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Listener No 4646: Life by Hawk

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 Mar 2021

A new setter this week with a pseudonym that made him or her seem somewhat fearsome. Quite a long preamble faced us and clues listed in pairs for entries symmetrically placed — mostly. That last bit sounded a bit odd until it became apparent from the grid that this referred to the two middle entries across and down.

There was a lot going on in the preamble, starting with the grid representing a metaphorical container. That sounded ominous and might need some lateral thinking which age is making more and more difficult for me. With regard to the clues, one of each pair had an extra word with the other containing a misprint, not necessarily in the definition. Unlike some, I like misprints, but the extra word feature might make things very tricky. The corrections would spell out a thematic quality shared by the extra words.

I liked the first clue, Swimmers discover around 100 German war bombs — reconstructed fandangles — no good leaving for beach dweller (8; 8, two words), partly because there was a hint of a surface reading with swimmers and beach dweller, but overall sounded like gibberish (although it made me smile). Luckily the second sub-clue (?) was an easy solve: SAND FLEA (FANDANGLES* – NG). Of course, I had no idea whether it went in the top or the bottom row.

The trouble was that that didn’t seem to have a misprint or an extra word! Was Hawk being a bit sneaky by having the extra word between the two sub-clues (?), in this case bombs? Time would tell.

A few clues on and nothing else got solved so I tried 2,37 Priest in Sri Lanka meeting queen and king; colonials walk with enough in attendance, without question (5) to see if that could fix SAND FLEA. Part 2 could be QUORUM – QU or better still, QUORATE – QU giving talk as the corrected misprint. As for the first sub-clue (?), it is a mystery to me why Sri Lanka still keeps the IVR code for Ceylon, its old colonial name rather than change to SL or SRI or something. Anyway, CL it is and CLERK went in at 2dn.

SKYWAYS and BASUTOS came next at 20,34, and things started moving in the right direction although somewhat slowly. That said, it was all good fun trying to disentangle the extra words and misprints.

There were some interesting and entertaining clues along the way. 7,40 Mother of gods, allow odd divine inspiration: unknown bencher found after week in House of Lords (4) seemed an awfully long clue for two 4-letter words — LETO (LET + O, misprinted old) and HWYL (Y after W in HL) with bencher being the extra word. As well as 1,48 (see above) with its excellent misprint of war for car, my favourite was 6,26 Products of hairy leg found in piles cream; prince once again calls farm labourers (8) (STILTONS/PREDIALS), mainly because it just made me laugh!

All the political references did not go unnoticed either: visionary government (where?), election plunder (here?) and lay peerage in the House of Lords.

And so we had the misprint corrections spelling out Centres differ and Third letters. It was finally clear what disparate words like decitizenised, slaughterer and dehydrators were giving us: taken together, their centre letters were all different but needed their third letters — Mystic carnival, queen caught to give us the clue to FAQIR which provided the missing letter Q.

All done bar the end bit. Unjumbling the circled letters in the grid gave CARDIOID so we had to find a heart shape which would trace out part of a film quotation “describing the selection”. My main concern was that there were 29 cells that gave this. Normally, such highlighting or drawing would be symmetric, but 29 implied that it wasn’t. One thing I did notice was that there were an awful lot of HWs and WYs in adjacent cells in the grid. Coincidence? (It would indeed turn out so.)

Before analysing the grid, I decided that my first port of call was the ODQ. Well that was depressing, since life had over four columns of references in the index and heart had nearly three. Luckily, help was at hand with my fifth edition rather than the much later eighth. The older version has a number of “Special Categories” such as Epitaphs, Last Words and Mottoes. More importantly this week, it also has Film Lines, and it didn’t take long to find the quotation from Forrest Gump: “My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get.”

All this was somewhat annoying since Forrest Gump is one of the films I was planning to watch again during one of these lockdowns, but sadly it’s still waiting. I have heard the quotation before but whether watching the film would have enabled it to be recalled for this puzzle will remain a mystery. And so a line was drawn through the 29 cells spelling out the last part of the quotation, and joining them up to form a closed loop and a complete heart.

All in all, a very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks, Hawk.

One Response to “Listener No 4646: Life by Hawk”

  1. Thanks Dave – that’s very kind.

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