Did you know TS Eliot is an anagram of Toilets?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, or if you’ve just read my incredibly late post of last week’s puzzle, welcome forward to George vs the Listener Crossword… the blog of prolonging an all-correct streak via breathing tubes and dubious end-of-life practices (don’t tell Terry Pratchett).

What have we this week?  BeRo!  Oh dear… I have a TERRIBLE record with BeRo.  It wasn’t that long ago that BeRo caught me with one piece of wordplay, after a puzzle I slogged long and hard at.  I’ve tagged the other BeRo Listeners, so you can read of the epic battles – in which I’ve only successfully solved one BeRo puzzle!

First solving session was in my favorite coffee-getting place. Thankfully bereft of spawn of sitcom stars this time.

OKeydoke… two poets (oh great… someone add “poetry” to things it appears I know very little about). It’s a long preamble, but it appears that the grid has all real words, clues are all normal and the thematic material is to found in the grid and in something “initially observable”… well that sounds acrosticy… EIGHTY SUN SHELL CATE ON… yep, there’s an acrostic in the clues!  It doesn’t seem to mean anything right now.

Nor does 1 across, so a big fail on the 1 across test.  Better luck with 7 across, E for A in PRAY gives PREY… and we’re away.   Normal clues and all words made for a pretty rapid grid-fill, though the funny thing is it worked in a stripe down the top right to bottom left corner.  I had a lot of question marks in the top left, and not a lot in the bottom right (words that looked like they should fit).

By the end of the first cup of coffee I had G?ARN?M for the letters in the circled cells, which looks pretty close to ANAGRAM to me.  I got another coffee and started poking around on the smartass phone – what comes up if I look for ANAGRAM POEMS or THE ANAGRAM POEM…

When you do this you get a lot of references to how TS Eliot is an anagram of TOILETS!  And some poem with animals (is it going to be an animal-themed year?).  Finally something that looks more promising – John DONNE (and most of J DONNE is along the non-ANAGRAM diagonal)… THE ANAGRAM.. it has Jet TEETH (yep, there’s TEETH in the second row), yellow CHEEKS (that confirmed SEGS for me), red HAIR (yep, three rows from the bottom) and finally small EYES… so maybe 31 down is SYNCH (I still haven’t figured the wordplay for 31 down).

SYNCH, SEGS and knowing that I need two more A’s in my ANAGRAM anagram get me going in those other pesky corners… by the end of the second cup of coffee I had an almost completed grid.

Back home, I had a few niggling questions – what’s going on with the other poem, and what is 37 down, is PEN, DEN or SEN (each of which seemed to make some sense at the time)?  Time for ODQ online.

OQD online to the rescue – a search for ANAGRAM brings up John DRYDEN… THY GENIUS CALLS THEE NOT TO PURCHASE FAME IN KEEN IAMBICS BUT MILD ANAGRAM…

Now that’s a great find – because my sole lost last little letter in the grid is needed to complete J DRYDEN… and DEN it is – now the diagonal has all the letters of J DONNE and J DRYDEN.  That’s a lot of J’s and Ds!  And the acrostic I’d spotted before works out neatly to an anagram of the quote, except for PURCHASE and ANAGRAM.  Two solving sessions later, we’re done… that’s miraculously quick for my battles with BeRo.

My working grid for Listener 4280 - Face Off by BeRo

Now for the final step – I have a sharpie, so I can make those teeth blacker than my regular black pen.  I don’t have a yellow pen… I have a yellow highlighter (if you stare really hard at this scan you can see it written in yellow highlighter).  I had a red pen for the hair… small eyes? Hopefully writing it in lowercase when the rest is in upper case is enough of a difference that you can see the eyes are meant to be small.  Here’s what I sent in.

My submission grid for Listener 4280, Face Off by BeRoI’m finishing this up Friday, around 12:30pm my time (5:30pm GMT), a time which will go down in the internet world as the great LISTENERPOCALYPSE!!!! The Times Crossword Club is down, and it seems no manner of complaining about it on the Crossword Centre, or hitting refresh on the crosswordclub.co.uk page will bring it back to life.  So from the impending LISTENERPOCALYPSE, this is George, signing off.  With thanks to BeRo for a fun puzzle, based on two poems I had never heard of, but were thankfully not too difficult to find.

Hey, if the Listener never comes back, am I all-correct for good?

2014 tally:  6-0-0

Feel free to tell me that I can’t do wordplay and shouldn’t have to rely on thematic elements, or what small eyes look like, and if this is not the end of the world, see you next week when Hedgehog informs us that a star is sporn.

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