Listen With Others

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Listener 4675 Called to Order by Vismut

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 4 Oct 2021

Wonderful! I very much enjoyed this perfectly pitched puzzle with its theme that is well suited to crosswords and indeed to all kinds of cryptic conundrums. It evoked good memories of a talk on the mathematics of change-ringing given by another setter, Aedites (Peter Covey-Crump) – it must be 10 or more years ago. I confess I can’t remember the ins and outs but have probably got the notes somewhere!

How refreshing to learn so many fascinating terms – Exploding Tittums – you couldn’t make it up! My brother-in-law and one of his (now grown-up) children ring regularly at their church in Cheshire so now I’ll be able to speak the language. Thank you Vismut for this most enjoyable romp through the world of campanology and for exercising our grey cells with a decoding exercise thrown in for good measure. And for a smile at19dn, with its inappropriate topless beachwear – exquisite!

Then there was the inspired link to Bowie and an earworm that stayed with me for several days, also evoking happy memories. of younger days. A delight all round:-).

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Listener No 4676: Back to the Future by Chalicea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 1 Oct 2021

Time again for a puzzle from the prolific Chalicea. Her last (no. 4601, The Name of the Game) had Brunel’s London to Bristol flat-as-a-billiard-table GWR line as its theme. Not a long preamble this week [Just wait till next week. Ed.] and just fifteen extra words to be discarded from clues before solving.

Not unexpectedly, this was a quick solve, well under the hour. [Just wait till next week! Ed.] Even the endgame was relatively straightforward, although I can see that it might have taken some solvers a bit longer than my two minutes. I think that I was lucky to look in the bottom row and immediately saw NODNOL and, given that we had a hero lurking, I got there straight away.

I guess I was lucky not to think that we might have a Dickens theme, but even the requirement to read the extra words “initially” would, I hope, have enabled me to see what was going on quickly. This especially since their true first letters — saved ti doc leek raw d’oh siri part snot nori pan snug rebut two tin — made absolutely no sense, but reversably gave saveD ti doc leek raW d’oh siri part snot nori pan snug rebut two tin.

All this led to the old rhyme — “Turn again, Whittington” three times Lord Mayor of London with NIAGA in rows 1, 3 and 5 of the grid. Of course, he was more respectfully know as Sir Richard Whittington and had a cat called Tiddles. [? Ed.]

“But wait!” I hear you shout, “What about Chalicea’s penchant in her solving hat for pointing out other setters‘ predilection for alcohol in grid or clues?” With only the puny PERNOD in the bottom row, you may think that she was being comparatively righteous. Sorry to disappoint, but a bit of research uncovered the 15th century Book of Drinking Songs by Gerrard & Turner. It reveals that the original verse began “Tope a gin, Whittington.” Later, that became “Top up agin” and finally “Turn again”.

Nice try, Chalicea!

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Listener No 4675, Called to Order: A Setter’s Blog by Vismut

Posted by Listen With Others on 26 Sep 2021

You may or may not know that there are two forms of bell ringing (as far as I know anyway) which are method, about which I know nothing and Devon call changes. I learned the latter many, many years ago in my local church which was, as you may have guessed, located in rural Devon. In that church the bell chamber was located at the back and behind a wooden screen so that all you could see was the ropes and the sallies (the furry bits) going up and down. Since the tower had its own external door no-one ever came out through the little wooden door into the church and as a child I became overwhelmingly curious as to what went on in there. As soon as I got the chance I had my first lesson which coincided with the same night I went to see Jaws and I’m still not sure which was the scariest experience. When you watch ringing on the TV everyone looks completely calm and the rope goes up and down in a beautiful straight line. Almost laughably (see Midsommer Murders) they sometimes feature one person ringing two bells, something I have yet to see in real life. There is a very heavy weight (our tenor weighs well over a ton) on the end of a very long rope and the first thing you learn is that the bell carries on moving whether you have control of the rope or not. Cue rope burns and even broken light bulbs.

Once you have learned the basics you move on to ringing in a team and this is where the fun really begins. The set we usually ring here is based on the arrangement of Queens (1,3,5,2,4,6) which is arrived at from Rounds (1,2,3,4,5,6) by a series of commands from the caller, 4 to5; 2 to3; 2 to 5, the team then goes through a series of called changes where the bell at the front moves to the back and the treble (1) moves up and then down the tower each time. Of course, unless you are a bell ringer, you won’t understand any of this, but take it from me when it goes well it is a beautiful thing.

Like the crossword community, the bell ringers are a friendly crowd and once you have learned you can usually join in with teams anywhere. I have rung the New Year in at Hobart Cathedral where they were extremely excited to have a genuine Devon ringer in their midst. I thought Devon was just known for its superior cream teas, but no, our bell ringing is world famous too. Some ringers collect towers, a bit like twitchers with birds, but this never really appealed to me, it is ringing with your team that gives the most pleasure. It can also be a family affair and my father took it up too after I had talked about it so (too) much. He did this without telling me while I was away at my first term at university and casually walked up to the tower with me for the Sunday ring to keep me company. I was a bit confused by this, the church was only next door, but it all became clear when he took hold of a rope too.

Years down the line I became Bell Captain at my local village church and I have taught many, many people how to ring over the years. Some more successfully than others. I have always worked with horses and I treat the ringing learners in the same way. Something very  unpredictable on the end of a rope. 

We’re not all bearded weirdos either (especially the ladies), farmers, accountants, carpenters, former rock band drummers, college lecturers, physicists, carers etc etc you get the picture. Most people like the sound of the bells (if they’re rung well anyway) so it is a shame that the number of ringers and the number of towers with bells fit to ring is gradually declining. They mark special occasions, personal ones such as weddings and national ones such as VE Day 75th anniversary and Prince Philip’s death.

Anyway I’ve always hummed the David Bowie tune to myself when I think of Ch, ch changes and explaining them to learners, hence this puzzle, which I hope you have enjoyed.

If you are now inspired to learn bell ringing, which will keep your mind and, to some extent, if you don’t go for a beer afterwards, your body fit, have a look here:

Many thanks


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Called to Order by Vismut

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Sep 2021

We were initially puzzled about how we were going to enter our solutions when ‘some answers must be entered at another number’ and even when we had understood that the orders (to be sorted out) were ROUNDS, QUEENS, JOKERS, PRIORY, KENNET, and ROLL-UP, we failed to use that information to see where to place our answers.

Indeed, that was after we had ‘cold solved’ all but four of the clues and had managed to fill the top half of the grid by inverting a couple of clues (EROTIC and CANADA) to fit with RECUSE, A RAVIR and DONING and found, putatively, HIGHLIGHT RINGER OF CHANGES in the unclued answers and assumed that bell-ringing was the theme. That, of course, gave us the placing of our remaining solutions and spelled out the ones we still needed (ACHAGE, ULITIS, MESSES and AGNAME). So our solve really was back to front and it was only afterwards that the Internet told me the order of ROLL-UP, for example (543216) and showed me why I had entered the clues in that set in the order 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 26. So it was a tough solve for us.

I know nothing at all about bell-ringing but the endgame gave us less trouble. An Internet list had shown us that ARCHERS was an order, so it was easy to see that the R of RINGER had to be inserted into ARCHES and be replaced by its alphabetic neighbour to give SINGER – and who was the singer of CHANGES? (coincidentally my son took his three-year old to Brixton yesterday, and was telling me about the adulation still accorded to their hero DAVID BOWIE).

What a clever compilation, Vismut. Oh, and the Listener Setters’ Toping Elite? No doubt at all that she qualifies: ‘Entertained by drink, Ian or Angela cried “Good health” in Maori (6)’. KIAORA was hidden in there with an extra N. ‘Nancy’s night included casual drink with dope (6)’: the dope was a NITWIT and we extracted a U from NUIT and added W(ith) IT. So “Kiaora, Vismut!”

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L4675 Called to Order by Vismut

Posted by Encota on 24 Sep 2021

Well, this one was intriguing, on a subject of which I am almost entirely ignorant!

Thanks Vismut!

I recall tens of years ago someone at work once bringing in a book of bell-ringing ‘sequences’ (I am sure there’s an official word I should be using here!), with ‘his’ bell highlighted down the pages in squiggly fashion.  I’d never seen such horizontal lines being given names, though!

For most of my time solving this puzzle I wasn’t sure that the ‘sets of six’ in the preamble meant 1ac-to-13ac, 14ac-28ac etc and had been assuming the sets of six could be any combinations of six answers.  As you might imagine, this slowed me down somewhat!  Eventually I had cold-solved enough clues to start jigsawing them together: it then became clear that many of the entries were in their expected places.  And only then did I really see what was going on, once jumbles of JOKERS, PRIORY, KENNET, QUEENS appeared as the added letters in consecutive sets of six!

I was also initially surprised by the order of the second set of answers – and only realised much later on that there were (at least) two ways of considering the given number sequences, namely:

(a)    Unjumble the letters in each six and write down the order.  This seemed to give
ROUNDS (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 123456 (to spell ROUNDS)
QENUES (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 142536 or 145236 (to spell QUEENS)
JREKOS (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 154326 (to spell JOKERS)
PIRROY (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 132546 or 142536 (to spell PRIORY)
KENNET (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence eg 153426 (to spell KENNET)
ULLORP (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 543216 (to spell ROLLUP)
All matched the entry order except QUEENS, which seemed to go in as 135246.

(b)   Take the name of the sequence, write the sequence for it alongside it and then take out letters from it in that order.  This seemed to give
QUEENS (whose sequence is) 135246 (and whose letters in that order are) QENUES
JOKERS (whose sequence is) 154326 (and whose letters in that order are) JREKOS
PRIORY (whose sequence is) 132546 (and whose letters in that order are) PIRROY
KENNET (whose sequence is) 153426 (and whose letters in that order are) KENNET
ROLLUP (whose sequence is) 543216 (and whose letters in that order are) ULLORP
These all match up with the orders of the extra letters derived from clues.

From (a) I was expecting to see the name TITTUMS or JACKS (I think they were) for set 2.  But from (b) it seemed all to be OK for it to be QUEENS.  It is still slightly baffling me why this works one way round and not the other – perhaps just coincidence, or perhaps all the others ‘flip’ between two letter-orders when that sequence is applied?  Not sure!

Thanks again to Vismut – I loved it!  

Cheers & stay safe,

Tim / Encota

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