Listen With Others

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Market Square Fable by Charon

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 Nov 2018

A new Listener setter! We met Charon in a February Magpie but his (hers) isn’t a familiar name so we print this rather unusual grid with a touch of trepidation. What no bars? (Yes, of course I looked for a few bars to make sure Charon could be admitted to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite and he barely made it with only a hint of Scotch in his penultimate clue) ‘Scotch bonnets that are mouth stingers primarily (4)’ gave us the initial letters of TAMS. Mouth-stinging Scotch wouldn’t go down too well, but ‘Cheers’ anyway, Charon.

‘Each grid entry traces the outline of a square, clockwise or anticlockwise, finishing in a cell adjacent to its start.’ That sounds like an original device and clearly Imposed constraints on Charon as his/her clue lengths have to be multiples of 4. Of course, I attack the ’24, four words‘ first and it produces EDSON ARANTES DO NASCIMENTO (anagram of ‘mentioned a cross and a stone’). We can see that PELE is at clue 5, ‘Hawaiian volcano goddess who, you could say, is foreshortened (4)’ so we suspect (wrongly, of course) that we have already spotted the crossword’s theme – that fabulous soccer player.

My first attempt to create the grid is a total disaster as I put Pele one column too far left, to fit him in with RADIO-ELEMENT. Then I decide that the first letters of solutions are not in their clue number cells and that suggests a nightmare of a struggle ahead, but the light dawns; I complete DO NASCIMENTO to the right of his opening cell and we are underway.

These were generous clues, but they needed to be, as we were hoping to fill all but eight cells in order to be able to see what had to be three more words, or groups of words, giving us ’48 cells spelling out a perpetrator, what he does (giving rise to an idiomatic phrase) and a product from the place where he does it’. We had more than eight empty cells when we broke off for dinner with four clues to solve. INIA should have been obvious, (it’s one of those crossword staples like TEES, BRAS, ASTI and TSETSE isn’t it?) and the clue spelled it out, ‘Bony protuberances held by one Australian (4)’ IN + I + A. GAINSAID was almost as obvious, ‘Gets feudal tax challenged (8)’ = GAINS + AID but it had us head-scratching.

‘Concerned with whether Highland spoils (4)’ (was that another sneaky clue about Dalwhinnie, one of my favourite malts – the one from the highest distillery? Of course it doesn’t spoil but I believe the Angels get a bigger share than usual, because of the height the distillery. Hmmm! the way it disappears from our bottle, they must be in there somewhere.) That just gave us RE + IF = REIF and the Big Red Book tells us that is a Scottish word for spoliation.

We are left with ‘Jazz fest for some leaving Waters when mature’. Newts, toads, and frogs are a speciality of mine (we have little singing toads, Bombina Variegata, in our ponds and the newts show up in hundreds) but that EFTS (another crossword staple) was cleverly hidden with the ‘Jazz’ anagram indicator and that Waters with the capital letter leaving Woodstock or wherever it was. However, our grid was full.

We looked in the obvious place and there was SPRING-HEELED JACK. We could see MELTON MOWBRAY PORK PIE too but hadn’t the slightest clue about a link. What a blessing Google and Wikipedia can be! I do wonder how solvers who stick strictly to the BRB and pencil and paper manage these obscure endgames. Of course, we found out that he PAINTS THE TOWN RED, so we highlighted in red with thanks to Charon for teaching us something new.



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