Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Form..ation by Mr E

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 Sep 2021

No grumbles this time: a short preamble telling us that we were going to look out for extra words and that the second letters of most of those would spell out an eight-word line of a song. We would find something thematic that could be prefixed to a key word of the song’s preceding line, to make the line describe the thematic formation in the grid, and we had participants to highlight as well as non-participants.

Yes, I checked that Mr E retained his membership of the Listener Setters Elite Oenophiles and there seemed to be only one relevant clue at first, ‘Alcoholic star needing a time in retreat (6)’ We decided the star was ALTAIR (A + T in LAIR) so the alcohol was redundant there, and produced a letter L. However, as solving progressed, LIQUOR LAWS appeared ‘Locals obey these medics as will our queen when ill (10, two words)’ (an anagram of AS WILL OUR Q) This gave us the extra E from MEDICS and also suggested to us that this crossword would prove to be pangrammatic as we had already put ISLAMIZED into the grid, EXITED, REJECT and HEAVEN. So alcoholic or obeying liquor laws – either way, “Cheers, Mr E”.

Lovely clues, we thought, and soon we had a full grid with eight words standing out: THE LITTLE ONE STOPS TO SHUT THE DOOR. That was a new one for me but Google helped:

‘The ants go marching four by four. Hoorah! Hoorah! The ants go marching four by four. Hoorah! Hoorah! The ants go marching four by four; The little one stops to shut the door, And they all go marching down to the ground’.

So the nth, thematic letter had to be the fourth one and those, intriguingly, spelled out CONSON in the other extra words. With a smile, I prefixed that to the thematic ANTS and decided I had to find 20 CONSONANTS symmetrically placed in the grid. It looked as though Y was counting as a vowel and the AYOIEU diagonal line was evident. Then I smiled again as five diagonal rows of four (conson)ANTS appeared symmetrically. We thought this was a delightful Listener puzzle.

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