Listen With Others

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Heads and Tails by JFD

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Nov 2020

JFD’s relatively short preamble gave us three instructions and promised a fourth. We learned that most of the clues had a ‘letter wrong’ in the definition and that those ‘wrong’ letters were going to spell out a line from a work and the title of the work. We at once agreed to nudge each other as it is all too easy to accidentally record the corrected misprint, as is conventionally required in this situation. The next line was going to suggest changes we would have to make in our completed grid. The third instruction said we must complete the unclued bottom row of the grid and then perform an instruction that eight extra words in clues would give us.

Clearly we needed a drop of alcohol to stomach all of that so, of course, I read through the clues to see whether JFD retained the entry ticket he earned with his first Listener crossword about ‘Potatoes’ last year. He confirmed it fairly quickly. ‘Soak in visit turns Ian’s steaks rapidly (7)’ We turned RET in STAY and produced YATTERS.

More convincing for that soak was ‘One can be ordered to collect ancient liquid and measure around three pints (3)’ CAB, we learned, was the double definition for the taxi we can order, and that measure. (We noted the rather suspicious redundant ‘and’ there that was soon added to seven other words to produce COLOUR THREE CHARACTERS AND DROPPED CLOTH CONNECTING THEM).

I know the play really well having ‘taught’ it rather unwillingly on many occasions. I wonder why an examination board would select it when Macbeth is so much more exciting and understandabl for teenagers, and Hamlet is so far superior with its stunning use of language, for the older students.  Ah well – back to the alcohol – and there was more. We solved the next one without the wordplay, ‘Frenzied expression after many wives feud and toil endlessly (4)’ That crossword favourite [f]EU[d] [t]OI[l] had to be the Bacchic EUOI after many wines. More wine in the next clue ‘Volume going across ordinary wire (5)’ We put a PINT over O[rdinary] producing PINOT. Next came ‘Old call for help upending half of Arabian wine (7)’ We turned half of MAYDAY around after O getting OMAYYAD and decided that this spilt Wine was a Line – no wonder it was spilt with such a mixture of wine and beer, but ‘Cheers, anyway, JFD.

With some obvious and some subtly concealed ‘wrong’ letters, we had a quotation from Othello, “She that in wisdom never was so frail …” and Google provided the following line, “To change the cod’s head for the salmon’s tail.” So we knew that there was some shifting of C and N to do in our final grid. HANDKERCHIEF had already gone into the bottom row so we had to do a little back-solving to reason that we had already changed TORC to TORN and ACTIN to ANTIC. All that remained was to find the three characters. IAGO and DESDEMONA appeared at once but I wasted time hunting for poor EMILIA. Imagine being the wife of a villain like IAGO! Of course the only other C/N in the grid allowed MINAS to become MICAS and CASSIO appeared. Many thanks to JFD for a little literary relief after a stressful week watching ex-President Trump’s 35 downs.

 

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