Listen With Others

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Listener No 4663: Blurred Lines by Skylark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 2 Jul 2021

Skylark’s previous Listener paid tribute to Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons and before that we had Miles Davis’s jazz album Kind of Blue. Here Skylark snuck in only six months after her last by marking the centenary of the birth of a person whose best known work we had to deduce. Extra letters in clues needed removal before solving to reveal information and an instruction.

1ac Lacking vigour, earl is introduced to bracing bubbly (7) was strightforward enough with ANERGIC [E in RACING*] followed closely by 9 Using tip of iron for stake, pointed and waved (4) with URDE having R (take) replaced by (iro)N. 12 Oz expert shearer heard about unknown ace’s aboriginal hut (6) (GUNYAH) had to wait till later, but 13 Loathe injecting heroin, sating American, recoiling (5) gave ABHOR [H in (A + ROB)<]. 14 BILL gave me enough acrosses to switch to the downs, and 2 Lives near northern rowing team briefly, over brook belonging to us (10) didn’t take too much disentangling to come up with NEIGHBOURS. Thus I was up and running.

Although I was stuck on 12, it seemed likely that the extra letter was the e in heard but that gave the first three clues giving BSE, but I doubted that we were in the land of James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd’s Life and English Pastoral, so a bit more work would be required.

The clues were gradually sussed with some entertaining extra letters. Favourite clue was 11dn Last section of 10m ploughed, no longer (4) with its deceptive ten metres hiding a simple reference to clue 10 (DOMINEERED) to give ERED. 22dn Pretentious play, a unique time for Lance (6) came a close second favourite with [PLAY with ONCE for LA (lane)] giving PONCEY. The clue that I needed extra brain power for was 18ac Romany girl once unloaded Drambuie leaving crate (3) with CHIDE (rate) losing D(rambui)E.

Thus it didn’t look like we were dealing with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) after all, but I wasn’t too sure what yet! With the start of the person’s bestselling work being given by one cell in each column (14), that left 15 for the best-known work, four words. (Why bestselling is one word but best-known is hyphenated will have to wait for another day!)

Concert by the Sea was soon googled and found to be from American jazz pianist Erroll Garner who was slotted under the grid. Cue Clint Eastwood and Jessica Walter, stars of Play Misty for Me. Now (and not for the first time recently) I had to uncover what the notes were for the song Misty and that wasn’t easy although all the Cs in row 1 could help.

Googling Composer and work provided a number of relevant sources, and the one I settled on was Unfortunately, I now see that the site closed its doors on 30th June, but seems to be a reasonable alternative. The first part of the extra letters message gave Bs, E and second D are flat. If I understand music correctly (and I don’t) this enabled the tune to be spelt out as:

B♭ G D B♭ C D♭ C C C C B♭ G E♭ C

And finally, the bizarre instruction: Erase unthematic cells. I have to wonder why the thematic cells couldn’t just be highlighted, although if I’d put URDE instead of UNDE at 9ac I may have been thankful! (But what if I’d used the second B in ABBACY as the first note or one of the other Es in column 13?!)

I think I got it right, so thanks, Skylark.


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