Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Nutmeg’

A Few and Far Between by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Mar 2023

We download a Nutmeg puzzle with great pleasure. It is over three years since we last solved one of her Listener puzzles and we know we will have an uncomplicated but imaginative theme with beautifully crafted clues – and so it is.

We don’t solve for long before a probable theme appears. “A hawk is an ACCIPUT isn’t it?” says the other Numpty. ‘Hawk caught and beheaded songbird in maple tree (9)’ That’s C and a beheaded PIPIT in an ACER’ and we guess that ‘Only provider of coating for former magistrate (8)’ will give us JUST + ICER, so we have JUPITER in cell 5.

ADONIS and MIMETITES give us a clashing METIS, CHOMPS and ODORISE give us DORIS, and MARENGO uses the S of MIMETITES to give us MARS. A quick check on the Internet confirms that METIS and DORIS are asteroids in the ASTEROID BELT between JUPITER and MARS so we know what we are looking for – another eight asteroids – and they obligingly appear: HEBE, HERA, IRIS, IDA, VESTA, CERES, EUROPA and EROS. At first, I wondered whether Nutmeg was selecting only the asteroids with female names (with those Fs in the title – A Few Far Between – like the puzles by Listener Female setters) but EROS put paid to that theory. It does seem, though, doesn’t, it that astronomers have favoured female names for these smaller celestial bodies?

Full grid and the theme appears in the non-dominant diagonal, and we see that one item, VESTA, lies within the diagonal. I add its letter values and get 67. (There was no need, really, to do the maths was there? The answer to that little sum had to be 15 which would give us an O – a rather regular asteroid – and the two planets could be slightly bigger Os – ‘an approximate representation of the theme’. Delightful!

Oh yes. The Listener setters’ oenophile elite! Well, of course Nutmeg is in it with her BAR(athea), ‘Woman having a drink after returning home …’ and a ‘boozer’ serving up carbohydrate … then ‘I’m off sausage of kiwi’ – CHEERIO Nutmeg!


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Mince Pie by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Dec 2019

It is always a pleasure to see Nutmeg’s name at the head of a crossword as we know the clues will be fair and enjoyable. However, there was a moment of consternation when we saw that she was dividing her forty clues into eight sets of five different types, omitted letters, misprints, extra words, thematic ‘wordplay only’ solutions and (sigh of relief) normal. Could she be making a sly comment on the ubiquitous ‘extra letters/ omitted letters/ misprints’ that seem to be regular diet in the current advanced thematic cryptic crosswords?

Of course Nutmeg retains her place among the Listener oenophiles and the evidence was there. A BREWER emerged as the solution of ‘Texan sibling entertains the two of us; I’ll make tea (6)’ We put WE into BRER. ‘Extremely brutal end (5)’ gave us B(ruta)L + END – there are some fine BLENDs around – and shortly we had ‘Nutmeg, full of spirit, beginning to go (7)’ We put GIN into ME + G, giving MELANGE, one of the thematic words. Probably a somewhat tipsy Nutmeg mixing the BLENDs with GIN. Cheers, anyway.

OLIO, MEDLEY, MINGLE, STEW, ASSORTMENT and MESS soon followed making sense of the Christmassy title Mince Pie and once we had decided that ‘bars’ in 9d was not one of the extra words (I wonder how many other solvers were sniffing at that red herring) we made the lucky guess that the letters at the start and finish of extra words (Delhi, gold, elderly, grasp, long, young, hole, and illegal) were going to anagram to HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY and that gave us an almost complete grid.

The ‘one letter of the answer is omitted wherever it occurs’ device was the one that we were left with. Luckily, we had spotted the HOT[C]POT[C]H early in our solve S[O]NANTS was clued generously, as was [C]REED but we were left with the two ‘type ii’ solutions in the south-west corner [K]INGED and A[L]IBIS to suss to give us COCKTAIL before we could complete this MIXED BAG of clues. Many thanks for the challenge, Nutmeg.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ripping Yarn by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 Apr 2019

We smiled when we saw the setter was Nutmeg. She can be counted on to give the solver a fair chance and to provide some fine surface readings in well-set clues, though there was a bit of muttering about misprints. It is rare to find a crossword with a misprint in the definition part of every clue without some of them being mildly forced or rather clunky. And the habitual Listener setter’s dose of alcohol? Nutmeg abstained in a ladylike way, producing tea instead -‘In Darjeeling, perhaps an Indian might boil it (5)’ We used CHA round AN giving us CHANA or a ‘chick-pea’.

We had coffee, too. We smiled again when we back-solved from ROBUSTA to ‘What might make Americans rude? Trace of arrogance (7)’ Our Americans became Americano, ROBUST + A(rrogance). There was breakfast food too – an ‘Icelandic dish of cereal served up in Rekyavik for starters (5)’ but we decided that had to be dosh, and produced RYE< + IR, giving EYRIR. With total sobriety Nutmeg produced ‘Wild cerebration (well, it had to be ‘celebration’ didn’t it?) uses head, nothing more (5)’, giving us BEAN + O. Chambers tells us that’s a rowdy jollification, so ‘Cheers, Nutmeg!’

We were lucky in that the letters in place for those four words down the centre of the grid soon suggested A STITCH IN TIME, which made perfect sense with the title and the preamble and we already had a likely FEATHER and BLANKET potentially running round the perimeter. Fitting in CHAIN, SATIN, CROSS, RUNNING, STEM, ROPE and BACK stitches produced yet another smile. Is it sexist to suggest that this is a feminine topic? (Well, we had to do needlework at school while the boys constructed tables.)

However, we had a full grid before we understood what those strange extra letters were that were appearing round SADDLE, LAZY DAISY and BUTTONHOLE produced by the corrected misprints. What a lovely final touch. “Of course” said the other Numpty, “we have HOUR, ERA and PERIOD surrounding those stitches. Many thanks to Nutmeg for a challenging and entertaining solve.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

L4546: ‘Ripping Yarn’ by Nutmeg

Posted by Encota on 5 Apr 2019

2019-03-15 19.57.42 copy

Thanks first of all Nutmeg for a delightful puzzle.  It’s great to have a mix of puzzle difficulty in the Listener and the gentleness of this one was a welcome relief compared to some in recent months!  Easier – but not too easy.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nutmeg at an event in Manchester a year or two back and, like I said to her then, her puzzles are always a pleasure and, in my view, should be required study for anyone aiming to write “the perfect surface”.  If you don’t already, do look out for her regular publications in the Guardian, for example.

Two examples from ‘Ripping Yarn’ follow: ok, so the single misprint in each definition gives the setter an extra degree of freedom – but that extra wiggle-room was definitely made the most of in:

What might make Americans rude?  Trace of arrogance (7)

Where of course ‘Americans’ becomes the coffee ‘Americano’ and the answer is (ROBUST+A) ROBUSTA, a type of coffee.

Spooner’s to suggest protection for men facing enema (6, two words)

(yielding, in that, TIN HAT for protection against the enemy) …

… though I am still trying to recover from the mental images this surface initially conjured up 😉

I did experiment to see what other options there might be that satisfy the construct: ALengthOfTime around ATypeOfStitch.  I could only come up with:

“Stay In Tonight” or “Second kettles kettle” (no apostrophe), ”  Others involving the ‘screw’ stitch have naturally, for the sake of decency, been suppressed here 😉

Enough of my nonsense.  My thanks once again to Nutmeg!


Tim / Encota

PS I have very few claims to fame but singing in the rabble-of-a-school-assembly in the first ever episode of Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns, called ‘My School’, is one of them.  Amazing what trains of thought every Listener crossword can set running …

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Devilry by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 Mar 2018

We smiled when we saw that the crossword was by Nutmeg (hers always have attractive themes and entertaining clues). Then our smiles changed to gloomy grimaces of consternation. Surely not Printer’s Devilry! … and misprints too. We know that PD clues are either loved or loathed with the second camp of solvers being significantly larger. The problem is that those are a kind of advanced hypothetical word search with no helpful definition appearing in the clue. The solver has to attempt to spot the most likely place in the deviled sentence for the solution word to have been removed, and with Nutmeg’s skill, those are likely to have been well disguised.

Fortunately there were 23 normal clues (well, clues with misprints) and one of those immediately yielded all the proof I needed that Nutmeg retains her entry right to the Listener Setters’ Toping Outfit, ‘Drunken old lecher ignoring fourth letter from one of France’s cuties (8)’ We removed the D from OLDLECHER* and found ROCHELLE and opted for cIties as the corrected misprint. ‘Drunken old lecher’ is rather extreme for Nutmeg, the sober and graceful lady setter (the only other one currently setting Listener puzzles, I believe – that’s under 4% – where are you ladies?)

Later we found that the tipple is ALCOPOPs – ‘Inspector found venAL COP OPerating protection racket (7)’ so cheers, Nutmeg. I think that clue shows how well some of these PDs were hidden and we frequently found ourselves working backwards from potential solutions, to fit the letters into the clues. WINCEY, for example, had to go into ‘In the 19th Century, a felon left for India (6)’ It makes perfect sense, as does ‘a feW IN CEYlon left for India.

There was Nutmeg humour too. ‘Not getting enough? Chat up another dish! (4)’ … but it was not rumpy-pumpy that was lacking this time. ‘Not getting enough? ChAPS Eat up another dish. We solved steadily and our initial dismay turned to pleasure as those misprint clues coupled with the PD led to a fairly speedy grid fill. RALPH, as the printer’s devil soon appeared but we had completely missed the thematic hint in the final clue, ‘Model satanist continued his work (4)’ Model sat anD ARTist continued his work. We had a full grid with just one clue unsolved. Was TANGI or HANGI going to fill 18 across? However, the corrected misprints were obligingly giving us SHADE SIX SYMMETRICAL DEVILS and at once SATAN appeared, resolving that final doubt.

We back-solved to another delightful example of PD that was totally thematic. ‘Being an easily tempted Christian saTAN GIves me a lot of trouble (5)’. We had the hint that the devils were symmetric so there was no frustrating grid stare as FIEND, DAIMON, BELIAL, CLOOTS and HORNIE came into view. Graphically thematic too, not only is there a Christian cross but also an upside down satanic one! Lovely setting; many thanks to Nutmeg.


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »