Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Queen by Rebel

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 May 2023

Rebel? We wonder. Not a familiar name, but Dave Hennings’ database tells us that he has set three Listener crosswords in the past, the first, as long ago as 1998, and that the last one was called King. And now ‘Queen’ and we note that the solution will appear during King Charles’ coronation week – but that grid looks more like a honeycomb than the stone of Scone. We see that we have a fairly arduous task ahead of us, as across answers are not only going to have a letter omitted to spell out an instruction, but are also going to wander up or down with one letter per column. Down answers will at least go straight down, but with the same missing letter, this time spelling out a thematic phrase (Queen?) and something about that phrase’s initials in the grid.

As usual, the other Numpty is speedily solving (with BEECHMAR[T]ENS and STADTHO[L]DERS happily filling the two sides of the grid) while I scan the clues to see whether this setter of almost 25 years is a member of the elitist Listener setters’ oenophiles. My first read through finds him unloading a barrel, ‘Itinerant outlaw unloads barrel, runs ahead (7)’ We decide this must be ROADMAN with the O extra, so BADMAN loses his B. Well, I suppose a barrel qualifies Rebel, so “Cheers!”

Later we find ‘It’s alternatively about your health (6)’ and we put OR and ITS together with an extra P, producing PROSIT! So “To your health indeed, Rebel!”

These are challenging clues and we are initially mystified by the messages produced by the extra letters, WAY IN TOP MID BEES DEFLECTING. We were told that this would provide a ‘guide to tracing a self-referential instruction that solvers must follow’ and at last realized that it was ‘self-referential’ as it instructed us to erase the path it was creating. We went in at the ‘mid top’ – that letter E and allowed the Bees that we met on our way into the honeycomb to deflect our path, leading us to the centre cell (ERASE PATH TO ROYAL CELL!)

Now what about TITLE BEE – the thematic phrase? That had to be that Queen (not Camilla at all!) and those ‘initials’ had to be CORE OCCUPIERS so we had to put them into the centre cell.

We still had a couple of unsolved clues (RAPHIDE, COMBI, AMICUS) and now I realized that Rebel had been most helpful in his statement that ‘The arrangement of entries has 180-degree symmetry’ (and what an achievement!) Highlighting my solutions produced a pretty coloured grid and gave those final answers. Thank you for the challenge, Rebel.


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