Listen With Others

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Doing the Rounds by eXtent

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 March 2019

“What a lovely grid”, we said – “rather like Kea’s chrysanthemum last year.” The preamble wasn’t quite so lovely as it had that hated word, ‘jumbles’ in it and we didn’t really understand, initially, what we were going to do. However, within ten minutes, the other Numpty had solved all but two of the first twenty-one clues. That was extremely disconcerting as they could only be so ‘easy’ in order to give us a framework for far more difficult things to come (and how!). Still, it was a pleasure to fill a skeleton grid and see 19 words appear, clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Fitting those words (like ‘blinded’ in clue 11 matching the HOODED that circled that bit of the flower was original and most enjoyable, and, along the way, eXtent, in a rather bolshie way, confirmed his membership of the Listener oenophile elite with ‘Son and alcoholic scrap (5)’. “That’s SHARD (S + HARD)” said the other Numpty, so cheers, eXtent.

The twelve-letter entries were of quite a different nature and it was soon fairly clear that my scrappy little grid on its A4 page was nowhere near big enough to fit in all those potential letters that were going to be reduced by a laborious process of elimination so I blew my grid up to a larger size and carefully slotted up to six letters into each of the little concave triangles. The task became easier as we went along and helpful letters appeared, but still, these were tough clues and we almost had to cold solve them all to complete our grid.

Where did I expect the thematic, un-jumbled answer, ‘clued clockwise and by wordplay only’ to be. Well, in the centre of course but it didn’t leap out at us, though when TEA suggested FLOWER OF LIFE, we could back-solve to the wordplay in the clue. It was rather like that for several of those clues,like BRAINGLE’S SALT and FAMILLE VERTE – a fine balance for those easy ones in the first three sets.

It only occurred to me when finally checking my grid, that those letters on the hexagon’s points had to be identical as there was no way of distinguishing them from each other. That, of course, justified the rather obscure choice of SCIATIC NERVE, BRAINGLE’S SALT, PEARL DISEASE, and METATHEORIES. What a feat of compilation!

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