Listen With Others

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Listener 4729: If I Must Come by Deuce

Posted by vaganslistener on 8 Oct 2022

What a busy puzzle! Words to remove, messages from wrong and right letters in the across clues, and another from extra letters in the downs. Clashes too. Plus ten letters to move at the end. The title and preamble rang no bells at all, so it was just a matter of diving in and seeing what I could find.

I find I have a solving pattern with a busy puzzle like this. I’ll tend to make a start after supper on Friday (when I’ve downloaded it from the website). One glass of wine creates a congenial setting and gets me going. Some clues get filled in and with luck some of the messages and/or theme start to emerge. But a further glass or two slowly sends me to sleep, and it will take fresh eyes in the morning to get the puzzle finished and hopefully the endgame sorted without too much further staring over the weekend.

And so it was. Once I got the hang of how the clashes were being handled to create the thematic words – and with the word-lengths helpfully given – the app on my phone helped me narrow down the likely suspects for the answers with extra letters in them, though at this stage mostly without any inkling of the new words they would form. Was that CHEESE appearing on the bottom row as well as KINGS? 

The breakthrough came in the morning, when having failed to come up with the theme in my dreams (no kings eating cheese appeared in them), I got enough of the down message to Google “They do furnish a room”, which led me to Anthony Powells’ cycle of novels “A Dance to the Music of Time” and the Poussin painting which inspired it. Wikipedia gave a helpful table of them with numbers and titles, including the kings and CHINESE, and knowing the likely words to be built out of the multi-letter squares speeded things up hugely, especially as some of the clues were very tricky. I suppose 10d “Before entering bay rock is most unusual” (8) = QUEEREST, for instance, with EER inside QUEST (with “rock” as the extra word and QUE added to TIONS to make QUESTION) but why does “bay” mean “quest”? It turns out they can bnoth mean “to bark” if you dig deep enough into Chambers, but you can see why I said “tricky”.

That left the final instruction TWO AUTHORS COL SEVEN to be followed. The letters of column seven (fully barred, to help what is a miracle of construction) were duly anagrammed to POWELL POUSSIN but then my number dyslexia struck, and I counted the grid as 12 x 12 not 13 x 13, subtracted 3 letters already in their right place, and came up with only 9 on the move. Help! I started to experiment with POWPOUSSINELL, but saw the error of my ways just in time, and the puzzle was done. Except that the allocation of the extra words to the themes still seemed very obscure. Music and time are in there somewhere and I suppose they are all synonyms of them of a sort, though handbag baffles me (if that was indeed the extra word in 1d “Schedule used to buy gold handbag, German article adapted to Marks” (9, two words) where the rest of the word play spells out OR DER FOR M).

Well, Listeners are supposed to be a challenge, so thanks to Deuce for a decent workout and a Brief Introduction to the novel series which was new to me, despite being on Time’s list of the 100 best Eng Lang novels 1923-2005, and I look forward to our next encounter. 


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