12. Sleep that’s rapid coming upon the old SHUT-EYE (shute ye) A subtle switch of ‘rapid’ from adjective to noun in the cryptic reading provides a natural surface and clever wordplay.
17. Intrinsic part of erotica, mainly? CAMA (hidden & lit.) Dr Watson was thinking of the Spanish for ‘bed’, but Cama or Kama is of course also known for his Sutra.
20. A pointilliste may spatter tile with these OIL PAINTS (comp anag. & lit.) Very satisfying to see a compounded 9-letter anagram with so little excess material. Dr Watson hasn’t seen any pointilliste tile paintings, but no doubt they exist.
23. Sob freely, fit when interring one – in such … OBSEQUIAL (anag. + I in equal) The meat of the definition lies just beyond the ellipsis, in the next clue.
26. … Funeral rites, led by priest? Statistician’s unit PROBIT (Pr obit) Sharing material between clues can give the solver extra entertainment, but creates a rather disconnected surface reading here.
30. Druggie’s back to front dodge RUSE (r to front in user) Look, no hyphens: it’s not ‘back-to-front’ but an instruction to move a letter from back to front.
2. Clip joint? Money raised before installing one NITERIE (tin, rev. + I in ere) Azed hasn’t revived any of the clues from competition no. 1290, in which this word elicited ‘Dive made from upturned punts’ (Eire tin, rev.) from R. J. Hooper. It would be ‘upturned euros’ nowadays – another topical reference, perhaps.
5. Small freshwater fish, otherwise found under the sea MEDAKA (Med + aka) A simple but very nicely realised surface.
10. Foster-mother abroad, mobile, given rations permit METAPELET (m + étape + let) This is one of the words carefully highlighted as ‘interesting’ in Chambers’s 12th edition and then carelessly omitted from the 13th. Its Hebrew plural ‘metaplot’ looks like it might offer even better clue-writing possibilities.
24. Sharp turn fastening cable BITTER (2 mngs.) The second meaning of ‘bitter’, and the source of ‘bitter end’, is a nautical term for a twist of rope round a bitt or fastening post.
31. Ballet character, cunning, escaping home of fabled monster WILI (wili(ness)) A reference to the popular ballet Giselle (full title Giselle, ou les Wilis) in which the supernatural creatures dance their victims to death.
Across: 1. INTIMISTE (anag. in in time); 11. BIRSE (anag.); 13. STEAD (stead(y)); 14. PERIDOT (I do in pert); 18. TROIKA (oik in art, rev.); 19. RIP-RAP (rip + rap); 29. SUTTLE (2 mngs.); 32. ELASTIN (anag.); 33. TIMON (mo in tin); 34. SEGMENT (G-men in set); 35. CLINK (C + link); 35. TREPHINER (pert, rev. + in in her).
Down: 3. TREMOLO (REM in tool); 4. I SAY (is ay); 6. SHEERNESS (she ernes S); 7. TURBIT (turbi(d) + t); 8. CEDAR (C + anag. of (g)arde(n)); 9. MYOMA (hidden); 15. STOP-PRESS (st! + oppress); 16. WAISTLINE; 21. VITAMIN (ta M1 in vin); 22. PALLONE (pal lone); 25. QUATCH ((s)quat + Ch); 27. RULER (ule in (ca)rr(el)); 28. OSAGE ((d)osage).