Listen With Others

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Listener No 4650, Two Names: A Setter’s Blog by Deuce

Posted by Listen With Others on 4 Apr 2021

I find myself, I suppose like any writer of these setter’s blogs, attempting to recollect how I went about something in circa-2019, the strange before-time when one could leave one’s house and CORONAVIRUS just an awkward fill for a 12×12 grid. This task would be easier if I’d kept a real-time journal — perhaps I will next time — but let’s see if I can’t piece it together.

Looking for a scientific theme, I set on Carl Linnaeus — who took on the remarkable task of classifying and naming every living thing, from Orycteropus afer to Bos indicus, inventing a structure that still basically exists today. That linguistic and scientific endeavour has, if nothing else, left a host of genuses and species and what-have-you splayed all over the dictionary.

It seemed neat to include the way a follower of the Linnaean system would refer to themselves, and indeed to every person. But the seven terms for describing the human already take up a lot of grid space, and in a conventional grid, once the solver got the general gist, it would be pretty much a write-in. I hoped the carte blanche format slows down the pace a touch early on, giving an extra kick to proceedings at that tricky midway lull.

I wanted to include a little poetry too to complement the science. And looking for something thematic naturally led me to the Book of Genesis, in which the task of naming the animals is given considerable importance.

Reading on in the relevant passage I found that the hardworking animal-namer craves nothing more to relax in the evenings in the company of a loyal helpmeet. And while the name of Linnaeus’ wife is hardly common knowledge, it seemed easy enough to find out — once you know what you are looking for.

Still more satisfyingly, that gave me a way of fitting a second name, SARA MORAEA, into the grid, exactly the thing I was looking for to justify the title of TWO NAMES — a reference to Linnaeus’ binomial nomenclature, in which animals and plants are conventionally referred to by both genus and species.

From what I can tell, some immediately twigged what they were supposed to be looking for;  others indulging in a significant amount of gazing at the grid before figuring it out. As a frequent and often longstanding grid-starer the latter type have my endless sympathy.

 I now see this isn’t our hero’s first reference in the Listener — Verbascum having foregrounded him in his 2013 puzzle, number 4223, also titled Two Names. (I discover this merely as I write this blog: there’s nothing new under the sun, as they say in another part of the Bible).

Anyway, as ever it is a great pleasure to be informed after so many months that the editors have accepted a puzzle for inclusion. After that initial euphoria wore off, came the shock at discovering I couldn’t actually solve any of my own clues, followed by the brief but intense moment of terror — would I pass Shirley’s fiendish oenophile challenge? A sigh of relief as I spotted the clue for BIAS — and praying that zythophilia is enough to get a passing grade.

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