Listen With Others

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Clothes-line by The Ace of Hearts

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 Aug 2021

This wasn’t the first time we had seen a circular crossword by The Ace of Hearts and we knew from the start that the theme would, in some way, be circular. I remembered the very first Listener crossword we ever solved which also had a Barnum and Bailey theme so it was no surprise, almost at once, to solve the partially-clued third ring and find CLOWNS ARE THE PEGS ON WHICH THE CIRCUS IS HUNG.

Of course I haven’t forgotten to confirm that The Ace of Hearts retains his place at the Listener Setters’ elite bar and his PEGS look hopeful. ‘Governors having power to replace British harpoons (4)’. We change the B of Begs to a P. Not long before those pegs become ’empties’. ‘In swirling snow, street empties (7)’. By this time we have decided that the extra letters are spelling the Chambers definition of CIRCUS: CIRCULAR BUILDING FOR PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT. That tells us that we have an extra U here and UNSTOWS goes in as TOWSNS.

We are currently in Lower Saxony and meeting the family in the local Italian restaurant in a short time so ‘Return of classy, stylish Italian dessert (8)’ prompts us to what at least two of the party will choose, and here it is made with cognac: TIRAMI SU loses 2 Is and is entered as UTRAMS.

Then ‘Stage hand embraces drunk when brother leaves (8)’. Two Ns come out of that anagram of EMBRACES minus BR, and we enter SCENEMAN as SCEEMA. No wonder we find an empty bottle collector in BOTTLE-O (a new one for us!) Cheers to the Ace of Hearts.

Clowns are now circling our grid and BARNUM has partly filled the fifth ring from the perimeter so all that is left for us to do is check that we have just four radials going outwards. TAGMATA and BOWSHOT are potential problems, as they could go in either direction, but we finally tease out our last solution and confirm that they go in towards the heart of the circus ring. Fine entertainment, thank you, The Ace of Hearts.

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