Listen With Others

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Ours by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Aug 2021

It was a double groan that greeted Xanthippe’s pre-ramble (well – it was ten lines long wasn’t it! We still haven’t met the Listener puzzle where the preamble is longer than the clues but it is sure to come one of these days isn’t it.)

‘Jumbles’- oh no! Then, with total disbelief, in a sentence we didn’t really understand at this stage, we discovered that ‘Each across clue is really one or more clues, each of which consists of (in either order) a definition and one or more words containing a consecutive jumble of the answer’. At least we had the wit to colour-code the ‘definitions’ in those clues so that we would ultimately be able to work out the names of the ‘two writers with a common link’.

Indeed all of that merited a strong drink – Oh, of course we could count on Xanthippe to retain his place at the elitist Listener Oenophile bar. ‘Dissolute aide consumed fizz, tranquilllising ruffled state (8; 3,4)’ The other Numpty was slotting down answers in at a great rate and I was the aide in the ruffled state but we went for ATE + TIZZ (giving us the homophone EIGHTIES) and ‘Ruin ales, water drinks, reapportion measures of old spirits (12; two words, 5,6)’ WASTE ANKERS producing WAIST ANCHORS.

Xanthippe already had the fizzy stuff, ales and old spirits; now we found ‘Twist top off alcoholic drink, followed by generic one (7; 2,5)’ We opted for (t)ENT and WINE producing ENTWINE. Talk about a boozy crossword! He finished with ‘stout’; ‘Stout boss getting first of recruits inside yard (6; 3,6)’. STURDY put R into STUD + Y. Cheers, Xanthippe – see you at the bar if you can still stand after mixing that lot!

It was fortunate for us that those entered first and final letters of down clues suggested to us GESTICULATOR and SCISSIPARITY and three words that were appearing in the grid TRACT, PEACE and STRAIGHT prompted that TRACKED, PIECE and STRAIT might be the homophones that were clued, but we still marvelled as those jumbled central letters of down clues slowly resolved themselves, with double letters removing any ambiguity when there were double unches and real words filling the across slots.

We had no difficulty extracting WALTER DE LA MARE from the pairs of letters and JAMES E GUNN seemed to be the other name. Wiki told us that he, too, wrote THE LISTENERS, so in a rather fine in-joke we highlighted that in the grid (and I smiled that the title was not a homophonic comment on the hours we had spent sussing the jumbles).

What an astonishing compilation. Many thanks to Xanthippe.

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