Inquisitor 1638 Remedial Action by eXternal

March 24, 2020

On the weekend that the Listener booze-up somewhat unwisely carried on regardless, was it any coincidence that eXternal’s latest offering on the theme of something a little less highbrow than Hedge-Sparrow’s was scheduled? Thought not. Though I imagine the bash was the sort of up-market affair where rousing renditions of the Drunken Sailor were strictly non-U.

To the preamble, which looked somewhat alarming. The bit we needed to actually solve the thing could handily be summarised as being 17 clues with an extra word, and 6 without definition. See, this IQ business isn’t that scary after all.

The grid-fill was begun following the obligatory Saturday morning dance lesson where all 8 of the usual suspects turned up, such being the general climate of fear and all-encompassing loathing. Thankfully it left lots of space in the bar to self-isolate and enjoy Quixote’s unexpected prize puzzle. But the IQ I hear you cry. Well, the grid-fill could best be summarised as being slowish but steady, with an eyebrow raised on “tough” for “sticky” in one bit of wordplay, only to find it justified in the BRB, one of many trips required this week, mostly on the parsing side of things it seemed.

The south proved somewhat more intransigent until I thought to look at the locations given by the definition-less clues. We had SCUPPERS, LONGBOAT, GUARDROOM and BILGE for starters. And what did they all have in common? Well, that song of course. Which location might the checking letters fit? That would be TAFFRAIL which you’d think I’d know but didn’t. A last YARDARM bang in the centre and the set was complete.

Job done.

Having somewhat enjoyed the solving experience thus far, I thought – let’s throw caution to the wind and enjoy it a bit more. Yep, those extra words. The time of course would be early in the morning, leaving just a bit of untangling of some mariners to sort out.

r(e)mainer MARINER
p(a)shmina SHIPMAN
mo(r)tal MATLO
dro(l)lest OLDSTER
ha(y)dn HAND
man(i)toba BOATMAN
ora(n)gutan ARGONAUT
(t)imely LIMEY
p(h)antom TOPMAN
refer(e)e REEFER
(m)arked DRAKE
(o)wner WREN
(r)ibands SINBAD
sla(n)t SALT
w(i)steria WAISTER
mea(n)t MATE
madri(g)al ADMIRAL

No prizes for guessing that the letters to be moved would leave us with a sailor, albeit a drunken one, and one where it took me a little while to realise that the letters we didn’t need to highlight would be the ones moving alongside the longboat.

All done, I hope, given an extensive preamble and my proclivity to not read the things properly. Time to text my apologies for skipping some activities not commensurate with this isolation lark, reach for a bottle of the hard stuff, and sweat it out.

PS Far be it from me to point out mistakes on the part of the editor, but I suspect that the closing date for this puzzle is in fact the 24th and not a time-bending 12th March.

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