Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Flappy by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Oct 2020

It is always a pleasure to see Shark’s name at the head of a crossword. We know the clues will really challenge us but also that there will be a stunning endgame. The last half of the preamble tells us that, but first, we have to solve those tough clues.
Of course I hunt for the alcohol though I know this one-time Listener Ascot Gold Cup winner (as half of the Rood team) has to remain in the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophiles. I’m halfway down the down clues with no solutions leaping out at me before I get to ‘Stacked barrels in wet – it’s pelted (7)’. No half measures for Shark, (and who would have thought that bbl was an abbreviation for barrels!) This is a typical Shark clue – there’s that touch of smutty humour as his ‘wet’ is PEED and we get PEBBLED when we put all those barrels in (no wonder there was some peeing) but we have to hunt in Chambers to confirm that ‘pelted’ can be a synonym for ‘pebbled’ (to stone or pelt, the Big Red Book tells me) so with all those barrels, Cheers, Shark.
We fumble through the clues for  long time, trying to see what the words that we putatively extract might have in common but then we have our first penny-drop-moment. They all have an odd number of letters – there’s not much else we can see in common for ‘batsman’, sparkling’, ‘serious’, ‘scrapping’ and so on. The obvious letter to extract is the middle one and doing that gives us a curious series of words and partial words. However, it also delights us when we realize that the words we are leaving are also real words (brilliant, Shark – that’s masterly!) Second p.d.m. We have RUMEN around SKIPPER, KINGSHOOD around MONARCH, BIBLE around PEACOCK and MAW around HEATH. We have no trouble recognising those butterflies (we had them as flutter-byes in a recent Spoonerising Listener not long ago, didn’t we, and in Eclogues EV just a week ago?), but we have to check the stomachs and are delighted to find that the four stomachs of a ruminant appear in order here. So we are ‘Flappy’ because we have ‘butterflies in the stomach’. That was fun but it was in the clues and Shark, of course, has something in the grid too – we have already guessed what those curves we are going to draw will represent, but we get a double surprise when ADMIRAL, PAPILIO, VANESSA and BRIMSTONE go into a second set of stomachs, PAUNCH, BONNET, FARDEL and READ, and my amazement knows no bounds when I learn from Chambers that this is another set of names, in order, for the ruminants’ four stomachs. We have the final pleasure of linking letters that match into two ‘curves’ (and of course, spelling ‘CARDINAL’), adding the oval FLY bit of her stomach and a pair of antennae. A bit of Googling adds icing to the cake (or colour to the butterflies or something): the 3rd of October is National Buttertfly Day in the USA. A wonderful creation. This will be one of my all-time favourites. Thank you, Shark.

One Response to “Flappy by Shark”

  1. Brock said

    An appropriately beautiful masterpiece, I thought. I’m hoping that the record #BigButterflyCount among barred cryptics this autumn will inspire some more people to watch butterflies in their gardens and local open spaces next year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: