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Milky by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 June 2018

We’ve been struggling lately so it was a relief to see Malva at the head of this week’s crossword. “Ah, probably birds again” I said and had spotted FALCON, PETREL and VIRGINIAN QUAIL before the other Numpty joined me and began a speed solve of the relatively generous clues. Well that was a gift of an anagram wasn’t it? ‘Eccentric aunt living in Iraq, having left behind outskirt of Newport (14, two words)’ We removed NT from AUNTLIVINGINIRAQ* and there was a bird that wasn’t even in Mrs Bradford’s list – and soon we had RINGDOVE, SONG THRUSH, SPARROWHAWK and HUMMINGBIRD too, though we were not yet sure how they were going to fit into the lights that were appearing symmetrically when i created a putative grid on Crossword Compiler.

Of course, those other, 12-letter long anagrams leading to ENCARNALISES and CARTON PIERRE helped enormously with the grid fill and soon we were left with just those six words to complete. Of course I had been keeping an eye out for evidence that Malva retains his place at the bar but there wasn’t much drinking going on in his clues or grid. ‘After tea, Irish saint meeting solitary leaders (6)’ gave us CHA + IR +S and we suspected that even the tea was probably ‘milky’ but, at least, that did give us one extra word; SOLITARY which suddenly made it all clear. HERMIT had to fill that light at the bottom right and Chambers told me that was also a HUMMINGBIRD.

The alcohol? Well, there were wine-flavoured fruits in what turned out to be 18d, but that was about it. Cheers, anyway, Malva!

PRION was the next to fall, (or fly, if you will) “That’s a PATHOGEN” said the other Numpty and Chambers told me it is also a PETREL. The ARM had to be a MUSKET, which I now know is a SPARROWHAWK, MAVIS, our SONG THRUSH was obviously a WOMAN, QUEST filled our final light and that explained SEARCH and RINGDOVE so we were left with the FALCON or the VIRGINIAN QUAIL to paraphrase and slot below the grid and the extra word NICK to justify.

What is that bit about resolving ambiguities? Aha: I find that there is an alternative spelling for the RINGDOVE. She can be a QUIST or a QUEST so we clearly need that SEARCH to tell us which of the spellings to use. Clever!

Fortunately we have the latest edition of Chambers that reinstated that list of names in the appendices and imagine my surprise to find that COLIN is also a name for NICHOLAS so the VIRGINIAN QUAIL or COLIN took flight and our grid was full – except for that MILKY word that somehow had to define a FALCON. We wondered about MERLIN – was he white? Has a CANNON or a TERCEL anything MILKY about it? Not really. “Got it!” said the other Numpty – It’s a GENTLE.  All done and thoroughly enjoyed in just under a couple of hours. Many thanks, Malva.

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