Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Monkey Business by Skylark

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 Dec 2020

Skylark- one of the rare Listener lady setters. We smile when we see just a brief preamble and a fairly short set of clues (explained, of course when we read that five names will circle the perimeter and a sixth appear clued in the grid). We count and find that there will be just eight clues with no letter to be extracted to produce a quotation.

I also check, of course, that Skylark has reserved her place at the Zoom bar with the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite and proof is there. ‘Mother’s ruing trailing the Spanish in northern town (5)’ We realize that ‘mother’s ruin’ or GIN is going to trail EL (the Spanish) and give us ELGIN. Before long, that GIN has become a whole GALLON, ‘Characters impressed person offering hire in galleon (9)’ We extract an E and produce LETTER (the person offering hire) IN G (gallon). Well, that gallon of gin should suffice – Cheers, Skylark!

Solving goes on steadily with a fine set of fair and fairly gentle clues though we wonder when the wordplay ‘The author with stuff involving one girl (6)’ spells MERIAM (ME + RAM around I) since Chambers doesn’t give that as a girl’s first name. That just goes to show our ignorance: we’ve both heard of the novel Cold Comfort Farm and recognise that famous quotation ‘I SAW SOMETHING NASTY IN THE WOODSHED’, but neither of us has read it and we have no idea about the names of the characters.

Luckily for us, that very quotation slowly emerges and we are able to consult Wiki for a list of characters. MERIAM now makes sense and we smile at ADA DOOM, MRS MURTHER, SETH STARKADDER and MR MYBUG (and sympathise with Flora Poste – what a crew to cope with!)

All that is left to do is find three activities from the novel. From what Wiki tells us, they don’t do what so many farms are now having to do to survive with Brexit looming – make CREAM TEAS – a bit of a red herring, that one. We opt for words ending with ING, that will provide a total of 32 letters and find MOLLOCKING, CLETTERING and SCRANLETTING. I wonder what Stella Gibbons would have thought if someone had told her that her inventions would appear in a crossword in 2020. Many thanks to Skylark for a bit of fun.

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