Listen With Others

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Life by Hawk

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 Mar 2021

I believe this is Hawk’s first Listener. We muttered about the rather long pre-ramble and the fact that clues were double. “There’s no real need for that!” said the other Numpty but, of course, solving showed us that they were a useful device to combine the two clues, like ‘bombs’ in the first pair, where the extra word appeared between the two and improved the surface-reading of the pair: ‘Swimmers discover around 100 German war bombs – reconstructed fandangles – no good leaving for beach dweller (8;8 two words)’.

There’s an almost convincing surface-reading there of 100 buried offshore bombs that risk wiping out the fellow who has some sort of shack on the beach. We found the SAND FLEA first, by anagramming ‘fandangles’ less NG (no good), then worked out that SCOPELUS was SUS C around OPEL, a German Car (not War), so that BOMBS had to be the extra word that seemed to be part of the first clue but really gave the extra word for the second. And indeed, we struggled just as long and hard with most of the remaining clues, fortunately getting some idea of solutions as our grid filled and being able to work backwards to solve the complex clues.

A new setter. Does he qualify for entry to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite? Gloom settled as I read through the clues and I’m afraid there isn’t a lot of hope for Hawk unless we can somehow accept those’dehydrators’ that appeared in the penultimate clue. By the time we got there, we had sussed that the corrected misprints were spelling CENTRES DIFFER and THIRD LETTERS, so that DEHYDRATORS was only in the clue to give us a central R. Yes, expecting a message, I copied those extra words into a list only to find that, like the chocolates in Forrest Gump’s box, the centres did indeed differ with a mere 25 combined clues producing all the alphabet except Q.

So we remove DEHYDRATORS from ‘Antelope express carrying fish from the south supports European cook over coal fire (7)’ and, overlooking the extremely odd surface reading, decide that SASSABY (one of the many antelopes who make their way into crosswords) is ‘express = SAY’ carrying an upturned BASS, and that the ‘supports’ are, as usual in crosswords, BRAS (when they are not TEES) with European Rook Over producing the ERO of BRASERO. Hmmm. Not a lot of alcohol there, but no doubt we’ll be meeting Hawk again before Covid allows us to have a Listener setters’ dinner so we may be able to squeeze him into the elite at the bar.

We had realised what was going on at this stage and CDAOIIRD in the circles, had unjumbled to CARDIOID so we had to draw an appropriate St Valentine heart in our grid. Finding the quotation ‘YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GET took us a moment but we were more flummoxed by how we were going to put the missing Q – the one that was goig to be the ‘centre’ of the ‘five-letter word that completes the set’. We considered QUEUE and even QUEEN but eventually had to use FAQIR (a word that, intriguingly, is not in Chambers, though FAKIR -the ‘mystic’ and an alternative spelling FAQUIR are – FAQIR clearly should be). Of course Queen (or Q) was ‘caught’ by a ‘fair’ or carnival in the cryptic clue MYSTIC CARNIVAL QUEEN CAUGHT.

What an impressive compilation. Thank you Hawk!


One Response to “Life by Hawk”

  1. Thank you Shirley – that’s very kind. I’ll make the assumption that your oenephile elite is a more sophisticated gathering than the bearded twosome I occasionally see waiting for the local branch of Bargain Booze to open 🙂

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