Who on Earth paints their doorstep? (or should that be !)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Congratulations to the folks at Listen With Others who managed to recover their archive and save this from being the primary repository of Listener “solving” blogs.

Aragon time! I had thought that it has been a long time since we’ve seen Aragon, he’s probably busy editing crosswords somewhere else, but I had missed the puzzle from two years ago about the Mitford girls (hadn’t added the tag).  Anyhoo, since Aragon used to criticize my clues when I could be bothered entering the Times clue-writing puzzles, let’s have a stab at his latest Listener.

Domestic job, mess, knight’s moves

Oh great… knight’s moves.

Work area, perpetrator, column, clash, symbols, mishap.

Should a preamble take 20 minutes to read?

At least there is a 1 across, and it is a perfectly normal L(OC)UM, so a big pass on the 1 across test.  OK – I suspect I do an Aragon daily puzzle about once every two weeks, so I was used to the cleuing style, and I raced through these clues – found the clashes, including one with I/DOT and this grid was done in a little over an hour.  I’d spotted DOORSTEP at the bottom, but the trail of moves up to the top didn’t mean much.  I had ERASE ALL TRAIL CLASHES, and those clashes (apart from BOHEA), once removed, lead to real words. The rest of the message is to arrange DOWN TRAIL CLASHES, which are IPONATT which can anagram to POINT AT.  Maybe that helps?  The rest of the across clashes are ARKBROW which with the D from DOORSTEP can make DARK BROWN with the N of… I have no idea what the N is.

At this point I got frustrated and put it down for a bit.

Which turned into a long time.

Which nearly turned into forgetting about it entirely, in fact I didn’t look at it again until after trying the next puzzle that appeared.

A week later.. surely the DOORSTEP is the workplace and N has something to do with it… NAMIES?  Oh – there’s POSTMAN in a diagonal.  So the POSTMAN is the one that made a mess.  BEWARE OF DOG?  Can I make a dog out of those letters?

Let’s put it down again.

C’mon George – don’t have a completed grid and 75% of the thematic material.  Push through this… is it one of the columns that crosses what is now the non-word BOHE? Something DOORSTEP?  Something ON DOORSTEP?  Oh – the DOT and I could be an exclamation point.  Something ON DOORSTEP!  WET PAINT ON DOORSTEP!

Here’s the grid (without the clashes being whited out)

My working grid for Listener 4436, Clean-up Operation by Aragon

This may be some sort of record time between completing the grid, and getting the thematic information.  I think it was about four times as long staring and poking as it was solving the clues.  Hmmm…

Game over – 100% completion (but if it was being timed, a massive fail).

Feel free to tell me that I don’t understand the struggle of having a house with no mailbox, just a letter-slot in the front door, and a housing association mandate that the steps be whitewashed every other week, and I’ll see you next week, when Encota forgives us the tiffs we had in the meantime.

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