Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Latitude 10 by Puffin

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 Apr 2022

We hadn’t been solving long when BOOTHIA appeared as the only possible solution for one of the four unclued lights. “Ah, said the other Numpty – that was named after Sir Felix Booth of the gin family. Their company funded the expeditions to the North-west passage.” So we had the theme and slotted in FRANKLIN, EREBUS and TERROR.

Puffin has only one previous Listener to his name but, clearly, he was making a valiant attempt to star in the Listener Elite Oenophile Outfit with gin underlying the entire theme. Until we saw the Booths, I had simply found a couple of anagram indicators ‘rum’ and ‘drunk’. ‘Intermediary earns due rum (7)’ which had given us a rather puzzling ENDURES or END-USER (neither of which, at this stage seemed to indicate an intermediary – we hadn’t yet worked out that we were entering ‘opposites’). ‘Forgotten wedding attendants rambled inside drunk (12)’. That had given us the very useful BRIDEMAIDENS and an extra L. Cheers, Puffin!

With the theme sussed, it didn’t take long to complete the name of the pioneer. We have seen the James Clark Ross moored in Greenland and know that it heads to the other end of the world for half the year. OPPOSITE POLES ATTRACT indeed.

Now we realized that all of the across clues had that cantankerous quality, they were stubbornly going to clue the opposite of the required answer so SHEERS would be ‘thick’ fabrics, a monovalent radical would be ‘multivalent’ and Rabbie’s little NURL would be ‘huge’. It was an amusing little game in the more serious major one of the solve.

With all those Ss in the lower half of the grid, I initially feared that we would have to hunt out and circle them all, but the endgame was just right – none of the fiddly shading and head-scratching we are sometimes faced with – just a BAR-MAGNET pointing north and south and those two letters N and S, appropriately placed. Nice one Puffin!

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