Listen With Others

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Listener No 4504, Milky: A Setter’s Blog by Malva

Posted by Listen With Others on 17 Jun 2018

I dare say a good many solvers will view Milky as lowering the 2018 standard a notch or seven, but I’ll always remember it as the first and only time I’ve actually seen someone doing one of my crosswords.

We were down in Cornwall and we’d done the Two Valleys Walk from St Neot, which takes you across the edge of the moor, along the River Fowey and, in our case, through a field of belligerent bullocks who mirrored our every move in a strange cross-species version of one of those elegantly soporific dances they have in Pride and Prejudice and resolutely refused to let us anywhere near the stile we needed to use. It added about 40 minutes to the walk, but eventually we got back to the pub and took our drinks out to the courtyard at the back. There were only a couple of people there – a woman hoovering up a seafood platter the size of the Isle of Wight and a middle-aged bloke wearing a ZZ Top T-shirt. And, lo and behold, he had The Times on the table in front of him and was pulling intently on an e-cigarette while flicking away half-eaten prawns that had escaped from his companion’s fork.

“Ah … you do the Listener, then?” I said and he looked at me as though I’d just accused him of something really shameful and offensive.

“Sometimes,” he said defensively and the platter gobbler paused over a winkle and added,

“He does it every week. With a fountain pen.”

“Keeps the old noddle ship-shape,” he said. “Most weeks, anyway.” A sliver of whiting landed on the preamble. “This bloke, though,” and he pointed at my name “he’s not really up to it. They’re all about birds. Sparrows … and stuff. Not that I’ve got anything against birds.”

“Per se,” added the platter cleaner.

“Avoirdupois,” he said and they giggled gleefully at what I assumed was some arcane private joke. Thankfully though, their moment of merriment gave us the chance to skedaddle to the furthest corner of the courtyard, but no sooner had we sat down than The Times dropped onto our table and the bloke said,

“You can finish it if you like,” and just to confuse matters, he also handed me what was left of the seafood platter, which was a puddle of pink gloop, two slices of radish and a microdot of crab.

I didn’t eat any of it. I didn’t check his answers either. But we did see a dipper at Golitha Falls.


One Response to “Listener No 4504, Milky: A Setter’s Blog by Malva”

  1. Were there peas on the platter? (I enjoyed the puzzle.)

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