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Crossword Help Forum
Forum Rules


20th January 2023, 16:09
The Clues
Requests for help should normally include the clue itself, the number of letters in the answer, and details of any you already have. Any special instructions or additional information should also be included.
Hints only, please, no answers.

The Theme.

Requests for help with the theme may also be made here. It's hard to define what cosntitutes a 'gentle nudge', but the aim is to help a little without revealing a lot/too much. The theme itself should not be revealed under any circumstances. Any queries or answers which - even inadvertently - give away too much are likely to be removed.

The Listener is a unique puzzle and should be treated with respect.
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20th January 2023, 16:33
I see The Times is as confused as the rest of us about bar-coded stamps. The original deadline was 31 January, but Royal Mail say (

"What happens if I use a non-barcoded stamp after 31 January 2023?
Mail posted with non-barcoded Definitive stamps after 31 January 2023, will for the first 6 month be delivered as normal, no surcharge will be raised. After this 6 month grace period, an item with a non-barcoded stamp would be treated as if there is insufficient postage. Any item that has insufficient postage is subject to a surcharge. Surcharge fees can be found on our website."

Mind you, there have been lots of reports of Royal Mail surcharging non-barcoded stamps during the last few months -- well before even the January 31st deadline!
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20th January 2023, 23:27
I think that last thought is the key point: after January 31st, plain non-barcodes stamps will indeed be invalid; if the Royal Mail choose to honour them as part of a grace arrangement, then they’ll still arrive ok, but if they fail to honour them, the entry may not be received because they (quite reasonably) won’t be paying the surcharges. It would be prudent not to rely on the grace period.

In case anyone has been hiding under a rock for the last nine months, any stamps you buy now will be the new barcoded ones, and any plain barcoded stamps you have left can be sent back to the Royal Mail free post for replacement with equivalent new barcoded ones. Christmas stamps and other special issues continue to be fine, so I’m currently burning my way through leftover Christmas stamps from about the last ten years!
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21st January 2023, 01:11
Another tricky offering by this setter already. I can't say I enjoyed it and I'm still not sure I've resolved the ambiguities correctly (because it's a struggle to keep track of everything without aids... if there are any).
Far too much cold solving involved too - some of the clues are tricky enough as it is.
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21st January 2023, 07:23
I really enjoyed it but then I do like cryptography so perhaps it suited me.

I made a relatively early educated guess of the end layout and positioning of the jumbles which helped too.

Thanks to the setter for a fun workout.
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21st January 2023, 09:07
I have a problem with 20d, as two of the across intersecting answers (which I think go in un-jumbled) present the same letter, and it's not the letter that I think repeats in the answer to 20d.

I hope that's sufficiently cryptic this early in the forum!

Help appreciated please
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21st January 2023, 09:11
dylan - not sure where you’ve gone awry but staying relatively enigmatic, none of the crossing unjumbled answers present the same letter in 20d
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21st January 2023, 12:07
Thanks Candledave, but sadly I can't see any alternatives to my two answers, both of which seem perfectly justified! Perhaps the slightly less certain is 27ac, so a nudge towards your solution there may clarify things.

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21st January 2023, 12:12
ok, the extra letter is in the second word to give an anagram indicator
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21st January 2023, 12:32
Stuck on 26 ac. Have most of the letters but can't parse it. Gentle nudge would be appreciated. Ditto 22d.
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