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Tears by Oxymoron

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 September 2020

Imagine our surprise on finding a crossword by Oxymoron. We have already said our ‘Goodbye’ to Schadenfreude (his other setter pseudonym). Here we find ‘Tears’ – another sad goodbye? Is it disrespectful to wonder whether the first clue, ‘Strange letter about ancient ghost’, is a ‘beyond the grave’ comment? Ah, no. We invert RUM EL and find a LEMUR (and, of course, that rum, as well as the ‘angel’s share’ in clue 9 will provide the necessary alcohol to drink to Oxymoron’s health). We raise our glasses.

A mere five lines of preamble and we are left in no doubt about what we are going to do. Across and down clues are going to provide us with the two parts of words and we will replace those in our grid with something that will ‘replace the thematic item’. We guess already that this will be some kind of symbol, probably a number, and when RIVAL, WALKER, RANGER and SHINER appear from the combined elements of our solutions, a familiar song is evident; ‘Green grow the rushes, O’.

That LE from the LEMUR has to combine with the APOS from APOSTATIC to give us number 12, ‘Twelve for the twelve apostles’.

Still, we know that we will need to find GOSPEL-MAKER, COMMANDMENT and LILY-WHITE BOY and those are clearly going to provide a challenge for Oxymoron. Then we see that we can combine TELE-COMMAND with CLEMENT in the bottom right-hand corner. – one problem solved – we have one of the commandments.

‘Moral offences disturbed slaves in North Island (8, two words)’ anagrams to VENIAL SINS and this is clearly going to give us the VEN of the ‘Eleven who went to Heaven’, but we waste too long attempting to pair this with a word beginning with ELE, when what is needed is one beginning with HEA (for HEAVEN) and when ANGELUS and GOSPODARS pair up to give us GOSPEL (‘Four for the Gospel makers’) we realize that Oxymoron has been obliged to take a few short cuts, HEAUMES gives us the ‘old-fashioned headgear’.

So OSBORNE (the playwright in 34) pairs up with the Y of STILTY (hidden in ‘Limited amount of foreST IN TYrone) to give us simply ‘BOY’ for the ‘lily-white boy’ (clearly he’s lost his purity on that RUM and the heroin of clue 6, ‘Sixteen seen taking heroin (6)”). We have already found our SHINER in clue 16’s SHINiness, so this is clearly one clue referring to another (we always mutter about those) and gives us SHEEN.

We have our twelve and all that remains is to replace them with the appropriate numbers. Another Oxymoron gem with challenging but fair clues.

 

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