Listen With Others

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Joint Conditions by Awinger

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 Feb 2019

“Unusual grid”, we said, “and an interesting title. Is this new setter (or seasoned setter/s lurking under a new pseudonym) going to be whingeing about his arthritis?” We had half completed our gridfill before the penny dropped and that ‘Joint’ said ‘United’ to us, and the ‘Conditions’ became States. By that time we were doing the whingeing, as clashes were legion – we already had about 25, and putting the first letters of clues in alphabetical order of the entries beginning with S was giving us SEBLU which sounded vaguely like a medical condition.

Yes, I had checked his/ her/ their right of entry to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit and that posed no problem at all with an entire case of vintage to be enjoyed: ‘Forgotten to give the old case of vintage (4)’ gave us YE + V(intag)E and Chambers tells us YEVE is an obsolete version of ‘give’, so cheers, Awinger.

Not only the alcohol but HARES too! ‘Damage in that degree reveals rodents (5)’ gave us MARAS, scampering all over Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana – and in a straight line. Are these the fabled Poat hares?

Suddenly SELFHEALS and SYTHE fitted into our grid and the message became SEA BLUE. “It’s a map! All those paired letters that we have to enter in thematic order are the US States. We’ve just returned from three weeks in California so we do know it is on the West Coast (my five-year-old grandson managed to fall into the Pacific Ocean when we were dodging massive incoming waves) but could I place Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky or Tennessee in the right place? I am ashamed of my geographic ignorance. We had to download a helpful map and eliminate the states as we managed to find words that produced the appropriate clashes. What a feat of compilation. This compiler must have been excited as 49 states proved to be possible (and oh so sad when he couldn’t fit Minnesota in!)

The East Coast was relatively easy and we were delighted when a pretty accurate coastline appeared producing 31 ocean cells to colour blue and 14 cell edges where states bordered the ocean. Florida and the Gulf of Mexico appeared next and gave us another four ocean cells and six ‘coastal’ cell edges.

With a smile, we spotted MERICO and realized that that red-herring of a Roman number, DCLX, wasn’t 660 at all but was giving us four letters to convert CANACA to CANADA, PACIFIE to PACIFIC,  ATSANTIC to ATLANTIC and MERICO to MEXICO. ‘Four framing items in straight lines’. “Well, said the other Numpty, that has to be Trump’s wall – but surely he isn’t hoping to do the Canute thing and fence out the Canadians and the two Oceans?”

PACIFIC, of course and the coastal states of Washington, Oregon and California (with  Hawaii in its corner) gave us our remaining 19 ocean cells and 15 coastal edges and we were left with that vast central area to sort into states. We were able to work backwards from our map to find our missing solutions until only Minnesota was missing. “Insert it across the edge of two non-clash cells.” we were told. It had to border Canada, be next to North and South Dakota and north of Iowa and Wisconsin so that left just one place for it. This was hard work, but what an achievement. Thank you, Awinger.


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