [Don’t believe him. Ed.]

All done in about an hour. Thanks, Chalicea.


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