Welcome back to our slightly irreverent blog on our latest published puzzle of what was a very busy period for Eclogue at the start of 2014. "A Little Light Entertainment" as it eventually became known (of which more anon) commemorates the works of one little-known early twentieth-century English light-music composer, one Frederic Curzon, this puzzle was submitted to Magpie in early October. It was only in the run-up to submission that the 40th anniversary of his death on 7th December 1973, was identified, which got Eclogue to put their skates on. However, as those who have been glued to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will testify, speed and skates tends to lead to slips and slides, and this puzzle had, shall we say, a somewhat difficult birth.
Little is known of Curzon and the solver will have only a very sparse Wikipedia entry for reference. This entry in turn is apparently based on the cover notes of a Naxos / Marco Polo CD fortuitously discovered by Logogriph in a charity shop!
Originally entitled Hum Ho Factory, an anagram based on one of Curzon's works (referencing one possible opinion of the light music genre), Charm of Youth Suite, the puzzle also featured cryptic entries based on other works. One such title was Robin Hood Suite which gave two entries, HOB and INDOOR. The issues to overcome in the editors' minds were the obscurity of the theme (compensated by the variety of cryptic representations), but more problematically the interpretation of SUITE. Eclogue convinced themselves that a SUITE was an 'arrangement of' (and still hold to that opinion), but Chambers' definition was not overly helpful, and therefore the ROBIN HOOD SUITE (and CHARM OF YOUTH SUITE) was deemed to flaw the puzzle which was therefore rejected.
Now, we're not going to let a little set-back like that perturb us, as the puzzle itself was generally well-favoured. Nor are we in the habit of arguing - life is just too short and we usually endorse the oft-repeated competition rubric that the editor's decision is final. After a rapid re-write and with an eye on the calendar Hum Ho Factory re-emerged as A Little Light Music, which was then renamed again to A Little Light Entertainment. This version went for ROB in HOOD represented by PINCH in GOON.
However, while this fixed the SUITE problem, further editorial changes were required to increase the average lengths of lights that had suffered in the second iteration, and so we arrived at the published version:-
One final issue to resolve, namely that the wonderfully named Dance of the Ostracised Imp in the Wikipedia entry used the incorrect american 'z' spelling. Our original preamble made mention of this, but, with the internet dexterity that comes easily to him, Magpie's Chris Lear pitched in to update the offending entry, in time for solvers to be none the wiser.
Unfortunately the succession of changes meant that the anniversary slipped by almost unheralded, with its final version the puzzle came into being in the January 2014 Magpie but the fact that this edition was published early (on Christmas Day 2013) to some extent satisfied the anniversial requirement!
For those who are unfamiliar with Mr Curzon's work, you can find no better place to start than http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jH3lKLgAdc where you'll find one of the tracks from the Naxos CD.
Clues yielded an extra letter in wordplay which provided four further lights by our composer in residence, THE BOULEVARDIER, CAPRICANTE, GALAVANT and BRAVADA.
We hope a jolly time was had by all. Aside from the obscurity of the theme (we refer such comments to our blog for Who's The Daddy?), solvers comments were generally positive. Interestingly, PINCH in GOON was the thematic highlighting most often noted as the hardest to spot. Thanks as always to everyone who commented:-