Listener Crossword 3989: Solution Notes

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Key: Cutting by Lavatch

Puzzle explanation

Letters omitted from 12 across answers (palatine, airhole, hinges, reassure, tenaillon, saponifies, annexation, apostille, fee tail, Dagestan, hedging, snastes) spelt “The Rape of the”. First letters of redundant words from down clues (nuclear, called, in, Anglican, nervous, might, infolds, through, obviously, Britain, on) could give COMBINATION. Thus the theme was Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and the grid is a “combination lock”, in “locked”, ie, scrambled form. Row 3 of the completed grid reads “trivial things” (v. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations). By rotating each column of letters like a wheel of a combination lock, this could be replaced by ALEXANDER POPE, to obtain the unlocked form. Ambiguities in columns 1, 8 and 13 are resolved by the appearance in row 9 of GEMBELINDAINI (ie, BELINDA in GEMINI), to be written beneath the grid, as a possible representation of the poem’s last line “And midst the stars inscribe Belinda’s name”. The grid was to be returned to its original locked format, with this transcription of the dénouement proving that the solver had managed to open it.

Clue explanations

Conventions: * = anagram, < = reversal

No Latent letter/
extra word
Answer Explanation
ACROSS
1   GABBED (G + BED) about (A + B)
6 T PALATINE ALAIN in P(rinc)E
11 H AIRHOLE (A + ROLE) about I
12   ODENSE O + DENSE
13   TRIVIAL RI + VITAL, T moved to “side”
15 E HINGES (Martina) HINGIS – (serv)I(ce)
17 R REASSURE E + ASSUME – M
18 A TENAILLON TEN + ILL + ON
20 P SAPONIFIES IS SAFE, ION*
23 E ANNEXATION (A + NATION) about (N(azis) + X) & lit
29 O APOSTILLE APE about STILL; shot = photo
31 F FEE TAIL EWE + TAIL – W
33   DAHLS (Roald) DAHL + S(tir)
34 T DAGESTAN (DAG + SAN) about E
35   LIPOMA PO in LIMA
36 H HEDGING Two definitions (edging)
37   ADMIRAL Composite anagram: SEEN + ADMIRAL → MARINE’S LEAD, & lit
38 E SNASTES SAINTESS* – IE
DOWN
2,25 nuclear AIRMEN MARINE*
2,25   PLIANT I in PLANT (snooker)
3,19 called BRIAN ENO A used later in BRAIN + E + NO
3,19   BIOLYSIS B + IP + LIS about (Y + A)
4,24 in BOVRIL BO + VRIL
4,24   PINEGA GA after PINE
5,32 Anglican GAES GAS about E
5,32   DEAN D(emonic) + EAN
6,30 nervous PEDAL PE + LAD <
6,30   POLIO POL(o) + I-O
7,28 might LEHAR LEAR about H; horse = heroin
7,28   VISOR VIS + OR
8,27 infolds ANISE IN SEA*
8,27   PALPI PLAP < + I
9,26 through NEGUS (GE in SUN) <
9,26   WEALD W + DALE*
10,13 obviously EISENSTEIN (r)EIS + EN + (Gertrude) STEIN
10,13   TETRAHEDRA DEATH RATE* about R
14,21 Britain TENNO NO after TEN
14,21   AT ALL A (he) + TALL
16,22 on INTI INTIMATE – MATE
16,22   ELSA SALE*
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