Listen With Others

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Bleak Expectations by Mira

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 Oct 2021

After last week’s long haul solving the Enigmatist Variety Show, we were hoping for something easier and it was a relief to download Mira’s 13 X 13 grid with just five lines of preamble, symmetrical bars, a set of across and a set of down cues and only a pair of identified clue gimmicks. Mira? A new setter? We asked ourselves, but the quality of the clues soon suggested that he was not quite a newcomer.

Still, I needed to confirm that he retains his place at the Listener setters’ bar (even if that’s the last place I remember seeing him). He gave us little doubt, ‘Budding wine fancier uses a round schooner (9)’ I’m not sure that we would regard SAUTERNES as Pudding wine, but the verbal exchange soon gave us that P, and we produced a ‘fancier’ (anagrammed) USES A round a TERN for the schooner. Then he was into the beer, ‘Whence inspiration for the Kop? Half a pint at least (5)’ His Kop became a ‘Koi’ which breathes through its gills and, of course two GILLS produce half a pint – what a fine play on words!

There was a short diversion into ‘dry’ or TT in the wordplay of PETSITTER (one in charge of mewer) but he was soon back on the beer, ‘Flaws in Poldark’s ego, lifting European beer(5)’ Chambers tells us that ‘CH’ is I in south-west England, say Cornwall, where Dickens was so shocked by the conditions in the Poldark mine. So we raise that ALE in CH and produce CHELAE (maybe the claws of the petsat cat?)

Still more mixing of the wine and beer. ‘Alcoholic drunk briefly excited (4)’ Oh dear, that had to be the setter’s favourite ASTI (not quite ‘astir’) giving us an alcoholic drink. What can I say? Cheers, Mira!

There were lots of smiles, and the title and all those Dickensian names in the clues (Pip, The Avenger, Leeford, Endell – yes, she’s in David Copperfield – Sowerberry, Rouncewell, Wardle, Augustus Snodgrass) and CRUMMLES as a solution led us on a fine goose chase but the exchange that emerged from the corrected misprints “DO YOU EXPECT ME TO TALK?” “NO MR [BOND] I EXPECT YOU TO DIE” took us to Goldfinger and a fine endgame where, in a kind of lipogram, we highlighted the only examples of the letters BOND to produce a mini James Bond shape and saw that evil LASER directed at him.

Impressive setting and fun to solve. Many thanks, Mira.

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