Inquisitor 1718 Epitaph by eXternal

October 5, 2021

As if both setter and editor had predicted the latest gift that Brexit has delivered, this week’s puzzle celebrated things Looney (Tunes) to accompany a weekend when many spent their free time queuing outside petrol stations for fuel they didn’t need, without checking half a mile down the road to see if others were happily queue-less.

Happily, too, my gardening equipment is all electric which, while being sometimes inconvenient, came into its own with Autumn looming, the weather about to change, and just the single, long, nine-foot high hedge left to cut. The upshot being that, while I usually like to spend Saturday afternoon in a quiet spot with the Inquisitor, this week I spent it tottering unsteadily and it must be said somewhat unhappily too at the top of a rickety, bargain-basement Amazon stepladder. So it was to the accompaniment of Strictly later that evening that I would get round to eXternal’s latest offering.

An offering it must be said that took no prisoners. Clashes. Tick. Extra words in some clues, another tick. But when the clashes involve a number of letters, that leaves little in the way of checking letters. And so it would be that, despite making steady progress throughout Saturday evening, starting optimistically with SCHUSSED at 1ac (and my first trip to the BRB), through to the very Carry On MISSUSES to the SE, I most definitely ran out of steam much later with 17ac and 11ac still unsolved. Yes, they were evidently ones where we had clashes, but no, my brain refused to process what was evidently not too 11ac. And so with a concert still running on TV from the upper floor of a building I’d had the dubious pleasure of occupying earlier in the week, I retired for the night, though with a number of the clashes resolved – BUGS, ROAD, and CAPTAIN among them, though not all matched to extra words gleaned from the clues.

Sunday, then, and lunchtime by the time everybody had been fed and persuaded to wash. 11ac, ironically, TRICKY (which I should have got sooner, having considered that with one extra word being “glutton”, POR from the crossing clash might well lead to something PORKYish), and that little known fish, FOGASHES, having spent too long considering what clashing letters might go with HORN to actually get on with solving the clue.

Clashes resolved then to give a “thematic person”. Well, it evidently wasn’t going to be the case that the letters we had would resolve properly in all cases for the crossing downs and acrosses, so we would be looking for new ones to slot in, based on what would fit.

A list was duly drawn up, and stared at for some time. DEL PLANT, MEL PLANT? Close, but no cigar.

The epitaph, then? Thankfully at the point I was beginning to despair, I spotted from each column THAT’S, and leapt like a drowning man upon ALL FOLKS. A trip later to Wikipedia to confirm that MEL BLANC did a lot of the Looney Tune voices, and Bob’s your uncle. Figuratively speaking, obviously. Clashes resolved, letters moved to the top row, and done, I think, unless I’ve missed something obvious in the preamble. It would not be the first time. I will admit to not spotting all the characters from the clashes, though PORKY (Pig), BUGS (Bunny) and ROAD (Runner) were hard to miss.

Now, that was tough, but I think very, very good, and very satisfying too when it all fell together. Another one for that end of year list?

20210926_125921~2

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