Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Great Western by Buff

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 Dec 2021

We were pleased to see a short preamble and a title that suggested this crossword might be about Isambard Kingdom Brunel. (But it was not to be!) We checked and found that it must be fourteen years since we solved (or maybe failed to solve – that was in our early years of battling with Listener crosswords) a crossword by Buff and we have certainly never admitted him to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite, as the Numpties weren’t writing solvers’ blogs back in 2007. I had serious doubts as there wasn’t much alcohol in Buff’s clues – his ‘Tonic mixture with iodine banishing pale greyish colour (6)’ didn’t sound like a very appetising G & T. We banished ASH from MISHMASH + I and got MISHMI, some bitter tonic. Hmmm!

Italian is the language not far from us and TROPPO speaks for itself: ‘Left back in the outback, Englishman driven crazy by the heat there (6)’ We turned the PORT around and removed the M from the POM and produced the ‘troppo’ – overdoing it? Too much port? Well, cheers, Buff!

Solving was a speedy affair and MARLON BRANDO and NELSON, and, rather oddly, POP-EYE soon appeared in the unclued entries as well as KNAVE, SPADES and HEARTS. We had just one empty cell before we took a break for dinner and to cogitate. What on earth had those words to do with each other?

In the end, the empty cell was filled with a V, ‘Staff of authority have to protect autonomous region (4)’ We weren’t too happy about VE = ‘have’ around AR but a VARE did seem to match the definition.

So we were left grid-staring as our extra letters hadn’t given us a convincing name. It was that clue that produced a K that finally cracked it for us (but what a sneaky clue!) ‘Duffer skipping Faraday Lecture gets into trouble with listeners (6)’. OTALGY had filled the cells and now we realised we had to remove the F(araday) from FOGY and add TAL[K] to it. That gave us KARL MALDEN (“Karl Who?” we said) and fortunately the Internet told us the rest. Thank you, Buff, as usual, we have learned something in the course of our solve.

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