Listen With Others

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Listener No 4633: Cool Places Only by Ares

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 Dec 2020

The first Listener from Ares was at the beginning of this year and was all about chemical symbols in Mendeleev’s Periodic Table. This week, the title cryptically represented what was going on with clues or entries.

From 1ac Guard thrown around Blake (6), the only Blake I knew was Blake Edwards, he of Pink Panther fame, so that didn’t seem unlikely. It didn’t take long to work out that Blake becoming lake was a possibility. 6ac Poems with bit added to depict port (6) was obviously ODES plus SA with SA being ‘it’, so again a ‘b’ was dropped in the clue. I must admit that the wool [b]eater in 11ac looked odd, but [b]lock, [b]ill, [b]road and ca[b]in all confirmed the B theme.

17ac Going west, sailor opening wine hamper (4) was the first one in which a ‘b’ did not appear, so that must mean there was one in the entry (DEBAR becoming DEAR). 18 showed that there could be more than one ‘b’ involved, grabby becoming gray. All fairly straightforward.

It was sometime during the across clues that I noticed that “The Chambers Dictionary (2016) is the primary reference” was missing from the preamble and what did that have… a ‘b’. And it was nice to see VANESSA making another appearance and also SARD (with EL), both in Shark’s recent puzzle.

Meanwhile, half my brain was trying to unravel the title, not that I’m any good at multi-tasking! My first thought was something like ‘No justice’ — ‘No, just ice’ — but that didn’t relate to bees. Unravelling the title was still outstanding once the grid was complete. In fact, it was still outstanding for some time. Looking up bee in Chambers didn’t help either. Only one thing to do… sleep on it. (Not just yet though as it was only 1pm on Saturday.)

Luckily, 6am on Sunday put the idea of anagrams in my head, but a quick doodle of the letters in the title didn’t help one bit. Fifteen minutes of trial and error was fruitless, so I’m afraid I used Tea and that obliged by giving colony collapse and Chambers revealed the anagram indicator as disorder. In hindsight, I really think I should have got the anagram from my doodling.

It has to be said that all that did was to confirm that bees were the theme of the puzzle so all the doodling was a bit superfluous. Oh well. All that was left was to find the one letter that needed changing to give the thematic group. Obviously BEES wasn’t it since that would put a solitary B in the grid but perhaps that could be the queen — although was she already in 1dn? No luck with BEES, nor with HIVE.

Apiary obviously crossed my mind, and Chambers gives the derivation as “[L apis a bee, and api\-arium a bee-house]”. Perhaps that helped me to eventually track down LARIS becoming LAPIS at 27dn but it was all a bit tricky.

Wiki provides a long article on CCD. The section on Europe includes a reference to the UK government’s National Bee Unit! Who’d have thought? And there’s a nice picture of an abandoned hive in “Bromley in London”. Thanks for all that, Ares.


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