3983: Reappearance by Poat

Poat, one of a small number of Listener setters based outside the British Isles, reappeared this week after a gap of just 28 puzzles. This was a tricky but enjoyable puzzle in which identifying the first author and his work was much easier than completing the grid. The unspecified entry methods for Across and Down answers meant that finishing the puzzle was quite a challenge, the main difficulty being the splitting of Across answers before entry.

In seven clues, the wordplay indicated an answer to be entered elsewhere. These answers were: TEASPOON, BEDPAN, EROGENIC, STAPHYLOCOCCI, ACYCLIC, YESTEREVENING and WILED. Their initial letters can be arranged to spell W B YEATS, the author of The SECOND COMING, entered at 1ac 35. This poem contains the line “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold“, an interpretation of which gave the required entry methods for Across and Down answers. For Across answers, one half of the answer had to be entered at the symmetrically opposite light, thereby demonstrating things falling apart. For Down answers, the central letter had to be omitted, demonstrating that the centre cannot hold.

The second literary work turned out to be “Things Fall Apart”, by CHINUA ACHEBE, whose name had to be highlighted in a stepped diagonal pattern running approximately SW to NE in the grid. This novel, the author’s first, was published 50 years ago. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, a standard Listener reference, confirms that the novel’s title is derived from Yeats’ poem. The highlighted pattern of cells gave Gregson the impression that the diagonal had been stretched and broken in the centre, as implied by the thematic quotation.

Regular visitors to The Crossword Centre might recall that this quotation was used for the competition puzzle in September 2004. This puzzle was Come Again? by Hotspur (Puzzle and Solution), who, by a strange coincidence, is also a setter based overseas. In Hotspur’s puzzle, however, the method of entry and the dénouement were different.

5 Good yields in orchard won first fruit for pie (6)
WARDEN G (Good) removed from GARDEN (orchard), preceded by W (won)
10 Little agitator in miserable building site green with envy (8)
[Answer TEASPOON] Wordplay leads to YESTEREVENING Anagram of SITE + GREEN + ENVY
13 American group working on endless album intro, running out of time (10, two words)
LABOR UNION Anagram of ON + ALBU(M) (last letter removed ie endless) + IN(T)RO (T removed ie time)
14 Remove old chain from mongrel close to tree ... (4)
POON O (old) + CH (chain) removed from POOCH (mongrel), + ON (close to)
15 ... terriers chase a little dog around another (6)
BALATA TA (terriers ie Territorial Army), after A + LAB (abbreviation for labrador ie little dog) reversed
Here, the definition is “another tree” following on from the previous clue
16 Thus, when cycling, the French push together (6)
HUSTLE HUST (Letters of THUS, in cyclic order) + LE (French word for “the”)
18 End of haymow's moved inside when cut (4)
HEWN W (last letter of HAYMOW) relocated inside WHEN
19 Carlisle's back has velocity: one's unable to catch United number nine? (8)
EVACUANT E (last letter of CARLISLE) + V (velocity) + A (one) + CAN’T (unable) containing U (United)
Number nine being military slang for a purgative pill, dating from a time when such a pill was No. 9 in the Field Hospital case of drugs
21 Nasty beating, look, from heartless former partner (8)
ONCE-OVER ONCE (former) + LOVER (partner), minus central letter when concatenated
There are two definitions ie “nasty beating” and “look”
27 Notice (reportedly) cell that's hard to find (4)
CYTE Homophone of SIGHT (notice)
Here, “that’s hard to find” indicates a rare usage
29 One warming the sheets, a Young Conservative wrapped in most of ticking (6)
[Answer BEDPAN] Wordplay leads to ACYCLIC A + YC (Young Conservative) inside CLIC(K) (ticking, with last letter removed)
30 That is OK for snobs after announcing dinner setting (6)
MILIEU IE (That is) + U (OK for snobs) after homophone of MEAL
Unusually, the required letter string MIL is not a homophone in its own right, but only when pronounced in the answer as a whole
31 Heads of mafia exposed as detective pursues cases (4)
CAPI PI (detective) after CA (cases)
32 Oscar-winner Ry Roberts stalked fruits in pairs (10)
CHERRY-BOBS CHER (Oscar winner) + RY + BOBS (Roberts)
Cher’s Oscar being awarded in 1988
33 Lustful one's getting jiggy with me (8)
[Answer EROGENIC] Wordplay leads to TEASPOON Anagram of ONE’S + POAT (me)
34 Dales town, the sort adjacent to open country (6)
ILKLEY ILK (the sort) + LEY (open country)

1 These have ill effects, reflecting bloodshed at the movies? (13)
[Answer STAPHYLOCOCCI] Wordplay leads to EROGENIC CINE GORE (bloodshed at the movies) reversed
2 Here's a fish supplement for 'Arry, swallowing stimulant tablet (7)
EELPOUT (H)ELP OUT (supplement for ‘Arry) containing E (stimulant tablet)
3 Impromptu ballad plays liltingly in company ... (7)
CALYPSO ALYPS (Anagram of PLAYS) inside CO (company)
4 ... not including Misty Blue before mists appear (7)
NEBULAE NE (not), containing EBUL (anagram of BLUE) + A (before)
6 Swerving round metal piece, train 201 not observing timetable? (7)
[Answer ACYCLIC] Wordplay leads to STAPHYLOCOCCI SHY (swerving) containing TAP (metal piece) + LOCO (train) + CCI (Roman numerals for 201)
According to Chambers, a train is a string of railway carriages pulled by a locomotive, not the locomotive itself
7 Forester redistributing plunder in local district (9, two words)
8 Abase brother as accepted by uncle (7)
EMBRUTE BR (brother) + UT (as) inside EME (uncle)
9 Last night I directed wife in the van (13)
[Answer YESTEREVENING] Wordplay leads to WILED I LED (directed) preceded by W (wife)
Here, “in the van” indicates “in the forefront of” (see van(2) in Chambers)
11 A type of Shiraz? (7)
IRANIAN Cryptic definition, ie a person from Shiraz perhaps
An example of a clue type not often seen in The Listener series
12 Person getting on in endless piece of legal business (5)
DONEE ON inside DEE(D) (ie piece of legal business, minus last letter)
17 Held rope fixed round pole as means of testing waterworks (9, two words)
PHENOL RED Anagram of HELD ROPE round N (ie North pole)
20 "Empty vessel" not having the numbers for annulment (7)
VACATUR VACANT (Empty) + URN (vessel), minus N twice (numbers)
22 Tormented holy man gaining power for love of divinity (7)
NYMPHAL Anagram of HOLY MAN, with P (power) replacing O (love)
23 Recuperate, moving away from sports ground in difficulties (7, three words)
UP A TREE Anagram of RECUPERATE, less REC (abbreviation for sports ground)
24 Every cricketer bar one has a touch of morbid lechery (7)
TENTIGO TEN (Every cricketer ie eleven, minus one) + TIG (a touch) +O’ (of)
25 Corinthian vessels afloat: one of these could be safe with no motion (7)
STAMNOI Composite anagram, with ONE OF STAMNOI being an anagram of SAFE + NO MOTION
26 Acknowledge when superhero's girl's worked in band ... (7)
CLOISON CON (Acknowledge) containing LOIS (superhero’s girl)
Lois here is Lois Lane, the girlfriend of Superman
28 ... new band EP was beguiling (5)
[Answer WILED] Wordplay leads to BEDPAN Anagram of BAND EP