Listen With Others

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Listener No 4658: Marxist Doctrines by Charybdis

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 May 2021

The previous puzzle from this setter was inspired by lines from Yeats’s The Second Coming (although not “things fall apart”). I always find puzzles from Charybdis very satisfying, as are his collaborations with Ploy under the name Harpy. Tricky clues were almost certainly in front of me, and the preamble intimated that the endgame might also be devious.

The only thing to look out for in the clues was, for most of them, an extra word. Those in the across clues would, courtesy of their first letters, give the start of a quotation and down clues similarly would give a thematic example — of what, we would have to wait.

As usual, “answers came thick and fast” was not a phrase I could use with Charybdis! The puny HEAD for 11ac This guy [overplies]: notice curling round (4) and a little later GIBE at 14 Joe’s [appeals] preceding live taunt (4) hardly had the grid filling fast. I decided to try the downs and was pleased to get 1 SHOUT, 2 RACCOON, 3 IDO and 4 DOUR to get the top left corner looking good. Of course, 1 Nothing in email to TYPE LIKE THIS (5) was obviously SHOUT (as in text messaging), but that sneaky little to for SHUT was typical of this setter.

And so the top of the grid came together nicely, and not for the first time, I sympathised with overseas solvers grappling with 21ac: A Kennedy shot, loud [Elise] turned civil (7), the Kennedy in question being LUDOVIC [LOUD* + CIV<], the British broadcaster, rather than JFK.

Working down the right side of the grid and then across the bottom got the grid fleshed out and it was finished more quickly than some other puzzles from Charybdis. Favourite clues were 8dn College includes this elected member (3) with elected as its extra word and 23dn Crash recalled for one posho (6, two words) with GET OFF and crash both referring to sleep. I also liked 9dn Eg Kingsley dressing up in Bacchic attire (6) with Sir Ben (not Amis) being inverted to give NEBRIS. Bizarre surface reading of the week came with 24ac Twisted limb pinching radius, [yodeled] for aids when climbing (5).

Now we had our two sets of initial letters from extra words giving Those are my principles and Excluded middle. The first was the start of a quotation, but neither edition of my ODQ helped but luckily the interweb did, and provided the continuation “and if you don’t like them… well, I have others” from Groucho Marx. The phrase provided by the down clues was a principle confirmed by Chambers.

Given that, another look at the extra words in the across clues was necessary and middle letters came to the rescue, after all just using their first letters wouldn’t explain Charybdis’s use of overplies and engouements. Thus we had more principles in the form of Doppler, identity and Peter.

Back to the grid and we had to identify three more that the ones above could replace. It didn’t take long to find FOURIER, PLEASURE and VITAL which, on being replaced, gave new words. Well, not quite! We had to implement one other example to eliminate any of the other in our minds.

Was this the final step: RECIPROCITY forced us to exchange it with UNCERTAINTY — for sure! At last, all real words in the grid.

Of all the above, my favourite is the Peter principle: “the theory that members of an organization, etc, are generally promoted to posts one stage above their level of competence.” I sometimes wonder whether one stage is adequate for some currently in high places!

Thanks for a fascinating puzzle, Charybdis.


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