Listen With Others

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Listener No 4606: Isolated in May by Dysart

Posted by Dave Hennings on 29 May 2020

As you may know, I normally make reference to a setter’s previous one or two puzzles at the beginning of my weekly blog. Last year’s Dysart required us to draw da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man comprising two images of the man plus the surrounding circle. This week, for some reason, I also visited the Listener Crossword website, only to find that one of the winners of that puzzle hailed from Barnard Castle, County Durham!

This week’s puzzle had a number of empty cells initially and down clues needing to have a letter moved before solving. I thought that these would probably be fairly obvious to spot — how wrong I was. The endgame had a lot going on, so no point in trying to untangle that until the grid was complete.

A typically sneaky clue from Dysart was 18ac Cut from disc bit of leaf-metal foil (4) where the L(eaf-metal) had to be subtracted from EL PEE to give EPEE. And I enjoyed the straightforward clue at 39ac Where vehicles wait to take last of customers from busy snack bar (7) for CAB-RANK ((SNACK BAR)* – (customer)S).

Aas for the down clues with their moving letters, some took a really tussle. 25dn Periodically our head’s occupied by Stuart’s case for consideration (6), even when the moving letter was known to be U: (o)R (h)E(a)D around GAR with the U in our (not in Stuart) moving to case. Similarly, 27ac Enter two races and keep up speed regularly (6) became Enter two aces rand keep up speed regularly (6) — A + A + R around (u)P (s)P(e)E(d). And who said first letters of words are easy clues: 32dn Swimmer starts from astern, placing ropes round tiller (5) where the A moved from astern to make around giving SPRAT.

I managed to get the last two moving down clue letters about half way through the solve. Being HL, it was obvious that we were dealing with a Roald Dahl story. With the other letters I had, I managed to identify Someone Like You. Unfortunately, that was a collection of about a dozen short stories, any one of which could be the theme for our puzzle. I decided to leave the identification of the story until the grid was finished.

When it was complete, I had 14 empty cells and there would still be that many in the final submission. The endgame required us to use one of the unclued entries as an instruction with its opposite unclued entry giving an item from the story. There was a LAMB in column 1, but that hardly seemed relevant — except one of the short stories from the book was revealed by Wiki to be Lamb to the Slaughter. This tells of MARY who kills her husband PATRICK by hitting him over the head with a joint of lamb before cooking it and then serving it to the police who come to investigate.

Most of the endgame then fell into place, with real words or names at every stage. The LAMB in the FREEZER first had to knock DOWN PATRICK, replacing CAB-RANK. It then had to move into the top row to be eaten by the policemen. Initially I put LAMB in the four consecutive cells starting with 5dn. It took me some time to realise that LEATHE wasn’t a word. I even wondered at one point if MOLLIES were the policemen! In fact, MEATHE was required at 5dn and LOATH at 2dn giving LAMB with the POLICEMEN swallowing the four chunks. Poor old Patrick Maloney (LONE in MAY).

Thanks to Dahl and Dysart for some gruesome fun.


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