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Posts Tagged ‘Mortality’

Listener No 4552: Mortality by ’Eck

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 May 2019

’Eck’s previous Listener was based on Ariel’s speech in The Tempest reporting Ferdinand’s cry “Hell is empty and all the devils are here”. This week, a bit more gloom and doom with a lot of people seemingly suffering a fatal affliction!

The preamble started by telling us that there were three normally clued entries which needed changing. That left an awful lot where the clues themselves needed amendment: extra words or phrases appeared in nine clues; seven required two or three letters to be repositioned; six clues had wordplay only and 24 had a misprint in the definition.

All of this was cunningly disguised by ’Eck and required a bit longer than usual for me to get past the post. However, once the grid was complete, a quick scan enabled me to see PIMPERNEL in the middle row. Thus we were in the midst of the French Revolution, courtesy Baroness Emmuska (didn’t know that) Orczy’s elusive character.

The three normal clues gave SEJEANT, RELUCT and MAGNESIA, with the wordplay-only clues giving GASTON, EMILE, JULES, ALAIN, LEON and CHARLOT, all French guys. It didn’t take long to see that the last group would all give new words when decapitated which happened when JEAN, LUC and AGNES left the grid. These new words were all defined by the extra words/phrases in other clues.

Finally, the letters disappearing and appearing in their clues gave Sir Percy Blakeney, and the correct letters in the misprint clues gave Enter nom de guerre in apt hue, thus requiring PIMPERNEL in the middle row.

It all reminded me of the TV series of my youth. I think it was the one starring Marius Goring, which shows you how long ago it was. Also, MAIGRET at 21ac had me harking back to when Rupert Davies played the character on TV back in the 60’s.

Good fun, thanks, ’Eck.
 

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Mortality by Eck

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 May 2019

Wasn’t Eck’s debut Listener crossword the one about the Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock that was in the shape of a stick of rock? Then we had two Shakespearian themes, Hamlet and The Tempest, so we could expect a literary theme. Mortality, indeed – wasn’t that Scott?  Vaccination (or the dangerous lack of it) is a current media theme so we wondered whether our preamble was leading us towards Pasteur, and as French words and names filled the grid (Alsace, Charlot, Merlot, Leon Gaston, Emile, Jules and Alain) that still seemed to be a possibility.

Yes, that Merlot appeared fairly early in our solve ‘Dusty blackbird going back as far as plank’. “Plonk”, I said – ‘”that’s a misprint, and we have an old word for a blackbird and TO reverse”. “Merlot is not plonk!” Muttered the other Numpty, filling his glass “but misprints can be tough to find so that’s probably it.” So with just ‘plonk’ do we renew Eck’s membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite? Then we saw ‘How many old trews are drunkenly ripped losing ragged end? (6)’ – drunkenly – Hmmm, drunk on plonk (we opted for ‘trees’, removed ‘END* from *DRUNKENLY” in a subtractive anagram and decided that ‘KNURLY’ is ‘How many old trees are) – but there is the redeeming ‘Alsace’ – I think we can say “Cheers, Eck!” We certainly can for such a fine compilation, packed with devices and clues that had us head-scratching till midnight.

So many things going on: there were three ‘normal’ clues that had to be changed ultimately, extra definition words hidden in nine clues, seven clues where groups of two or three letters had to move within the clue and also to be sorted into a thematic name, AND the dreaded misprints. We groaned and started solving very slowly.

When we realized that all those Frenchmen could be beheaded, leaving real words, Guillotine sprang to mind and we laboriously worked out that the moving letters were EN, BL, EY, AK, CY, PER and SIR. Penny drop moment (mixed metaphor, I suppose – it’s a dropping guillotine blade with Madame Defarge gleefully knitting in the audience). SIR PERCY BLAKENEY, the Scarlet Pimpernel. He has to save three of the doomed aristocrats and we realize with delight that they are JEAN (from SEJEANT), LUC (from RELUCT) and a lady, AGNES (from MAGNESIA).

The corrected misprints have spelled out NOM DE GUERRE IN APT HUE and we find PIMPERNEL in the most likely place. I have to combine pink and orange to produce a colour that Wiki would accept as scarlet.  What is left to do? Confirm that we have definitions for the nine new words that have appeared. Not easy, as we were confused about ‘abode’ and ‘assigned’ – which was SET and which was LAIN? Well it didn’t really matter: we opted for

BILLION YEARS = EON
STREETWALKER = HARLOT
ASSIGNED = LAIN
TREES = ULES
WARD IN MIDLANDS = ASTON
RACE = MILE
FARROW MAYBE = MIA
EXPOSED TO DAMP = RET
ABODE – probably a badger’s SET.
This was a very challenging compilation but what an achievement. Many thanks, Eck.

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