Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Pot Plant by Karla

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 Oct 2020

We haven’t met the name Karla before and we read the preamble with a hint of trepidation. There seemed to be three instructions here and two of them were going to affect twenty of the thirty-seven clues. The first few clues we solved were normal and a skeleton grid appeared with COHABITEE, RAP SHEET (what a fine clue! ‘Criminal past here (8,two words)’ anagrammed to those words that record a criminal past), SPENT FORCE, REGISTRANT, PROSPECTS, DRYING, SYDNEY, FUSSED, AZOTE, AIRY and EID AL-FITR. There were generous anagrams and succinct clues that had us slightly worried. Where were those extra letters and words coming from? (And where was the alcohol? Surely we can admit this ‘new’ setter to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit?)

Then there was a speedy p.d.m. ‘Use of threats, a defence in bygone battle (4)’ “MAIL” said the other Numpty “and we seem to have an extra BLACK – and here’s BLUEPRINTS with an extra BLUE.” “RED CARD” I responded gleefully, so we have the ‘Red’ after all, and if these are snooker balls, we are goig to find ‘white’ (as we did, ‘Giving up standard part of stone floor (4, two words)’ gave us WHITE FLAG) – so “Cheers and welcome Karla!”

Yes, I know that the RED card had to be converted to a YELLOW one when we needed our red for the red line, and the BLACK shirts had to be BROWN but we soon had our full complement of colours, with those GREEN berets and the PINK panther, and a full grid too. However, we had solved rather quickly and had only ten of the 12 extra letters. While the other Numpty returned to watch the snooker, I had to carefully work through the clues to find an R in REITERATE (‘Keep repeating obligation to retire European judge (9)’ – we had to reverse TIE = obligation, + E RATE – that was tricky!) We were left with only one word where there could be our last extra letter and it had to be a final letter: GLUTEN, ‘Coeliacs don’t tolerate such cheek (6)’ Imagine my amazement when the Big Red Book told me that a ‘glute’ is a bum muscle!

Those 12 letters gave us a rather appropriate ONE FOUR SEVEN (we had stopped watching the snooker where O’Sullivan had just drawn equal to Hill at 3-3, in order to download the Listener). All that was left to do was find the eight-letter phrase and CLUE TIPS seemed a likely candidate – we had certainly has a couple in the preamble. We highlighted it and erased the L to get our cue tips. Thank you Karla for a very clear and engaging first crossword – if it is a first.

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