What fresh hell is this?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and based on the last two weeks I should be able to have solved this before I printed it off, right?

So let’s see what we have with Ottorino?  This is only the second Ottorino Listener and the first one I found a challenge but managed to get out.  What have we here.  All jumblies!!!  Yikes.  There’s a small bone thrown with letters that start in their original positions, so I guess some letters can go in.  All clues are normal except for 14 where a letter must be restored.  Okeydoke…

There is a 1 across and I could not figure it out at all, so (as in the first Ottorino Listener) a big Fail on the 1 across test.  Grrr.  Next up was an unfamiliar word with crystal clear wordplay so in goes CHANTAGE… well at least the A does.

OK… I started off really badly here.  After a few passes through the clues I had a bit of a grid forming on the bottom right, but less than half the clues solved.  It looked like the second word in the location was HOTEL (I had the HOTE but not the L) and although I hadn’t solved 47 across, SUINT really looked like a word that was dying for a Q to be inserted to make SQUINT.

Three hours in and I was getting nowhere, time to sleep on it.

Next morning… 9-letter hotels that start with Q… and from 12 and 16 across have an A and an L near the start of the name.  Isn’t there something special about the ALGONQUIN HOTEL?  Wasn’t it a Dorothy Parker and the Vicious Circle hangout?

Googletime to the rescue.. yes it was… and ERK could give me the end of PARKER and there’s a Y in PEATY, and that would make 25 HARPY.  Aha!

I’d also seen the possibility of LAWFUL or AWFUL on the other side of the grid, both of which wouldn’t be out of place in the writings of Ms Parker.  So what could we have on the right side of the grid one column in – HER definition, anagram of MOPER… HER POEM R?????

RESUME… a short and happy poem!  So 43 is ME,US and the L from hotel comes from there.


And there is almost the entire poem in alternating columns – no wonder it had to be all jumblies (and there’s symmetry too!).  The LAWFUL/AWFUL spot was essential to the poem, leaving YOU MIGHT AS WELL LIVE to go across the bottom.

Now all that’s left is… solve most of the entries for the columns that are not part of the poem!  Yep, the dreaded sursolving!  KEYWAY, RANDAN and DARRE were the last to fall, but finally I had it all!  And just in time too, as I was about to leave for a trip to Canada the next day.  This was in the mail on my way to the airport.

My working grid for Listener 4302, When All Else Fails by Ottorino

I’m sure there’s been at least one, but this is the first time I’ve encountered Dorothy Parker in a crossword, and finding her makes me happy.  I like to think that she did crosswords, or at least wrote her phone number in the lights to leave at bars.  Allegedly the title of this blog was the way she answered the phone during the day.

I believe I can call this a Victory to George, woohoo!

2014 tally:  25-0-3.

Feel free to tell me that I shouldn’t have taken the advice in the poem, and see you next week when my joy at finding my hotel in Toronto had a computer with printer comes crashing down when that Listener prints off with a little 5×5 square.  Oh Nutmeg.


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