Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Commonplace by Brock

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Feb 2023

We see a preamble that runs into a tenth line and wonder whether that bodes ill: ‘locations on a map’, ‘strings of words’ that have different lengths from the grid spaces, ‘extra letters in wordplay’ leading to a line from a song, ‘six clues forming a cycle with a thematic item moving from one clue to the next’ and a letter to be removed from an entry to demonstrate ‘thematic behaviour’. Finally there’s a letter to change to demonstrate what the spots we will be marking will designate. Ouch!

As usual, the other Numpty is slotting answers in as I read through the clues to confirm Brock’s continued adherence to the Oenophile Setters Outfit – we will want to see him at the bar at the Bristol Listener setters’ dinner (if only to berate him for his long pre-ramble). How could I have any doubt? He starts with a ‘Big splash …’ that we decide is a SPLOTCH. Three clues later he’s into the Bourbon, ‘British having setbacks not holding up Bourbon for example (5)’ We decide that’s B + HICCUPY with the H as an extra letter and the UP coming out, so that Bourbon is not a French royal or a fine whisky but a BICCY. Hmmm. Then I find ‘Place to browse best wine after ordering (7)’ We decide to remove the N giving us WEBSITE – I suppose one can browse good wine there! There’s more whisky, ‘Perhaps Rye set up water sports facility? (6)’ Of course it’s sadly CEREAL rather than whisky – but there’s still hope, ‘Whiskey blend to shift disappointment (7)’ That whiskey spelling prompts us that it’s the alphabetical W. We remove the B and anagram W LEND TO, giving LET-DOWN. Not a let-down really, rather a boozy outing. “Cheers Brock, see you at the bar!”

Apart from those long strings of words, the grid is filling nicely and the penny almost drops when we see that FACTOR IN will combine with OCOTEA to give us ORINOCO in cell 38. We have a place on our map. CLANG penny drop! (The other Numpty is saying “Aren’t they Clangers?” – “No, they are Wombles!”) ‘Marshal roadside trail animals by motor exit rebuilt over top of route (4;4;4)’ gives us TITO BERM MORY – TOBERMORY! and we’re away. Now we can put TABUN in front of GORGETED (the word Collins gave us) to give BUNGO, BULBUL with GARIAL to get UNCLE BULGARIA and DWELLING TONEMES for WELLINGTON. CHOLET and TOMSK complete the set, though we were hoping to find MOOSONEE (Tomsk’s Canadian penfriend – we had a memorable trip there once – memorable for its awfulness!)

Of course we remember the Wombles (it seems it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the TV show!) Wiki tells us: The Wombles are fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures created by Elisabeth Beresford and originally appearing in a series of children’s novels from 1968 They live in burrows, where they aim to help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways. Although Wombles supposedly live in every country in the world, Beresford’s stories are primarily concerned with the lives of the inhabitants of the burrow on Wimbledon Common in London, England.

Wiki also reminds us of the line from the song: ‘Things that the everyday folks leave behind’ so we can complete our extra letters and fill remaining gaps (and write EVERYDAY below the grid).

What is left to do? Put the dots in the right places – in three cells that provided parts of the Wombles and on the edges of four that split the Womble names: change TOMBLES to WOMBLES and make the crossword environmentally friendly – we’ll womble it and REUSE rather than REFUSE. How did we get that refuse? It was LITTER wasn’t it, using the initial letters of ‘light bulb’, ‘ink’, ‘The Times’, ‘TV’. ‘elastic’ and ‘racket’. I’m not sure how each moved to ‘the next’ but what a fine compilation. Thank you Brock.


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