Listen With Others

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Listener No 4552: Mortality by ’Eck

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 May 2019

’Eck’s previous Listener was based on Ariel’s speech in The Tempest reporting Ferdinand’s cry “Hell is empty and all the devils are here”. This week, a bit more gloom and doom with a lot of people seemingly suffering a fatal affliction!

The preamble started by telling us that there were three normally clued entries which needed changing. That left an awful lot where the clues themselves needed amendment: extra words or phrases appeared in nine clues; seven required two or three letters to be repositioned; six clues had wordplay only and 24 had a misprint in the definition.

All of this was cunningly disguised by ’Eck and required a bit longer than usual for me to get past the post. However, once the grid was complete, a quick scan enabled me to see PIMPERNEL in the middle row. Thus we were in the midst of the French Revolution, courtesy Baroness Emmuska (didn’t know that) Orczy’s elusive character.

The three normal clues gave SEJEANT, RELUCT and MAGNESIA, with the wordplay-only clues giving GASTON, EMILE, JULES, ALAIN, LEON and CHARLOT, all French guys. It didn’t take long to see that the last group would all give new words when decapitated which happened when JEAN, LUC and AGNES left the grid. These new words were all defined by the extra words/phrases in other clues.

Finally, the letters disappearing and appearing in their clues gave Sir Percy Blakeney, and the correct letters in the misprint clues gave Enter nom de guerre in apt hue, thus requiring PIMPERNEL in the middle row.

It all reminded me of the TV series of my youth. I think it was the one starring Marius Goring, which shows you how long ago it was. Also, MAIGRET at 21ac had me harking back to when Rupert Davies played the character on TV back in the 60’s.

Good fun, thanks, ’Eck.


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