11. Parasites? They’ll interrupt what one is about. FLEAS (a in self, rev.). Clever but tricky wording makes this one of the harder clues to fathom. ‘What one is about’ indicates ‘self’ reversed, while Chambers gives a2 is a dialect form of ‘they’ and other pronouns.
17. Title of respect briefly applied to sailors returning. TUAN (naut., rev.). ‘Applied to sailors’ is roundabout way of indicating ‘nautical’, which abbreviates (‘briefly’) to ‘naut.’.
18. Catherine’s place, a gas, encompassing small area. ARAGON (a in argon). A rather ungainly surface by Azed’s standards. Catherine of Aragon was the first of Henry VIII’s wives.
20. Gum tree yielding cocaine in SA country. CHICLE (C in Chile). If Chambers is to be relied on, then chicle is the gum itself, and not the tree, which is a sapodilla. The clue’s surface would have been more plausible without ‘tree’, anyway, Dr Watson thinks.
28. Roster at ——? Wherein one might find praetor’s seat. APSE (comp. anag. & lit.). Chambers’ definition of apse includes ‘where, in a Roman basilica, the praetor’s chair stood’, so the eight compounding letters are well justified. ‘Roster’ is probably intended to mean something like a list of cleaning duties.
30. Distinguished person turned on by Mensa? NOTABLE (on, rev. + table). The wording misleads the solver into looking for something more complicated than a simple reversal and a direct translation. A very nicely constructed clue.
32. Maybe barrow boy abandons yard with reduced annual return. BOAR (bo(y) + AR). A barrow is a castrated boar.
33. Variant form of Greek dialect is half comprehended by Cleo, roughly. EOLIC (i(s) in anag.). ‘Is half’ for half of ‘is’ looks a slightly suspect device, unless Azed intends ‘half’ to be read as an adverb.
35. One who dealt in taps, apparently, bloke holding outsize collections. FOSSET-SELLER (OS sets in feller). One of those Shakespearian expressions of doubtful meaning (from Coriolanus). The fossets are likely to have been taps for dispensing from a keg or similar.
2. SA native of mixed race, as under former king. GRIQUA (GRI qua). A different SA from 26 across. GRI indicates King George the First.
3. Code: in pay of —— one gets Playfair out somehow. RITUAL (comp. anag.). No ‘& lit.’ element to this comp. anag., and replacing the blank with the solution produces a meaningless surface. Playfair code will be familiar to longer standing Azed and Listener solvers, though it seems to appear less frequently in crosswords nowadays.
22. E.g. man in romancing darling admits love in Paris. PENULT (nul in pet). ‘Nul’ may be familiar from ‘nul points’, but how does the definition work? A penult is a penultimate syllable, as ‘man’ is in ‘romancing’. Dr Watson’s favourite, and certainly the most misleading clue of the puzzle.
24. Seethe as poilu excited about Boney’s lead. UPBOIL (B in anag.). A reference to French soldiers under Bonaparte.
27. Four minimal scores? Hearts aloft, winners expressed themselves thus? HOO-OO (H + four 0’s). A highly unusual word allowing an unusual cryptic treatment. The surface reference is presumably to Bridge.
Across: 1. AGROFORESTRY (anag. + try); 10. PRISON; 13. RITZ (‘writs’); 14. SCIOLTO (0 in anag.); 15. AQUAFIT (quaf(f) in ait); 19. SCELERATE (celer(y) in sate); 20. NIKAU PALM (kin, rev. + anag.); 31. LOUSE UP (use in loup); 34. TRAIKS (a in skirt, rev.). Down: 4. FORFICULA (for f(eeding) + anag.); 5. ONSITE (sit in one); 6. RICTAL (anag. of clarit(y)); 7. SLOE (‘slow’); 8. TELEGA (leg in tea); 9. RATIO (it in oar, all rev.); 10. PRATINCOLE (anag. in prate); 12. SONNETEERS (tenno, rev. in seers); 16. PRELATURE (anag. in pure); 21. KITULS (kit + l in US); 23. ADOPTS (ad + anag.); 25. ASLAKE (as lake); 29. AS IS ((B)asis).