Listen With Others

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A Wrap-up by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 Jan 2023

Tme to ‘wrap up the Listener year and we download this week’s offering expecting a relatively gentle puzzle for New Year’s Eve and what do we see? Three 16 X 3 grids compiled by one of the editors, Kea. His ‘Admission’, Listener no 4045, is still my all-time favourite crossword puzzle, that stunning felling of the cherry tree in the grid by the young George Washington and he is one of the repeated Listener Ascot Gold Cup winners (Kea, I mean – not the young Washington) so we can be sure that we are in safe hands with impeccable cluing but probably quite a challenge.

Then we read the preamble and take a deep breath: ‘… a scytale; to enter down answers it must be wrapped around a rod whose thickness solvers must deduce’ then ‘Several answers are thematic and are clued by wordplay only’. “A scytale?” we ask each other and head to our co-setter Wiki who gives us a rather worrying page about deducing codes and so on. This calls for a hefty drink – ah, no need to to check Kea’s adherence to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit – he can hardly be kicked out can he? But I do check anyway, and find that it is OUZO for our pre New Year tipple, ‘Drink said to percolate with Evian water (4)’ We “hear” ‘oose’ with ‘eau’ and have our favourite Greek summer drink. Cheers, Kea!

So we start solving and across solutions go in quite happily with SPIRIT, FOEHN, BREEZE, SOLANO and BLAST having wordplay only and suggesting to us that ‘wind’ is thematic. Well, we are going to ‘wind’ these strips round a rod, aren’t we? So maybe that’s it? (Oho – see below!)

We have a number of the down solutions, ENSOR, SPEER, RICTAL and BAIZA and I realize that I can complete those words on the strip below by moving back three cells: but that doesn’t work for EXITS, say. Head scratching ensues.

When we scotch-tape the strips togther, BRICKFIELDER and VIOLENT STORM give us the breakthrough! Moving back three cells now has the same result as moving forward 13 and we can complete our grid with DHARAN, for example, ‘Shaking a hand welcomes personnel in Saudi oil centre (7)’ That shaky (with the ouzo?) A HAND* takes in the Human Resources (HR).

Grid full, but we have to find that ‘timely message’ that will appear diagonally when that rod has a different thickness. We don’t do any ‘winding’, just a bit more searching, and find out that the message is there with a movement forward of seven cells. TOMORROW IS ANOTHER YEAR. Indeed it will be 2023, but that phrase is reminiscent of another winding up. Doesn’t Scarlett O’Hara wind up Gone With The Wind with ‘Tomorrow is another day’? Doh! The WIND! Roddy Forman (of the Roddy Forman Listener trophy – the wonderfully tolerant and generous Roddy who gave all of us learner setters his wise advice and support) would have given this full marks for thematic relevance with the title, the device, and all those unclued winds giving one unique theme. Lovely, Kea!

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