Listen With Others

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Listener No 4691: Something in Common by Lionheart

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 Jan 2022

This was only the second Listener from Lionheart and he’d been chosen to fill the normally empty gap resulting from Christmas Day being on a Saturday. His first puzzle, only seven months previously, was fun with every clue containing a word that looked as though it was English but was in fact German and needed to be translated before solving. The week we had three normal clues with the rest containing an extra letter not entered in the grid.

We started off swiftly enough with 1ac Old man in red cloak follows son (5) gave SANTA [S + (m)ANTA] and 5ac Some films to increase thrills (9) for ACTIONERS [(TO INCREASE)*]. They were followed by what appeared to be the first normal clue: 11,17 At Christmas-time sing this dear child, with shape made newly, Lord (13, four words) which made it seem that we were in with a Christmassy theme. Of course the ‘(13, four words)’ was misleading since the two entries had fourteen cells.

Testing the down clues, SCOW, ABAS and NAKED went in. At least I thought they went in but 11ac starting CBA made it look odd. Unless… well time would tell.

It wasn’t long before it was confirmed that the answers had to be changed to the musical notes A–G, at which point my heart sank. I remember tnap’s Musical Box puzzle at the beginning of the year, where I found that tracking down the exact notes for Ring a Ring o’ Roses was easier said than done!

I decided that the normal clues would need a bit of unravelling, so I decided that they could wait till the end, hopefully helped by the message provided by the extra letters. It wasn’t too long before the grid was filled and those letters gave:

(a) what is common for the answers to normal clues — METRE;
(b) a description of a substitution — ONE SONG TO THE TUNE OF ANOTHER;
(c) a hint for what to use for the substitution — CRANBROOK.

Given (b) and the letters I had for 18 12 (unclued, for which Lionheart apologises — is this the first time a setter has apologised in a preamble?) •UMP•RE• •Y••ELT•N was an obvious reference to ISIHAC and its long-time host of the past HUMPHREY LYTTELTON.

Next came some googling to inform me how Cranbrook fitted into all this. It was a late 18th century tune by Thomas Clark, a cobbler from Canterbury and is the tune to which On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at is sung.

I tried to unravel the three tune clues on the basis that they were Christmas carols:

  • 11,17 At Christmas-time sing this dear child, with shape made newly, Lord (13, four words)JOY TO THE WORLD [JOY + TOT + HEW + LORD*]
  • 37,41 We left the moonlit black hotel, troubled by festive strain (22, five words)O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM [(WE LEFT THE MOONLIT + B + HOTEL)*]
  • 22,31 Old Carol met with death on plain at end of horror film (24, six words) [Haven’t a clue.]

I also tried playing the notes that I had into the virtual piano provided by, but I failed to produce anything tuneful. Obviously some words had to replace all the notes I had, so I erased them completely and just put in the crossing letters of Humph. It struck me that solving the tune clues was somewhat superfluous, unless I’m missing something!

I spent a short while trying to fit lyrics from Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at, both in the Yorkshire dialect (that’s English??) and the standardised version, which actually sounds quite morbid. Getting nowhere with that, I revisited the Wikipage and found that the tune was also that for While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks [by Night], much more Christmassy and it fitted nicely.

Back to the leftover Christmas pudding now. Thanks, Lionheart.

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