Listen With Others

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Listener No 4743: Season’s Greetings by Lionheart

Posted by Dave Hennings on 13 Jan 2023

This was only the third Lionheart Listener, his previous being a year ago (no. 4691, Something in Common). That had “one song to the tune of another” as its theme, which is a game from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, the radio game show that has been going since 1972. This week’s preamble made me wonder whether Lionheart had opened a pre-Christmas bottle of Malbec a bit too soon!

It stated that every clue contained one of five mistakes, including “answer not in standard dictionaries”. See what I mean about Lionheart being on the sauce! In fact, it reminded me of one of my early Listener mistakes — no. 4231, Vera by Elfman back in 2013. That had clues supposedly from three contributors, one who always told the truth, one who always lied, and one who alternated. Thus half the clues had a mistake in them (as did lots of entries).

Anyway, back to Lionheart and his mistakes: factual errors, forgotten line(s), extra words, wrong number, and bizarre entries. Apart from anything else, these would lead to a novel coding where the pairs of mistake would enable a message to be revealed.

Luckily, the enumeration in brackets was for the clue answer rather than its associated entry. In many cases it was therefore easy to spot these clue types. I hoped that the other clues would give a framework to the grid that would enable these to be eventually slotted in their correct positions. Thus, my second clue solved — 16ac Fish (not bass) in stream (4) — gave RILL [BRILL – B] which had an entry length of (9). That had come after 13ac Approves of heading off Reds (5), which had a factual error — Reds for Whites. This was turning out to be fun.

All in all, the wrong number clues predominated with 18, thanks to all the Ns, Ps and Ss in the final message (of which more later). Next came factual errors and extra words with 11 each, bizarre answers with 6, and forgotten line(s) 4.

The bizarre answers (my way of descibing “answers not in standard dictionaries”) were REKILT, LEONEIST (fan of the spaghetti western director, Sergio), EALER (Ealing inhabitant!), AVE JOE, I-SHARK (a fish from Apple) and MOOER. The forgotten lines were in 5ac where mousse should have been mousseline, 28ac with cabal for caballine, 12dn with SA for saline, and 39ac, which I think needed Put on the becoming Put on the line.

Eventually, the coded message gave Happy Christmas Denis Norden. I wasn’t really surprised that this had escaped the editors of the ODQ. A bit of googling, however, soon revealed the source of the quotation, and there he was in the bottom line. It transpires that when RIK MAYALL and Ade Edmondson fluffed lines when recording their off-the-wall TV series, Bottom, Mayall would turn to the camera and say the above (often with swear words inserted). I think I got the cryptic representations correct, with OKAY/DARK, SO SO/ EVIL and DECENT/SORROW.

Thanks for a bit of festive fun, Lionheart.


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