Posted by HolyGhost on April 18th, 2012
Augeas’s second Inquisitor puzzle, so an appropriate title? And forgive me if I’m brief – on a week’s break for Easter, just outside Hay-on-Wye.
Four items have something in common, three of them being the unclued entries in the top, middle, and bottom rows; the remaining item is an anagram of (some of) the letters in shaded cells, the rest providing what is needed to complete the grid appropriately. All fairly clear, except for the slightly mysterious last part. (The final bit of the rubric was slightly garbled, but the paraphrase above is what was meant.)
I managed just over half the clues on the first pass, meeting a fairly eclectic string of references en route: from Gormenghast via Last of the Summer Wine to Private Eye (and also The Lord of the Rings much, much later – neat clue at 16d). Back to the beginning, and filled in quite a bit more of the grid, enough to make a stab at the entries in the top and bottom rows, even though 1d was proving elusive.
OK, so what do LONDON LEEDS and MONEY SUPPLY have in common? The answer, M1, came readily, confirmed by the cryptic indication given by the title. The middle row looked like something NEBULA, and googling “M1 nebula” gave me CRAB NEBULA, also known as Messier 1, or M1. But that left me with an unexpected hole between the N and E of NEBULA, the central cell in the grid. Anyway, that led me to SAURIAN at 16d and finally LATROCINIUM at 1d, and so with just the endgame to go I called it a day.
The following afternoon, after a fine walk along Offa’s Dyke Path over the Hergest Ridge, I settled down with a mug of tea and piece of simnel cake to finish the puzzle. I had 15 letters form the shaded cells (almost symmetrically disposed), 11 of which were destined for the final thematic item and the other four presumably leading to what was to go in the currently blank central cell. After a little while puzzling, I looked up M1 in Chambers and there was GARAND RIFLE, leaving me with STAR. Not being sure how to depict a neutron star pulsing at over 30 times a second, I settled for putting an asterisk at the centre of the CRAB NEBULA.
On the easy side – but quite good fun, so thanks to Augeas.