Listen With Others

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Listener No 4609: Where Next? by Harribobs

Posted by Dave Hennings on 19 June 2020

Harribobs is a fairly new kid on the block, but has had puzzles published in all the major thematic series. What’s more, this would be his fourth Listener in just over two years, the previous one requiring a major colouring exercise to depict the flags of twelve countries. No such artistic works here, but quite a long preamble instead.

On first reading, “tour of Britain” and “cycling” immediately brought to mind the Monty Python episode featuring Mr Pither (as in Brotherhood but with P-I instead of B-R-O and no HOOD). He was on a cycling tour of North Cornwall although most of the places where he fell off his bike were in Devon and Somerset. Time would tell where Harribobs would take us.

As the preamble said, most of the entries were entered in cyclic fashion with the across clues in an order that would prove useful later on. The clues were a bit tricky in places, and there were some unusual words for me like AMOMUM, FANGOS and BLAER. My favourite clue was probably 28dn Dickens’s name arises, he of many gifts? (5) (SATAN with N moved upwards).

The five wordplay-only destinations were the last five across entries and required us to start on the south coast (SWANAGE), head into London (EDGWARE), bomb up to Scotland (GLASGOW), back down to Norfolk (THETFORD) and then cross over to Wales (ST DAVIDS). Where Next?

Getting another copy of the grid, the first letter of 14ac (the first clue printed) went in the top left square with every following letter in the printed order of clues going n letters forward, where n was the value of the letter just entered. (Understood?) I only had to go back to the beginning once after ending up on an occupied square; I suspect others had a few more mishaps!

So where next? Luckily we were given the square with the fourth letter of the first destination. I wondered if Harribobs originally withheld that help. It took a few tries before I tried SHEP, which worked, and SHEPTON MALLET immediately came to mind. It was enjoyable finding that it could be entered in the grid’s empty squares. Shepton Mallet is a town in Somerset. BUDLEIGH SALTERTON came next, and that is a town in Devon.

So we were following Pither’s somewhat wayward ride round Cornwall after all! Thanks, Harribobs.
 

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