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Listener No 4696: Mint Sauce by Stick Insect

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 Feb 2022

The last Listener from Stick Insect preceded the US Presidential election in 2020 with previous losers clued but winners entered. This week, we had an entertaining clueing device with one word in most clues needing a letter removed and the remainder unjumbled. The removed letters would spell out information about the ten thematic clues.

The unjumbled words proved to be quite taxing, but thoroughly entertaining. Moreover, the disguises adopted by the thematic clues enabled them to blend in as (almost) normal clues.

For me, the way in was provided by the extra letters seeming to start Anagram, and 25ac Roger’s bony staghound (5) where I had •••OG and DROOG seemed the obvious answer, being a thug in Anthony Burgess’s novel, A Clockwork Orange. Of course, as a normal clue it made no sense, but it wasn’t too long before my brain obliged with unravelling the clue as an anagram of both author and entry.

The full list was:

  • 1ac Wellingborough lot reeked (11): George Orwell, DOUBLETHINK;
  • 15ac We’ll call retro choirs (7): Lewis Carroll, CHORTLE;
  • 25ac Roger’s bony staghound (5): Anthony Burgess, DROOG;
  • 41ac Player managers phoned in sick (7): Gerard Manley Hopkins, INSCAPE;
  • 44ac I copy rowdier elephant seal (11): Horace Walpole, SERENDIPITY;
  • 6dn Muss Jim’s cloth (6): JC Smuts, HOLISM;
  • 9dn Chaffinch tricks merciful god (8): Sir Alfred Hitchcock, MCGUFFIN;
  • 19dn Confrontation via officious animosities (8): Institution of Economic Affairs, AVOISION;
  • 29dn They stress novel run (7): RL Stevenson, TUSHERY;
  • 31dn Error is a mistranslation (6): Alastair Morrison, STRINE.

I particularly liked the idea of player managers phoning in sick. My favourite clue was probably 26dn Some of cognac is eventually put in bladder (6) with put becoming up to give VESICA [((cogn)AC IS EV(entually))<]. We also had the strange surface reading at 1dn Underarm made dirty, money spent going after doctor (7) leading to DRESSED [MESSED – M after DR] with Underarm becoming Manured!

I thought this was a great idea and I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. Thanks, Stick Insect.


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