A Shropshire Lad meets an Aussie Expat… in Pangaea?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword and the first in what will be a couple of installments of the Giant Grid.

I usually print the Listener from Firefox, and I have no idea why, but the standard print function prints out a huge grid and cuts off the right hand side of the preamble and clues, so when I make the copy that I mail out I have to shrink it to 70%.

Harpy time – I’ll admit that Charybdis had let on to me that he was going to be involved with the Listener that week.  What have we here?  Jigsaw, clues in alphabetical order of answers, missing letters in clues (anywhere? ouch!) and some empty cells in the grid.  Finally, at the end, some folding!  No setting the grid on fire yet, oh well.

There is a first clue, no idea where it is going to end up, and it was at generous one – AIN’T with EER reversed to give AINTREE, missing Y in the clue.  Woohoo!

Unfortunately, as is the nature of a jigsaw, we are back to stone-cold solving (well… we know the alphabetical order of answers), so it’s back to the clues.

With about the third of the clues solved, it was time to start thinking about the grid. Hmmm… the grid.  It isn’t symmetrical, and there are three 13-letter entries in the grid, but only one in the clues (CRENELLATIONS).  Hmmm… there’s a 12-letter clue but no 12-letter grid entries, similarly there is a 10-letter grid entry but no clues that lead to 10-letter solutions.  Hmmm.

With about half the clues solved the message from the message is starting to come together – YON and COUNTRY was enough for me to google it and get a good laugh!  Once upon a time another setter commented that I didn’t pick up on an allusion to A.E. Housman, and told me I needed to read “A Shropshire Lad”, and here it is – in stanza (?) XL of that poem.

Now at about two thirds of the clues solved I’m starting to get frustrated with an inability to slot them in the grid.  Of all the odd places to start it was ROBALO that started it all – in that bottom right I could slot ORFE, BAR, ALACK and LITAS in, which also leads to somewhere to put NOOKS and FRATE.  And if the 12-letter entry was OX-EYE DAISIES then there is a start for it across the bottom.

Maybe the middle column is the one that is originally empty?

If that was the case, I could place HUNGRY and CRENELLATIONS.  Now that grid is filling up!  But what is going on with Group B clues… I’ve solved KIST, RAINand TUG, but none of them look like they are going in the grid.  I have P?RAL which could be PORAL… aaaah!  The verse speaks of the land of LOST CONTENT and so we have words taken out of country names!  Not long after – a grid!

I’d already noticed that HUNG RY and KOR A were close to country names, so finishing off the middle part wasn’t too difficult.

My working grid for Listener 4384, XL by Harpy

So we have IN PANGEA down the middle, but we wave bye-bye to it as I fold it up and mail it off.

The difficulty was upped this time around and I didn’t finish until pretty late into Friday night (about 20 overs into Australia vs New Zealand) but that was an enjoyable puzzle from Harpy who have not disappointed yet, and I hope I can claim a Victory to George!

Sorry about the late posting – crazy crazy times here, but I just booked a small role in a big theatre piece so yay rehearsals (and crosswords to take to rehearsals).

2016 tally:  5-1-0

Feel free to tell me that I should crawl back to the Galapagos and de-evolve, and see you next week when Dragon gives us what Chambers tells me could be paid, police department, or palladium.

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