Listen With Others

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Listener No 4705: Latitude 10 by Puffin

Posted by vaganslistener on 22 Apr 2022

Puffin, eh? Sounds like a new name, but I see from the Listener website that he set a rather clever puzzle back in 2017 on 1066 and All That which I must have solved but had now que forgotten. So where will we be flying to now? Puffin and Latitude made me think of polar explorers, but I was having a groggy evening (NB not grog-filled: it was still Lent) and failed to bring Captain Ross to mind. I also failed to crack the top left corner for ages as my clipboard had covered up Puffin and Latitude by then and I made the rookie error of failing to spot that the Puffin in 1a was of course “I”, so the message was decapitated and also took far too long to emerge.

All that sounds like a tale of woe, but actually I quite enjoyed plugging away at random clues, and it wasn’t too long before I twigged to the trick with across clues, which helped me keep up the momentum. I thought the “opposites” were rather well handled and the clues in general were fair, and a fair mix too of easier and more difficult.

8d “One possibly senile accepts prolonged retirements” seemed to fit my situation and I smiled when it led to LIE-INS, and 6d “Mimic succeeded – that is something exceptional” (A PER SE) was a neat treatment of an unusual phrase. The top right corner nearly caught me out though as I pencilled in BIRETTA for 15a without properly parsing it as BERRETS and was then pleased to think the unusual NEAPED (“ran aground” for “lodged”) fitted 10d “Refusals unruly adolescent lodged”, but thankfully that left 6d with an impossible pattern, and I started again, and it all came out in the wash in the end.

The central column was pretty clearly going to be where the “thematic object” was hiding (those clustered bars are so often a give-away, especially when so neatly placed in the middle of the puzzle), and I was grateful that Puffin told us that there were two words, or I might have missed BAR and just highlighted MAGNET, though the N and S might have saved me.

So, not too demanding in the end and I was pleased to read up on Ross, link him to the Shelf and Island, and also realise that he did some decent scientific work on the earth’s magnetic field. He was a midshipman c.1827 when one James Crawford Caffin (one of my OH’s 2nd great-grandfathers) was ditto. Caffin was into ordnance and stores though so I doubt that they knew each other.

Thanks to Puffin for a good if groggy evening! 

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