Was… aren’t most of these Tesco’s now?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where we are forging ever onwards towards perfection (or better than last year).

I am writing to you from the frozen south.  I live in the “deep” South of the US, where a smattering of snow is enough to spook the natives into dire dark habits.  Well over the last two days we’ve had 8 inches of the stuff, restricting my movements to trudging distance.  Horror of horrors it even caused one of the two nearby pubs to close (according to their facebook, they re-opened about an hour ago, so guess where I’ll be heading to after finishing this up).

Samuel time – long time readers will know of Samuel as one of my inspirations, he used to blog his immaculate solutions of Listener crosswords on LiveJournal (where you can sometimes find me weighing in on Times puzzles).  He’s now the editor of a crossword series I have no access to, but is still cranking them out in ListenerLand.  I’m adding Samuel to the tags so you can read all about them at the bottom of the page.

What have we here – a HUGE 14X17 grid, carte blanche, oh and asymmetric (great).  Black out unused squares, which is a good thing, I guess, not all of that 14X17 is going to be covered.  22 misprints, something to do with language, some wordplay only clues leading to answers in the speaker’s language, which I can only presume isn’t English.  I hope it’s French, because I know a reasonable bit of French.  I know enough Japanese and Portuguese to get in trouble, and I doubt the Listener is going to have clues in Klingon, so if it’s not French I’m in trouble.

Time to cold-solve, I guess…

There is a first clue which I’m going to call 1 across anyway – fortunately CH for surgeon appeared somewhere else recently (a Mephisto I think), so CAMPHOR came quickly. The second clue looks like one of those that makes me wish I’d kept my older Chambers with the list of names in it.  Looks like AILsomething – AIL(d)ISH? AIL(k)EEN?  Shortly after that are some misprint clues – LUMP in tree, WENDISH person and it looks like our quote begins “UN…” and I can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s going to be something French!  Sacre bleu!

I made a pretty good fist of things after two runs through the clues and it looked like the quote was going to be UNE NATION something OU something…  so maybe “a country where something happens”? But how do I fit all this in to a grid?

Attempt #1 – cram as many answers in the top as possible – CAMPHOR and whatever the name is could go in the top row, followed by TALAK, GNARL and SORB, and maybe ROTI and KRI on the next line.  Does that help with any of the later clues?  Not really.


Attempt #2 – assume CAMPHOR goes on the top row – HARE KRISHNAS sticks out as a long answer more than halfway through the clue list, so the split between across and down probably happens at or before HARE KRISHNAS.  Could HARE KRISHNAS cross the H of CAMPHOR and the A of TALAK?  Then the R of KRI?  Well they work, but then where would PILCORN go?  Hmmm…

Attempt #3 – do MAARS, PILCORN and OIK (and possibly ANT) cross PILCORN and HARE KRISHNAS go somewhere else?  Arranging that set together makes it look like TALAK goes on the third line – so the girl’s name is there by itself?  This is going to be a thin grid, at least at the top.  SORB could go on the fifth row… really?  Only one per row?  So where would GNARL go? Probably somewhere with HARE KRISHNAS… if the girl’s name is AILISH (Google… yeah, it works), then HARE KRISHNAS, AILISH, and GNARL fit and it looks like there’s a spot for a word like STATION to go in and I think we’re starting to get a grid!

Well the top half of a grid…. I had a few more words to go in, but nowhere really to put them.  So of course the only thing to do is to work on the bottom of the grid, since this means CARACK, EANLING, WIENER (yay for WIENER being in a crossword at the same time I was writing a script for a show with a bunch of weiner jokes), KOTO, BO, ROO, DOT and CRAWL go somewhere near the bottom.  If BO, DOT and ROO line up with KOTO, then there’s a nice juicy BOO there, probably for one of the clues I couldn’t solve… BOOKsomething?  “Balance resentment” could be LIBRA IRE and isn’t that French for a BOOKSELLER?  That’s a long answer, might be the only thing on that line.

Oh… so maybe where I saw STATION but no clue that seemed to match it, there’s a STATIONER hiding somewhere?  What’s French for stationer?  PAPETIER (thank you AltaVista!) which does fit the “pulp money” clue.   So we have occupations… GROCER looks tempting in the top half… and Samuel gets a groan for the wordplay being EPIC then SOLDIER with SOLD missing.  Groan!

Is it a map of Florida?  There looked like the possibility for FLORIDA in the far right, but that’s surely FLORIST now… what’s FLORIST? FLUERISTE or something like that – another subtraction FL,EUR,(F)IST,E… in we go.  It’s probably not Florida if it’s in French.

Still looking for a way to join my top and bottom halves and with some clues unsolved in the middle, maybe working out this quote will help… OQD online… what if I search NATION?   There it is!  Napoleon… UNE NATION DE BOUTIQUIERS,  It’s about England and so the grid has to be a map of England – presumably joined to Scotland and Wales, who managed to escape Napoleon’s wrath (maybe he liked leeks and haggis?).

The join is finally found – with BLOW-LAMPS, CAVALRIES (another groan-inducing subtraction) and HARE KRISHNAS helping me put things together.  At this point I was working in Crossword Solver and found no simple way to copy and paste a block of cells… I think I went through three different grids on Crossword Solver (you can see an earlier one peeking out from below) before finally stitching this one together…

my working grid (from Crossword Solver) for Listener 4278, Generalisation by Samuel

Wow that’s an odd-looking grid.  I hope everything is in there.  The split between England and Wales is marked by the BARBER and England and Scotland by a TAILOR.  Wow!

I’m glad a number of clues were very easy… I was getting desperate with having so many solved and only my two mini-grids, but eventually there were places to join everything together.  I think it’s properly unched, but at this point it was time to get it in an envelope… I scanned my final grid before sending it off


Yep, I made a mess of the original transcription, but hopefully I’ve got it all together in the end.  I think I can call this one a Victory to George!  2014 may just remain intact another week.

2014 tally:  4-0-0

Feel free to tell me that I don’t know how to black out (I assure you, I can black out with the best of them!) and see you next week when eXternal takes us to the sides of Hell.


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