Inquisitor 1533 A Little Light Relief from Eclogue

March 21, 2018

You know I only just noticed that “from” in the title. Blame the last minute cancellation of the anticipated Saturday morning lie-in. The conversation with the workman who was supposed to turn up early this morning and fix the leaking skylight – a job which ironically can only be done when it’s dry:

“Are you sure you’ll be coming out tomorrow? The forecast is for rain.”
“I’ll see what it’s like in the morning, Jon.”
An ungodly hour the next day. Showered. Breakfasted. Washed. “Will you be coming to look at that window?”
“It’s looking a bit wet, Jon, I’ll see you Monday instead.”

Gah.

So hopefully this is the bit of light relief promised in the title. Because I cannot think. Misprints in the definitions. That’s Ok, I prefer that to misprints elsewhere. Unclued entries. Eight that need adjustment one way or another. As “number lengths” are to grid entries presumably we’ve got to shorten or lengthen them. Or both, more likely. See, I’m getting the hang of this Inquisitor lark.

With a bag of chips and a suitable amount of coffee behind me, onward into the grid. First one in? Well, it’s the first that caught my eye, 19d, a very generous “for starters” leading to SAKE which is an evil-tasting tipple and not a ripple. A spirit on a bar is going to be the very pink ANGELCAKE. And look, there’s a hidden word at 1ac, even if I didn’t know that Jonathan is some sort of weird slang for Americans until now. Still haven’t got any of those adjusted clues though, and three quarters in… Yep, stuck.

Hang on, look at that grid again. We appear to have inadvertently solved 18ac because of the crossing letters. Now I was always suspicious that soft + idiot = PASS, but what to do with it? If blue = SKY, chuck it round to give us SPASSKY who’s an old master on board and maybe a masher too but you’ll have to ask him about that. So we’ve lost SKY, and I’ve got to say that’s very generous of Eclogue.

We also appear to have a considerable number of the misprints. Wonder if we can make any sense of them?

I??COLDO?TSI??THER???OKI….

Which evidently gives us the Red Dwarf theme. “It’s cold outside. There’s no kind of atmosphere…” Now that makes solving the remainder of the clues a lot easier. The unclued entries must be character names which the Wikipedia entry handily supplies. And the adjusted entries will either be the answer + a synonym for cold, or the answer – one for atmosphere. Easy peasy.

A long time later (and I wonder if anybody fell for the KEELMAN = “Helmsman” trap at 20d?)

SECRETAIRE -> SECRETE
ALFIE -> COALFIELD
REFUGEES -> REES
SPASSKY -> SPAS
STIE -> FROSTIEST
STONEAGE -> SAGE
ELM -> KEELMEN
ARP -> CARPOOL

Well, that was good, wasn’t it? Thoroughly enjoyed.

What about Nimrod’s question posed after the puzzle? Would I welcome or throw my hands up in horror faced with “certain variations that occasionally crop up in other barred crossword(s)”. Printer’s Devilry I’m not that fond of and tend to avoid when Azed does them. Playfair codes I love. Numericals I’ve never had a go at but wouldn’t mind a shot just to see how I get on with them. Badly, I suspect. And none can be quite as mind-bending as Harribobs’s last offering… So, yes, and variety is, as they say, the spice of life.

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