Listen With Others

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Where Next? by Harribobs

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 June 2020

A tour of Britain, I read, then such a complicated set of instructions, including one to erase my completed grid fill, that I am tempted to throw in the towel, put my bike in the shed and pour a stiff double. Still, I check through the clues to confirm Harribobs’ right of entry to the Listener Oenophile Outfit and find that his clues, at least, get beyond the M25 (which seems to be a limit for rather a large number of crossword setters as far as ‘Britain’ is concerned). He gets to Wallsend, Leeds, Oldham, the Border, A6, St Albans, ‘Wales every now and then’, Luton, the Fens, Hastings and Halesowen (wherever that is). The Irish and Scots amongst us might be slightly miffed but sobeit.

Alcohol? Well, we are told how to get our port. ‘For port, take motorway through Oldham in westerly direction bypassing centre (5)’ We suss that Harribobs is sending us to MALMO for our port. Alcohol is pretty expensive in Sweden (we frequently visit a friend who lives close to Malmo) but ‘Cheers’, anyway, Harribobs.

The grid filled with ease and lucky links early on when DUSTMAN, OUTGAS, JINGO, WALNE, SANTA, INLY and SWANAGE were achieved without cycling, made our initial cycling tour not too strenuous. However, I found that I had to visit THETFORD, EDGWARE, SWANAGE and ST DAVID’S and went onto Wiki to find out where these places were. A stern warning appeared that ‘Owing to Corona Virus, travel restrictions may apply’. It was worse when Harribobs made that token visit north of the border to GLASGOW. “Is your journey really necessary Mr Harribobs?” I heard a reminiscent little wartime voice muttering. (At least he avoided Durham and Barnard Castle and having to face a Cummings-style witch hunt.)

The other Numpty (the Irish Glaswegian) had done his share and solved most of the clues so disappeared to cook the supper and left me to erase my grid and perform my cycle tour via the letters of the across clues doing those mathematical calculations each time. Yes, I managed to miscount more than once and landed on a cell I had already filled and had to backtrack – rather like our usual numerical performance (Ed. No, I assure you, this is a verbal crossword). However, I finally got to the outskirts of St David’s and with 30 empty cells had to get out my map. Where Next? indeed.

We had meandered around the south of England. I gather that there is a St David’s at the tip of Wales as well as the Exeter one, and there had been that rather surprising visit to Glasgow (I suppose that is north for a southerner though a Shetlad friend once told us that she had had to go south once and had visited Aberdeen!) so I guessed that our remaining cells were going to take me somewhere interesting like Stornoway or Limerick – but it was not to be.

After an immense struggle I reached WHERE? SHEPTON MALLET and BUDLEIGH SALTERTON. (The other Numpty commented  that this is probably a Covid 19 ‘Staycation’ prompt for those of us who have always felt an irresistible urge to explore the exotic vistas of Shepton Mallet and  Budleigh Salterton – so on my bike. Thank you, Harribobs. We do wonder how you managed to create first the cycled grid and then that astonishing compilation with the numerically spaced words.

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