The House of Hippolyta was one of those small boutique-type shops that often spring up in well-to-do parts of town, that could somehow afford to sell only a very narrow, specialist range of one specific type of product. Hercules had never understood how these shops could possibly do enough business to make a profit, but they always seemed to, so there was a clearly a market in Athens for...
“Belts with novelty buckles!” exclaimed Admete, the owner, gesturing around her at walls which could barely be seen beyond the hundreds upon hundreds of belts on display, each with its own unique (often colourful) buckle. Everywhere he looked, Hercules could see buckles shaped like animals, sports logos, numbers, household appliances, celebrities, body parts, street signs, TV characters, foodstuffs, flowers... – a huge variety. Admete continued: “The finest quality novelty belts from the top designers of today. I am only ever interested in the top lines, see – everything else is ‘below the belt’!”
Admete laughed at her joke more than was deserved and pointed to a sign mounted behind the till:
House of Hippolyta shop policy:
If it isn’t top-line, we’re just not interested.
If it doesn’t fit, it’s fine to bring it back.
If you want to know which belt your mother bought, Hercules, you’re going to need to solve my cryptic crossword...
At the third item, Hercules did a double-take. Then he groaned. Admete laughed again. “I had a lot of fun making that. And I had a lot of fun making this...”
She slid a sheet of paper across the counter. Sure enough it contained a crossword grid and some clues.
“The clues are cryptic,” she explained, “but the crossword itself isn’t quite as straightforward as you might expect. Complete the grid and then work out how to derive from it the object which the buckle of your mother’s belt is shaped like.”
Hercules picked up a pen, took a deep breath and began...
TASK: Solve Admete’s twisted cryptic crossword. Identify the object which his mother’s new belt resembles.
1. Some pakora were less cooked (5)
4. Pet receiving little appreciation becomes irritable (5)
7. First woman included in the eleven (3)
8. Eurasian University corresponds with Finnish city (5)
9. Russian leader part-exchanges contribution (5)
10. “The Greatest” boxer is a large one (3)
11. Concerning weed? Move flowers (5)
12. Confused writer missing the point is a hard-worker (5)
13. Foodstuff – for example, gram (3)
14. Abstainer eats small Peep (5)
16. Secure once more about draw (5)
18. Whether you have it or give it you can still listen! (3)
19. Lemur found in cylindrical container (5)
20. First to rock up ruins old Cornish city (5)
21. Grandmother sneaks in, unannounced (3)
22. And you say the French forget to inspect within? (2,3)
24. Wombs cauterised on the inside (5)
26. To the rear of the hovercraft! (3)
27. He makes cloth! (5)
28. London rugby union team arrive five at a time (5)
1. Device for self-promotion by Italian footballers (7)
2. Crow spake badly of digital storage area (9)
3. Reconvene the retinue! (7)
4. Greek later becomes propagator (7)
5. It facilitates access to the uppermost reaches of the Premier League (3,6)
6. The Water Works show their usefulness! (7)
14. Firstly, take rabbit intestines, strip excess cartilage, then cut into three (7)
15. Oxbridge college offering three for the price of one? (7)
16. Topless centaur’s out for a stroll (7)
17. Fabled don may give an estimate – “about nine” (7)
23. Bitumen made from bad art (3)
25. Anger due to Billy Joel song?! (3)
The final answer is produced in a visual manner from the overall arrangement of letters in the completed grid. Interpret the remaining story hint correctly and the answer will soon be in hand without the need for any deep, complicated analysis...