Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Kew Knowledge by Brock

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 September 2020

Strange title! Kew Knowledge: are we going to be informed about exotic flower species? We are going to find seven thematiclly affected answers  and extra letters in the wordplay of all the other answers. I skim the clues (looking, of course, for that inevitable Listener setter alcohol) and find some fine surface readings with messengers discarding clothes, ‘With no sign of hesitation, messengers dicarded clothes (5)’ – I discard the ER from COURRIERS and get COURS with an extra I. Then there is the rather surprising ‘Result of unclothed aunty occupying beach? (6)’ We put (a)UNT(y) into SAN[D] and with that extra D find SUNTAN.

Alcohol? It’s a pretty poor showing, though Brock is clearly suffering from the after effects: ‘Stupor broken by am coffee (5)’ MOCCA goes in there. It has to be that ‘fine’ cycling round lake ‘Collapsed during cycling, fine going around lake (5)’ that caused the stupor (we opted for an ELFIN butterfly). Well, cheers, Brock – you can do worse than having a stupor after an excess of fine cognac!

Our first suggestion of the theme comes when we find ‘Head of academy leaving annoyed queer dean (5)’. We are all familiar with Spooner’s apocryphal toast to the ‘Queer old dean’. We remove A(cademy) from ‘annoyed*’ and find DOYEN with an extra N.

FLUTTER BYES soon emerges so we begin to understand that Brock, too, is playing at being Spooner and providing us either with Spoonerised versions of the answer (like ‘mocca’ for COMMA and ‘gnu Joe’ for JUNO ‘One resembling Buffalo  Soldier in Alabama is tense leaving Confederacy (4)’ – we remove T from JUNTO) or Spoonerisms in the wording of the definition, ‘One’s marked with spite what’s scuppered Real Madrid (10, two words)’. Real Madrid anagrammed to RED ADMIRAL and we back-solved to decide that this was ‘one marked with white spots’. (I had to find the butterfly book to confirm that!)

So ‘Done guarding war ..’ became ‘One guarding door’ for a GATEKEEPER and we completed our seven butterflies with ELFIN (the poor thing ‘fell in’ or collapsed), a ‘key pock’, that became a PEACOCK and one with an ‘underwing band’ – a ‘wondering band’ – the HAIR STREAK. (My book tells me that ‘This species gets its name from the W-shaped mark formed by the white streak on the underside of the hind wing).

By this time we had found the thematically posed question: ‘DO HIDE ON THIS DAY IN NINETEEN THIRTY?’ and who died had to be W A SPOONER and, sure enough, there was his name in the grid, to be highlighted.

It wasn’t until I had completed the solve that I looked up New College and found that there was actually a Spooner connection. I learned that Spooner was the first non-Wykehamist to become an undergraduate at New College. Nicely thematic, as was the entire grid. Many thanks, Brock.

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