Where’s Nanny Ogg? Witchypoo? Cruella de Vil?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener.  It’s been a wild week again in the world of crosswording, and we’ve lost a member who I never met, but was always kind and helpful in emails back before I tackled the Listener and was trying to unravel the mysteries that were the Mephisto crossword.  So cheers to Mike Laws and regards to his family and friends.

Back to things Listener, it’s Travellers by The Tall’n (with whom I share a word of a pseudonym).  I’ve only encountered The Tall’n once before, with Closed Doors, where I started to find the spirally theme but did not manage to grip on to the whole thing.  So I had a little trepidation before I got going, and then the dreaded J word leapt out in the first line of the the preamble.  We’re in the land of jumblies, though like with the Tiburon puzzle a few weeks ago we can anchor one letter in place.  There’s 17 jumblies but only 14 or 15 (can’t see from my mess of a grid) where the number appears in the middle of the entry.  A little more sneakiness going on.

I was a little naughty and started this during a very dull seminar where I was probably meant to be paying attention. Within about 20 minutes (this seminar went for almost two hours) there was a small crowd beside and behind me sneaking peeks.  One is (or at least was) a regular Guardian solver, something to do with an Oxford education, so I can honestly say this is a Listener where I cheated and got outside help.  I also loved that she was one of the honorees of this seminar and wasn’t paying attention either!  George “the” Bastard, helping generations ignore the important things for semi-frivolous pursuits.

Alas, I am being called away from here, and will not be back until the evening U.S. time… so return later tonight for a tale of nights Walpurgis, disgusting images of witches riding male goats (set your internet filters 0ff), and black conical brimmed hat(s).  Tall’n – this frustrated the hell out of me, but I think I got it all.  Back later…

And I’m back – though by now I expect everyone will have seen the answer and read the other blogs.  But anyway, this was a tortured slog for me – I got plenty of answers, but my slogging through that outside section of the grid was not doing very well. The top line and left line – TO CAROUSE WITH THEIR MASTER came together first, and I was trying to get BROKEN into the bottom line but that wasn’t coming together at all.  It didn’t help that I had three answers that turned out to be completely incorrect in the grid – GAMUT, CRYMES, and COMPING.

Combine that with not seeing TALI, MOORBURN, MIAOWING  and POKER for a long time – I was on a plane when I saw POKER in Bradfords for both entries.  Putting POKER in gave ECATE with an H to place… and a poke around the bottom of the grid found a reversed BROOMSTICK/S so when I was next near a computer I googled “April 29 Witches” and learned about Walpurgis night and that the .  Which would work if CRYMES wasn’t right.  Looking up Walpurgis night in Chambers and BROKEN should be BROCKEN.  So ON THE BROCKEN… but that wouldn’t work with GAMUT.  A search on GAM?? and there’s GAMME which fits.  OK… so now there’s HECATE, WICCAN, CARLINE(thanks Bradfords) and HAG sitting on the BROOMSTICKS and MALE GOATS.

They’re looking for the Devil, but there’s not a lot of V’s around.  There’s POKER and OLD POKER, which seems to work.  That leaves something for them to wear, which sounds like a hat.  We haven’t used very much of the top half of the grid for the thematic stuff, so I’m guessing something in the shape of a hat, maybe a big crooked hat is up there.

I see BLACK in the shape of a hat.  And it’s on top of HECATE… CONICAL over CARLINE.  Hmmm… over HAG I have H and T, but if an A goes in the middle then COMPING can’t be right…  it’s CAPTION! That leaves four lines – BRIMMED over WICCAN (with a brim, I guess).  And we are done!

Victory to George (though I was well after the submission deadline!  I’m going to be on the next three, since I just got to print them this evening), and the Tall’n is not looking as scary as previous.

2011 tally:  George 14, Listener 4.  Current streak:  George 3

Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week for… umm… I haven’t looked yet.

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