Listen With Others

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Listener No 4589: Progress Report by Tibea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 Jan 2020

The third collaboration from our illustrious editors/vetters. The previous one marked 25 years since the Listener Crossword first appeared in The Times and used excerpts of articles from the newspaper of that day. This week, we had wordplay leading to mutilated forms of entries with definitions leading to the the correct forms — but for a different entry. Two 4×4 blocks had to be unjumbled to reveal current progress. I don’t know about you, but I was confused!

In fact everything came together fairly easily, starting with the nice clue at 4ac Concerned with non-drinker outside Rover’s Return (9). In fact, you didn’t have to know anything about Coronation Street addict (I’ve only ever watched one episode) to see that RETROVERT was (RE + TT) around ROVER.

An example of the trickiness this puzzle provided was 12ac Silky cotton length in the part of pantyhose one’s got out of (8) with its misleading silky cotton definition (for VELVERET at 8dn) and giving L + AS + TIGHTS – I for the initially nonsensical LASTGHTS (eventually to become THOUGHTS).

Two other clues amused me. 27ac Repeated lies following credit crunch (6) gave CRISIS — IS + IS after CR. 34ac Part for Milo O’Shea directed as well as the rest (8) gave LOOSHEAD which became LOOSENER in the final grid and lost the definition as well as the rest (to 15ac) and gained laxative (from 33dn).

I’m not too sure when the penny dropped for me. I was helped by knowing that the last Listener puzzle in The Listener was number 3089, and this was puzzle 4589. 3089 was, in fact, a mathematical puzzle, Squarkode by Klan (whose death was sadly announced alongside). Don’t ask how I knew that; just one of those things.

When the grid was complete, the two 4×4 blocks read LAST OF LINE UNDERNEATH THIS MASTHEAD. With a bit of jiggery-pokery, plugging the correct definitions into the clues revealed the correct grid with THOUSAND AND A HALF, THE TIMES LISTENER.

Great fun, thanks Tibea — onwards and upwards.


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