Times 28,211: Forster, Forester, Fortissimo

I did like this puzzle quite a bit though it did seem to have the flaw of a LOT of answers biffable from the enumerations: I’m looking at you, 1ac, 12ac, 22ac, maybe even 9ac. So I don’t feel as though I did as much work to complete it as I might otherwise have done, and indeed my time was relatively zippy for cluing this intricate.

I *did* get slowed down at the end in the SW corner: 13dn was a pretty big leap from the definition of “Fauntleroy” (!) and my LOI, 26ac, needed quite an alphabet trawl before the penny dropped.

An awful lot of the clues seemed above averagely good and fun. I liked St Anders a lot, “what’ll silence buzzer” and “works both ways”, as well as the un-PC hepcat. Much enjoyed, setter, thanks very much!

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 In Yorkshire town, large fruit’s guarantee of freshness? (4-2,4)
SELL-BY DATE – In SELBY, L(arge) + DATE [fruit]
6 Composer’s “very loud” alternative? (4)
ORFF – OR FF [fortissimo]
9 Christopher to give up ringing his first relatives (4,3,3)
KITH AND KIN – KIT [Christopher] + HAND IN [to give up] “ringing” K{it}
10 Tight component in maladjusted gyroscope (4)
EDGY – hidden in {maladjust}ED GY{roscope}
12 Film of aviator, one whom we sent flying (1,4,4,1,4)
14 Favour one make (6)
OBLIGE – double def
15 Raise profit as symbol of oppression (8)
JACKBOOT – JACK [raise] + BOOT [profit]
17 Not slow as Liberal Left to put in a sympathetic word (3,5)
ALL THERE – L(iberal) L(eft) put into A THERE [as in “there, there”]
19 Sailor’s secure? He might get the sack (6)
22 Number dash to secure E European espionage facility (4-6,4)
DEAD-LETTER DROP – DEADER [numb-er] + DROP [dash, as in “of whiskey”] “securing” LETT
24 They’re strung up and kept, equally securely, at the front (4)
UKES – U{p} + K{ept} E{qually} S{ecurely}
25 Fool’s new pay cut works both ways (10)
NINCOMPOOP – N(ew) INCOM{e} + reversed OP + OP
26 Aloud, runs down old preacher (4)
KNOX – homophone of KNOCKS
27 Witnesses what’s written beneath title of saintly Swede’s book? (10)
1 Believer taking risks regularly in order to bring peace? (4)
SIKH – {r}I{s}K{s} in SH! [an order to be quiet]
2 Volume of Poe’s — maybe a line shows misprint (7)
LITERAL – LITER [volume, to an American] + A L(ine)
3 Repositioning hollow hidden log, lay back comfortably (2,1,4,5)
4 Scorn drink after party (2,4)
5 Chap runs, first to board public transport (8)
TRISTRAM – R 1ST “boarding” TRAM
7 Pole with fiddle meeting old composer (7)
RODRIGO – ROD with RIG meeting O
8 What’ll silence buzzer going off initially when tyre’s flat (10)
11 Get behind trees overlooking motorway briefly and peer, mostly unseen (12)
BACKWOODSMAN – BACK WOODS M AN{d} – “a male member of the House of Lords who rarely attends it and who typically lives in a rural area far from London”
13 Assume nothing about a Lord Fauntleroy? (6,4)
DONALD DUCK – DON [assume] DUCK [nothing], about A LD. Fauntleroy is Donald Duck’s middle name
16 Good uniform one found tossed in vermin-infested tip (8)
18 Drop holiday travel (5,2)
LEAVE GO – LEAVE [holiday] + GO [travel]
20 Couple beginning to talk without notes (7)
TWOSOME – T{alk} W/O + SO and ME [two musical notes]
21 I’m cool? The opposite, if not PC! (6)
HEPCAT – which becomes HEAT [opposite of cool] if PC is subtracted
23 At college, a small tree (4)

63 comments on “Times 28,211: Forster, Forester, Fortissimo”

  1. Really enjoyed that, though found it very tricky. Lots of unknowns: I’d assumed Don was dressed as Fauntleroy in a sailor suit. NHO backwoodsman in that sense, though guessed the context. Trying to think of the peers from a few months ago – lords temporal and spiritual – but that was no help. Didn’t know the obsolete meaning of boot. NHO Selby, since at least last time it appeared. Always thought kith and kin were friends and family, not just relatives. Add the wordy clues to my ignorance and it makes for a challenging solve. Liked the simple film, ORFF, DEAD-LETTER DROP (not a write-in for me) and KNOX, who I’d heard of so went in quickly.
  2. Well, DEAD-LETTER DROP came very late for me, but the others mentioned did come mainly from the enumeration first.
    Really needed the anagrist, though, to finish BY A LONG…
    DO DOWN is also not an idiom familiar to me.
    FOI was UPAS, which I must have seen somewhere sometime (the word, not the trees).
    Stopped a second over JACKBOOT till, from some dim origin, recalled the phrase “What boots it to swear the fox?”
    I hadn’t been aware of the parliamentary sense of BACKWOODSMAN, but there weren’t any trees in BACKBENCHMAN.
    LOI POSTIE, having finally remembered “Petty Officer.”

    Really fun, absorbing and fresh. BYSTANDERS cracked me up. The clue for HEPCAT was something else. OBLIGE is quite a word, if you stop to think about it. Etc.

    Edited at 2022-02-11 11:54 pm (UTC)

  3. 28 minutes including some tricky parsing in a few places. If I didn’t parse as I solve I reckon I’d have managed 20 minutes.

    I suppose A Room With View had to be clued as a film to fit the surface reading but it grated a little on me.

  4. more or less. I went offline after 30’+, with 9 or 10 clues unsolved and little hope of solving them, but over a sandwich and tea I suddenly started clicking. I biffed A ROOM for some reason with only a couple of checkers; only parsed it after finishing the puzzle. DNK POSTIE, and forgot about PO, rejecting ABSTIE. DNK BACKWOODSMAN. DNK DO DOWN. Certainly DNK the duck’s middle name, or that he had one. PDM when BYSTANDERS hit me; my COD, among a bunch of clever clues.
  5. I had heard of Donald Duck’s middle name but it was long forgotten, until the good Lord Verlaine mentioned it in parsing! I also have memories that the other Donald went by the name of the ‘Large Lord Fauntleroy’.
    I am advised by Maggie. Haberman (love her to bits!), that these days he prefers the monicker — ‘John Clogger’.

    FOI 6ac ORFF – I vaguely remember he had a brother Frederick, who he disliked intensely.

    LOl 19ac Postman Pat and not 15ac JACK BOOT.


    WOD 22dn DEAD-LETTER DROP — I once came across one in Grenada, BWI.

    We all heaved into harbour in 53 minutes, it was a most delightful cruise.

    Edited at 2022-02-11 10:14 am (UTC)

    1. TFW you can’t decide if Carl Orff really had a brother Frederick or Horryd is just making an “Eff Orff” joke… *narrows eyes suspiciously*
  6. …I failed to see the Donald Duck connection and put Donald Jack, Jack coming from “You don’t know “jack s#!t”. I put AKES iso UKES as I didn’t make the necessary connection with ‘strung’. There’s a bush here in NZ called akeake, also known as ake.
    I had numerous queries but veraline has answered most of them except I’ve never heard of boot equalling profit.
    1. I thought of AKES–i.e. I correctly thought it was an initial-letter clue–rejected it, of course, and moved on. It was only toward the end that I saw UKES.
  7. Just scraped in a couple of minutes under my hour, with a lot of question marks (no, I didn’t know DONALD DUCK’s middle name. KNOX and UPAS at least were also unknown…)

    Anyone else mistakenly biff ADAM AND EVE in 9a? I mean, technically, they are meant to be everyone’s first relatives, right? No? Just me? Oh well.

    1. I did but, KIT was hovering (hoovering!), thank the good Lord.

      Edited at 2022-02-11 09:04 am (UTC)

    2. I tried CAIN AND ABEL before I noticed it overran. It’s rather tricky to work out whether ADAM AND EVE were relatives, that form of reproduction by costectomy being (as far as we know) a one off. Arguably, C & A were the first relatives.
  8. …to verlaine for confirming the parsing of 14a.

    I considered DONALD TUSK, ex president of the EC for 13d, but couldn’t force him to fit. Then went for a duck. I certainly didn’t know his middle name was Fauntleroy, and assumed the reference was to the way he dressed in the sailor suit. He was last in at 35:26

  9. I was defeated by DONALD DUCK and KNOX. I wondered if AKES was a word until the penny dropped. Never heard the phrase BY A LONG CHALK but given the letters it had to be. Never heard of BACKWOODSMAN but I followed the instructions. BYSTANDERS was clever. So DNF for me.
  10. 18:45. I found this very hard, and a mixture of the very good (ST ANDERS my favourite I think) and the rather irritating. Superfluous ‘one’ in 14ac, definition of KITH AND KIN. I was mystified by 11dn and 13dn which appeared not to have a definition. I would still maintain that 13dn doesn’t.
  11. Most done in 20′, but defeated by SW DONALD DUCK and KNOX, and had AKES anyway. Good puzzle.

    Thanks verlaine and setter.

  12. 47 minutes, confounded by POSTIE and DONALD DUCK for ages. My Dad was a wartime Petty Officer, so I eventually got that, not that I’ve ever said POSTIE in my life. And DONALD DUCK was all I could make fit the crossers, being totally unaware of Donald’s middle name. I didn’t expect it to be right. Mickey Mouse was the goody two shoes, and Donald the rebellious one in my mind, so I still couldn’t make it stack up. COD to John KNOX, not the ideal speaker to book for the WI. Thank you V and setter
    1. Both Ian Fleming and The Duke of Windsor were avid UKE men, as was the latter’s eldest niece. She had attempted to become President of the The George Formby Appreciation Society. She was ignominiously informed she was too important for that particular role. Shame!
      ‘It’s turned out nice again!’

      Edited at 2022-02-11 09:03 am (UTC)

      1. George Harrison was President for several years. I wonder if Frank Skinner will ever take up the role.

        Edited at 2022-02-11 09:25 am (UTC)

  13. Gave up after an hour and came here for solace.

    No idea about the duck. Didn’t know BACKWOODSMAN, KNOX or STANDERS, and couldn’t see further than D-L BOX at 22ac, which didn’t work.

    Oh well, thanks V and setter. Too good for me.

  14. Crosswords with birds in just suck
    And today we endure DONALD DUCK
    Therefore condemnation
    Of obscure appellation
    A cartoon’s middle name?! What the Fauntleroy!
  15. Quite liked this crossword but like Keriothe, found it a mixture of the sublime and the frankly ridiculous (looking at you, 13dn!)

    Ukes, upas and knox towards the bottom of the grid smells a little of panic setting in by the setter (or their grid-filling software)

  16. Ten minutes spent on my last three, D. DUCK, OBLIGE and of course UKES which broke what I thought should be a rule on first letter clues, words being consecutive.
    But D.F.DUCK? Whoever heard of a middle name being a definition? Sternes to clue Eliot? Staples for Lewis? Milhouse for Richard Nixon? Really? And that’s despite having “what ;s Donald Duck’s middle name?” as a quiz question not so long ago.
    Apart from that bottom left corner, I thought this was pretty easy, the many multi word answers being very helpful, as V says. And I adored St Anders’ by-line, even if the only actual (if unofficial) saint of that name was Danish (I looked it up!).
    1. This was hard and I had to use aids. Apart from St A being Danish I was also unable to find a composer called Rodrigo, but there is an Argentine singer.
        1. Yes, I would have thought Rodrigo was one of the most famous Spanish composers? And failing him, there’s always Olivia Rodrigo, who topped the Billboard charts not long ago with Drivers Licence… almost as notable.
  17. 59 minutes. A struggle to finish with some obscure words and difficult parsing. I didn’t know the DONALD DUCK / ‘Fauntleroy’ connection (no hope), couldn’t fit together the components of the wordplay for HEPCAT and wasn’t confident about the exact def for BACKWOODSMAN. Not surprising as it turned out to be a NHO.

    Favourites were the parsing for 22a and the BY ST. ANDERS at 27a.

  18. Quick off the mark, what with the biffability of some of the multi-word clues, then slowed down by some of the aforementioned dodgy stuff. Liked St Anders a lot and knew ‘boot’ from my Staples reading (thanks, Zed).


  19. Noblesse OBLIGE. A lot of ex post facto parsing but I enjoyed this one. No of course I DNK Fauntleroy. Mystified by the boot in 15a until I dredged up Shakespeare’s “bootless cries to heaven” in one of the sonnets. The Swedish saint was certainly worth the price of admission. 25.44
  20. Well. Lots of this was very good, I’ll say that first. I got bogged down in the SW corner, firstly wondering what AKES might be, but then… Just to check, we are agreeing that “Fauntleroy” is the definition for DONALD DUCK? And if that’s the case, this is just utter nonsense, isn’t it? I know crosswords are supposed to be fun, and playful, but if you don’t have a dependable structure, it all becomes a bit baffling. Since when has a middle name been a “definition”? Balls, say I.
    1. Certain… liberties have clearly been taken, but surely it is worth it for the lift and separate of “Lord Fauntleroy?” It’s not like there wasn’t a question mark at the end (the excuser of a multitude of peccadilloes throughout crossword history).
  21. Really enjoyed the challenge of this morning. Didn’t find, like our esteemed blogger, that there was much that could simply be written in from the definition – I found it all harder work than that, but then, I’m not the guru!

    I had no idea that Donald Duck had a middle name, and assumed, like others here, that it referred to his attire. I quite liked it as a clue with that understanding. I think I probably like it less now I know about the middle name.

    I spent ages, when I lacked the crossing ‘T’ of ‘Hepcat’ (another clever clue), trying to work out why BYLINNAEUS would be ‘witnesses’. It didn’t help that, while I remembered Linnaeus was Swedish, I couldn’t remember what he was famous for. When I got the ‘T’, the penny dropped, even though I’d never heard of the Saint.

    All good fun.

    Thanks, V., and Setter.

    Have a lovely weekend everyone.


    1. From comments above I think there is no St Anders (didn’t look it up). St is saintly, and Anders is a random Swedish forename. To go with all the Ottos, Renes, Ineses, Inezes and other random foreign forenames. I’m looking forward to when we get a Thai forename, say Vajiralongkorn, as part of the wordplay.
  22. 35:17. JACKBOOT was last in and proved elusive, for no good reason. Didn’t know Donald Duck’s middle name, but I doubt I will ever forget it now. Nice puzzle.
  23. Relieved to have survived this one. I didn’t know D. Duck’s middle name, but did manage to decode the wordplay and shrug. DO DOWN was FOI, followed by SELL-BY DATE. Liked BYSTANDERS when I finally got rid of EYE… at the front and twigged what was going on. HEPCAT was LOI. Cool! 36:59. Thanks setter and V.
  24. A good challenge and lots of fun. Gave up any hope of going through the thing methodically, and for a long time I was reeling around, blindly seeking inspiration. Didn’t know the duck’s middle name – odd to think this was provided by John Knox, someone from whom I would rarely seek advice. FlySwatter bought back memories of the John Aubrey/Walter Raleigh “Swisser Swatter Swisser Swatter.” story.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter

  25. DNF. A good one, but only 90 per cent done after an hour. Defeated by four: DONALD DUCK, TWOSOME, KNOX and POSTIE. I biffed DEAD-LETTER DROP quite early on, but never did parse it. Still. Pretty good for a Friday
  26. Further investigation would suggest that St. Anders was Danish. Of the C12. Anybody have better information? Could he be classed as Swedish if Denmark was ruled by Sweden at the time? I haven’t checked if it was and Scandinavian history isn’t a specialist subject! Or is it justifiable because Anders is a common name for Swedes and it doesn’t matter whether there is a St. Anders or not?
  27. Irritating, because it was my only blank. Even knew Donald’s middle name (whence, God knows).
  28. Took me two goes, but I got there in the end with a faintly remembered HEPCAT as my last one in. There were quite a few clues – LEAVE GO, DEAD-LETTER DROP, POSTIE, TWOSOME and UPAS – which I had worked out but was nowhere near 100% sure about, either because I hadn’t heard of them or wasn’t convinced I’d parsed them correctly, so the bottom half of the grid lay empty for a while.

    Like some others, I didn’t know Fauntleroy was DONALD DUCK’s middle name. I also wasn’t aware that ‘boot’ can mean ‘profit’, although with the checkers in place JACKBOOT couldn’t have been anything else.

    A tough workout, but an enjoyable one too.

    FOI Sell-by date
    LOI Hepcat
    COD Bystanders (left me baffled for a long time, but a great PDM!)

  29. 28.51. Solid progress except in the SE quadrant. Pretty much saved by some lucky guesses. Oblige fitted at 14 ac but I didn’t know the second meaning. Weirdly, Donald Duck then came to mind at 13 dn and that suddenly opened up ukes and knox while also confirming DD was right. Joy unconfined!
    Thx setter and Verlaine for explaining all.
  30. I enjoyed this challenge — solid start but came to a grinding halt after 15 minutes with most of the bottom half still to do.

    It was BYSTANDERS (from only the final checker) that got things properly moving again. GRATUITY, HEPCAT and TWOSOME gave the vaguely recalled DEAD-LETTER DROP which, coupled with OBLIGE and ALL THERE was enough for DONALD DUCK (though had no idea about the Fauntleroy bit).

    Finally left with POSTIE and KNOX, both of which took some thinking about.

  31. 25 minutes. KNOX took me far too long. FAUNTLEROY – you got to be kidding me! Remembered UPAS from crosswords past but it’s very obscure. Never heard of this meaning of BACKWOODSMAN. Not a hugely enjoyable day, to be honest.
  32. ….until I was left with 3 clues. I’m not sure why OBLIGE was one of them, and my preacher knowledge is scanty at the best of times (which this wasn’t). Once I’d reached K on my alpha-trawl I was no longer DONALD DUCKed, although I hadn’t a clue what was going on.

    FOI SELL-BY DATE (mine was about 1997)
    LOI DONALD DUCK (drove me quackers)
    COD NINCOMPOOP (reader, I married her)
    TIME 13:25

    Edited at 2022-02-11 04:55 pm (UTC)

  33. 20.00. I enjoyed this one and managed to get through it in a decent time. There were a couple I just followed where the wordplay led – Donald Duck and Backwoodsman – had I paused to ponder the definitions I would still be solving the puzzle now.

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