Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Listener No 4554, Duck: A Setter’s Blog by Vismut

Posted by Listen With Others on 2 Jun 2019

Anyone who keeps horses, like I do, will know that a lot of time is spent pushing a wheelbarrow around a large field. This occupies the body, but leaves the mind free to wander about. Having read about a group of mostly French writers and mathematicians known as Oulipo, it was whilst “poo picking” I hit upon the idea of creating a crossword with a grid constraint similar to their work. One of the group, Georges Perec, wrote La Disparition, in French, without the use of the letter E and I was tickled that his own surname had two in it. Further things clicked into place walking back to the stables, Perec has 5 letters, so does Adair, (who wrote A Void, the translation into English also without using E); Adair can be found in La Disparition and leaves the letters for “slip into” and this with A Void leaves a clear end-game; ‘La Disparition’ has 13 letters; a void and avoid both mean Duck — a title perhaps. Surely all these things could be put together in one puzzle, couldn’t they?

My background in Maths and Art helps me to see patterns and how they might be put together but the creation of clues that work, read well and have correct grammar is a massive challenge. I have had a lot of help with this from the cruciverbalist community who are a friendly bunch and very generous with their time so many thanks to them. It is so satisfying when you get a clue right (perhaps) after wrestling with it for what seems like hours. It’s a lot of fun to make the connections required for a puzzle such as the Listener and as I say it does give you something to think about when you’re wading through the mud.
I hope you enjoyed completing Duck as much as I enjoyed creating it.


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