Inquisitor 1484 Pallo by Ifor

April 12, 2017

There seems to be a lot going on this week, with letters to be added to 18 answers, letters hidden / deposited to the clues in others, a few unclued entries, one of which is meaningless with letters dropped (again), and there’s a phrase we need to find and… Deep breath!

My usual strategy where I’m feeling totally befuddled by the preamble is just to leap in and hope for the best. It looks like today’s going to be one of those days where I get away with it. Lots of answers going in where we don’t need to do anything with either wordplay or answer. But the down clues to the top and bottom of the grid aren’t working out – the grid entries seem to be longer than the wordplay allows, which is OK, that’s par for the course, but the crossing letters don’t look right either. Until, revived by a break for tea, it dawns that a large bunch of those 18 extra letters could be across the top and bottom rows. So pretend they’re not there, and solve away. So, instead of trying to make sense of an anagram of ‘Sees’ at 1d, with pattern ?ES??, we’re looking for ES??, which of course is ESSE.

I’m faring less well with the letters that need to be dropped and added, failing to properly parse a lot of the clues. And I’ve got the sense I’m solving this arse backwards – the two unclued entries at 21ac and 29ac have got to be, based on the date and the letters I have, APRIL FOOLS. And given that, for the clues I have parsed properly, the missing / added letters are all A, I’m guessing the phrase we need to write underneath, based on (3,5,2,5), must be THE FIRST OF APRIL.

To the top and bottom rows. For the top it transpires that the preamble actually gives us an anagram of the entry. But that isn’t how I solved it – I looked at what real words could be made by adding letters to the crossing down entries, and then what might fit. So DEAD LETTERBOX and POSTE RESTANTE. I’m guessing, from the preamble, that I’m supposed to have got the APRIL FOOLS after the latter, if I’ve got this right, but never mind.

We still have a bit of a gaping hole down the centre of the grid at 10d, which must be the entry that is ‘meaningless, having some letters dropped.’ Literally meaningless, it appears, with some letters dropping, as we have ‘?NNG?S?MAI?’ From the top and bottom rows it looks like this must be ‘?NNG?S?MAIL’, and if the last 4 letters have dropped down from the word ‘meaningless’, we don’t have much choice about our entry for 10d which, apart from MAIL, does appear to be pretty meaningless.

Is this right? What’s the significance of the letterbox / post / mail stuff? What does the title, Pallo, refer to? Is it all one big April Fool? Unless I’ve missed something significant, I’m saying it probably is.

Until next week then with Schadenfreude, and Man.

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