Welcome to a Brand New Year of George vs the Listener crossword.
This is the year I go for it.
Prompt submissions, deadlines, copies of Chambers everywhere, a phone app with SOWPODS for on-the-fly solving, attention to detail…
All of that nearly unraveled in the first minute when I printed off the crossword and saw it was Dipper.
Maybe I’m being a little harsh on Dipper, but botanical themes are up there with religion as my least favorite and sources of massive gaps in my cruciverbucation. And Dipper is a one-track solver (still waiting to see if Dipper and Hedge-Sparrow are one Jeckyll and Hyde setter wrapped up in one). My battles with Dipper have gotten easier over time – I made it through Half Thyme OK, but nowhere near on Green Cross Code, and really struggled to a finish on Flower Arranging.
What have we here – extra words, a title, some unclued entries and something to highlight. Looks like real words in the grid and clues that are normal aside from the extra words. Sounds deceptively straightforward.
I have made a promise to myself to have long liquid lunches on Fridays at my favorite pub and get a jump start on the weekend’s drinking and the Listener at the same time, so off I went.
There is a 1 across – and a near pass on it – I could see it would be some Scots form of SCREECH, but I can’t figure out what goes in the middle. I put in an S and C as the first two entries, and was immediately happy – the hidden STOA and CO
O(C)K,A,T,O,O went right in and we had a few letters of the message.
It was a curious grid fill – I got one or two entries at a time, and usually I have a complete quadrant done, but in this one, it was a scattered tangle of answers. The first penny drop was finding DENS as the last four extra words, so with dipper, when there’s DENS it’s usually GARDENS. KITC-EN—DENS looks like KITCHEN GARDENS so it’s something to do with Kitchen gardens (of which I know less than nothing).
Books about kitchen gardens? I have a wankerphone with me! Looks like one of the unclued entries is going to be GARDINER. Nothing shows up on Amazon. It wasn’t until I had about a third of my battery left and I was giving google search a long long bashing until I found it (I believe the search was for SOWING PLANTING KITCHEN GARDENS GARDINER QUOTE) that I got it… “Profitable Instructions for the Manuring, Sowing and Planting of Kitchin Gardens…” by Richard Gardener, and his advice to SOWE CARRETS which at this point (apart from the W) was sitting pretty in the diagonal… does one sowe carrets diagonally?
Strange that the title appears to have KITCHIN but I think that the extra word in 15 down is EXCLUSIVELY (AM, then OR in PHAS
E) which makes the extra letters form KITCHEN.
Left the bar happy, full, and with most of this done – needed to look up the last few in California corner (EMYS, SCHAPPE, OBOLARY, PIRRARUCU), but I went from despair to jubilation over the course of a few short hours.
The first Listener of the year was in the mail on Saturday afternoon and the New Year’s Resolution is still alive after one week. Of course I write these up before the solution is published, so I can only guess if I’m JEG correct, and not delusional George correct.
This was my favorite by far of the Dipper crosswords I had attempted. It was fun to track down that reference and a relief to get the first one of the year out of the way.
So a reminder of the new scoring system for the year – I’m going to lump these as wins/losses/draws. Completely, utterly John Greenworthy solutions are a win, incompletes or complete brain farts are a loss, and silly slips or one letter in the wrong place (I got the idea, but was sloppy somewhere) is a draw. I might have to come back and update these after looking at the solution, but I think I’ve got this one out, so I’m claiming Victory to George!
2012 tally: 1-0-0
Current streak: George 3
Feel free to comment below, and see you next week when hypnos offers us less fruit (pity 4713 was not called “So long and thanks for all the fruit”).