Listen With Others

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Listener No 4678: Bleak Expectations by Mira

Posted by Dave Hennings on 15 Oct 2021

The first new setter for a few weeks with Mira and what looks from the title like a bit of a Dickens mishmash. Some dialogue to be uncovered here via misprints plus a few extra words. A brief scan of the clues identified Sowerberry, Scrooge and Snodgrass lurking within, further hinting at the Dickens theme, although I’m not sure that Mr Muscle or Poldark appeared in any of his novels!

I do enjoy misprints, mainly because they make a welcome break from extra letters in wordplay, but I may be in a minority here. That the misprints were in the definitions made life somewhat easier.

I got off to a slow start, especially since I was convinced that 1ac Mining colleagues requiring smeary dirt steam treated (9) was a sop to Ms Curran, Mining being a misprint for Wining! After solving 11 Roesti cooked after Mum turned pan off (8) for AMORTISE [MA< + ROESTI*] and 12ac Why was The Avenger, Pip’s servant, ultimately engaged? (5) STEED [SEED around (servan)T with Why the misprint of Who], I moved onto the downs and 1dn MISE [MISE(r)] enabled me to see that we were talking about Dining colleagues at 1ac with MESSMATES [MESS + STEAM*].

Onwards and upwards and the grid filled nicely, pretty much top to bottom although it was by no means a very easy solve. Along the way, there were some entertaining clues, including the Avengers one mentioned above.

17acBudding wine fancier uses a round schooner (9)SAUTERNES(USES A)* around TERN with Budding for Pudding
37acMr Muscle flexed for Baz’s top luvvy (8)CRUMMLES(MR MUSCLE)* and Baz for Boz — Dickens again!
5dnIt’s thought we heard crackers on small plate being served up (6)MADGESMAD + SEG< with heard for hoard
26dnGerman formerly in the House, possibly lacking aspiration, lost her seat (6)TERESA(HER SEAT – H)*; a reference to the late Teresa Gorman, British MP; toughie for overseas solvers

There were also a couple of sneaky clues. 15ac Part of Hertford’s repast, regurgitated? (3) which was a sort of &lit (the first time I’ve seen that with a misprint, I think) for ERS with the definition requiring Hereford (cows) and the wordplay (Hertford’)S RE(past)<. I think! And 3dn Maxes out credit card — starting thus? (4) for SEES with Maxes for Makes and credit card beginning with two Cs! Moreover, I don’t think I’ve ever used a SQUILGEE before!

And so we had corrected misprints revealing “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, MrI expect you to die.” I needed to google to reveal the Goldfinger scene in the laboratory where Bond is about to be sliced in two with a LASER, from the extra words in clues — Leeford, Augustus, Sowerberry, Endell, Rouncewell.

A nice bit of highlighting finished things off with the letters of BOND in the shape of Sean Connery (?) and the LASER beam rising up to almost meet him.

Great fun, Mira. It’s always nice for the endgame to produce a smile.


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