Does the island have wi-fi? Did anyone ever say they would bring skin mags?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, the blog that survived the blogacaust on WordPress.  All rumors that I destroyed Listen With Others are blatantly false.

Speaking of destroying – here comes Ifor’s latest, The Harmony of Ratios. I have found most of Ifor’s last puzzles tricky and confusing.  Ifor seems to dwell way outside of my realm of expertise, with puzzles about Greek plays, Dam Busters and the like.  Here we have four letter entries that are shortened words, and two letter removals (are they together, are they separate, do they always leave real words?).  Something to be written under the grid and something to be highlighted.  And one clue that leads to two answers that differ by a letter.  Hmmm…

The day this appeared I was at a small symposium where I was only interested in one of the talks, but I was stuck there, so I thought I’d sneak peeks at the puzzle… there is no 1 across but there is a 2 across.  Wordplay looks like an anagram of IN TO TEST, which my crossword app says TOTIENTS works, and it appears to fit the definition, so woohoo, a big pass on the 1 across test.  Though I can’t write anything in the grid yet.  Boo.

Next up is another anagram for INTEGRA with the extra letters inside DEBATING.  OK, so the removed letters are not sequential.

Well that got me a start on the grid, but this was a long and painstaking process.  I was rarely on Ifor’s wavelength, and most of the California quarter of the grid was empty for days.  I did early on spot the clue that I thought at the time was BACKER/BARKER.

It seemed there was an inordinately large number of anagram clues – maybe because those are the most amenable to adding in two extra letters?  Finally I cracked the crossing pair of HEINOUSLY and ACTUARY and was in to that pesky last sector.

I had a few of the subtractions, and some were songs but there was also BARD which didn’t seem to be a song.  This was getting dire.

I was about three clues away from completing the non-four-letter clues, when I decided to try to piece together the message.  I could see BY THE something, and the other letters were going to DESERT something – DESERT ISLAND DISCS?  That’s a radio thing, isn’t it?

A trip to Google and it appears DESERT ISLAND DISCS was created by ROY PLOMLEY and the theme tune was BY THE SLEEPY LAGOON by ERIC COATES.  Everyone who was about to be stranded on the island was automatically given the complete works of the BARD, I guess because when there’s nothing to do, reading Henry V sounds like fun, and a Bible – which confirms OT and NT being removed from TOTIENTS and leaving TIES (and unfortunately not TITS). OK, that explains the songs… they’re also allowed to bring a book and a luxury item (could a boat count as a luxury item?).

Well I now know the last few letters that need to be removed from clues, and I can finish up the grid (though I still can’t figure out the wordplay to ROCK-BASIN I don’t think it can be anything else).

OK, what next – something to highlight.  If you’ve got all these bloody records, won’t you need a TURNTABLE?  There’s ABLE right under the C/R but I can’t see where to make TURN.

Something’s not right here – let’s check those sneaky diagonals… aaah – CHAMBERS is there.  So if you were stuck on a desert island with Chambers you could still do crosswords… except you don’t have any crosswords.  I guess you could set them.  Somewhere are a bunch of floating bottles with hand-written grids, waiting to wash up on the Rotter’s gate entrance to The Times.  Is that how Schadenfreude sends crosswords to the editors?

So it isn’t BARKER/BACKER, it’s BACKER/PACKER, and we’re getting closer.  A name has to be written at the bottom – I automatically wrote in RAY PLOMLEY, but then had second thoughts… it’s the HARMONY that has to be found… surely that’s the song, right?  I don’t think a radio show could be a harmony.  So it’s meant to be ERIC COATES that goes across the bottom?  50/50 chance?  Am I missing something?

My working grid for Listener 4435, The Harmony of Ratios by Ifor

With apologies to Ifor this is one that I can’t say I really cared for.  I’ve never heard the radio show (I have heard of it, mostly when shows make jokes about it). The clues tended heavily towards variations on anagrams for obscure words (very few entries went in without aids) and I’m still scratching my head over what was meant at the end.  I’ll call this a guarded Victory to George but may have to come back and correct it.

Game over:  Victory, 80% completion.

Feel free to tell me that if you were stranded on a desert island you’d take a printout of this blog to use as loo paper, and see you next week when Aragon cleans up after me.


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