Listen With Others

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Artistic Licence by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 August 2020

First Numpty comment -“At last we have a short preamble!” We read through it and there is nothing to alarm us except that we are going to be looking for extra words OR letters and these might be anywhere in the clue, not just in the wordplay.

Serpent is a regular at the three-monthly gatherings of Listener enthusiasts in Farringdon and I haven’t seen him favouring the orange juice, so don’t really need to check his retention of membership of the elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit (Dave’s website tells me it is his fourth Listener) but I scan his clues anyway to be sure and gloom descends. There isn’t much to drink in them. ‘Refusal to harm consumers in area where police operate (5)’  (Well, I suppose that must be referring to police presence outside the pub at closing time). We extract the R from ‘consumers’ and the MAR (to harm) ‘consumes’ the ‘refusal ‘NO’ giving MANOR. That’s clever cluing! We found a combination of easy and generous clues and sneaky, more subtle ones in this puzzle (‘married’ producing ‘marred’, ‘opinions’ producing ‘pinions’ and so on).

‘Little girls stop kneeling over to drink fizzy pop (7)’ Surely we aren’t with that crossword setters’ favourite, ASTI. But no, it’s another of those device indicators – more obvious this time. We remove the extra letter N and have STEM (stop) ‘keeling over’ and ‘drinking POP* giving MOPPETS.

Fortunately for Serpent, he finally gets to something drinkable in his last clue. ‘Called learned revolutionary on the phone (4)’. That’s another old chestnut for setters isn’t it? When else do we call a revolutionary a RED? (This time we ‘hear’ READ and extract the extra word ‘Called’) However, let’s raise a glass of red. Cheers, Serpent!

The grid fills steadily and by the time the other Numpty disappears to cook the dinner, we have the bones of a message; HIS LOCALE WAS CELTIC AND HIS SEASON SPRING. I suppose that could be Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, G B Shaw, Samuel Beckett or James Joyce (I put those in a descending order with the one I appreciate the least at the end – my Grade Thirteen students, who slogged through some of Ulysses with me, were barely more enthusiastic than I was). Of course, I need Google and feeding that sentence in produces the final words of our crossword solve. UNITED STATES V ONE BOOK CALLED … ‘ULYSSES’ of course!

It’s all there in Google – how John Woolsey allowed publication of Ulysses in the USA on the grounds that the ‘obscene language does not promote lust’. I suspect that lust would be the last response of anyone who manages to plough through the novel (though I imagine there are some out there who consider it to be the century’s masterpiece?).

It takes me a while to find the three words to change. OBSCENE NOVEL leaps out at me but I expect to be producing JAMES JOYCE ULYSSES IS NOT … OBSCENE NOVEL. When the penny drops and WOOLSEY replaces ROUTINE, there is that pleasure of seeing all real words in the final grid. Nice one, Serpent.

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