3981: Lip Service by Sabre


Sabre gave us a fantastic puzzle with a scary title – the same as Leon’s famous Listener of 1980, which had no correct entries! The clues were daunting but superbly crafted.

Five unclued grid entries were encoded. When all the clues were solved two encoded entries were complete. These gave HSHS and HLESELAT.  The only solution could be deduced to be PAPA and POTATOES. This would lead to the quotation from Mrs General (hence the "general indication" in the preamble) in Dickens’ Little Dorrit, “Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism are all very good words for the lips.” This gave the rest of the unclued entries and allowed completion of all but one cell.  The principal diagonal, starting at 1, gave a clear text phrase, which, if encoded using the same code would spell LITTLE DORRIT and, thus, ensured completion of the grid. In Gregson’s opinion this was the Listener at its best!

1 Swimmers returning wrap up well outside (5)
OPAHS HAP in SO Reversed
5 Act well worth esteem (6)
BEHAVE BE (worth) + HAVE (esteem)
10 Sheep, catch in pass (9)
11 Bill's back escapes sudden pains (4)
FASH FLASH less L (last letter in BILL)
12 The entire state, head height (7)
13 Start to trap river fish (4)
TUSK T + USK (a river)
15 Bush running late, one hears (4)
SLOE Sounds like SLOW
16 Special essence of woman's body (4)
SOMA S (special) + (w)OMA(n)
18 Like Sabre? Only half nuts (3)
ENS (nuts) ENS(ATE) like a sword
19 Cut top off scallions: sounds frightful? (4)
20 Rushes outside, butcher is late (10)
HORSETAILS HORS (outside) + anagram IS LATE
22 Young ones, sound in limbs (10)
24 Nice thought, bride exchanging rings (4)
IDÉE Hidden (elegantly cryptic – here NICE refers to the toen in France)
25 Social party - bunk, you say (3)
HUI Sounds like HOOEY
27 Poor clue: it's out of place (4)
THIN HINT with T (it) moved
28 A rug's unusual size (4)
GUAR anagram A RUG
29 Turn over bird cast (4)
EMIT TIME reversed (bird = prison sentence)
31 A fish bobbed frenziedly (4)
32 Sires a sort of 10ac (9)
33 City limits in Thame hinder airman (6)
TEHRAN First and last letters ThamE HindeR AirmaN
34 Jake lacking height spots plants (5)
OKRAS OK (Jake) + RAS(H) less H (height)

1 Cool, owning ferret (6)
OFFISH OF (owning) + FISH (to ferret!)
2 Could be personal inventory here (5)
ADSUM AD (personal ad?) + SUM (inventory) Adsum means HERE.
3 Headgear has woven mill finish? (5)
SHAKO anagram HAS + KO (MILL here means boxing-match)
4 He must ring Charlotte's doctor. At once! (9)
HELVETIUM He = HELIUM containing VET. This was Gregson’s clue of the year! Helvetium was the former name of astatine (symbol At) thus the superbly hidden definition – At once! Charlotte refers to the town in the USA.
6 High-fliers from Inverness (5)
ERNES Hidden
7 Fish the Parisian tracks in supermarket (6)
AISLES AIS (fish) + LES (the in French)
8 Upended candle is going out (6)
EGRESS S (is) + SERGE Reversed
9 Leading locals, boomers hold party regularly (6)
RATOOS  regular letters of pArTy in ROOS
14 Endlessly frivolous saying one's at risk of exhaustion (9)
INANITION INANIT(y) + I (one) + ON (at)
17 Psychiatrist breaking a large person's heart (8)
ASPERGER angram of central letters of A L(ARGE PERS)ON
21 Old undertaker's odd diet of rook (6)
EDITOR anagram DIET + O (of) + R (rook)
22 Silky lace slips embraced by mum (6)
SEALCH (Silky is also Scots for SEAL) anagram LACE in SH (Mum= be silent!)
23 Son following drag racers, for example (6)
SNAKES (RACERS are N American snakes) SNAKE (drag) + S (sons)
25 African nation subscribed this year (5)
HAUSA HA (hoc anno) + USA. Subscribed here means written underneath.
26 Advisors work without fee on lawyer's terms (5)
GENRO GO (work) containing last letters of feE oN lawyeR. Here, TERMS means ENDS.
30 Cloak is in fashion up north (4)