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Posts Tagged ‘Horatio’

No Offence by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 Jul 2016

No Offence by Artix 001We know this is going to be no piece of cake when we see ‘Artix’ as the setter. How I struggled with his very first Listener (well, that stunning ‘One Shot at a Time’ was his first individual one though we jointly, with Ilver, as Rasputin had had our Listener début some months before, and, setting with the two of them has not only taught me a lot, in the course of hundreds of email exchanges , but also shown me what deceptive tricks can go into the creation of a clue. – none of my ‘Stripey horse (5)’ for those two!).  Expecting a long haul, we downloaded this and carefully read the preamble.

How did we interpret this? With a degree of generosity, Artix was restricting the use of his device separately to the across and down clues, and the words that were going to emerge (clearly anagrammed) from the letters discarded during manipulations, were also, generously, going to be distinct in the across and down clues – two nine-letter words. Eighteen of the clues in each set (across and down) were going to be composed of nine with hidden definition words and nine where an extra letter had to be removed, probably before anagramming the remainder, to get a different word from the one that was being clued. Original and certainly challenging.

Time to pour the Numpty gin and tonic and scan the grid to check that Artix (whom I know to be somewhat of a wine connoisseur) was retaining his place in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit. I didn’t find much evidence but assumed ‘Old rustic cask where nothing’s replaced before (5)’ was probably an oak one, aging some quality red. By a stroke of luck, we opted for BARREL with O for A and found that BORREL is an archaic word for ‘rustic’, and with even more luck (and the help of Mrs Bradford) managed to find that a ROBLE is a species of oak, thus justifying the extra words ‘oak tree’ in 21ac.

With that entire barrel consumed, it wasn’t surprising to find ‘Hold one new S African driver, potentially drunk (6)’ producing N + ELS + ON. The only extra word we could find there was ‘one’ and, of course, we later pieced that together with ‘act’ in 20ac, and ‘Scene’ ‘five’ in 3d and 17d giving what had to be the pinpointing of a ‘relevant source’. Even better, those four clues led us to ADMIRAL NELSON and HORNBLOWER. These are both Horatios aren’t they and other words appearing in our grid (MOTHER, DANISH, GHOST, WRAITH, MURDER) were shouting out that this was my favourite play again. Hamlet.

‘No Offence’ was the hint I needed to lead me to that significant exchange between Hamlet and Horatio that helps us understand why Horatio is such a loyal friend right up to the moment when ‘The rest is silence’ in Act V.

  • Horatio. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I am sorry they offend you, heartily;
    Yes, faith, heartily.
  • Horatio. There’s no offence, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
    And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
    It is an honest ghost.

These are but wild and whirling words, My Lord 001‘These are but wild and whirling words, my lord’, says Horatio. Of course, that is what nine of the solutions in each of the across and down sets does. It whirls wildly. So we have the device but have to do that complex task of identifying the rogue definitions and matching them to the words we can anagram or whirl out of those solutions. Slowly we identify ‘the one chosen’, ‘kiwi plant’, ‘rivals’, ‘Murray’s fearsome’, ‘oak tree’, ‘Halifax’s good for nothing’, ‘brilliant art movement’, ‘African antelope’ and wrestling, in the across clues, and ‘bits of Bulgaria’, ‘large dog’, ‘Danes overseas’, ‘Indian protests’, ‘bulb’, ‘local joints’, ‘illnesses’, ‘Scotch pine resin’ and ‘festival’ in the downs.

But what an astonishing vocabulary of solutions and subsequent docked anagrams these lead us to: SOPHERIM, UAKARI, BORREL, SEBESTENS, TSESSEBE, PAYS’D, DONNAT, HARDPANS, KISSEL. Can all of this be English or are we transliterating a peculiar mountain Asian dialect? The eleven almost normal clues in each set happily populate our grid and give us the framework that allows a steady grid fill but, in the four hours it takes, we have hiccups. Of course, there’s the usual Numpty red herring. Feeding SOPHERIM into an anagram solver produces only one word that fits our grid, PROMISE (with an extra H) but that soon proves to be impossible as there is no EA?IAS word to go into 13d. Of course, we needed ORPHISM (a ‘brilliant art movement’) and 13d had to be MANIAS (‘illnesses’).

A full grid and two sets of nine letters to anagram – REAARERNG – obviously REARRANGE (and not ‘red herring’) and TEEPERMIR. This had to be the icing on the cake! PERIMETER, it said and what happened when all those Hamletty words in the perimeter were rearranged? Astonishing! We got ‘These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.’ Horatio. Brilliant, Artix!

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