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Ether Street 'the End' & The NI Crossword

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Still in the deserted farmhouse, three students continue their tête-à-tête with the spirit Nil. But it's been a long night, the first flushes of dawn are beginning to show in the eastern sky and they are beginning to get a little tetchy.

Okay, okay. We’ve put up with just about enough of your ramblings. You’ve claimed you’ve been reincarnated hundreds of times and gained insight into all kinds of historical eras as a result...

I never claimed insight, just that I was there. You probably were too – you just don’t realize it while you’re in your earthly body.

There you go again. Just because you can spin a good yarn and can push a pointer around a Ouija board...

Oh come on, we stopped relying on that primitive technology hours ago. If I were a fake how would I have been able to communicate telepathically with all three of you at the same time?

How does any magician pull off their tricks? How did Harry Houdini manage all his impossible stunts?

Houdini was good, it’s true, but he died simply because he didn’t tense his muscles when a Canadian student punched him in the stomach to test his strength. Wizard he may have been, but if ever there was an example of human frailty made manifest, that was it.

Whereas you are invulnerable and eternal, we suppose.

Eternal, yes; invulnerable, no: you wound me with your lack of faith.

Faith in what? Let’s face it, this night on Ether Street has been all style and no substance. You play around with us and make weak attempts at humour. We are serious people, you know. We care about world hunger. We subscribe to the New Internationalist.

And I’m sure you will get your reward in heaven. In the meantime, if you have no other questions I do have some rather pressing business to attend to.

Hang on! You can’t leave without delivering what you promised.

And what was that?

You said you would reveal the meaning of life, the universe and everything if only we were patient. Goodness knows, we’ve been patient.

So you have. And I think you have deserved your reward. But I’m afraid I’ve just received an official court order which stops me revealing it. Apparently the Department of Universal Security has been bugging this session and feels I’ve been telling you too much already.

Oh, very convenient. What would they do to you if you went ahead anyway? They can’t exactly put you on the rack when you have no body...

You still don’t seem to realize that bodies are the least important part of us. Besides, if I contravene the order it could put my next incarnation in doubt – and given that I’m due to be conceived as a Brazilian girl in the shanty-towns of Recife, who will eventually rise to become President of the World Federation on an environmental ticket around 2060, this is not one I want to miss.

Can’t you even give us a hint, a last word of wisdom before you fade out?

A hint? All right. After a thousand incarnations I think I can safely say this: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ Over and out.

Illustration by Brick

The NI Crossword
No 53 by Axe

Crossword no.53

1 Religious sect’s foundation’s large settlement is by the Dead Sea, for example (4,4,4)
 9 Lady Rigg’s playing the legendary Scandinavian, Ash (9)
10 Spanish read in speech from Rio gets German approval? (5)
11 First Indian British Raj detail takes chap for a Muslim character in the Qur’an (7)
13 One Latin who, with a question in Spanish, finds harbour in Chile (7)
14 Here, in Laos, Angolan capital denied Russian approval. The initially good publicity is hit by a blow (5,7)
20 Comic fun, as in criminal conviction (12)
22 At the beginning of Genesis, according to the Bible, 11’s mistress is about to go after a range of Tuaregs (7)
25 Getting taxi back in to company plant... (7)
28 ...one sounding hesitant after work, resulting in perhaps 21-induced tranquillizer (5)
29 Lenin’s revolutionary vibes Kohl misrepresented (9)
31 Place in Australia’s a source of para-sites before the first of September (5,7)

 1 Middle-eastern power, Turks at first, invaded part of Austria (6)
 2 In getting a character off the wagon, used in defence in S Africa, it
encouraged drink (5)
 3 It has branches of the Italian Catholic Hospital (9)
 4 Lettuce is pronounced here, at resort in the Aegean... (3)
 5 ...and about 56 seen at a Corsican resort, which also took Nelson’s eye (5)
 6 Muslim, maybe, accepted here in Finland (5)
 7 Harbour below the hill is SW England’s main attraction (7)
 8 Virginia’s place for Elizabeth’s hero (7)
12 Top-quality workforce on this bridge in Wales (5)
15 Rock band sounding taken for Maori settlement (3)
16 Revolutionary to leave Chilean in charge of wine (5)
17 Island in Denmark constructed, to a lesser degree, of balsa (9)
18 English copper’s seen on road out to the country (7)
19 In Vermont a Rioja is drunk as in Canada (7)
21 Smoking Arab pipelines which could have fed 25 and 28? (6)
23 Southern lass called the Master in, as Nasser liked to be called at home (5)
24 River of notes flowing from a medieval viol (5)
26 Part of India where European backing replaced the dollar with the rupee (5)
27 Royal Artillery withdrawn from convoy going to central part of Ireland (5)
30 Course of Franco-Belgian border following sly manoeuvre (3)

 1 Capital of Utah (4,4,4)
 9 Ash tree of Norse legend which binds the Earth to Heaven and Hell (9)
10 Region of NE Spain, responsible for famous, mainly red, wine (5)
11 Abraham of the Qur’an (7)
13 Port and region of N Chile (7)
14 Former Laotian royal residence and Buddhist centre on the Mekong (5,7)
20 Doctrine of the Chinese philosopher (551-479BC) (12)
22 Mountains in S Algeria also known as the Hoggar Range (7)
25 American plant with narcotic leaves... (7)
28 ...and the dried narcotic juice of the white poppy (5)
29 Lenin follower, one of the ‘majority’ (9)
31 Remote Australian town in N Territory (5,7)

 1 Region of Austria, capital Graz (6)
 2 Bottom-fermented beer (5)
 3 Conifer (9)
 4 Greek Aegean resort island (3)
 5 Scene of the siege in 1794 in which Nelson lost an eye (5)
 6 Finland’s capital until 1812 (5)
 7 The ‘Queen of the English Riviera’ (7)
 8 English adventurer often credited with introducing 25 to Europe (7)
12 Strait separating the island of Anglesey from the Welsh mainland (5)
15 ‘—-’ (1983), Geoff Murphy’s landmark film about 19th-century Maori revenge (3)
16 Grape variety, of which the ‘noir’ and ‘gris’ are made into wine (5)
17 Danish Baltic island, German between 1864 and 1920 (9)
18 Country named after line of latitude (7)
19 Most-populated Canadian province (7)
21 Turkish pipes used for 25 and 28 (6)
23 ‘—-’ Abdel Nasser, Egyptian leader (5)
24 Mandolin-shaped three-stringed member of the viol family (5)
26 State of NE India, capital Patna (5)
27 County and town of central Ireland (5)
30 Eastward flowing tributary of the Schelde, rising in the Pas de Calais (3)

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Solution to no.52

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New Internationalist issue 333 magazine cover This article is from the April 2001 issue of New Internationalist.
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