Yes, I took a nap in the middle. Most of this puzzle went fine, but by the end I was shouting unspeakable vulgarities at the computer, trying to get my brain to come up with the right synonyms. I finally got there in 37:56.
|1||Note agents attached to Liberal Party? (6)|
|SOCIAL – SO (note) CIA (agents) + (attached to) L (liberal)|
|4||After contraction, breathe artificially, deep down (2,5)|
|AT HEART – hidden (after contraction) in BREATHE ARTIFICALLY|
|9||Comeback of actor Peter Flynn? (5)|
|ERROL – reversal (comeback) of LORRE (actor Peter)|
|10||If late, ref might give you hell? (9)|
|AFTERLIFE – IF LATE REF anagrammed (might give you)|
|11||With current chauffeur personal visits (9)|
|DOWNRIVER – DRIVER (chauffeur), OWN (personal) is inside (visits)|
|12||Be romantically involved, / as old flame might? (2,3)|
|GO OUT – double definition, one cryptic|
|13||[What can have] you reversing in Australia after heading off? (4)|
|UEYS – YE (you) reversing in AUS (Australia) after removing the first letter (heading off)
I guess this is the term in Australia — it’s also common in the US. I used to see it in US crosswords quite a bit, but not much lately.
|14||Neglected to play a fun record (7-3)|
|UNCARED-FOR – anagram (to play) of A FUN RECORD|
|18||Tense parent, endlessly strict, [showing] authority (4,6)|
|PAST MASTER – PAST (tense) MA (parent) STERN (strict) without the last letter (endlessly)
This took me forever. I immediately thought of the answer, but I thought the definition had to be ‘tense’, and that PA came from ‘parent’. Re-parsed after a nap.
|20||Alarmed after a firm initially has gone bust (4)|
|RAID – AFRAID (alarmed) after A and first letter of (initially) FIRM are removed (has gone)|
|23||Without a bishop apparently to give benediction (5)|
|BLESS – “B” LESS (= without a bishop apparently)|
|24||Examiner hosting circle outside term (9)|
|TRIMESTER – TESTER (examiner) around RIM (circle outside)|
|25||Opera[’s] curious piano turn: start of Act III (1,8)|
|I PURITANI – anagram (curious) of P (piano), TURN, the first letter (start) of ACT, and III|
|26||Market town[’s] four turrets regularly picked out, to the west (5)|
|TRURO – every other letter (regularly picked out) of FOUR TURRETS, reversed (to the west)|
|27||Little illustration captures rather good Pole (7)|
|FISHGIG – FIG (little illustration) around (captures) ISH (rather) G (good)
A harpoon, apparently!
|28||Book / flight out (6)|
|EXODUS – double definition
Barely a double definition, but it still eluded me ’til the end.
|1||Wrongly deem bus double parking [to be] hindrance on road? (5,4)|
|SPEED BUMP – anagram (wrongly) of DEEM BUS and PP (double parking)|
|2||One might enter garage to put this plant (7)|
|CARAWAY – one might enter garage to put CAR AWAY
|3||Fifties uniform is cracking live attraction! (6)|
|ALLURE – LL (fifties, in Roman numerals) + U (uniform) in (is cracking) ARE (live)
I think I don’t often know what the ! is doing in clues like this.
|4||Place in church [where] convert’s spoken out (5)|
|ALTAR – ALTER (convert) replaced by homophone (‘s spoken out)|
|5||I’m starting — I must stop before entering high school (4,4)|
|HERE GOES – EGO (I) in (must stop) ERE (before) in (entering) HS (high school)|
|6||Rather tasteless, / what a haggler seeks? (1,3,3)|
|A BIT OFF – double definition|
|7||Knocking off daily (5)|
|THEFT – THE FT (daily)
I was proud of myself for getting this one.
|8||Upstarts [from] Standard and Morning Star (8)|
|PARVENUS – PAR (standard) + (and) VENUS (morning star)|
|15||Drink, healthy one, about a year back (8)|
|APERITIF – FIT (healthy) I (one) RE (about) PA (a year = per annum) reversed (back)|
|16||Display team departs to occupy seats at the back? (3,6)|
|RED ARROWS – D (departs) in (to occupy) REAR ROWS (seats at the back?)
It would have helped if I’d heard of the Red Arrows (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Arrows). For awhile I thought we might have something like ROW Y or even ROW Z for “seats at the back”.
|17||Say nothing in stuffing small periodical [in] top drawer (8)|
|SMASHING – SH (say nothing) IN in (stuffing) S (small) MAG (periodical)
For a while I thought the magazine was I (that’s a thing, isn’t it?) and that we were looking for an Italian artist (drawer) ending -INI.
|19||[Having] way with English, young setters maybe [providing] boosts (4-3)|
|STEP-UPS – ST (way) + (with) E (English) PUPS (young setters maybe)|
|21||Throw out alloys with sand (7)|
|ASTOUND – OUT anagrammed (alloys) with SAND|
|22||Last bit of pie: right to cut cheese off top (6)|
|VERTEX – last letter (bit) of PIE and RT (right) in (to cut) VEX (cheese off)
Very nice clue. My favorite.
|23||Lawyer [is] British one interrupting judge (5)|
|BRIEF – B (British) + I (one) in REF (judge)|
|24||Hint that wife must stop ringing (5)|
|TWANG – TANG (hint) that W (wife) is in (must stop)|