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Posts Tagged ‘G & S’

G & S by Pilcrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 Jan 2017

pilcrow-001Carte blanche with just the bars in it. Are we going to convert this into a set of fancy Christmas decorations or have Rudolph, Dasher, Donner and Blitzen and all that lot prancing round our final grid? We expect something Christmassy for the Christmas weekend. With that in mind, I do that essential check to see whether Pilcrow is imbibing the Listener Christmas spirit It’s a fairly dry run to begin with: I spot some BOVRIL, ‘[Intriguing] extract from first half of dance entertaining Queen Victoria (6)’ BOL(ero) around VRI, and tease out PORTER from ‘Songwriter [refuses] liquor (6)’ (double definition) but then realize that Pilcrow is benefiting from a hidden bar, ‘Missing opening of Thespis, drag oneself along to find [hidden] bar (4)’ (TRAIL less T(hespis) – so all is well. Cheers, Pilcrow.

These are very generous clues, and, since we have colour-coded the solution lengths and matched them to the spaces in the grid, we know that we are hunting for a 10,7 couple of solutions that will spell out our song title of four words.

Our usual weakness is spotting extra words in grids but only one of these escapes us. Later, back-solving, we have to work out why ‘chamber’ is the extra word in ‘Overtures of Pirates and Iolanthe begin-old fashioned piped [chamber] music (7)’ giving P I + BROCH.

However, even though the first 20 clues we solve produce lots of encouraging Vs and Bs, we have half the solutions before a lucky intersection of PIBROCH and OBVERSE allows us to start our grid fill. That was a good hour of solving but things speed up now and soon we have a full grid (and have to take a dinner break with storm Barbara battering on the windows).


Golden Hare hurtling down column three

I was expecting the end game to be laborious but after listing those first and last letters of just a few clues in conventional order, I smile happily. JOHN CAGE’S FOUR MINUTES THIRTY THREE SECONDS,  I am told. I don’t need to go to the Internet to know what that is telling me. Didn’t Cage instruct his musicians to play no notes? Nature’s sounds would be music enough?

Quite a few red herrings weren’t there? We found almost too many Gilbert and Sullivan prompts to be taken in, then expected another Simon and Garfunkel hit – say a ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ to be our theme but we were a bit more (or less?) highbrow than either of those with Cage.

I am left with ERASE EVERYTHING BUT THE NOTES IN CAGE’S PIECE. Am I really being told to send an empty grid or am I to leave ‘THE SOUND OF SILENCE’? Clearly the editors foresaw my dilemma, or Pilcrow did, since the preamble says very clearly that ‘the solver must alter all 40 entries to form the final submission’. Well, I can hear (not HARE but yes, the golden HARE is there in a straight line racing down column three!) my friends grumbling about having to send an empty grid but I liked it. Thank you, Pilcrow.


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‘G & S’ by Pilcrow

Posted by Encota on 13 Jan 2017

A classic Listener!  Almost in the ‘elaborate hoax’ category, many of the clues were heavily based on Gilbert & Sullivan’s works.  With a title like ‘G & S’ it’s simply about them and theirs, isn’t it?

Umm…no.  Or, to put it another way, do be serious.  This is The Listener, after all!  [If you aim to be that straightforward in crossword-land you’ll be telling me that ‘Supply pants (7,10)‘ is an M&S order next 😉 ]

The reason I’d label this one a classic is what feel to me like two ‘right-angle turns’ along the solution path.  You know the sort, you think you are heading in one direction, only to find the path turns a right-angle and you are heading somewhere entirely different.  And then it happens all over again…

So the G&S-based clues led to entries that fitted in surprisingly straightforwardly.  Having cold-solved (ok, with a hint towards the first letter) around two-thirds of the clues, my starting point was the two six-letter words sharing a first letter in what turned out to be 23a and 23d.  There were at most three possible pairs, given what I hadn’t at that time solved, so I picked the pair of WIDGET and WOMBAT and placed the appropriate 3-letter word (ACE) in place to fit with them.  From then on entries started sliding into place quite quickly.  However, I soon then got to the stage where the only word that could fit in at 4d was SILENCE but it wasn’t in the Answers….

It was a simple leap from there to realising the that the four-word Song included would be THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Simon & Garfunkel – another G&S, of sorts – what a sweet Title!  As soon as the missing letters started spelling out JOH… I guessed the rest (it was JOHN CAGE’S FOUR MINUTES THIRTY THREE SECONDS) and all that was left was to find the other phrase…

This one spelt out ERASE EVERYTHING BUT THE NOTES IN CAGE’S PIECE (my apostrophe).  4:33 famously contains no notes, so that appears to say ERASE EVERYTHING.  So the only decision left for me was how to interpret ‘everything’:

  1.  I was planning to leave my Name & Address on my entry, so they are staying!
  2. Clearly all Letters should be erased;
  3. There is no Enumeration in the original grid so clearly there should be none in the Solution;
  4. What about the Bars?  I decided that must be an optional delete – I don’t think The Listener is sponsored by Tippex, so I’d be surprised if we are being forced to remove all bars & gridlines, though I suspect it cannot be marked wrong either.  Hope I’m right.
  5. I think the outside square of the grid must remain, otherwise it might be hard to claim you’d not forgotten to send in your puzzle entry, as per the Preamble.

With 4:33 featuring I think there might have been some choices of relevant puzzle number – but I don’t think that has happened here(?)

Cheers all!

Tim / Encota

PS Great to see 2017’s must-have Xmas present already featuring in Column 1 – the STRESS WOMBAT.  (Potentially available in all good stores).

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