Listen With Others

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Remembrance by Alchemist

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Oct 2022

There’s a mutter when we download a carte blanche and I begin to colour-code clue lengths and grid spaces so that we have some idea where solutions will go. Three unclued entries, each of three words? We establish that they will have 10, 12 and 13 letters and the very first rather generous clue that we solve gives us UNREPRIMANDED with lots of Ns Rs and Ds, so that is clearly going into the ‘other’ 13 light on the bottom row of our grid, and we’re away.

There’s a second mutter when we realize that the extra letters we are extracting are not spelling out a message for us – at least, not until we have put them in the order of grid entries – sneaky trick!

This seems to be Alchemist’s Listener debut so I scan the clues anxiously. Does he qualify for the Elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? It’s looking gloomy until I get to ‘Casks ful of spirit in outskirts of towns (7)’ FIERCE, we decide, is ‘full of spirit’ and T and S are the outskirts of TownS so that gives us TIERCES with an extra F. Plenty of alcohol there. “Cheers, Alchemist!”

With generous clues, the grid soon fills and we have PROFIT AND LOSS and DEEP SEA SWELL as potential answers for two of the unclueds. That should have rung a bell for me with years of studying, then teaching this work, but no, we had to spell out, in clue order T S ELIOT THE WASTE LAND PART FOUR DEATH BY WATER and POUND before I remembered the body of PHLEBAS the Phoenician, a fortnight dead, swaying in the waves and no longer hearing the CRY OF GULLS.

And there is PHLEBAS, the confused amnesiac, whose name we sort out (and highlight – I wonder how many solvers will forget that!) Nice touch to keep those real words when we have sorted out his name. Of course, those barrels full of spirit have become a hawk, but we’ll have to live with that. An enjoyable Listener debut. Thanks, Alchemist.

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