Is it training month?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – I felt sure I’d seen Ferret’s name before as a setter, but it appears this is the first Ferret listener, so hello to a new setter or a newdonym!  When this one printed out, I looked at the size of the grid and thought “mmm, odd”, and the oddness was not to stop there.  Across lines, down lines, stations… this was going to be interesting.

Not a carte blanche, but the groups of clues are arranged in alphabetical order of answer (I wonder if this was originally written as a carte blanche, there’s not that many bars, and the positions of several answers look obvious from the bar lines).

There’s misprints and something to be spelled out by both the misprints and corrections, but in order of the original clues and 20 symmetrical clashes.

Wow Ferret, you’ve crammed a lot into 14×8!

I looked at this and started with the stations, since two of them were 14 letters and would have to be the top or bottom answer.  The first one, the dreaded “not in Chambers” one turned out to be pretty obvious, an anagram of AROUND THE CLOCK with the misprint in our anagrindicator, WAITED becoming most likely WASTED (as was I to be later that evening).  The other 14 letter one was another gentle anagram, though the misprint was in the letters – BRAND AWARENESS with a S in for an a H.

Well… the three letter answers are all in the Down Lines, and so they have to meet up with these two, since there’s no clashes.  The first down is ANT with YACKING becoming YANKING or LACKING (oh dear) but that doesn’t help… EWE on the other hand confirms BRAND AWARENESS across the top and DEN helps that along.  Bugger, ANT can still go in one of two places.

This means it’s pretty likely SHERLOCK goes on one end and BRA????A (confirmed later to be BRANCHIA) goes on the other end.

I was having a hard time slotting the answers I’d figured on for the across and down lines until I made a bit of a leap of faith… if the grid is symmetrical and the misprints are symmetrical, chances are the stations are also symmetrical.  So since CACAO looked like it could only go in once place, that thing that started with an E up in the top right should be a station as well.  Similarly there’s only one place to put WORTH, so IRATE must go opposite that as a station.  This helped me put together the stations, and then knowing which letters were confirmed, I worked my way through finding misprints and the answers for the lines.  Some of these took far longer than I expected, I did a literal head-smack when I saw I had missed LOUGH for so long as well as the rather clever clue for R,UN,G.  I’ll give it to Ferret – they are excellent clues even after the substitutions these clues held up well!  Three long solving sessions later, a grid is in sight.

working grid for Listener 4207, LocoI’ll admit, I’d started putting together the misprints when there were still five or six entries left in the grid to get the last few clues sorted out.  The message from the misprints came much more quickly than the message from the corrected letters.

decoding the message from misprints and correctionsOh wow… I’ve got to do 20 of these additions of the times for across, down and the difference between the misprints?  I’m horrible at keeping those together, so I got out Excel to do the time adding for me when I couldn’t do it in my head. I started off by writing all the answers in but then realized i just needed to see what was going on with the clock hands…

obtaining the logoAaaaaah – I know that symbol!  It’s the British Rail Logo!  I wonder how many more trainy puzzles we’re going to get now?

This was five sessions in total, when I realized what I had to do to get the clock hands and then what to do with them, I didn’t have time to do 20 of them, so it spilled over into another session.  I think I’m bucking the deadline again, getting this one in the post on Thursday morning.  However, it was a pretty excellent set of clues, concept, grid and finale and a unique approach to hiding the messages that didn’t come clear until the grid was nearly complete, so thanks for a lot of head-scratching fun Ferret – I think I can call this one a Victory to George!

2012 tally:  29-1-6

Feel free to tell me I’ve got the wrong time, and see you next week when we find out if that Flying Tortoise is Gamera or not.

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One Response

  1. […] last saw Ferret a little under a year ago with Loco – an intricate doozy with times and clock hands making the British Rail logo.  This one has […]

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