Listen With Others

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A Tale of Two Cities by Wan

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 Oct 2018

Before even beginning to solve, we checked Wan’s list of Listener puzzles on Dave Henning’s Crossword Database and found an interesting range of topics from the table of elements, via cookery to birds. This one, from the preamble, sounded literary but was clearly not going to be about Dickens’ novel – that would be too obvious.

I didn’t need to read far to confirm his continued adherence to the Listener Setters’ Toping Outfit. ‘With gallons shifted, taste cider, it only passed (7)’ That was a tough clue to solve, as were most of the others but we worked out that it was GOUT with the G(allons) moving to give OUTG then ‘only’ giving ONE so OUTGONE was ‘passed’. There were two extra words there ‘cider, it’ and TEA told me that those anagrammed to ICTERID. Were we in for birds again? Wan was shifting cider (gallons of it) and shortly afterwards we found ‘Tempers lost indeed after alcohol (6)’ (not surprising after all that alcohol, Wan, Cheers!) It was ALE this time and YES for ‘indeed’, giving us a ‘lost’ word for ‘tempers’, ALEYES.

There was a delightful clue that really warmed my heart as, a couple of weeks ago I was rather distressed to see that Poat had managed to shoot the poor little HARE and finally do away with him but clearly Poat is a rotten shot as there he was, in four letters in a straight line. ‘Puts clothes on male in females’ quarters (6)’ HAREMS had to be the answer and we worked out that PUTS is HAS (the BRB says so!) and that word was clothing RE M(ale). The surface reading is lovely too – what is that fellow doing in the harem?

Another superb clue was ‘Who prepares Wan’s horse? (5)’ We extracted a SWAN (another bird!) from that clue and found that ‘horse’ anagrammed to SHOER. A magic &Lit. clue.

I wonder whether anybody managed to complete the top half of this crossword before the bottom half. I doubt it! We were lucky in that ANI, RHEA, ICTERID, SWAN, TARCEL, OWL, PYET, HAGDEN, AVOCET, NHANDU, EYAS and SORA gave us Aristophanes (yes, we guessed that after half of those birds appeared and we hunted in the clues for the ones to complete what had to be the name – then used Wikipedia to give us THE BIRDS). Of course, that told us about CLOUD CUCKOO LAND which was already almost complete in the centre of our grid and the FAT HENS and S of CEROUS provided the other city from the play. AT(HEN)S. We had, after a couple of hours of solving, the grid half full and just a few words in the other half. But then the struggle began and we almost gave up in despair as many of the clues led to words that just didn’t fit the cells available or seem to match the definitions at all.

Take BOSN. We guessed that that had to be the answer as it intersected with ACHARS but the clue seemed to be spelling out BOWMEN. ‘300 ladies moving west, some on boats (6)’ (B = 300 + WOMEN with W(est) moving – another spectacular clue!), so we had an extra WME in the clue, where we should have had an S. Light dawned – that gave us SMEW! and we had to enter the first letter of the bird, so S.  This was a real challenge and we spent a couple of tantalising hours hunting for potential clashes to provide the letters of THE BIRD, leaving, of course, real words when we extracted the clash letters.

PINERIES gave us PITIES when the TERN was allowed to fly out.

HONORARY gave us HORARY when the HERON waded out.

LUMME left LEME when the EMU was extracted

TAIVERS left TADS (quite appropriately) when the DIVER went down

ARABAS needed the BARB removing to produce ABAS

DIALING became a mere DRING when the rail flew.

And there we were. What a compiling feat. Thank you, Wan.


One Response to “A Tale of Two Cities by Wan”

  1. Steve said

    > I wonder whether anybody managed to complete the top half of this crossword before the bottom half. I doubt it!

    I’ve got to agree with you there, Shirley. After getting a few in the top I managed the bottom relatively easily, but really struggled when I returned to that top half. More than a week after starting I still had half a dozen answers to get and was afraid I’d break a decent unbroken run of submissions (if not all correct!). I was most relieved to figure out those last few and get the entry posted (with a first-class stamp for a change).

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