In the follow-up, did they harvest meat balls?

Welcome back – it’s Listener 4444, so may the 4’s be with you!

I thought we had a new setter this week but it appears to be a newdonym – the Listener webpage lists Handyman as an alias for Shark.  There’s a lot in the preamble – modified entries, wordplay only clues, missing letters in wordplay, things to highlight and a strangely large number of non-Chambers words.  Hmmm?  An asymmetric grid too!

A look back shows I failed miserably at the last Shark offering (Quads II), so here goes nothing!

1 across was unclued so we have to look at 10 across, which I’m afraid to say was one of my last solved, so a big fail on the 1 across test.  Next up was OOMPAH – MA in OOH with the P unindicated. Nothing seemed to fit along with that, although it struck me that 9 down looked like an anagram clue with far too many letters.  Pity I was on a plane without wifi, I think if I’d put it in to an anagram solver straight away I could have made this one a romp.

Instead I managed to get myself in all sorts of messes – one being rather amusing – at 23 across I had TAT as half of TATTOO since I’ve seen a lot of henna tattoos around.  I shrugged at TESH as looking like it kind of fit, and went on from there.

Eventually I got to an anagram solver, put in the letters from 9 down and there was SEVEN HILLS OF ROME – which would fit if the first character was the numeral – is it 6-9 that give us a year?  If so, then 6 would be 1 something – ONE-MAN!  7 would be another number – 9PENCE!  So the top row was P?N?RAM?19?7.  PANORAMA?

A googling of PANORAMA shows me that in 1957 they ran the Spaghetti Tree video! So the extra letters read APRIL FOOL (confirming AMUSER), and there’s TRUNK in broad daylight in the zigzags.  On one side, a BOUGH hangs out with SPAGHETTI draped over it, and on the other side… well there’s BRANC which is nearly BRANCH and a SPAGH but no ETTI.  There’s an ITT?

Took me a while to convince myself that there was an option for TAT.  MEH fits the definition and puts an E and a H where they need to be – and there is MEHNDI in Chambers to fix up that mess.  Woohoo!

My working grid for Listener 4444, Food For Thought by Handyman

Oh boy did I make that harder than it was – fun puzzle Handyman!

Game over:  Victory to George, 100% completion, woohoo!

Odd postscript – NUNGA was quite vulgar slang in Australia in the 70s, so I was surprised to see it here.

Anyhoo, feel free to call me a nungamuncher and see you next week when eXternal requests some strange.

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