Journey to the bottom of the Thames

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword – another late one but I blame my dentist this time, for taking the term “appointments” rather loosely.

I am very much a pen-and-paper solver.  I have done the electronic versions of the Times, Guardian and Independent crosswords, but I much prefer printing them out and writing them up.  Unfortunately this was not an option when Hedge-Sparrow’s latest Listener appeared – I was in Washington DC with my brother’s family, and was then driving to stay with a friend just outside of Raleigh who didn’t own a printer.  Time to try the all-electronic version of the Listener!

Save the page from the Times as a pdf…

Recreate the grid in Crossword Compiler.

Get to solving!

It’s Hedge-sparrow!  I’ve enjoyed all of Hedge-parrow’s offerings, and we have an unusual shape of a grid, and words removed from clues, OK… message from most answers… hmmm and 12 clashes.

There is a 1 across, and it looks like F(OPP)ISH, so there’s an extra ELIXIR, a pass on the 1 across test and we are away!  I made a spreadsheet of the clues, the extra words and the first and fourth letters to see what I could get – there’s definitely EXTRA WORD at the start but then it gets pretty jumbled. Also looks like LETTERS at the end with a few more unused ones.  Hmm…  and what do I do with the ones where two letters had to be taken out, though only DRIFT ROUND and MEADOW PIT had been found at that point.

I guessed the theme pretty early on – particularly when GEORGE and most of JEROME appeared in the grid, this was going to be Three Men In a Boat territory.  Wow… when did I read that?  Early high school? Wikipedia to the rescue – they went up and down the Thames.  MONTMORENCY would have the right number of lettters to fit in any of the long down answers, and would make real words with the across answers.

From 27AC-34AC, the first and fourth letters had no meaning at all.  What’s going on in that part of the grid… oh, all those have clashes.  So maybe only the answers that do not have clashes contribute to the message.  Let’s only put the first and fourth letters of non-clashing answers shall we?  If we also eliminate 16 down there is a message…

my sreadsheet for finding the message in Listener 4294, Trio by Bark by Hedge-Sparrow

OK, Thames towns clued from those extra words.  And I think there has to be a clash at 42AC, but I can’t work out the clue.  Hmmm… oh dear.  Well maybe it will come together – here’s what the grid looked like, and a clash to be found in 42 across, presumably with 16 down.

My working grid for Listener 4294, Trio by Bark by Hedge-Sparrow

So now I’ve got to figure out the towns visited by the other extra words… STEER+CAR-MAKER can be OX+FORD.   Here’s where I got…

attempting to get the town names

And… with three towns agonizingly eluding me… that was the end!  I could not solve 40… I couldn’t put those last few together and the amazing streak to begin the year is OVER! Failure at number 20!  Victory to Hedge-sparrow (who I had accidentally referred to as Shackleton in the first version of the blog)!  Normality resumed as inability to put it all together rears its ugly head again.

Oh well…  at least no trees died for my failure.

2014 tally:  19-0-1

Feel free to tell me that I missed the most bleedingly ovious clues and towns, and see you next week when Zag goes and breaks codes all over us.

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3 Responses

  1. Ah no! A shame that the run was brought to an end by this one. A super representation of the theme, I thought.

  2. For sure, WARGRAVE (just up the road) is on the Thames.

  3. WARGRAVE is one of the ones I missed, but I’m sorry Tony, I have not heard of it, and it didn’t appear on http://www.visitthames.co.uk/towns – which was my main source of finding the ones I did get.

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