Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Ancient Mariner by Tringa

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 July 2020

An apparently new setter always poses a challenge as we don’t know what to expect. Tringa’s preamble warned us that twelve clues contained an extra word, and suggested that it was the final letters of those extra words that were going to  identify a source. Asterisked letters in what turned out to be all of the five unnumbered entries were jumbled to give us the name of a person to whom a statement was attributed (the Ancient Mariner, NOAH, it turned out to be)and eight other entries were to go into the ‘wrong place’. Finally, we were to highlight four pertinent words. “Quite a lot going on!” we said.

Of course, I had to see whether Tringa earns admission to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit and my initial run through the clues produced a convincing ‘Take from small cask used on board vessel for drink (6)’. We removed R from BREAKER and had a BEAKER. Well, that was a promising start – little did I know that by the end of our solve we would be toasting Tringa in MADEIRA, CHABLIS, MALBEC and ARNEIS – rather a multi-coloured mixture but hearty cheers, Tringa!

There were some lovely clues here. ‘Letter in India ink, along with all previous letters retuned (4)’ suggested an extra K on the end of ‘ink’ and I, then A to I reversed, giving IOTA. ‘Eighteenth century is encapsulated by this moving line of verse (5)’ produced an anagram of ‘THIS’ around C(entury) – STICH, and produced an extra H at the end of ‘eighteenth’.  ‘Scathingly attack minor Aussie celebrity (7)’ gave us a double definition B-LISTER and BLISTER and the extra Aussie produced an extra E. Slowly but surely, G K CHESTERTON appeared and when LUSH, TEEN, ARNA, HOOD and CHAMADE (sexy, young, beast, covering, conference call) had filled the unnumbered entries, we had the asterisked letters to give us NOAH.

Time for an Internet visit where I found the whole poem, but meanwhile, the other Numpty had found the relevant lines in the ODQ.:

‘And Noah, he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,

I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.’ ‘Wine and Water’ (1914)

Now we understood why we had been switching around all those watery entries. Tringa’s beautifully thematic explanation was that the water could go just about anywhere in the grid as long as it left that little boozy area in the grid centre intact. We had swapped SNOWBALL and RAINDROP, BROOKS and AMAZON, LAKE and NILE. and PERRIER and PACIFIC, all of them cleverly clued by their other definition, so that we hadn’t, at first, spotted that they were various forms of water.

All that was left to do was to find the four symmetrically placed wines, safely isolated from the surrounding waters. What a delightful first Listener. Thank you, Tringa.

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