Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Times Listener by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 May 2020

Carte blanche (well, almost) and we are told that the bar pattern, that we must show, will be asymmetric. Well, at least the clues are in entry order and have word lengths, and oh what joy, there’s no misprint or missing or added letter device! I raise my glass to that. ‘Glass’ did I say? I fear at first that Artix isn’t providing many glasses when the fourth clue tells us ‘Kind judge to refrain. from excess (8)’ We opt for MODE + RATE. But then, almost in TT despair towards the end of his clues, I find ‘Does Bury cover its centre with bars? (6)’ We put INNS all round the centre of (b)UR(y) producing INURNS. We’d better head for the centre of Bury! (Artix is a fellow northerner – he must know something about Bury that I don’t) Cheers, Artix!

There’s a lot of pre-ramble, and, at this stage it doesn’t give us much help except to tell us that each entry, at first, will either include an empty cell or a word from the song that we are going to discover, and from its original source. I have just run through all our solved clue with a highlighter and found those 26 words. What a feat of construction Artix, especially as those words were so well incorporated that we had completely filled our grid and the dotted area without spotting the words of a very familiar song.

We solve for a long time and have a putative top half of the grid before the other Numpty retires to turn on the oven and refill his glass and I spot TRACHEOTOMY. We’ve already decided that HOME MOVE must be the two adjacent entry at 1d so my grid fill is confirmed and underway.

There were some delightful clues. I love the way our Yorkshire river, the OUSE is crossword setters’ fodder and here it is again, ‘Back waters from Yorkshire to Stoke up anew (8)’ We add REAR to our river to get REAROUSE. ‘Interject when three Greek characters lose you finally (6, two words)’ has us attempting to make ‘Butt in’ convert to three Greek letters, but of course it’s CHI + PI + N[u] = CHIP IN. What a fab-u-lous clue and how beautifully the ‘lose’ of ‘a time to lose’ is hidden in there.

With the grid almost complete, we are delighted to find that all those partial words (yes, even MANGA, ERSE and REDESIGN) can adopt another letter and still be dictionary words, and the four seasons immediately appear. I was rather Numpty-ish at this stage and maybe misled by the title Times Listener, and wondered whether we were hunting for Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a Changin’, but no, I finally saw that TURN appeared three times in my grid  and everything fell into place  – we were with The Byrds (though I had to head-scratch to see how ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ could make 15 cells. Did Artix really have to give himself that demanding final touch of the exclamation marks, still maintaining real words or phrases?

Ecclesiastes! Oh how well I know Chapter3. Our very erudite headmaster in Kirkby Lonsdale thought we were a pack of country bumpkins (we probably were) and gave us a daily dose of classical music (which instilled into me a love that has never died) but when he thought we were too stroppy, or had forgotten to turn off lights or clear up the empty milk bottles, gave us an imposition. The whole form would have to copy out Ecclesiastes Book 3. We didn’t love that – but I suppose it has helped with an Artix crossword over half a century later (thank you Boss!) and many thanks to Artix for a truly enjoyable and masterly compilation.


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