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Listener No 4704: Movement by Craft

Posted by vaganslistener on 16 Apr 2022

It’s the Listener dinner weekend. Will it be an easy ride to allow recovery time from all that McTavish’s Old Sporran, or a stinker to keep everyone on their toes…?

First let’s play “Guess The Theme”. The preamble is rather po-faced, so perhaps it’s not going to work this time. But wait a minute, a “two-part reminder” – and yes, it’s clock-changing weekend as well as Listener weekend, so “Spring forward, fall back” will give a nice 21-letter message, and the title MOVEMENT fits too. I haven’t a clue who proposed it, but Wikipedia to the rescue, and GEORGE HUDSON who won the HECTOR and HUTTON medals will fit nicely. A quick look at 1a GABION confirms GEORGE, and 13a ANOMIE will fit with HECTOR, so that’s about 15% of the grid filled in already – I hope.

With 1a and 1d in place, the top left corner filled up quickly, and some spot solving gave me enough “correct letters” to confirm SPRING etc as the message, which speeded up the rest of the solve nicely. After about an hour of solving the top half of the puzzle was complete, and another 30 mins finished it off. 

Time then to make a cuppa, sit back and stare at the grid to see if the endgame would come together equally quickly or not. I looked for AUTUMN going backwards without joy, but there was the obvious FALL in the bottom right corner (hope I remember to highlight it). The “spring forward” must apply somehow to GREENWICH MEAN TIME running down the centre. Once again, I headed off in the wrong direction assuming some part of the entry must move forward either physically or in the alphabet, but that soon proved a dead end, and I decided to apply brute force and list all the possible letters each of the ones in that column could be and still form real words. Not many, as it proved, and I saw SUMMER as a possibility and soon BRITISH SUMMER was being written in. That was a well-crafted bit of construction by Craft. Two hours start to finish which is pretty quick for me, but none the worse for that. 

Some of my favourite clues:

18a Hold wood tightly at first (6): GROVET – a new word for me and what a good one.

40a Smooth touch of taffeta glove perhaps (6): PLANET – where the taffeta glove was alluring enough to make changing it to globe a bit of a shame.

35d Block Reformed Episcopal priest (5): PADRE – well, I would like it, wouldn’t I?

Tricky turns were:

15a Local provided Martin for receiving queen’s reward (6): MEERED, where the needed G could have been in “Martin” or “reward”, and then I nearly plumped for METRED (not that it’s definition fits) before remembering “meed” as reward from my Middle English days. [METRED of course sneaked back into the grid in the endgame.]

20a Opinion about bridge player became stale (5): VINEW, where MINED looked promising and even has a meaning in Chambers of “proceed secretly”, and I was only saved by the crossing letter from the column.

41a Cameron’s Rocky misses examinations after he goes back (6): SCRAES – where the mechanics of the wordplay eluded me.

Many thanks to Craft, who I think I last encountered teaching us Chinese characters in the Magpie last year. This was a well-made puzzle on a well-spotted theme, and I hope there are more to come.

PS I only just remembered to actually change that central column in my submission!


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