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Listener No 4698: Late Arrival by Aragon

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 Mar 2022

Aragon’s previous Listener was five years ago with the entertaining story of a postman stepping in some wet paint on the doorstep and leaving a trail of footprints from the front door. This week’s puzzle was an alphabetical jigsaw with four entries needing to be jumbled at the end, in which we would hopefully be helped by the corrected misprints in the clues.

As usual, the approach involved solving some clues, then solving some more, then some more with help from the alphabetical orderliness already in place, and then having a go at slotting some answers into the grid. Actually, step one here was to determine the lengths of the two answers that were a letter short and it turned out that one 5-letter answer would go into a 6-letter space, and the one 8-letter answer would go into a 9-letter space.

During my first pass through the clues, I noted the numbers in three of the clues and sussed that they were where the misprints lurked: 1019 (should be 2019 for the Uraguayan documentary MIRADOR), 989 (for the battle of TARA in 980) and 1992 (Stockholm hosting the Summer Olympics in 1912). Of course, we had to wait to see how 2, 0 and 1 would fit into the endgame.

With about two-thirds of the clues solved, including ABASHLESS, ARLINGHAM (not to be confused with Arlington Row of UK passport fame), KACHAHRIS and REDIVIDED. ABASHLESS across the top and ARLINGHAM down from the former’s second A got the grid off to a good start. It’s always satisfying that everything fits in gradually without having to rub things out and start again — as can happen with the quarterly mathematicals!

Only once completed could the misprint corrections be unveiled since they were in grid entry order. Before that though, a nod to my favourite clues:

  • Clue 19 (start counting) Weapon that makes me upset gangsters in Belize (5) had me as a misprint of He to give H-BOMB [(MOB in BH)<]
  • 21 Places for trying — maybe Gran Canaria’s first hospital, a hotel: a risk, potentially (9) with Gran a misprint of Goan gave KACHAHRIS [(C(anaria) + H + A + H + A RISK)*]
  • 41 Jambs for example from front of door one’s raised (3) for SID [(D(oor) + I’S)<; reference to Sid James]
  • 42 Single piece of mail from Perth, all there is over time (5) for STANE [mail becomes hail; SANE (all there) around T].

Rejigging all the misprints now gave “These are the only 102 of which the news has come to Harvard” from The Elements by Tom Lehrer. In the original it was …the only ones….

“There’s antimony (Sb), arsenic (As), aluminum (Al), selenium (Se)
And hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N) and rhenium (Re)
And nickel (Ni), neodymium (Nd), neptunium (Np), germanium (Ge)
And iron (Fe), americium (Am), ruthenium (Ru), uranium(U)”

It amuses me that the Yanks single out Aluminium to spell without the I but leave it in for all the others — including Americium! The remaining elements are given in further verses of the song, culminating in:

“These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard,
And there may be many others, but they haven’t been discovered.”

All that was left was to change rows 1 and 10 to display the symbols for the elements in the order given by the first four lines of the song. Very kind of Lehrer to provide anagrams for ABASHLESS, ENRON, PENDING and AURUM (with FE) stuck in between. And loads of new words to boot, including H-BOMB becoming A-BOMB!

In the full version, 102 are listed, being all that was known when Lehrer wrote the song, with Lawrencium (Lr) being the next one to be discovered. Filling in the two blank cells in the grid with the L and R enabled us to highlight TOM LEHRER diagonally.

Thanks for an excellent puzzle, Aragon.

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