Listen With Others

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Goosey, Goosey by Malva

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 May 2021

Anyone who has solved Malva’s previous Listeners had a good inkling about what to expect in this one, and he left us with little doubt with his title, ‘Goosey, Goosey’, though that reminded me of the nursery rhyme about the old man who wouldn’t say his prayers. (Aren’t nursery rhymes brutal! The poor old fellow was thrown down the stairs.)

I was slightly worried when I scanned the clues, colour-coding them and the spaces in the carte-blanche grid so that we could work out the lengths of the eight thematic entries (three 8s, one 7, two 6s, a 5 and a 4). Not a lot of alcohol there.

Yes, birds are not a very boozy theme but was Malva going to retain his place in the Elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? Of course he was, but he had disguised his tipple very well, ‘Quilting party, maybe, one beginning to repair pillowcase (4)’. We remove an extra ‘one’ to use later to construct one of those clues (LOWAN = base + one) and decide it’s a sewing BEE doing the quilting with R(epair) added on to get the BEER – pillowcase indeed! Cheeers,Malva!

The clues were generous and we had soon ‘cold-solved’ most of them with sixteen small extra words highlighted to be converted to eight definitions of unclued entries which would surely be birds, but with those unclued entries, the start of the gridfill was not easy. We had solved the four clues to 10-letter words, ALBITISING, SHOPWALKER, TERRA VERTE and UNASSAILED, but they had to mesh with eight little 4-letter words, one of which was going to be a bird (LOON = look + performing / LO + ON) and I had a couple of false starts. It was the ARMOIRE that finally gave us the way in (through the wardrobe, of course) since it was one of two 7-letter entries and the other had to be a bird (BLUECAP = bawdy + top).

Five more birds flew in: KILLDEER = ice + roe, LONGSPUR = yearn + root, SANDPEEP = smooth + pink, HAGLET = witch + allowed, and DUNLIN = horse + pool. How subtle of Malva to select sixteen definition elements that would not speak for themselves until the theme was identified. We still needed bird number nine whose odd letters were S?P?U?K?R. TEA is a great helper and suggested SAPSUCKER. Like all but two of those birds, he was unknown to us, but we knew he would be what was required. That was a most enjoyable solve. Thanks, Malva.

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