Listen With Others

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The Session by Gila

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 March 2019

The weekend of the Listener Setters’ Dinner, superbly hosted by Jetdoc and Enigmatist in York, this time. Traditionally we expect a relatively undemanding crossword for this weekend and it appeared that we had a new setter here – was I going to be able to welcome him into the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? I read through the preamble in horror: ‘Some entries are words that are affected by one of the session’s three stages (i) having a drink (well, for dinner goers, that was at the Fox and Roman this year) (ii) drunk (Oh dear, wasn’t this going a bit too far with all that lovely alcohol flowing at the dinner and after – till around 2 a.m. for the stragglers this year?) or (iii) with a hangover (seven of each)’.

I was having serious concerns about the suitability of Gila by this time but read on and found that omitted and extra words in the wordplay of across and down clues were going to give us an appropriate maxim and something to help with the hangover. I decided that judgement would have to be reserved. Can we really allow our reputation to be sullied by rollicking inebriation?

The clues didn’t reassure me: ‘With cola, I made mixes of nasty spirits (10)’ We added an N to that anagram and produced DEMONIACAL. ‘Acceptable craft beer and a dash of liqueur with ice (10)’ Another anagram of BEER ICE A and L(iqueur) and another V omitted. The other Numpty was already muttering ‘In vino veritas’ and suspecting that we had even more alcohol in the maxim.

We had a delightful new attendee at the dinner, a newly-retired bishop and he confided his amusement to me on reading 1d. ‘Drunk bishop losing head following the end of one barrel (7)’ We sadly removed the head of our PRIMATE (with the M as an extra letter) and put the RIATE after (on)E B(arrel), producing EBRIATE, or ‘drunk’. Hmm, Gila!

‘Free beer on drinking binge for … (6, two words)’ gave us [A]LE + TOUT so ‘let out’, and the young lady in the next clue was, not surprisingly, well sozzled: ‘…Naomi at first – more than tipsy, protecting Heather from Helena (13, two words)’. We removed an E and put an anagram of MOR THAN round ERICA (heather) after N and the superb clue (if we ignored the surface reading of the drunken screaming, hen-party girls) gave us NORTH AMERICAN.

‘Red wine’s drunk – poet’s made more powerful (7)’ gave us SINEWED with an extra R (though seriously, I’d expect the poet to be flat out on the floor after all this bingeing!). ‘A drop of Lambrusco? That is a fizzy drink! (7)’ (yes, it’s rather too fizzy for me!) put a drink MEAD into L(ambrusco) IE and told us how some entries were going to ‘have a drink’.

‘Old brewer’s limited microbars (6)’ puzzled us until the end of our solve when we had found those drinks everywhere: liMEADe, staGINg, diALEd, saVINg, airPORTs, and conTENTed, and we decided that RYE had to be surrounded by BAS(s) – the BASS brewery’s founder. Clearly the drunken solutions would be anagrams and we opted for RAVE, NERITA, PIERCE, ARVO, HUSTLE, TONETIC and SEMILUNAR. What a gem that last anagram of UNREALISM was!

Just extra letters at the ends of words for the hangovers (ASSES[S], MOO[R], PAST[A], PLEB[E], SCAR[P], PRO[D] and BUR[P]) – the last of those didn’t surprise me at all – but, fortunately, by this time, the somewhat drunken extra letters MAEAPLOTRCA had supplied PARACETAMOL. What can I say? Cheers Gila!

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