Inquisitor 1530 Banner Advertisement by Serpent

February 28, 2018

Saturday 17th February, the day of the great earthquake. Well, the earth moved for me, anyway. Was this an omen, because who stole all the bars from that grid? Oh, it’s a jigsaw, and I never have the first idea about how to set about filling the things. For added entertainment value all but sixteen of the clues will be entered with blank cells between some of the letters. The others? Eight acrosses need a word removed from the clue before solving, eight downs a single letter wherever it appears.

Dive in, and start cold solving. How much joy did this fill me with? After an hour I went to clean the car instead and then watch a DVD. Because putting off actually solving the thing will lead to flashes of inspiration? Not really. The night ends with lots of clues solved, and lots of excised words from the acrosses – fiasco, pineapple, malware – that appear to have nothing at all in common, and lots of excised letters from the downs. Here we do have a pattern – they’re all N. Which tells me absolutely nothing. The grid? Well, that’s completely blank, because, well, see my comments regarding this sort of puzzle in the first paragraph.

Fast forward to Sunday evening. Solve a few more clues. Think to hell with it and start lobbing some of those answers in the grid. The first across in the first row and let’s see how we go from there. Chaotically is the answer to that preceding a careful re-read of the preamble. Those are blank cells, not ones where we start trying to haphazardly cross clues. At which point things start to make a little more sense, and some sort of shape emerges, a possible pattern to the blank cells. A curve of some description. The answers from the sixteen amended clues it also becomes clear are a major boon, anchors in a pretty chaotic mess of penciling ins and rubbings out. A bit of a debacle down in the SW corner ensues until it becomes clear that RAND is not in fact RAND but MINT. Which is the sort of thing which happens when you haven’t got any crossing letters until the close to work with. Though with some in place, and clues that are on the easier side to compensate for the amount of cold solving, the last few downs go in at a rate of knots.

Some straight lines begin to emerge amid the blank cells and… Of course, it’s the CND symbol. I’ve still got the badge somewhere to prove where my sympathies lay. We need to highlight a name? There’s B RUSSELL obviously in the SE corner – CND’s one and only president apparently.

The slogan? Shell, attack, pineapple could all equate to bomb, I suppose, though I’m not sure about some of the other excisions. So BAN THE BOMB.

The phrase? N for Nuclear in all the downs. NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT.

See, I can do this sort of thing. Feeling quietly pleased with myself I draw the symbol, highlight the name, fill in the slogan and phrase. And you know what, I enjoyed filling the grid too, despite an initial moment of utter desperation upon noticing the lack of bars. Thanks Serpent for a thoroughly enjoyable solve.

All of which takes me back to the heady days of the earlyish ’80s, and this infamously banned video.

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