Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Game Box by Poat

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 September 2018

The other Numpty said at about noon, “What are we going to get tonight?” and with an uncanny premonition, I replied, “It must be time for another Poat crossword.” And there it was. Even as I printed it, I could hear the pad of tiny hare paws (hopefully not in the preamble!) That little HARE who appeared in the searcH AREa in the preamble of Poat’s last crossword has made Poat a Listener legend and caused disarray and desolation in over half of the solvers of that crossword. We have been pursuing him ever since (and he did appear in the one about the HS2, only to be then run-over by the train) but finally, in despair, we let him head off for his hols at the start of this year. (Blackpool, I believe!)

We start solving and there he is! Clue 2 ‘Hubristic racer to try finding energy at the end (4)’ That’s a reference to The Tortoise and the Hare fable, isn’t it? The proud speedy hare being defeated by the diligent, plodding tortoise, and ‘try’ is HEAR with the Energy moving down in the clue. So Poat is honouring his little hero – or is he?

And does Poat retain his admission ticket to the Listener Oenophile Outfit? Of course he does. We find three solutions to ‘Seen up in expensive bar venue, Frank’s wine spilt by queen with old love for romance (5:6:3)’. In fact that ‘bar’ seems to be a legal reference to VISNE which is reversed in expENSIVe, then WINE* with ER gives us WIENER, the German sausage, and the initial letters of With Old + O (love) produces WOO, for ‘romance’, and we’ll have to drink to the little hare’s safe return, so ‘Cheers, Poat!’

Of course that gave us 14 letters that would stretch right across the grid, as did ORA/IAGO/PARITOR, ETIOLATE/OCTETS and CITHER/LETRASET so we had a starting point for our gridfill. We worked out how to enter HASTEN/WOOLCOMBERS in a total of four different columns and established the position of our first obstacle. AERIEST and FLATTERING clearly had to go off at 90° angles and they gave us our second. And so it went on. With an almost full grid and a second putative HARE appearing at the foot of the tenth column, we sussed that THE FASCINATION OF SHOOTING was to fill those alternate perimeter cells. SURELY NOT! Was this going to be Poat’s attempt to wipe out, forever, the memory of the little beast? OWL and TERCELET had appeared. Was Poat going on a rampage ‘MADCAP POTS BAG LOADS’?

We have to express a strong objection. Such violence, together with scurrilous terms, sexual references and all the rest of the forbidden guff, should surely be banned from Listener crosswords!

With a full (or almost) grid, we had to fit those letters into the gaps and realised that, in order to place all 18, we would have to use the six cells containing obstacles. This was a demanding but enjoyable endgame to produce ten targets and at first the little HARE seemed safe as they were not animals at all but sitting ducks that appeared: SHIELDRAKE, SMEE, POCHARD, GOLDENEYE, SCAUP, SCOTER, EIDER, BALDPATE and wisely beating a retreat, one I hadn’t heard of, a GARROT. That made nine ducks. The potential HARE in column ten becoming just another duck.

Surely the goldeneye, scoter, eider and pochard are protected birds. Frankly, this will not do. Google tells me that the hare is only protected in Scotland. That doesn’t seem fair.

Number 10? What can I say? Mrs Bradford tells me that a HARELD is a duck, so Poat has brought the little fellow back, just to convert him into a duck and shoot him. Shame! I rest my case!

 

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