A bit of a Brief Encounter this one, at least in my terms, at 13.56. It'll be interesting to see how rapid a fill it is for others, though my experience this week is that the puzzels are getting steadily more straightforward. I suppose it's possible that solvers have cruised through life without encountering Cleopatra's maid or the aquatic creature, but (apart from having to translate "biscuit" into "cookie" stateside) the foodstuff at 17, which I thought might be a bit parochial, seems to be a pretty much universally recognised hazard to brittle teeth. And even the gardener turns out to be the only one I can confidently name. Which is nice. I submit my workings thus:
1 HISS urgent whisper
Greeting can't be anything much other than HI, and Sons gives you the needed two esses
4 ROSE WINDOW ...that's on the Church wall
A teeny tiny quibble - I'm not convinced that "on" is the best preposition. Be that as it may, ROSE is the flower, lady having lost husband is WIDOW, chuck in a N(ame). I initially thought "flower lady" was a rather generous clue for ROSE, but cool reflection says "lady" is needed in the next bit.
9 CAPABILITY So-called gardener
Mr and Mrs Brown named him Lancelot, but the C word stuck to him and floated serenely through history and into my consciousness. "Working" BY I (ONE) CAPITAL into a confused state provides our answer.
10 MOLE Tunneller
Take "trouble" to be a verb, and translate it easily enough to molest. Knock of the ST(reet) way.
11 TITTLE Companion to jot
We can be thankful to the astonishing William Tyndale, producer of the first printed English New Testament, for this felicitous phrase for "really amazingly small things" here referenced. Until the 18th century, the dot on the i was a tittle. Prosaically "name" in the clue is TITLE, and the end of document is, of course T, which you insert.
12 KNEE JERK automatic
"Criminal" instructs you to twist KEEN, and pull translates to JERK
14 SARI dress
From which you can guess, correctly, that Cleo's maid was IRAS, which Shakespeare had no doubt about and which you must reverse.
17 GINGER SNAP biscuit.
The Times biscuit tin houses a pretty small selection, of which this is the one that most requires dunking. Subject the last letter of tiN and all of PRESAGING to "disastrous" rearrangement.
20 APEX Top
Answer provides the A, the rest sounds like pecks, or kisses.
21 GESTATES carries
A mammalian interpretation. Put SET scenery backwards and attach it to a new arrangement of STAGE
23 ON SITE Present for work
Sounds like "on sight", loosely (but not unduly so) interpreting "without preparation"
And the first name of the awf'ly elegant Mr Coward. The quote at the top of the page is the terribly terribly poignant moment in Brief Encounter when the not-actually-cuckolded husband seeks the answer to a crossword clue from his conflicted wife which turns out to be "romance".
25 FOUR-IN-HAND Carriage
As driven by HRH Prince Philip to an individual championship gold medal in 1982 (sic). Two couples by basic maths are FOUR, and "under control" gives IN HAND. In my experience "in hand" means "I haven't actually started it yet, but I don't want you to know that"
26 EFFLORESCE Blossom
"Wind", as in twist, FEELS FORCE. A very neat clue.
27 TOOL For example, saw
I like this. Not enough right, so it must be TOO L(eft)
2 IMAGINATIVE full of ideas
I reverse engineered this one to MAG (publication) I (I) in 1 (one) NATIVE (local).
3 STARTLING Shocking
The last letter of amounT taken on board by a STARLING definitely a bird
4 RAIDERS Attacking force
Probably the simplest of today's clues: R(ight) and AIDERS (helpers)
5 STICK TO ONES GUNS Don't budge
As in an argument, for exanmple. Keeping armes close is another mildly whimsical interpretation of the phrase
You can safely ignore the apparent footie reference. This is WARY (cautious) with the A missing, and NECK for a bit of bottle, either literally or figuratively
7 DRONE Aeroplane
If not carrying hellfile missiles, it would just be a very expensive executive toy. Managed equates to DONE ("so that's how it's done"). Drop in a R(iver)
Another soundalike, this time of reek "awful smell"
13 RALLENTANDO Slowing down
Though most conductors I've sung under insist it's Italian for "watch the conductor". One might get DON'T EARN ALL from the letters.
16 THAT'S THAT Emphatic conclusion
Bernard Cribbinsanyone? "..And beneath it is the chap in the bowler hat. And that's that." Also a "trivial" truth, and unless I'm very much mistaken, a tautology.
18 ROTIFER Aquatic creature
"A wheel-animalcule, or member of the Rotif'era, minute aquatic animals whose rings of waving cilia suggest a rotating wheel." So now you know. Knew the word, somehow, and it's relatively easily deduced. I took regular procedure to be ROTE, and in it is IF (provided); add the second R(iver) of the day.
19 PROFILECryptic definition.
I suppose on a police record or such you might be photographed in this (sc profile). Nearly not cryptic at all.
21 GENRE Class
Eco-friendly is GREEN, gently lower the RE (about) to the bottom.
A lockable box is a SAFE, and an almost one is a SAF. Include man's, strictly perhaps his, but here HE.