Listen With Others

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Listener No 4635: Two Listeners in One by eXtent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 Dec 2020

Here we had the second Listener from eXtent, which is the pseudonym of two eXpert setters. Their first was based on the Flower of Life and had a complex hexagonal shaped grid with entries going in somewhat higgledy-piggledy. A simple 12×13 faced us this week with a name to go underneath.

Nine clues had the answer as the result of the thematic person’s influence on the grid entry. Somewhat back to front, but time would tell what was going on. SPLASH, PARTY, AGAPE and REORDER went in first, except the last had to be scrunched into a 6-letter. Hopefully nothing too complex would be needed.

I had failed with the 12-letter entry at 17ac Variable padding put on essential brands for ages (12, two words) but 28ac Harry Styles gutted them on tour, being extremely distant in One Direction (12) was clearly an anagram of S(tyle)S + THEM ON TOUR: SOUTHERNMOST. Lots of misleading capital letters in that one for a fine clue.

A few more acrosses followed by some early straightforward down clues got me to 11dn Sizeable beast in pasture overturned in ooze, hard on insect (11, two words) and I was pleased to get SEA ELEPHANT with H + ANT at the end helping. 13dn was ADORERS and had OR just like REORDER, but so what!

The other 12-letter down clue at 13 Short graphic cyan oddball beneath Papa Smurf’s hat (11, two words) was less obliging, especially since I’ve never been a fan of the blue Belgian characters. Wiki did tell me that they were originally called Les Schtroumpfs with a link to Phrygian caps just below. Ah, PHRYGIAN CAPS [(GRAPHI(c) CYAN)* after P].

Eventually DONKEY’S YEARS went in at 17ac [Y in (DON + KEY + SEARS)] and a bit of head-scratching sorted out the obvious ONER at 18dn Expert [wiser] about casualty at Gettysburg (4) with the ER being the US equivalent of A&E.

Favourite clue had to be 40ac Row stops lad hiding face with fake tan? (6) to give ORANGEY [RANGE in (b)OY, but entered as MANGEY], with its Trumpian reference.

And so we had answers containing either AU or OR. The letters replacing these, in clue order, gave KING MIDAS and it was his touch that had resulted in the substitutions.

Answer Definition   Entry
ORATE opening GATE

Another bit of Wiki reading soon revealed that he was king of Phrygia. No great leap to see that the PHRYGIAN CAP was the entry that the preamble said needed to be removed. That changed 17ac into DONKEY’S EARS which Midas was afflicted with by Apollo after upsetting the god. Midas was also an early wearer of the Smurfy headgear, and understandably so in the circumstances. Sadly, I found no pictures of the king, either with or without his cap!

Yet again, a figure from history obliges our setters, this time by deciding to wear a Phrygian cap (not a bowler), and having been saddled with donkey’s ears (rather than a hunchback). All so that eXtent could devise a superbly crafted grid!

Great fun. Thanks, eXtent.


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