Listen With Others

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Multiple Deletions by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 Jun 2018

My oh my, what a preamble! We read our way through it twice then resorted to colour-coding to sort out what we were expecting to do. It was clear that we had to find that letter in every clue that was going to spell out part of a verse describing the filled grid. Those letters were going to be anywhere in the clue but, having solved a number of Ifor’s crosswords in the past, we could be sure that they would be cunningly hidden in the instructions for anagramming, enclosing, or in some other way altering clue elements – as indeed they were, ‘cringing’ for example, leading us to ‘ringing’, ‘blagged’ leading to ‘bagged’, and ‘shout’ leading to ‘shot’.

More worrying was the instruction that 20 clues must have one or more letters deleted to form the non-word grid entry. ‘One or more’ – but which? We were still asking ourselves that some time later. The next instruction added complexity, telling us that nine symmetrical pairs of entries would behave in different ways, one where we would delete from the wordplay and the other we where would delete from the definition. Even that central, unclued column was going to undergo deletion and the deleted letters would appear below the grid. It sounded ferocious!

Of course I needed to confirm Ifor’s right of entry to the Listener setters’ oenophile elite and clue 11 gave a little hope – drunken already! ‘Drunken filth repeatedly talking about big cheese in Chicago (13)’ HIGH-MUCK-A-MUCK was a new one on me and not much proof of oenophile expertise and it wasn’t until almost the end of our solve that we found ‘Spare cash following [S]ale (9, two words)’ which gave us BEER MONEY. So all was well, “Cheers, Ifor! See you at the bar.

Clue solving was fun and some very long words speedily appeared: ENUNCIATOR, SCINTI-SCANNER, COUNTERCHANGE, FILIBUSTEROUS, NON-COMMERCIAL, SUB-MACHINE-GUN, CONSENTANEOUS – but what was going on. We had done some careful counting and knew that anywhere between one and six letters were coming out of these to produce the grid entry – but which?

Those pairs of words were a help as PHONEMICS could clearly lead to PHONICS and KINGSHIP to KINSHIP, so a grid fill began, peopled with HIPPO and SUSHI, COUP and BONY but we needed that part of a verse to progress any further and fortunately the words WORLD, CUNNINGLY and ELEMENTS appeared and led to a penny-drop moment. Google confirmed that John Donne in his Holy Sonnet Number Five said ‘I am little world made cunningly of elements’. So that explained the ‘world shape’ of the grid and told us how to fill it – Elements! – Obviously only the single letter ones.

There was still some hard work to do filling the final gaps in our grid and we marvelled that For could have constructed this astonishing compilation. The last move was a delight when we realised that the non-elements that had to be removed from that central column told us to DELETE!



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