Listen With Others

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Listener 4713: Telstar by The Don

Posted by vaganslistener on 19 Jun 2022

A welcome first solo Listener from Don Thompson with a title that took me back to the iconic instrumental from the Tornadoes in 1962, the year the satellite of the same name was launched. Noting that as a possible theme, but not really expecting it, I dived in, and solved a good sprinkling of clues across the grid on my first pass.

The gimmick was straightforward both to understand and handle and I was soon pencilling letters for the message alongside the selected clues. A splash of non-clashing answers in the early acrosses slowed that down somewhat, but once PROV emerged I began to suspect a biblical reference to look up. (Well, I would, wouldn’t I?) but actually getting it to a state where it could be used meant solving nearly all the grid.

The clues proved to be well put-together and not too hard, though there were a few tricky ones. 35 across was obviously going to use SEE for Ely, but CHAR for a new island was new to me, and took some Chambers-hunting to find. PLUSAGE in 3d wasn’t too familiar, and I needed to get its antonym ULLAGE out of my mind to make progress. And 4d WILLS presumably references “from Prince [William]” – with a suitable question mark after “Prince” but made me groan. 28d “My Sean, for one, remains on stage” for MANET was clever, using the unusual spelling of “seine (net)” for A NET with M for MY (I think). 14d “With a stick, thrash unruly beast (5)” was the trickiest for me and last to parse. I wanted to put RASSE (a small civet or “beast” but couldn’t see the wordplay and was worried by the unchecked letter at the beginning. (Watching those was something I was urged to do by some guru years ago.) BASSE would fit – but why? In the end I made “unruly beast” the wordplay instead of the definition, with BEAST becoming BASTE which had a less usual meaning of “beat with a stick”, with the T giving way to the S from CALLISTO. Phew! I nearly just biffed RASSE in and posted it off… 

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