Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

D2 by Eclogue

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 Dec 2022

We are used to seeing Eclogue’s crosswords in just about every cryptic outlet, including a frequent Christmas one on the Crossword Centre’s message board, so I am rather surprised when I look at Dave Henning’s Crossword Database and find that this is their very first joint Listener crossword.

Before I can even start solving, I shall have to confirm that Eclogue gains admission to that Listener oenophile elite. What do I find? ‘Steal abandoned beers (4)’ Oh dear, that isn’t very promising – surely they are not going to consume other drinkers’ stale and flat leftovers? We decide that the extra letter in the wordplay of this clue will be the T and that ‘abandoned’ is a hint to anagram the remaining four letters S[t]EAL and that gives us a lovely straightforward answer, ALES. Well, welcome and cheers, Eclogue!

It is great to have a generous and relatively easy set of clues from time to time, and the solutions go in at break-neck speed with those extra letters soon spelling out a decipherable message: REPLACE ALL PLANETS WITH THE NAME OF ONE OF THEIR SATELLITES. We have already decided that JUPITER must be the answer at 5ac and are now prompted to fill the other three unclued lights with URANUS, NEPTUNE and SATURN. The other Numpty comments that some of those gas giants have vast numbers of satellites and we need the Internet to prompt us that HIMALIA circles around JUPITER. Then OBERON, LARISSA and TETHYS give us less of a problem and our grid is looking well-populated.

Ah, but there is that little empty cell in the centre that has to have more than one letter. Now which planet could fill that? Ah, with a smile, we use the E of those ALES and the H of SHOD, add a little ART to the centre of the grid and we have an ‘earth-centred’ universe. But wait a minute: we were told to replace ALL planets with the name of one of their satellites and I can see Earth’s satellite through the window right now. What a lovely finish! MOON goes in there, the ALES become ALMS and the SHOD becomes SNOD. I’ve said it before: I do like it when grid changes leave all real words (even if Eclogue loses those flat ales – the elitist Listener oenophile entry ticket). Thanks for a fine Listener debut.

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