If golf is a good walk wasted, is fishing getting wasted in a boat?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly source for poor taste jokes and ruminations on a weekly puzzle.  Quiver in antici… pation for the big edition in two weeks where there is a numerical playfair, and wait to see whether today’s puzzle has something to do with the 40th anniversary of Star Wars.  You never know.

Anyhoo, we have a Nutmeg puzzle this week!  Extra letters in some clues, others lead to entries too short for the grid… Looks like another week with all real words in the grid, so let’s begin.

There is a 1 across – we haven’t had one of those for a while!  And it’s wordplay you may have seen before – reversal of STAB for BATS and an A that needs to be removed from the clue.  Woohoo!  Big pass on the 1 across test, this could be a good sign.

BATS is an interesting place to start, as it crosses what looks like it should be AIRBAG but I thought the Listener team frowned on cryptic definitions.  It went in with a question mark.  It also crossed SOW which is definitely too small for the entry.  16 across is BARES, and with FORCEPS and ON TO crossing it, looks suspiciously like BARES becomes BARCODES which means COD is added – could SOW gain PARR to be SPARROW and we are adding fish to the answers?  FRANCE could become FREELANCE.  This is looking promising!

OK – so we are pretty early into the process and I think I know what has to go in – now what about that message?  I have the start of ARE FISHERMEN and that’s all that is needed in Googleworld to come up with ARE FISHERMEN ALL LIARS OR DO ONLY LIARS FISH.

Armed with the phrase in extra letters and what has to be done to the short answers, the rest of the fill was a breeze, and this one was all done in one fairly long (two hours or so) session.

my working grid for Listener 4449, Whoppers by Nutmeg

I had more fun with this than I should – my father and grandfather both took me fishing as a boy (my father still goes out when friends are in town), and I can’t think of anything more tedious that doesn’t involve Playfair squares.  I like eating fish though, so I appreciate someone has to catch them.

Still, I think I can call this one a Victory to George

Game over:  100% completion!

Feel free to tell me that a stunned mullet like me should find another hobby, and see you next week when Calmac has a puzzle based on all those offers I get in the mail.

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