Listen With Others

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Lost in Translation by Ottorino

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 August 2018

It’s been a while since we heard from Ottorino. I had just printed my weekly fix in an Internet cafe opposite the station at Clapham Junction and was walking up to Lavender Hill in 35 degrees of heat, and had just time to read that very clear preamble before six weeks of drought finally broke and heavy raindrops began blur my copy. In the past Ottorino’s clues have been tough but fair so I expected quite a struggle tonight and raced indoors to begin solving.

Problem number one. Does he still earn his entry ticket to the bar at Listener dinners? Hmm – I have no doubt really as we have usually been at the same Rasputin, Ottorino, Shark table at the dinners and the wine flows respectably but “Oh dear!” I scan those clues and find jam, potatoes, sausages – but no alcohol – until, when we were searching our grid for the endgame, we spotted that GIN in ‘Start or middle of pains before massage of a t(W)Inge (9). We had already realised that the letters J,K,W,X and Y were being omitted from clues and that was speeding up our grid fill. Here we used OR (pa)I(ns)  + TINGE* to produce that (original)GIN(ate). Then we spotted those ‘Rooms for ordering shots. A number fired from Sten guns, mounted? (5)’ We took ten from the STEN GUNS* to give SNUGS. Well, Cheers, Ottorino, gin in the snug!

Solving progressed steadily with a number of smiles. A fine Scots’ word, STREEKING appeared with a comical Shakespearian mish-mash of a clue, ‘(J)ester dressed Lear perchance preparing for Macbeth’s burial (8)’ ESTER* + KING. We had inserted numbers into our working grid and were keeping a careful record of the message spelled out by the down clues when we put them into conventional order. INSERT ONE CLUE NUMBER, we were instructed, when we removed those five redundant thematic letters from the LETTERS clue and counted that as the one thematic down clue. (‘Eg. (J)ess and (K)en, Rub(Y) (W)a(X) off tele… star cast (7)’ an anagram of TELESTAR less the A.)

A couple of hours and a full grid then ‘What do we do now?’ There were those five thematic letters at the foot of column 6 and we scratched our heads for a while. Italian is my favourite language and I am well aware that it has a shorter alphabet than those of, say, the French, German and English languages but, even though ITALIA and LETTERS (below that clue number 21) were glaring at me from the grid, it took the other Numpty to Google ‘What is special about WJXKY?’ for the pennies to clang to the ground. We made four more thematic removals to produce an English form of ITALIA. Most enjoyable, thanks to Ottorino.

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