Darwin found finches in unexpected places too

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword, where failure means hits!  Last week’s post was the most read of the entire year (it’s entirely possible 86% of them were Seth Mould).  Well have I got news for you!

First, the good.  The All-England RNIB Cup appeared to be a success and much appreciation needs to go out to Eric Westbrook for putting it all together.  My email appeared on time and the puzzle was really first-rate.  I completed it in 1 hour, 52 minutes which apparently put me in second place in the email solvers section.  Despite temptation, I did not resort to aids in solving it.  I think if you send Eric an electronic fiver for RNIB he’ll send you a copy.

Second, the bad.  The very next day I was walking home and wasn’t paying attention and fell down.  Hard.  Apparently hard enough that I’ve fractured my humerus.  So I’m very much operating on one wing right now and typing/solving/thinking is tricky.  Not sure how long I’ll be in a sling but my doc thinks it’ll be at least three months of physical therapy before I have full range of motion.  Wheeeee!  So expect short or nonexistent reports for a while.

Which brings us to Cubic.  A new setter or a newdonym, so hi Cubic if you are looking in!  This looked pretty clear from the preamble – extra letters empty squares, two families.  So all real words in the grid woohoo.

There is a 1 across and that wordplay sure looks like S,POOR,M.  Quick trip to Chambers to confirm SPOOM and we are away.

I was definitely on a wavelength with Cubic’s wordplay.  The grid was starting to fill up quite nicely and words in the quotation were coming together – ROUND and CIRCLE first (hey, I wonder if that shape’s going to be a circle?).  Eventually ROUND AND ROUND THE CIRCLE COMPLETING THE CHARM is there and it is from TS Eliot’s “The Family Reunion”.   Aaaaah, at the time I was walking distance from a library, and sure enough there was a copy.  The blank cells do appear to be distributed in a way I could draw a circle connecting them.

So which families do we have in “The Family Reunion”?  Monchensey?  Can’t see that in the grid.  Ivy, Violet and Agatha?  The sisters aren’t there.  Any Pipers?  Looking for Gerald?  Charles? The Eumenides are in there – any other forms of fates?

Well now this is frustrating?  I’ve finished the grid in one setting and set foot in a library, shouldn’t I be about done by now?

Time to sleep on it.

Take #2… we know all entries are real words so PENNA?E has to be PEN-NAME or PENNATE and join up in the form of a circle to PERDUE or PERDUS… MATICS… MATTICUS?  Running up is JE… is it JEM and ATTICUS?  What does “To Kill A Mockingbird” have to do with “The Family Reunion”?  But that’s what it has to be with SCOUT joining JEM and ATTICUS.  Well now I have the pattern, so symmetrically that makes it REDPOL?TWIT?SERI? – hmm a RED POLL is a bird… it’s a FINCH… so that makes the others TWITE and SERIN.  I believe we are done…

my working grid for Listener 4261, Chefs by CubicI have this nagging feeling I’m missing something – was Eliot a red herring?  Is there some connection or was it just a roundabout way to make some finch comments?  And what has this to do with the Australian opening batsman?

I’ll tentatively call this a victory to George.

2013 tally:  26-7-6

Feel free to point out the deeper meaning of our feathered friends and see you next week when Mr Magoo attempts to put one across us.

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One Response

  1. I didn’t get it either until I saw the Solution notes, but Chambers gives Charm(2) = Chirm = flock of [gold]finches. Hence by inserting the relevant words in the circle, we complete the “charm”.

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