Listen With Others

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Listener 4521: Translate into Spanish by Cagey

Posted by Jaguar on 12 October 2018

I can’t remember when my last blog was. A quick glance through the archives suggests that it was well over two years ago. In the intervening period I’ve barely touched Listeners, but readers may excuse me this lapse when I point out that I’ve been working on, and now almost completed, a PhD instead. Just a few minor corrections left and then it will be Dr. jim42078 or something.

But anyway. Cagey’s first-ever Listener brings me back to blogging, at least in part because I happen to know him personally — a fact that also explains why I even bothered attempting this one, which would mark my first attempt, let alone completion, of a Listener in months. Needless to say, a carte blanche is an ambitious puzzle to start off solving.

Thankfully, however, I’ve been keeping up with the Jumbo on the opposite page, and daily cryptics, just enough so that some level of cold-solving wasn’t quite beyond me. There was also a certain amount of luck, perhaps, that 1dn SAAMI (AAM in is<) and 35d SNIGS (signs*) were generous enough clues, with answers vital to start the grid fill off, even if the answers are fairly obscure. I’ve long-since lost track of how things proceeded from there, but certainly it was mainly the left-hand side of the grid that fell apart first, and at some point a few hours later I had finally decided that the unclued 1ac was SIXTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT. “Isn’t that when the Glorious Revolution was?”, I thought, and sure enough that neatly explains the reference to William of Orange in 39dn. Oh, and look, there’s the event itself, stretched across the grid! The wonderful GLORIOUS, err, REVOLTUION. People in the 17th century probably didn’t know how to spell, to be fair to Cagey,  so I forgave him this obvious and shocking lapse* in construction and tried to finish the grid off.

But what of those instructions? I’d guessed early on that 29ac’s reference to “columns” was fairly blatantly nothing to do with the clue, but it took a good deal of searching to confirm that, say, “years” in 47ac and “180” in 42ac (a clue I still haven’t fully parsed, but it can be nothing else), were what was required to complete the instruction to pretend that Cagey actually meant 1868, and yet another silly lapse in setting** had led him to realise this only after putting 1688 across the top.

Grid completed, and brief trawl through “1868 in history” on Wikipedia later, I learned that the Spanish had stolen our idea of having a Glorious Revolution, throwing aside Isabella II for some reason (possibly because Glorious Revolutions sound so fun). How nice of them, at least, to wait until the year was so neatly related to 1686 by merely swapping a couple of digits.

In any case, now it was clear why Cagey couldn’t spell, and we had to rearrange the columns such that the seventh row read Glorious Revolution in the right order, whilst also ensuring that the first row had the right date for the Spanish edition.

When it comes to rearranging letters in large groups, Notepad is surprisingly handy, so one grid transfer later (and reflection to make the rows read as columns and vice versa), it was time to play around to get the right date. Not easy, because any fool could see that it’s going to be hard to get the “G” of Glorious to the start when it’s meant to be at the middle…

What happens next can best be described as sheer dumb luck. I stopped cursing at Cagey*** long enough to have another go, and then discovered that I could get “Glor” at the beginning in the seventh row after all. How weird. But never mind, following it through and at last the Glorious Revolution (Spain) is there in all its correctly-spelled glory, running proudly in the … eighth row?!

Yes, in a brilliant stroke of luck, flicking away from the grid of letters and then back, I’d managed to focus on the eighth column by accident — where, of course, hidden in fine style were the letters of “Glorious Revolution” all over again, jumbled up in just the right way so that you could spell it correctly this time. How nice! A “PACT” appears somewhere in the fifth row, too, just to resolve the ambiguity between a couple of Es in the E-heavy date.

A fine debut by Cagey, whose previous efforts have been hidden in the more niche publication of the Magpie, but at last he has reached the dizzying heights of Listener stardom. And, in the process, he has dragged this blogger out of his long slumber.

 

*sarcasm

**more sarcasm

***See above notes.

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