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Listener 4757: HO(rder), HO(rder)! By Dolos

Posted by vaganslistener on 21 Apr 2023

There I was, wrestling with the newly-arrived Magpie puzzles, where even the easier ones this month seemed a bit tricky, when 4757 landed: a “jigsaw puzzle” but without even the clues being given in alpha order of their answers. With full 4-way symmetry there weren’t juicy gimmes either (like a single full-length word, or a couple of crossing long ones). Oh dear; another wet towel was deployed, and in I went. I should have been my usual more methodical self and missed out one of my normal preliminaries, which was a mistake as you will see.

What I did do was make a table down the side of the page giving spaces for the answers arranged by length as I found them. That showed that there were just 4 rather than 8 10-letter and 4-letter words, which happily intersected, so I decided to focus on those and try and establish a sort of skeleton.

Starting with the 4s, “Bauble of gold with gold for its centre was quickly written in my table as GAUD even though it was a new word to me in that form. REAK soon followed for “Low desire, heading off weird person” even if “freak” is rather an ugly word to be dealing with these days. Again, a new word, but easy clueing. “Mouth organ is sent round” was easy again, giving “part” reversed as TRAP. That left “Women on island in Guadeloupe cajole”, and even if I think of WILE as to do with trickery, W + îLE was another write-in. A good start: now for the 10s, which could be easy as well – or not.

“Changing more antiquated royal time, reformed reign” suggested “changing more” as the definition with an anagram of “reign” at the end preceded by T for time, so RE??TERING. An old 4-letter word for “royal” beginning RE: that would be “real” and REALTERING can go into the table. What about “Intended to soundproof air-conditioning, to expel in incomplete quiet”. A bit odd that: perhaps another charade. Let’s try and build it up. “Air-conditioning” will be AC. Not sure about “expel” I for ‘in” (OK, some editors don’t like the ‘invisible apostrophe” but it’s still used a lot), then a word for “quiet” without its last letter, the whole thing meaning “Intended to soundproof”. I have to say that nothing suitable for that jumped to mind! A pattern search on 10: AC!I! threw up 124 matches, and the only one that seemed to have anything to so with sound was ACOUSTICAL, for which Chambers sneaks in a sense 5: “(made of material) intended to reduce the disturbance caused by excessive noise”. That will do nicely, and the word for “expel” is OUST and for “quiet” is CAL(M). 

Two down, two to go. Next up is “Quiet road through one rural region with no outer barrier”. This was the trickiest of the bunch and sat on my desk, as it were, for quite a while. I reckoned the definition must be “with no outer barrier” (another definition that didn’t throw up an easy answer), beginning with that well-worn dialect word for “one” UN, and with -ED as the likely ending. “Quiet road” must therefore go “through” (be contained by) by UN and a word for region, all ending in ED. I stalled at that point because I wanted “quiet” to be P or SH or ST with a word for “road” after it, and I didn’t allow for the word for “region” to end in D with the E being part of the quiet road. Eventually the penny dropped when, looking at Bradford’s words for “road” I saw “close” – a quiet road! And UN + (CLOSE in END) = UNENCLOSED. Got there at last. Thankfully the final 10-letter word from “Sensible keeping containers near fibrous gypsum” responded well to a quick Google of “fibrous gypsum” and SATIN STONE could be go in to complete the set.  

TRAP and REALTERING crossed nicely in the NW corner, with ACOUSTICAL (which could have gone in the NW with PART) crossing WILE in the SE. SATINSTONE and REAK went in the SW and that left UNENCLOSED and GAUD for the NE. I was on my way, at last.

After that a combination of putting answers as I got them into my table and watching out for grid-fits led to a steady solve and a full grid before too long. But was the “helpful message” going to turn everything upside down? Having to re-sort the answers again was a pain (and a cunning disguise by Dolos to save the message being read to soon), but there it was: THE CUES WERE ALREADY IN NORMAL GRID ORDER. Grrrr! Yes, it was April Fools’ Day on the official day of publication, though not in my mind because I was solving on the Friday night, and I was well and truly caught.

Only then did I look up Dolos. He is the Listener equivalent of Halley’s comment, appearing on a regular long-term cycle – whenever April 1st falls on a Saturday – and his other name is…. Kea. Nice on Ed! I have put a note in my electronic diary for April 1st 2028. See you then if we both last that long. And thanks for the fun.


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