Listen With Others

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Moving Up and Down by Ferret

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 May 2019

One part of the wise advice that Roddy Forman would give to setters was that the device used in a crossword should be thematic. With that in mind as we read Ferret’s preamble, we were already prompted to think of installations that go up and down, and, of course, a funicular was the first to spring to mind (Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi with its dramatic teleferique are visible from our front lawn) and I had memories of singing that song ‘Funiculi, Funicula (and disliking it) when I was the stand-in cat in a youth club Dick Whittington pantomime.

Solutions to half the vertical clues were to go up and an equal number to go down. Words were moving up and down in an equally balanced way within clues, the central columns were going to do just the same, and even the title obeyed the rule. Roddy would have been delighted. He would probably have appreciated the alcohol too: ‘Encounter involving Bass and US brewery (5)’ We moved ‘done’ up and ‘encounter’ down and put a B in PAST giving PABST which the other numpty knew to be an American brewery. (He’s an astonishing mine of weird and obscure information but I suppose that’s a trait shared by Listener solvers!) Ferret continued the alcohol theme with ‘He sold liquor to soldiers leaving Ulster (6)’ Again the other numpty produced a word from his arcane store. “It was a SUTLER who sold alcohol to soldiers.” so we realised that ULSTER had to be ‘working’, moved that word up and dropped the ‘leaving’ from the clue above. Cheers, Ferret! Membership of the Listener Oenophile lot retained.

We were lucky with the long words, ‘stated former’ anagramming to TERMS OF TRADE, and ‘old fossil’ suggesting PETRIFACTION and we particularly enjoyed PEANUT BUTTER made up of PEA(r) round NUTTER (a fruitcake) including BUT (merely). Our grid filled quickly and nicely with just a few doubts. We had no idea that DEF could mean ‘brilliant (Practised fitting around cut brilliant, giving us APT round DE(f) = ADEPT) but, as is so often the case, our grid was full before we made sense of the hint and we felt obliged to work backwards to it and correct a few of the words we had wrongly chosen to take up and down in the funicular.

VESUVIUS had appeared to prompt us that we were looking at a NEAPOLITAN INCLINED PLANE RAILWAY. Super setting and great fun. Thank you Ferret.


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