Listen With Others

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Octet by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Jul 2021

After our long struggle last week, it was a relief to see Hedge-sparrow at the head of this crossword. “Aha, birds” we said. “How does he manage to keep producing crosswords on the same theme?”

Of course, as usual, he included a fine sprinkling of alcohol in his clues, no problem retaining his Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophile Outfit entry ticket. ‘After scrubbing chamberpot, Pointer hides port inside (8)’ A bit of a shame to store that port in a scrubbed chamberpot, but we removed the PO from POINTER giving INTER and hid the RIO (that old chestnut of ports for compilers) inside to give INTERIOR.

Then it was barrels, ‘Export barrels before English city goes short (5)’ We put the B before a shortened version of LEEDs, giving us BLEED which suggested that we were going to extort, rather than export the barrels. We already had a T when girasol gave us a sTone with inner glow (misprint for shone) and an I when ‘Some prisoners had escaped tents (6)’ A ‘hidden’ clue giving us SHADES or tInts (sounds rather like the TINTO – the red wine we can buy here!) TITS looked like our likely birds.

‘Hot drink – unlimited rum (3)’ sounded as if he was mixing rum wth the barrels of malt and the port, but we removed the limits from TODDY and got ODD = rum. What a drunken orgy – and which compiler can resist the Italian wine? ‘Italian wind blasting harbours (4)’ It had to be ASTI harboured by blASTIng. It also gave us another misprint. It was Italian winE. Cheers, Hedge-sparrow!

By now, we had the remaining letters of TITMOUSE and pairs of removed letters had spelled out the ‘thematic context’; BR IT IS HI SL ES. With a full grid, all that remained to do was to change eight letters in the grid and find an octet of birds – the ones we see every day nesting in our birdboxes and mobbing the bird table in winter. (The grandchildren have given me a ‘Bird Buddy’ as a birthday present – still to come as it is in the project stage but apparently it has a widget in it that photographs the visiting bird and tells my iphone what it is. I fear mine will say’blue-tit/ coal-tit/ long-tailed tit/ great-tit/ more of the same’ – but they were a lovely theme. Thank you Hedge-sparrow.

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