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As the time traveller and the two others sit down at a table to eat and drink, they discuss who they are (but without giving their names). Then one of the three says, "We are all..." And pauses, before continuing "Let's make this a game, you'll have to guess the word I'm thinking of. Here are three clues:"

"If you can put it before a word for something on our table, you get a treat to go with it,"

"If it comes after a word meaning dirty, it describes one of us better,"

"And if you mix it with where we are now, you get something once supposedly offered to the poor in this country."

After a while thinking and discussing they all agree they know the word, but then one of the three turns to another person and says:

"You know, if you take the letters from all three words, you can also spell my chosen name and your nickname" pointing at the one on his left. "with only three letters left over. Now take those left over letters from your place of birth, where I once worked, and you could say you were blue!"

The other two look blankly at each other before one says:

"That's interesting," says the one who hadn't spoke yet, "I was born in the same country, but those left over letters spell my name."

"What a perfect storm of coincidences!" says the initial speaker.

The one who was last to talk smiles at that.

Who are the three, what is the word being guessed, and which is the time traveller?

Hint:

1. Why would "The one who was last to talk smile" when they heard "What a perfect storm of coincidences!" 2. As indicated by the tag, one of the characters is a musician

Clarification:

The phrase "If you can put it before a word for something on our table, you get a treat to go with it," Means the word he's thinking of is it but a word is what gets combined to make names/nicknames etc. The same is true for a word meaning dirty and where we are now.

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    $\begingroup$ Est-ce que le respondier a besoin de connaissance en français pour solutioner ça? $\endgroup$ May 15, 2022 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ @VictorStafusa no knowledge of French needed $\endgroup$ May 15, 2022 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ I bookmarked this question because I'm curious about the answer and I open it every once in a while. So sad to see this still unanswered $\endgroup$
    – FrodCube
    Sep 24, 2022 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, here's my thoughts over the past few months - not yet confident of a full answer: rot13(evpu, tvivat n 'evpu GRN' ovfphvg, bar bs gurz orvat SVYGUL evpu, naq gur OevBpuR yrnqvat gb Obé va Senapr. Ubjrire, V pnaabg gura znxr gur frpbaq cneg jbex, jurer - frcnengryl - V svaq zlfrys yrnavat gbjneqf SYRN, n zhfvpvna sebz EUPC, naq uvf ovegucynpr ZRYOBHEAR, juvpu pbagnvaf yrggref sbe 'ZR OYHR' naq pbairavragyl yrnirf gur erny anzr EBA oruvaq. Ohg gurfr gjb cnegf ner vapbzcngvoyr jvgu rnpu bgure, nf V arrq na E naq A sebz gur svefg 3 jbeqf (fb creuncf SVYGUL) vf jebat...) Any of this correct? $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Sep 27, 2022 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv the first part is correct $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2022 at 14:59

2 Answers 2

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This answer is mostly Stiv's work, with the final answer filled in by me. From Stiv's answer, we know:

The word they are thinking of is RICH, as in "rich tea biscuit", "filthy rich", and when mixed with "Boe", "brioche". The letters from TEA, FILTHY, and BOE form a pool of letters ABEEFHILOTTY.

"You know, if you take the letters from all three words, you can also spell my chosen name and your nickname" pointing at the one on his left. "with only three letters left over. Now take those left over letters from your place of birth, where I once worked, and you could say you were blue!"

The speaker here is OLAF Stapledon, born William Olaf Stapledon but his chosen name was Olaf. He is a writer who worked in Belgium from 1915-1919 as an ambulance driver. The one on his left is HETTY Verolme, nicknamed Hetty, born in Belgium. The 3 leftover letters are BEI, and when removed from "Belgium" give GLUM, a synonym for "blue".

The other two look blankly at each other before one says:

"That's interesting," says the one who hadn't spoke yet, "I was born in the same country, but those left over letters spell my name."

The last speaker is IBE Wuyts, also born in Belgium. He is a musician, which fits with the hint and the tags.

"What a perfect storm of coincidences!" says the initial speaker.

The one who was last to talk smiles at that.

Ibe Wuyts smiles at "perfect storm" because of his song "Perfect Storm".

Who are the three, what is the word being guessed, and which is the time traveller?

The three are Olaf Stapledon, Hetty Verolme, and Ibe Wuyts. The word being guessed is "rich". The time traveller is Olaf, since he lived from 1886-1950, so he would need to have time travelled to the future to meet Ibe Wuyts, who was born in 2002. If instead Ibe time travelled into the past to when the other two were both alive, then the initial speaker (who was not Ibe) would not have known they were all rich, because they would not have known Ibe.

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    $\begingroup$ This is achingly close, but it's not rot13(Fvyil Qr Ovr) but it is an anagram of that name $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2023 at 11:13
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    $\begingroup$ @PuzzlingFerret Who knew there were so many Belgians with 3 letter names that are anagrams of that? :) $\endgroup$
    – JS1
    Aug 29, 2023 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I'm glad this one is finally solved but I must confess to being a little disappointed that the 3 people are all so obscure. With the adjective used I had been expecting people who are overarchingly associated with that word - e.g. renowned billionaires. Instead I find myself asking how on earth the OP settled on using these 3 individuals for a puzzle... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Aug 31, 2023 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv if it's any consolation I made this puzzle while procrastinating cleaning my house before an inspection, so it was never the most well thought out. I'll bear it in mind for my next time travel puzzle. $\endgroup$ Aug 31, 2023 at 15:07
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Okay, I think it's time to post a partial answer and share some findings with others who may be able to develop this further...

"We are all..." should be completed with:

RICH

"If you can put it before a word for something on our table, you get a treat to go with it,"

Placed before [a cup of] TEA, you get a rich tea biscuit - a sweet treat you might dunk into it.

"If it comes after a word meaning dirty, it describes one of us better,"

Paired with FILTHY, one of the members around the table is filthy rich, i.e. exceedingly wealthy.

"And if you mix it with where we are now, you get something once supposedly offered to the poor in this country."

If the three are sat in BOÉ, a commune in southwest France, then interleaving their letters gives BriOchE - the 'cake' at the heart of Marie Antoinette's infamous "Let them eat cake" remark (Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!).

Thus far has been confirmed correct by the OP in comments on the question. Now enters speculation, albeit with a clear target...

We now have a pool of letters - TEAFILTHYBOE - from which to derive the following information:

[Chosen name of one diner] + [Nickname of another diner] + [3 leftover letters]

where

[Place of birth for one diner / workplace for another] - [Same 3 leftover letters] = ["...you could say you were blue"]

and

[Same 3 leftover letters] = [Name of another diner, born in the same country]

Furthermore, we know from hints that one of the diners has a connection to music, and one (possibly a different one) has some connection - possibly pun-based - with 'storm'.

I am yet to find a combination that completely uses the entire pool of letters. Some early thoughts/experiments/strategies have included:

1. Focussing on 3-letter names in the letter pool: ABE, ABI, ALF, ALI, BEA, BOY (George), ELI, FAB, FAY, FLO, HAL, LEE, LEO, OLE, OLI...

2. Finding longer candidates for the 'chosen name': ABEL, ALFIE, BETH, BETTY, ETHEL, ETTA, FAITH, HETTY, HAILEY, LEAH, LEIA, LEIF, LOTTIE, OLAF, TOBY...

3. Finding place names where three letters can be removed to make phrases meaning 'I am blue', e.g. MELBOURNE - RON = ME BLUE (unfortunately no R or N in the pool), BELGIUM - BEI = GLUM, ISLAMABAD - ALB = I AM SAD...

4. Considering famous people - fictional or real - with connections to storms: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Halle Berry (Storm, in X-Men), someone called 'HAILey'...

But I am yet to find a complete combination of these that pulls everything together whilst satisfying the entire letter pool.

I shall continue to think, but welcome others to use my findings so far to reach a conclusion themselves...

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    $\begingroup$ My most complete partitioning of the letter set is probably rot13(NYSVR, ORGGL naq UBL be NYSVR, URGGL, naq OBL), but I cannot decide on three people who satisfy all the criteria, including the birthplace and 'blue'/'storm' remarks... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Sep 29, 2022 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ One of the partitionings in your comment contains a correct name. $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2022 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ Just reslised my partitions here^^ in comments are wrong as I've erroneously included an extra Y - d'oh! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Oct 1, 2022 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ my comment does not change however. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2022 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ Could it be Chris Hemsworth, Halle Berry, and HAILE Selassie? $\endgroup$
    – user79541
    Oct 4, 2022 at 16:12

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