15. Bag I included as traveller round the Levant? SAIC (I in sac) Dr Watson could find nothing in Chambers to indicate that ‘traveller’ can mean a thing (a ship in this case), rather than a person, that travels, but the question-mark just about covers it.
16. Creature spayed late on – it’s operated on with gas STAIG (anag.) Another dubious definition. ‘Staig’ appears as a Scottish variant of ‘stag’, a creature that surely could not be spayed at any age.
17. Gosh! Course whereon Derby may be seen HATRACK (ha! + track) Dr Watson, found HAT at the start of the light and spent some time trying to fit a four-letter synonym of ‘course’ on to it to create an interjection. In fact the wordplay is all contained in the first two words and the rest is definition.
27. Biblical tribes originally more than half degenerate? DECAD (decad(ent)) A reference, apparently, to the ten tribes descended from Jacob that formed Israel, as opposed to the total of twelve that formed Israel and Judah.
29. Pin removed from slightly blue solid graphite KISH ((pin)kish) How can ‘pinkish’ mean ‘slightly blue’? Chambers’s entry for pink includes the definition ‘slightly pornographic, somewhat blue’.
35. The ultimate in luxury, with bodily appetites and dalliance put first FLESH-POTTERY (flesh + potter + y, & lit.) A lovely & lit. clue (though ‘flesh’ is perhaps used in essentially the same sense in both readings). Azed can’t take credit it for the clue: the word drew some inspired ‘& littery’ from Ximenes’s competitors in his competition 1115 in 1970, including a memorable first prize-winner, and the VHC here from Jeremy Morse. Also amongst the VHCs was J. Crowther’s “One who takes delight in his cups gets involved in gross ——” (potter in fleshy, & lit.).
3. Divine protectress goes round Nigerian city dancing at Christmas JUNKANOO (Kano in Juno) A happy combination of two proper nouns produces this unusual solution. Azed set its alternative spelling JOHN CANOE as the competition word for Azed 1439 in Dec 1999.
4. Grunted when swimming, a rare sight in the pool these days TRUDGEN (anag.) Dr Watson, although a keen swimmer, hadn’t come across this stroke before, and struggled to visualise it from the description, so a video may help. It is apparently the predecessor of the front crawl.
6. Nocturnal bird recorded round Jamaica EVEJAR (JA in ever) ‘Ever’ is being used here in the sense of e.g. ‘the biggest ever’.
18. Warm a wire round major artery? AMICABLE (M1 in a cable) Dr Watson commented on the crossword use of MI = M1 = motorway last month. Here ‘motorway’ is extended to ‘major artery’, though Mrs Jarman’s ‘something you can rattle up and down’ is surely still the best description to date.
21. Odds and ends, but not this etc AND THAT ((this) and that) It feels like only half a clue (and half a solution for that matter), but it works nicely, with ‘etc’ as the stealthy definition.
26. Part of Hitchcock’s instruction to cameraman indicating feature of Psycho shower scene? CUTTO (i.e. cut to …) Wikipedia claims the Psycho shower scene contains 77 camera angles and 50 cuts (to the film stock rather than Janet Leigh).
28. Obelisk topped elevation AGGER ((d)agger) An obelisk, as well as a stone monument, can be the typographic symbol †, also called a dagger.
Across: 1. OBJET DE VERTU (jet D ever in anag. of bout(ique)); 10. MAUGRE (ug in mare); 11. VACUUM (vac U U M); 13. CUPELS (C + anag.); 14. SUKH (UK in sh!); 19. BUNDESRAT (anag. less e); 22. ANDANTINO (anag. + tin, all in a no.); 24. CROMBEC (m be in croc); 31. MAGE (hidden); 32. MALTHA (H in Malta); 33. DAKOTA (dak + to, rev. + a); 34. TABLET (tab let).
Down: 2. BAHUT (b a hut); 5. DEPTH (p for a in death); 6. EVEJAR (cot in cote); 7. VALET; 8. RUSA (r USA); 9. TUNICIN (tun + icin(g)); 10. MOSS-BACKED (anag. in mocked); 12. MOCK-MODEST (c(hic)k + mode, all in most); 20. UPRISAL ((Jan)u(ary) + anag.); 23. DEWLAP (L in pawed, rev.); 25. BEATH ((tu)b + eath; see ethe in C.); 30. SOKE (‘soak’).