Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

My Retirement Plan by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 October 2018

We download a crossword by Artix, one of the top Listener setters – last year’s runner-up to the Ascot Gold Cup winner Shackleton with his superb Westward Ho crossword and the creator of that brilliant One Shot at a Time where we followed a golf course to discover that the theme was the attempted assassination of Theodore Roosevelt. We are certainly faced with a challenge but it is likely to delight and entertain too.

Oh dear, the preamble tells me there are five jumbled words to be removed from clues before solving – I suppose I have to rejoice that there are only five of those. Five answers are overlong and must extend outside the grid! There are single letter misprints in the definition parts of five other clues – and these manoeuvres are all thematic. Then comes the good bit: the theme ‘consists of three lines from a poem’. We’ve had great literary Artix crosswords on Hamlet and L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz so this is promising.

What about his membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? I know that Artix is a connoisseur of wines so there can be little doubt about that but I scan the grid all the same and find ‘Book about Bordeaux’s wine passion (6)’ We put LOG around VIN and find LOVING. ‘With 8 this might make Italians drunk (4)’ 8 has given us NAIL and if I remove this (anagrammed) from ITALIANS* what do I get? That old chestnut ASTI. Well, with that French VIN and Italian ASTI, I suppose I can say ‘Cheers, Artix!’

Solving begins in earnest and we are soon smiling at some fine clues. ‘Watch game with leader getting three extra strokes (4)’ gives us I SPY with three extra strokes being added to that I producing ESPY. ‘1 – 0? Once Barcelona’s ready, developed into failure to make match (12)’ gives us I NADA + PTA + INTO* = INADAPTATION. What a clue!

We spot some redundant words in clues. REWORKS, DISCRETION, PROTEINS, SNIGGLE and PAWS and realize that those all anagram to versions of ‘hands’. WORKERS, DIRECTIONS, POINTERS, NIGGLES and PAWS. We spot five misprints too: hEar for hAar, Ounces for Dunces, NA for SA, fasteD for fasteN and sigN for sigH: those give us two sets of letters EONDN and ADSNH. The poet DONNE and HANDS?

Suddenly it all makes sense. Of course that is why we have Date, Onanism, esseN, rooN and devoteE ‘before, behind, above and below’ the grid and those tell-tale words in the preamble. I loved the poem studied at A Level many years ago  (how we sixteen-year olds enjoyed the early erotic poetry and marvelled that the same poet could create the more sober later religious poems) and happily this is Donne’s randy retirement plan and not Artix telling us he is going to abandon the setting thing!

Licence my roving hands, and let them go,/ Before, behind, between, above, below./O my America! my new-found-land …

That is why we had the ‘roving hands’ in the anagrammed extra words and the misprints. This crossword is almost a metaphysical conceit in itself with Donne roving before, behind, above and below his ‘Newfoundland’. Hands are LEFT and RIGHT, and we read that ALL occurrences of two thematic letters must be exchanged for their counterparts so we carefully switch all the Ls and Rs in the grid with, for example, SPLAYED becoming SPRAYED then we hunt for those ten letters revealing the poet’s discovery and there she is ‘O MY AMERICA’! Sheer delight from start to finish. Thank you Artix.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: