Needle nardle noooooo!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener.  A little late, and a little tired at the moment, burning the candle at multiple ends and playing a small part in a production of The Man Who Came To Dinner.  I must be looking good these days, because there I am (wearing amazing vintage goggles) in the middle of the promo shot!

Publicity photo for "The Man Who Came To Dinner"

Now let’s move on to Castaways – another puzzle that arrived the day I had to proctor an exam, which means I had a nice quiet two hours to make a good start (today’s puzzle is about to appear, but the setter can rest assured that I’ll be starting it during Act 2 of the play).

In Castaways, eXternal brings us misprints spelling a husband and wife, extra words and some thematic modifications (we are helpfully told where they are).  Looks like it could be all real words in the final grid, woohoo!

Not only this, but there is a 1 across!  BET,J,EMAN gets us going and that means a big pass on the ever rarer 1 across test!  You know how sometimes you unconsciously solve a clue before meaning to do it – while I was looking at the first clue, the one under it caught my eye as being SOBERLY (which we know needs to be modified).

OK – a little while into this, my first three misprints I found in across clues were E,C and L.  At this point I was utterly convinced that eXternal was treating us to a Goon Show theme and I started looking up ECCLES to find out who his wife was.  Nothing surfaced – it seems there was no mention of ECCLES having a wife, and certainly not one that had a P near the start of the name.  ECCLES and PATRICIA maybe?

I’ll admit I got a little disappointed at that point – though back to the solving a P,Y, R and A in the down misprints triggered something – isn’t there a PYRRAH somewhere in mythology?  A quick search leads to DEUCALION and PYRRAH and completely dashes any hope of ECCLES being in there, though it does help solve some of those pesky across clues.

I had to wait until I got home to look up D&P in Brewers, which thankfully spells out the whole deal – they threw stones that became men and women – so SOBERLY loses the anagram of BERYL and gains DOM to become SODOM (famous Biblical city).

Didn’t take long after that to get the first grid.

My working grid for Listener 4390, Castaways by eXternal

The next step was a little trickier – I had BARREL ORGAN and PRAYER left over from the extra words, so they had to go in somewhere.  Knowing that a J had to go drew my eye to that very first answer – BETJEMAN, which had an anagram of JET in it – and BEDESMAN had appeared recently, so that takes care of six of the letters.  OK – so now I have to make a four letter substitution somewhere else to get a BARREL ORGAN.


I’ll admit – I went to the WordWeb version of Chambers and reverse searched BARREL ORGAN to get SERINETTE, which fortunately words – take out the jumble of OPAL from 13 down and insert ERIN.

Nifty use of the theme there, eXternal!  I know it’s a standard reference, but given how crucial it was to the theme, I’m surprised Brewers wasn’t listed as recommended for this puzzle.  In the end I think we can call it a Victory to George!  Not so fast, idiot – eXternal stopped by to point out that I have messed up with TOM instead of TONI in 20 down.  Victory to eXternal!

2016 tally: 9-2-1

Feel free to tell me that ECCLES would now be legally married to BLUEBOTTLE and see you next week when Tibea unleases something truly bizarre!


2 Responses

  1. Lovely review, George. Did you see Shirley’s blog re 20d?

  2. I have now – that is too funny, I have down PYRITE – TOM in my notes and that is so far from correct it is bizarre. I didn’t submit, seems like a lucky accident!

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