What’s the time, Mr. Brooke?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword, a sustained and continued attempt by one solver to consistently miss themes and overcomplicate things.  Last week’s debacle prompted a few emails, the consensus was that I should read Murakami and pay closer attention to preambles.  Well we have a new setter or a newdonym this time around, so let’s see what’s going on with Rasputin.

Circular grid!  Not sure how large it printed in the paper, but my first print-out of it (at a hotel computer) was tiny tiny.  I printed another grid out when I got home a few days later, which was at least of a size into which I could write reasonably-shaped letters.  No jumblies this time, which is strange for a circular grid – half in, half out and a couple of thematic things to find in circles.

There is a 1… in or out I knew not which, but I could not figure it out at the time.  Actually I found a first go-through of the clues rather tough, and didn’t get any until D,READS at 16.  Fortunately there were a few generous groupings of clues later on that let me confirm three or four of the 12 wedges.

It was slow going – at the end of the first session I had just a few scattered answers in the grid.

Back home, a second session and some head-scratching later, it was time to go for the thematic material.  I had a V in the place name, and it looked like like the inner ring could contain LIES AND TRUTHS.  To the googles!  Aha – this looks promising – The Old Vicarage (which conveniently contains a V) by Rupert Brooke – I remember hearing of it, at least I remember the last line.  And the title means we could be leaving PAIN off THE LIES AND TRUTHS OF PAIN

There’s also a bit in there about a church clock, which would explain the grid shape.

So in went the thematic stuff – STANDS THE CLOCK AT… IS THERE HONEY SILL FOR TEA… FORGET THE LIES AND TRUTHS OF… and OLD VICARAGE and now I have a far far healthier looking grid.

This still left 20-odd clues to be solved, but now I could massively abuse word wizards and QAT to get there – and while there’s nothing wrong with Rasputin’s clues, I had a tough time with most of them, to the point of having to keep a record of how many “ins” and “outs” I’d found.

I was also getting nowhere with the message spelled out by the extra letters.  ALRET FOUR CELALS TSHW POET was what I had.

Hmmm…. ALTER FOUR CELLS sounds better… and it could be – I had C,ROUGHS for 5 and it could have been C,TOUGHS.  I had BUT,REAU for 9, and it could have been BUREAU.  And if you change four cells you can make RUPERT BROOKE around the lines where the hands of the clock would have been for 10 to 3.

My working grid for Listener crossword 4188: Painless by Rasputin

Never figured out the end of the message, and rather sheepishly I had to mail it in at this point – it went in the post on the Saturday after the puzzle appeared.  I think I have the grid and all the thematic stuff in place, but it’s annoying me I couldn’t work out the rest of the message.  Now watch me miss something obvious.

So for now, let’s call it a Victory for George.  Thanks Rasputin, for a new take on the circular grid!

2012 tally:  15-0-3


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