Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Telstar by The Don

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Jun 2022

This is The Don’s first individual crossword in the Listener series, though we know he has previously compiled as part of a partnership. We are somewhat daunted to read that half of the answers will clash with a crossing answer in the grid, but then we are slightly relieved when we learn that ‘for each clash one of the letters must be chosen so that both entries are real words’. We are going to keep track of the discarded letters as well, as they are going to form a thematic name.

In the other half of the clues, the wordplay will lead to an answer with an extra letter and those letters will give us a hint. Quite a lot going on!

The Don is part of our Listener Sertters Dinner table group and I know he hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol for nine years so am faced with a bit of a dilemma as I scan his clues! I’m halfway down the down clues when I come to ‘Abstainers somehow tolerate Lent Sabbath (12)’ We decide that anagrams to TEETOTALLERS with an extra N. Oh dear! How am I going to admit The Don to the Oenophile Elite? He has ‘LEES’ (The worst part? For Ed it was to lose (4)) I am reminded of Macbeth’s comment “The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees is left the vault to brag of” – pretty poor show! And we are prompted that LEES are RESIDUE ‘I perused mixed remnants (7)’ (that gave us a useful extra P) but it’s a sadly dry grid.

There’s ‘From Milton, obtain the quintessence again (6)’ which gives us ERN and CORE, producing an extra R and ENCORE. Well, slight hope there – a cry for ‘more’, but as Alice says at the Mad Hatter’s tea party in answer to the March Hare’s offer, “I’ve had nothing yet … so I can’t take more”.

Did I say March HARE? The little POAT HARE who used to creep into every Listener crossword has been on a long staycation for a couple of years but what do we see? ‘Ely perhaps introducing a new island gastropod (7, two words)’. We put CHAR into SEE and get SEA HARE. Full marks to The Don after all; there may be no litter of empty bottles but our HARE is back!

We’ve spotted the OWL, REASON, SAGE, ORACLE and INSIGHT and the letters we have rejected from those clashes have spelled T E LAWRENCE, so we realize that The Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the theme and have to add PEARL and, of course, NORMAN (Wisdom – we smile!)

It isn’t quite so easy to work out that the extra letters are spelling ‘Proverbs chap. nine v. one’ but we find that that tells us ‘Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars’. We highlight the seven erected pillars. Most enjoyable, thank you to The Don.


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