Listen With Others

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Outside the Box by Arcadia

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 May 2023

We know the name Arcadia because we met him in the February Magpie but this downloaded grid had us wondering – no numbers and twelve lines of preamble. Wow! We both read through that account of the feisty wife scribbling and painting all over his completed grid (and crawling under the table) and decided we hadn’t understood a thing (except that bit about the four straight lines – that is, indeed, an old chestnut). Nothing to do but solve.

Well, first colour-code the word lengths in the grid and clues. That established that those ‘Traced by Lines’ clues were going to somehow lead to answers that would have different lengths. There were only two ten-letter spaces in the grid, so nowhere for PARASELENE.

AIDE-DE-CAMP and CAREERISTS quickly and conveniently filled the two sides of the grid – fortunately in the right places, confirmed by COSE, INGA, OTIC and BAHT. There were twelve six-letter answers but seven clues. Hmmm! Where to enter DIFFER, ENTETE, ROSSER, PERUSE, and DOBBER?

Ah, and PRAIRIE OYSTERS ‘Unconventional priory’s teas involving recipe that is for hangover cures (14, two words)’. (We anagrammed PRIORY’S TEAS with R(ecipe)). That prompted me to check whether Arcadia can be admitted to the elite Listener setters’ oenophiles. No wonder he has hangovers, coping with that wife but what was he drinking? ‘Restaurant writer captures essence of Asti (6)’. Oh dear – another crossword old chestnut – that Asti. (We chose BIRO for the writer and put the ST into it giving BISTRO – that was hopeful!) ‘Note tot left when returning flask (8)’ Oh dear – underage drinking now! We returned SOH TYKE and L giving LEKYTHOS (a historical narrow-necked Greek flask – we head for Athens this week – I’d better look out for LEKYTHOI.) That word slotted neatly into our 1 across, at last giving me a real foothold in the grid which now filled speedily.

‘As you’ll hear Burgundians tell you, true white wine (7)’. We smiled at that – “Vous vrai” in our local language, here, not far from Burgundy prompted us that we needed VOUVRAY – wine from the Loire valley. No doubt now – we raised our glasses. “Santé Arcadia!”

The other Numpty disappeared to open the bottle and cook dinner (as he usually does when the grid is full) leaving me to work out those lines. No problem with the PATROLMAN, and those five six-letter words appeared when I sloped the three straight lines, with ROSSER and PERUSE reversed – sort of boustrophedonally (though I was puzzled when my grid seemed to leave an empty cell at the end of what must become DOBBERS-IN). I had a little more difficulty understanding what she was doing under the table to link ELDEST HAND, PRAIRIE OYSTERS and PARASELENE. I decided she must be linking those words by writing on the rear of the grid. Then finally, what was on that paintbrush? Black paint? Did she delete those last two columns? Probably not, I decided, since we were instructed to send our grid ‘with all the letters’. Original, thank you, and a lovely debut, Arcadia but we hope you’ve got that wife under control before your next one.


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