Sorry for the lateness of this post – another hell week and there were some more pressing deadlines.
Welcome back to George versus the Listener crossword, where I find I can drive up site stats by posting way late, woohoo! It’s my old co-blogger at Times for The Times, Raich, making a third appearance. I messed up spectacularly on the first Raich puzzle I tried – OOOOPPPP, got everything but the thematic bitties. Last year there was Les Six which I did manage to squeeze by in so we’re even. What’s going on here? Extra letters in wordplay in some clues, a claim and a contest and some highlighting. Thankfully no color specified, though now I have a rainbow of highlighters – I’m ready for anything! Nothing about non-real words in the grid, so all aides and accomplices are fair game.
There is no 1 across, but there is a 3 across – and it’s got to be EX something E, a little browse gets EX ANTE and we’re off to a flying start. Even better getting this one first, two extra letters popped out straight away, as the down clues it crosses include ERA,SE(W) and A,S(O)P. WO? Must be a T somewhere above that. Turns out there isn’t, but there’s another T not far away in 7 down. Followed quickly by a W and an O. TWO TWO?
The grid took shape pretty quickly, though I couldn’t get this message. I also couldn’t figure out the hippy corner. 21 across looked like NETWORK but didn’t fit in the grid. Nothing in the preamble about dropping letters? And that T I’m looking for didn’t manifest itself either.
With most of the down clues in place, my end of message looked like TWO TWO NIT. Could it be WOT WON IT? Is this going to be that Viz-themed puzzle I’ve been longing for? I googled WOT WON IT and found out about the headline of the Sun after the 1992 Election.
I nearly doubled over laughing at that point!
Let’s backtrack – I did start this crossword at my usual Friday drinking spot (I’ll be heading there not too long after I hit publish on this post), but I didn’t get there until the evening. It’s a bar and theatre, and that night they were showing “The Iron Lady”. I ran into my former boss and his wife there, who told me they were going to see the movie. I tagged along – I’d kind of wanted to see it, though as a kid growing up in Australia in the 70s, there were few bigger faces of evil than Margaret Thatcher. The film was OK – Meryl Streep was scary similar, but I don’t know if the film is trying to make you feel like she wasn’t a heartless asshole and have some sympathy for her. Didn’t work for me. Anyway, Neil Kinnock appears to be in the film, but never mentioned by name. In the credits, it appears very few of the politicians are mentioned by name.
So the next day, when I get the message in the puzzle, it cracks me up – I was just watching a film with at least one of the protagonists not being named. It’s MAJOR vs KINNOCK, who are there all slanty in the grid. I see ELECTION and there’s still 4 cells to go… of course – TWO in NETWORK has to be the number, and that means we have BAR1NESS, 9PIN, 9ETTE to go with it. That was a nice touch.
This one was off in the mail on Monday. I got an email from Raich earlier this week that he got my note with the solution (hi Raich if you’re looking in!) and since I said I had to Google to get the theme, he reminded me that I should really check Oxford Dictionary of Quotations – and there it is, in the 7th edition.
Anyhoo, I think I have this all sorted out and I’m going to call a Victory to George, breaking the Raich tie.
2012 tally: 12-0-2
Feel free to tell me I’ve misunderstood Thatcher, and see you next week when Elgin soothes us with a Ballad.