Hexes by Stick Insect

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Listener crossword 4080: Hexes by Stick Insect (2010-04-03)

This was the first Listener crossword by Stick Insect, and it was pleasant and straightforward (especially in comparison with Shackleton’s spectacular last week). “The wordplay in each clue indicated the answer with an extra letter or with one letter omitted … In clue order, the extra and omitted letters spell out a set of people’s names, some appropriately interrupted.”

The extra and omitted letters spelled CATH(H)ERINE A(H)NNE JANE AN(H)NE C(H)ATHERINE CATHERINE. These were the six wives of Henry VIII, with four of them “interrupted” by an H (for Henry), namely the four whose marriages were ended prematurely. For Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves the H was central, which I think was supposed to represent a divorce (although properly speaking these marriages were ended by annulment), and for Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the H was second, beheading the initial letter. Jane Seymour (who died) and Catherine Parr (who survived Henry) were uninterrupted.

“All but one of the same set, similarly interrupted, must be highlighted in the grid (34 cells).” The surnames of five of the wives—ARA(H)GON, B(H)OLEYN, SEYMOUR, CLE(H)VES and H(H)OWARD—could be traced downwards in the grid in the form of Henry’s ordinal VIII. (This numeral, and the “34 cells”, resolved the possible ambiguities in tracing the names.)

There was the usual trap for solvers having trouble with wordplay at 12d, where both CASTOCK and CUSTOCK fitted the grid and the definition. A very similar theme was previously used in Listener number 3728, Who Am I? by Amicus.

No Clue Answer Wordplay Extra / omitted
1a Employed to remain unchanged, quiet, subdued BESTOWED BE ST COWED C
7a Local girl followed by saints—a risky situation MORASS MOR SS A
12a Plant extract claiming active energy compound hides ulcer’s origins CATECHU C[laiming] A[ctive] E[nergy] C[ompound] H[ides] U[lcer’s] T
13a Mistake to precede east wind BISE BISH E H
15a Fish murmur softly COHO COO H
16a Idiotic gambling game with a counter OAFISH EO A FISH E
17a Dry up Scottish inlets, expelling ordinary marine mammals there SEALCHS SEAR L[o]CHS R
18a Laments over type of salad SLAW WAILS reversed I
19a Stagger in Perth street bearing large weight STOT ST containing TON N
20a Hypothetical rule applied to type of particle HYPERON HYP R ON E
21a African bird that lacks hint of tunefulness TAHA THA[t] A
23a Faires losing second axe handle HELVE ELVE[s] H
25a Indian bullfinch circles enclosure MOHAWK MONK around HAW N
28a Upset, temperature dropping twice, imagine total blood disorder OLIGAEMIA Anagram of IMAGINE [t]O[t]AL N
32a Beat old cow that’s facing west TAN NEAT reversed E
34a Springbok’s celebration in rabbit settlement COLONY JOL in CONY J
35a Vintage brew of Zaire accompanies old, old bread CRUZEIRO CRU, anagram of ZAIRE, O A
36a Poison for Will precedes radical form of promotion BANNER AD BANE RAD N
37a Alpine stage slopes up RISS RISES E
38a Distasteful to retain all sections of prickly shrub GORSY GORY around AS A
39a Noble’s wife rages about deer section BARONETESS BATES around ROE; S N
2d Try Liberal Lord EARL HEAR L H
3d Originally, Stonehenge towered over Neolithic art’s range of columns STOA S[tonehenge] T[owered] O[ver] N[eolithic] A[rt’s] N
4d Refreshment suppliers sat up to welcome sportsman’s companion willing to participate TEA WAGONS SAT reversed around WAG ON E
5d Informal letter in seven days almost reaches the old bird WHITE-EYE CHIT in WEE[k], YE C
6d American in hole ground up antiseptic preparation EUSOL US in anagram of HOLE H
7d Wrongly perceived, rabble follows young lady endlessly MISHEARD MIS[s] HERD A
8d Father stands up to win REAP PATER reversed T
9d Outrage loses king’s support before satire is played to expose feeble arguments SOCRATISE SHOC[k], anagram of SATIRE H
10d Hush—is he hiding inwardly? SHH [i]SHEH[iding] E
11d Skua—oddly bird of song BOS’N B[i]R[d] O[f] S[o]N[g] R
12d Cabbage stem, one to be located in a small pile of hay CASTOCK A SIT in COCK I
14d Desires to upend part of carcase SEY YENS reversed N
19d Fish woman gets widow’s stipend, unknown amount SHANNY SHE ANN Y E
22d This fat removes depth of a scar HILAR HIC LAR[d] C
24d Five in command rule holder of designated authority VICAR V IC R A
25d Grieve for Irish girlfriend holding repository for the dead MOURN MOT around URN T
26d Australian male in Zambia gets cross when sent north OZZIE HE I’ Z ZO reversed H
27d King pays close attention to difficulties KNOTS K NOTES E
29d Wolf left boor in confusion LOBO L, anagram of BOOR R
30d Delay destiny MORA MOIRA I
31d Legally secure venerable saint VEST VEN ST N
33d Reads about primitive soil turners ARDS Anagram of READS E