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Posts Tagged ‘Wrap-up’

Listener No 4744: A Wrap-up by Kea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 Jan 2023

SCENE: The Editor’s office, December 2022.

There is a desk in the centre of the room. There is an in-tray on the desk. It is empty. There is a calendar for 2022 on the wall with 1st December highlighted.

There are two chairs: a big one is behind the desk and a small one in front of it. Editor is sitting on the big chair and Sub-editor on the small one. Both are staring intently at the in-tray which seems oblivious to their attention.

Sub-editor: Remind me why we’re looking at the in-tray.

Editor: I’m waiting for a letter from the Editor of the Times Saturday Review.

Sub-editor: Right. (He pauses.) Why?

Editor: I’ve got a puzzle coming up at the end of the month that requires him to rejig the puzzles section at the back. I’ve asked him if the Saturday Jumbo, Concise and Chess sections could be shrunk down to take up just a half page.

Sub-editor: Seems a bit extreme.

Editor stands up and goes over to the calendar.

Editor (pointing at 31st December): Our last puzzle this year is on New Year’s Eve and I’ve got a puzzle waiting to go that has a 48×3 grid.

Sub-editor: I don’t remember vetting that.

Editor ignores him and returns to his chair.

Returning their gaze to the in-tray, they see that a letter has materialised. Editor takes the letter, opens it and reads.

Editor: I suppose I’m not surprised. They’ve rejected my request. The Jumbo Editor had a hissy fit, and they also checked with John Green who said that if I expected him to check 400 strips of paper 18 inches long… well, you get his drift!

Sub-editor: Couldn’t we just have three 16×3 strips on top of one another?

Editor: I suppose.

Any similarity to actual editorial discussions is purely hypothetical.

A puzzle from our editor today. A couple of years since his last Listener (no 4624, World-beating), based on examples of “X is the best Y”, such as Laughter is the best Medicine. Mind you there was a Kea puzzle in the December Magpie which was a D grade, so I wondered what he had in store for us here. A long thin 48×3 strip for the grid is what it was and to be used as a scytale, the thickness of which was to be deduced. There were also a slew of thematic answers which were clued by wordplay only and would help with some endgame highlighting.

1ac Sailors’ patron died, having backed brief periods of expansion (8) had me googling the patron saint of sailors since I couldn’t see how Saint Nicholas could work in the clue. It turns out that, like many things that have saints, there were a few. One was St Elmo, but I dismissed that in the same way as St Nick. Of course, it would turn out to be he, with (ST ELMO + BO)< giving BOOMLETS.

At expected the clues were a mixture of tough and straightforward. 6dn Discarded prospect taking in odorous room (12, two words) was thematic and led to VIOLENT STORM [VISTA around OLENT + RM]. That was fairly tricky, as was 30ac Female behind Save the Children Fund capturing heart of Hilary Duff (6) for SCLAFF [F after SCF around (Hi)LA(ry)]. Oh yes, and there was 1dn Bloody fool keeping stack in tree (12) for BRICKFIELDER [BF around RICK + I’ + ELDER]. I was also surprised that AT PLAY was not in Chambers.

It took a fair bit of jiggery-pokery to find that the scytale had a circumference of 13 cells. Once the grid was complete, the windy nature of the answers given by only wordplay was evident. I was probably quite lucky to suss that the windiness work alluded to Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone with the Wind. Well, the only quote I recalled from that film was “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

A quick google revealed the true closing words to be “After all, tomorrow is another day”. A scan of the grid soon identified TOMORROW IS ANOTHER YEAR running diagonally upwards from the second cell of the bottom row and cycling through every seventh.

It seems that every new year recently has started with people saying that it’s got to be better than last year. This year was no exception in my view.

Thanks for a novel (no pun intended) and very enjoyable puzzle, Kea.


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