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Posts Tagged ‘Not as mad as it sounds?’

Not as mad as it sounds, by Bandmaster, (Baching Mad!)

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 May 2010

We liked that title and it might have given us a hint, but we didn’t see it until after we had solved our first clue, which, by a stroke of luck, was that delightful 6d, ‘Hasty prophecy goes wrong – you might need some sort of cure (13)’ PSYCHOTHERAPY!

What joy for us less confident solvers to have the crossword immediately split into two smaller ones with such a long, easily solved anagram. Of course, even the Numpties were aware that we were going to find something different here, with a mean word length of 5.2 and 56 clues including eight three-letter ones. And we were going to ‘put in some work’ to ‘generate the final grid’, so something was going to change once we had completed our initial grid. Yes, we are learning to read the preamble carefully and examine the initial grid before we start!

We found Bandmaster’s wordplay very challenging and were well into Saturday before we had a complete grid. However, the clashes seemed to be indicated by less difficult clues, and soon we had an obvious MICHAEL. (You’d be amazed how many MICHAEL ????? there are on the Internet!) It was when we got the ??RKE that we were able to find Michael Torke’s ‘Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?’ – apparently quoted in the Independent on September 25th 1990 (so there’s one in the eye for the critics who complain that compilers are a bunch of plus-foured fuddy duddies entrenched in 1950s culture).

It was suddenly obvious what work we had to put in (in addition to over fifty percent of the clues that we still hadn’t solved) and the B Minor Mass, right down the centre helped us with the rest of our solving, as, clearly words were being adapted to conform with both PSYCHOTHERAPY and THE B MINOR MASS – PICKLED, for example, became TICKLED. (Though ‘pickled’ had already confirmed my conviction that Listener setters are a bunch of oenophiles!)

The finest of these adaptations was certainly CACHING, which converted to BACHING, a lovely coinage that seems to suggest that lying back listening to Bach will solve all our mental problems. (I am reminded of Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby – a superb novel in which Valerian Street, verging on senility, shuts himself in his greenhouse, listening obsessively to the Goldberg Variations).

Thus we had, in effect, soon solved Bandmaster’s ‘Not as mad as it sounds’, with a complete grid but so much doubt about individual clues. This was a crossword where the lack of unches made it fairly easy to slot in a word that matched the definition part of the clue but I needed my wise expert solving friend to explain lots of wordplay:

PICKLED ‘Tool with guide for blind’ Guide didn’t seem to match LED until it was explained to me that PICK was the tool and ‘with guide’ gave LED.

TROELY ‘This palm could be swaying temporally’ A composite anagram of TROELY PALM – no wonder I had trouble!

SLOE ‘Jet beginning from European capital, heading for England’ (O)SLO + E (I didn’t like that clue very much with JET as the DEFINITION for SLOE – it reminded me of the first logic problem in our book in Form One ‘An apple is a fruit and a pear is a fruit, so a pear is an apple. Discuss!)

ACHE ‘First sign of hangover? (There’s the alcohol creeping in again!) It used to be’ ACHE, the first letter (aitch) of hangover in Shakespeare’s English – and an &lit too!

ATOLLS ‘More than one key ring’s deposited in bank’  We have TOLL (ring, as in bell) inside AS (= esker, bank)

LIP ‘Overrun the edge of parking distance in van’  P = parking. LI = Chinese measure of distance, in van = ahead of, i.e. in front of the P.

LAR ‘God causing nun to leave embrace of church’ Nun = CLARE without the embrace (outside letters) of CE, Church of England, and finally,

NUKE ‘To use the microwave on fried chicken – not smart but acceptable’ I like the surface reading  more than I did that of the last clue where a ‘Fat woman is old and wide’ turned out to be a SOW (Hmmm!) or even the rather cheeky ROCKS for ‘Balls and dances’. NUKE was CHICKEN minus CHIC (smart) plus U (acceptable) and it had to be ‘fried’ – anagrammed.

Well, I have finally got my head round all that wordplay. It was almost as challenging as Radix’s Double Cross and very rewarding.

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