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Posts Tagged ‘Strange Requests’

Strange Requests by eXternal

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 April 2017

Fools’ errands

The preamble for eXternal’s neat little grid didn’t say very much to us and we shelved it (as we so often do with a preamble that thoroughly foxes us) deciding that all would come clear as we solved. I have a terrible admission – we had confidently filled our grid and double-checked that we had used all the thirteen words that had clearly emerged as ‘one word definitions for the 11 affected entries and the two parts of the sixth item’ before I was able to make very much of the preamble and piece it all together. In effect, we had a full and hopefully correct grid before that penny-drop-moment that brought a rueful smile to my face. Even those words ‘LONG WEIGHT’ had appeared in the obvious place, the leading diagonal: what’s more, they had helped us complete KIRN and CHIGOE, though they didn’t say much to us until I asked Auntie Google and she led me straight to ‘fools’ errands’.

It was the explanation of a LONG WEIGHT that suddenly shed daylight on my woolly thinking and I realized why we had found ELBOW GREASE, a GLASS HAMMER, the BUBBLE from a SPIRIT-LEVEL, a COPPER MAGNET and of course, STRIPY PAINT (Yes, I admit that I thought my favourite clue, ‘Stripy horse (5)’ Z???A was finally appearing in a Listener – but it was not to be.)

We had, as usual, run through the clues before beginning to solve and, of course, I had noticed the stripy horse clue ‘Tipple before breaking open some beer (5)’ A in PINT, producing PAINT, and, of course that confirmed membership of the Listener Setters’ Tippling outfit for eXternal, but what was more interesting was that the grid required a six-letter word and very soon STRIPY was the only one that would fit – to be confirmed by one of the extra words, ‘banded’ that emerged from a different clue.

That led us to check word lengths which happily pointed us at most of the suspect clues – in fact to all but one of them – the COPPER MAGNET where the two parts of the item were of the same length. That was what ultimately held us up in that top, left-hand corner but, of course the extra ‘bobby’ told us that COPPER had to be entered even though the clue, ‘Publication on lace – it’s attractive (6)’ had given us MAGNET.

And so it went on: we found that we were removing various words for fools from clues, leaving us the words that went into the grid. MAL(div)ES left MALES, confirmed by an extra ‘men’; (clot)HEARS was confirmed by ‘tries’; FI(shmo)NGER by ‘pilfer’; C(ass)OCKED by ‘upright’; BAL(loon)ING by ‘bundling’; and finally (mug)HUNTER by ‘watch’.

The additional extra words that confirmed our solve were ‘insubstantial’ for the BUBBLE, ‘marathon’ and ‘pressure’ for LONG WEIGHT and ‘mirror’ for GLASS.

We had realized at once that we were extracting a set of fools without drawing the obvious conclusion that they were performing the fools’ errands and collecting those six ‘items for retrieval’ of the preamble. So I suppose we were the fools, but thank you, anyway, eXternal. Quite a feat to fit those fools into words that symmetrically surrounded the grid.

The HARES – of course! A couple of them lurking in the grid, as usual, even if somewhat jumbled and scrunched up.

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Listener No 4445: Strange Requests by eXternal

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 April 2017

Another visit from eXternal this week, the setter my spell-checker is constantly getting annoyed at with his capital X not being at the start. It was just a year since his last, with Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulating the earth with stones which turned into men and women. (Personally, I think stones would be a more intelligent alternative to some people we’re currently lumbered with!)

Anyway, here we had six answers losing a messenger, six items made from two parts, in five cases one part clued and the other forming an entry, and thirteen clues with an extra word reflecting all this.

1ac MAGNET, 10ac OLOGY, 3dn POOR, 4dn EYOT plus ARTISTIC, ELEGIAC, VOLUNTEER and a couple more all went in within fifteen minutes. Of course, POOR didn’t mesh with MAGNET, so I guessed that one of them was my first two-part clue. The rest I wrote in as though they were final entries rather than requiring other halves, and luckily this proved true for some these first few. And only one extra word had come to light, in 3dn upright, but that was soon joined by mirror in 5dn.

Solving then became a bit sporadic, and it was only when I got to 26dn MUG-HUNTER for a 6-letter entry that I presumed I had my first ‘messenger’ clue. But was it MUG or HUN that had to leave? Luckily, a short while later, I came to 38ac FISHMONGER for another (6). I say ‘luckily’, but either SHMO or MONG could leave. Both were words for a fool, like MUG, but it looked as though I was on the right track. (Here it would prove to be SHMO that got banished.)

So, fools were being dropped and the only thing that came to mind was “A fool and his money are soon parted.” However, the puzzle’s title didn’t really gel with that idea, although 1ac COPPER could fit. Even though answer lengths were given, it was sometimes tricky to determine which were the ones losing a fool and which needed a counterpart. This was especially true of SPIRIT LEVEL at 22ac, where BUBBLE proved to be the entry.

All in all, it took some googling to track down what was going on here and it was only when I could see LONG WEIGHT in the main NW–SE diagonal that everything came together.

1ac COPPER (defined by the extra word “bobby”) MAGNET
22ac BUBBLE (insubstantial) for a SPIRIT LEVEL
37ac GLASS (mirror) HAMMER
9dn STRIPY (banded) PAINT
11dn ELBOW (joint) GREASE
NW–SE LONG (marathon) WEIGHT (pressure)

I particularly liked the fools and the words they were leaving:

6ac MAL(div)ES — males
30ac (clot)HEARS — tries
38ac FI(shmo)NGER — pilfer
1dn C(ass)OCKED — upright
22dn BAL(loon)ING — bundling
26dn (mug)HUNTER — watch

I must admit that I was totally out of my depth with this puzzle, never having been asked for any of the items in the grid. Well, in IT you wouldn’t be! Good fun, thanks eXternal, and a shame that Handyman took the previous week’s slot.

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Strange Requests by eXternal

Posted by Encota on 28 April 2017

A long time ago, in a workplace far, far away…the themed items in eXternal’s puzzle could easily have resulted in a title of The Apprentice, or similar.  I suspect many seasoned workers have taken, or heard of others taking, the (slightly bizarre) pleasure of sending their new wet-behind-the-ears Apprentice off to Stores (with a Strange Request) to pick up a “long weight”.  The Storeman is, of course, in on the joke and says “No problem, I’ll just get you one”, then disappears into the back room, puts the kettle on, his feet up and reads the newspaper, for a LONG time.  As far as I can see, all the items featured in this fun puzzle are on the same list: “I’ve lost the bubble in my spirit level – do go and pick one up from Stores for me, there’s a good lad” (or similar patronising words).  [Aside: “All my Apprentices say that I’m always patronising but I told them, ‘There’s no need to worry your little heads about that’ “.]

I did this puzzle on Saturday, having cycled from a comms-free location in the middle of Thetford Forest to the village of East Harling on the Norfolk/Suffolk border to pick up the paper,  in between (largely failed) efforts to nudge some of April’s Magpie puzzles forward.  [As of 10th April, all six grids filled but only three puzzles complete…hmm!]

26d’s MUG-HUNTER (GEM UNHURT*) and 36a’s ‘Watch’ for HUNTER were the first pair I spotted, and things progressed pretty quickly from there.

Of course the messenger requesting these things is being made a fool of, so (I think) a FOOL synonym needed removing from six of the solutions before entry, viz.:

  • FI(shmo)NGER
  • C(ass)OCKED
  • (mug)HUNTER
  • (clot)HEARS
  • BAL(loon)ING, &
  • MAL(div)ES

A clever touch from eXternal to keep all modified entries as real words – I know how this adds to the setting challenge!

I’m off now to give a private talk (at Cliveden, Bucks) on “How to solve cryptic crosswords (for those too afraid to ask!)” – hopefully by the time you read this it’ll have gone well!

cheers all,

Tim /Encota

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