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Removal by Gos

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 Feb 2019

“Nice short preamble” we said, “but ‘undergo removal’? There’s something fishy about that unusual wording.” There was something not quite right about some of the clues too, as I scanned them for the usual alcohol, which was, of course there. ‘Take Victoria’s drinking therapy for lively party (4)’. Later, when we had sussed what was going on, we moved ‘Victoria’s’ and decided that was an Aussie RORT. Gos continued with ‘Bar, one accepting 80 selections (8)’ Chambers tells us that 80 = R and that had to go into EXCEPT A to give us EXCERPTA, for selections. Selections of fine malts, Gos? Cheers!

We knew something was going on, but solved for almost an hour coming up with incomprehensible clashes when we solved the easy anagram at 13d, ‘Governor desperate to land a deal after losing bit of leeway (10)’ We had already slotted DUOMO in at 2d, though the wordplay didn’t quite work, and ADELANTADO gave us an impossible DM at the start of 15ac. It didn’t fit with BEBOP at. 34ac either (Jazz with live beat (5) = BE + BOP).

It was the SYBO and the BRIBER that cracked it for us. In both of those clues, we realized that a word had to move WITHIN the clue, ‘Small young bothyman’s onion primarily’,(first letters of S Y B O) and ‘Greaser born in Brazil, that is right’ (BR IE R round B), and we saw that BEBOP had to fit into 28d, so clearly words were ‘changing location’ within the clues and within the grid. Of course, Chambers told us that that was one of the meanings of ‘removal’. There had to be some other thematic material here as well as simply shifting clues around and moving words in clues so we did a fair amount of head-scratching and attempting to make something emerge from the words and clues we had moved – but it was not to be. So we breathed a silent thanks for a relatively simple solve.

There had to be 18 clues of each type, which rendered our grid fill much easier, now that we knew what we were doing but we still struggled with out last few clues. Yes, 29ac must be an IKON but why. The other Numpty, the military historian laughed out loud. “It’s an OERLIKON OER L’ – once over line – removed”. That left me with ‘Food plant used as fodder for birds perhaps (7)’. Packers, peckers, pickers, puckers? I should have known, I set a weekly crossword for the Farmers Guardian and know that ERS is a fodder plant, so the food had to be PECK and the birds PECKERS. Many thanks to Gos for an original device and an entertaining solve.


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