Listen With Others

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A Little Night Music by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 November 2018

We enjoyed Mad Tom’s Traps by Hedge-sparrow some months ago and should have guessed at once, when we down-loaded this, that  it wasn’t going to be about Mozart. It was more likely to be about the butterflies, birds or bees that seem to flock to Hedge-sparrow’s garden. The preamble wasn’t too threatening and I particularly enjoy the crosswords that sound as though they are going to lead us to the Bard, Yeats, Auden or Donne. We were going to find two lines from a poem, and the name of its author in those extra letters in the wordplay (that oh so familiar device!)

Yes, of course Hedge-sparrow retained his entry ticket to the drinkie crowd’s get together. ‘Drink like dogs (4)’ gave us TOS[S] + AS and the other Numpty assured me TOSAS are dogs, so ‘Cheers, Hedge-sparrow!

Solving went at high speed with a few new words producing smiles ‘Cool walk following river east, getting cold in relative darkness (8)’ gave us F R E then C in S[H]ADE and the BRB told us that a FRESCADE is a cool walk. ‘Marg’s absent for recipe: call for butter (3)’ must have been difficult to write with that G needed for the extra letter but what a lovely surface reading. “Do goat’s say MAA?” asked the other Numpty. Well clearly Hedge-sparrow knows that they do.

It didn’t take long for familiar words to appear – that rhyme about greasy Joan from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost, THEN NIGHTLY SINGS THE STARING OWL, TU-WHOO, /TU-WHIT, TU-WHOO A MERRY NOTE and that helped us complete our grid fill. The end game shouldn’t have taken us as long as it did, as the start of the next line was in the second most-obvious place, up the ‘other’ diagonal and clearly the protagonists in that rhyme were going to be owls. It was lovely how some of them appeared when the letters of the diagonal were changed.

MADGE is the name for a barn owl in the part of North Yorkshire I hail from, and the BARN owl, TAWNY owl, EAGLE owl and LONG and SHORT-EARED ones were not too difficult to spot even with that one flying down another diagonal. Obviously the five replaced letters were going to lead to a five-letter alternative name for the barn owl. Surprisingly it was the LITTLE one who tantalised us for a while (and of course, now that I know the little HARE is safe and well, I wasn’t looking for him – with all those night predators around, he would be wise to stay in his burrow!)

I thought this was a gentle but beautifully executed compilation. Many thanks to Hedge-sparrow.

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