Listen With Others

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Listener No 4661: One Across by Lionheart

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 Jun 2021

Another new setter this week with a title that didn’t give anything away. Half the clues contained a word that needed changing according to some adjective. The remaining clues contained an extra letter; these would describe four pairs of names. The rest of the preamble was certainly intriguing, telling us that acting, literature and mythology would need visiting.

Plus that weird sentence: “Capitalisation in clues may be misleading,” an interesting variation on the old “Punctuation may be misleading” (which I never liked)! A quick scan of the clues identified the likes of Moby Dick, MI6, the Queen and WPBSA sporting some capitals, not that that helped.

1ac No stranger to bad experience, as her fast car ended in a wreck (12) looked anagrammy, although if fast car ended was the fodder, the definition looked odd. Trying the downs, 1 Rot limited by company’s convictions (6) was probably CREDOS, but the rot/red looked wrong. In hindsight, I should have realised what was going on, but I had it in mind that misprints or anagrams were the sort of changes that were required to the affected word in each clue.

Continuing with the downs, 2 Belgian resort with church that’s [o]void (5) as SPACE and 3 European nationalists claiming Norse brand comes from here in Sicily (4) as ETNA were soon slotted in, although the brand in 3 again looked odd. 5 DAIL and 8 DESIST followed, plus a few straightforward clues until 26 Fat, take rest supporting gut (6) for GREASE gave the game away for me.

Now it’s not that I can speak the language, but I know a smattering of words such that gut for good helped me see what was going on — half the clues needed a word to be translated from German into English before solving. I considered myself quite lucky to spot the theme this early, although perhaps it could have been earlier with rot/red.

So that got a couple of easy words sorted, with bier, alt and elf making three other clues simple (plus that devious die in 38 Curse and die, stamina failing in A&E (12) for ANATHEMATISE). From then on, it was great fun to disentangle the German words from the remaining clues, most of which needed an online translation tool since I don’t own a German/English dictionary.

There were clues that I particularly liked. 9 Grab letters on time for rent, once (4), with grab for grave [RIP + T]; 13 Composer following rule’s about right for Bach and the like (6), with Bach for stream [(IVES after R) around R]; and that sneaky 1ac with fast for nearly such that the wordplay was (AS HE(r) + CAR ENDED)*. I also had a liking for 6dn Alt key device for patching report of drop in submission (5) with alt for old giving NEELE (homophone for KNEEL), not least because I really couldn’t get my head around the surface reading!

Eventually the grid was complete with the extra letters in clues spelling out three cross, one parallel. Mind you, that wasn’t really the sort of description that I was expecting but just told us how they appeared in the grid. Thinking that it should be easy, I was surprised at how tricky it was. Obviously Tom CRUISE was there and it didn’t take long to see ORESTES and PYLADES (mythological) in the bottom right corner. RIP TORN and Cissy SPACEK (actors) were in the top left. Jane EYRE came next with a googled St John RIVERS (from literature) in the top right.

So that was the three crossing entries although it seemed a bit weak that we just had random names crossing each other that needed to be highlighted. Anyway, I just had the one that was parallel to Tom Cruise. MAPOTHER rang a bell, but I needed to check on him via Wiki to identify him.

There I was told that there was one William Mapother who was in fact Tom Cruise’s cousin, and the other meaning of german (small g) made everything come together much more neatly. Some further checking revealed that Rip Torn and Cissy Spacek were also cousins, as were St John Rivers and Jane Eyre and Orestes and Pylades. Under german, Chambers cross-references brother and cousin, but not sister (which ODE does).

The capitalisation comment in the preamble also made sense now, referring, I assume, to German capitalisation of nouns.

Thanks for a very enjoyable and amusing puzzle, Lionheart.


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