Listen With Others

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Six-pack by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 September 2020

Nine lines of pre-ramble! Is that a record? I checked and found that three others have been so long this year and Elap’s numerical more than doubled that figure but still, it’s somewhat daunting, as we learn that we are receiving double clues with only the first one located and numbered; clues are in three sets, to be entered in ways ‘suggesting their set’s types’. One set will be jumbled (groan!) and there will be a misprint in one of the definitions in each of the clues in that set. Correct letters will give us a relevant term and the circled letters will disentangle to give us two names. We take a deep breath and pour ourselves a double.

Drinks! Ah yes, does Hedge-sparrow retain his place with the Listener oenophiles? He leaves little doubt: even the title gives us a ‘six-pack’ then ‘figure cold drink’s needed (4)’ We add C to ONE giving CONE but don’t know where to enter that yet, as TALUS has filled 13ac in our grid. I have realized that the first half of each pair of clues is going into its prescribed place and the second half into one of the unclued slots (which I shade, to help with the grid-fill). The next clue is already revealing the effects of that mixing of a six-pack with ‘one’, ‘girl comes round in a befuddled state (9)’ gives us LOUISA around IN A* producing LOUISIANA. By clue 36 he’s well away: ‘Heavy drinker – singular one wanting last shockingly expensive vintage (7,4)’. We add S to WILLER producing SWILLER and Chambers tells us that LAST can anagram to SALT which is a ‘shockingly expensive vintage’. We raise our glasses – “Cheers, Hedge-sparrow!” More about red wine later!

Set 2 yields solutions fairly speedily when I attempt to enter WHIPSNAKE and VIOLONCELLO it becomes clear that the iinstrument has to be entered going ‘UP’ in order to fit with TALUS and SILIQUA so we can assume that half of each of the set 2 answers will head upwards (and we already have GODOWN at 30d), but that gives us a poser. In what way have SILIQUA and WHIPSNAKE been entered differently?

We already know that Set 3 are to be jumbled producing real words and we tease out OBELISED/SIDE-LOBE, TENGE/GENET, REPRO/ROPER, RIOT/ROTI, EACH/ACHE, SUPINE/PUISNE, MANUAL/ALUMNA, CRUISER/CURRIES, SEES/ESSE, CELLAR (more of that wine!)/CALLER, DINGO/DOING, VOTE/VETO and ACUTE/CEUTA. These have given us the misprints RAL?VOS (I still don’t know how we got the F) and those unjumble to FLAVOURS and our penny-drop moment. QUARKS has been staring us in the face for a while and I have laughed when FOGGY BOTTOM was offered to us by Crossword Compiler, STOPWATCHES, too!

We don’t even need to check that the circled letters spell GELL-MANN and ZWEIG and now we realize that in Set 1, half the clues went into the TOP of the grid and the other half into the BOTTOM. UP, DOWN, TOP, BOTTOM, CHARM and STRANGE – six types of QUARK. I wonder how CHARM and STRANGE explain their set but I gather that both words can be anagram indicators. What an impressive construction. Many thanks to Hedge-sparrow.

Red wine and Murray Gell-Mann! We had the pleasure of his company at a dinner party. The hostess had set a beautiful table with a white cloth covered with a lace one and he dominated conversation (a group of ten maybe) with lots of expansive gestures with his right arm, launching my glass into the air. We were on the meat course and my red wine flew across the table. Gell-Mann said nothing and the hostess simply replaced the wine – then he did it again – and again. Three ugly red splodges. No-one said a thing (his wife, Margaret, was opposite, next to the other Numpty) and my embarrassment grew. Afterwards, the hostess said “He always does that!”. If only she had warned me in advance! I remember that event more than anything I learned about quarks. But let me raise a final glass to the great man who is sadly no longer with us.

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