Not at my most fluent, so it took 37.14. There are three words that might only ever appear in crosswords at 4ac, 20 ac and 7d, but in each case there’s pretty much generous wordplay to help you through. I took this to be a good, honest set of clues with no observable gimmicks or hidden extras, not allowing for many chuck ‘em in answers.
My musings provide clue definition SOLUTION
1. Escapade that may be seen in the shrubbery (5)
CAPER As well as being one of those funny-tasting peas you find in artistic cooking, it’s also the shrub it comes from. And an escapade, of course.
4. Article put out by Gulf port board open to suspicion (9)
DUBITABLE The Gulf port is DUBAI, strike the article A and add TABLE for board. A word more often seen with IN in front, a back formation, perhaps?
9. Boy leading everyone in film may be a winner (9)
MEDALLIST The boy is ED, “boy” often indicating a shortened man’s name. Give him ALL for everyone, and stick both in MIST for film. I was playing with all in film being CAST, and looking at something like FORECAST for a winning bet. Just wrong, then.
10. Existentialist is cold, with charm in short supply (5)
CAMUS, plays in goal for the philosopher’s XI (sic). C(old) plus AMUS(e) for a short charm.
11. I would hang around without hesitation, doing nothing (6)
IDLING I’D LINGER without the hesitant ER.
12. Hesitation about stated aims and objectives in modified document (8)
REVISION Hesitation, as above ER, “about” and equipped with a VISION for those aims and objectives you have to make up if you want to qualify for “Investors in People” status
14. Water-dwelling creature exhausted, taking in rest by river (3,7)
SEA SERPENT Built up from SPENT, exhausted packed with EASE for rest, and R for river
16. Victory that may point to the future? (4)
PALM think leafy thing waved in a victory celebration for one definition, and the liny bits on your hand for the other one.
19. Gun female fired in anger (4)
RILE Your gun here is a RIFLE. Dismiss the F(emale)
20. Most vulgar outfits I stored in box (10)
KITSCHIEST I think I would always say “most kitsch” if I ever needed to (possibly if I ever visit Disney, for example). But here it’s KITS for outfits, and I stored in CHEST for box. The clue doesn’t say vulgarest, does it? I wonder why.
22. Two notes and small coin withdrawn (8)
RETICENT A drop of golden sun, a drink with jam and bread and 1c.
23. Drink before party with good person tagging along (6)
LAPDOG Drink is LAP, party DO, and good is G. Concatenate
26. Noise of powerful car or very small saloon? (5)
VROOM. From which I deduce that after V for very, I have ROOM to translate a small saloon. OK, I suppose
27. Allowance for protecting superior home falling into disrepair (9)
RUINATION Allowance provides RATION, which in turn provide U for superior (Mitfords again) and IN for home.
28. It's irritating being confined: steps inside (9)
PESTILENT Being confined is PENT, inside which put STILE for steps
29. Note generating a good feeling (5)
TONIC Among other things the tonic is the first note of a scale, in the solfa system a deer, a female deer. And it’s a health-promoting drink.
1. Official in firm facing ruin, admitting failure (9)
COMMISSAR The ingredients are CO, firm; MAR ruin; and MISS failure (now there’s an alternative beauty contest) follow the assembly instructions
2. Lever in gym boy pulled up (5)
PEDAL Obviously a lever when you think about it, but only then. Gym is P.E., and the boy is LAD, which you “pull up”
3. Eased up from time of discipline, lying in grass (8)
RELENTED Place LENT for that 40 day discipline period, into REED, grass.
4. Dublin house cleaner neglecting the basement (4)
DAIL House as in “of Parliament”. A daily is a cleaning person capable of rearranging the house dust in such a way as to necessitate coming in again tomorrow.
5. Bird being deprived of tail and spleen (10)
BITTERNESS The BITTERN appears in its full booming glory, and only the ESSE, being, loses its tail.
6. Plan exploit, perhaps, twitching on the outside (6)
TACTIC exploit could be ACT, and TIC is “twitching”
7. Weapon favoured leads to troubled buzz (9)
BOMBINATE Weapon is BOMB, then favoured is IN, and leads to does not indicate first letters of, but just a sort of direction. Troubled gives you ATE. Today’s best candidate for “never ‘eard of it, mate”
8. Dye is one to get fixed (5)
EOSIN First anagram of the day using IS ONE as the fodder, get fixes as the indicator. Second...
13. Pert novice surprisingly provides something bringing vision (5,5)
OPTC NERVE Anfd the second anagram, of PERT NOVICE (well, it sure looks like and anagram, one hardly needs “surprisingly” to give the game away).
15. Operations of Taliban, so devious (9)
ABLATIONS, one definition being surgical removal of an organ or body tissue. You go 23 clues without an anagram, then three turn up at once, thias one of TALIBAN SO.
17. Like some chemical agents upsetting stomach over time, not completely pleasant (9)
MUTAGENIC First shot an unparsable INORGANIC, but it’s TUM for stomach “upset”, the AGE for time, and most of NICe from pleasant.
18. Bird hiding initially in plants to get insect (8)
PHEASANT The bird, the plant and the insect are all ones you’ve heard of, our answer, PEAS and ANT respectively. You need the H from Hiding “initially” to complete.
21. Fish dish served with pickle on island (6)
SCAMPI SCAMP for pickle (was for me in my childhood, at least) and I for Island.
22. Prepare to start show briefly with piano (3,2)
REV UP That’ll be gunning the throttle then. Show briefly is REVUe and piano contributes the P
24. Consent given by e.g. Hamlet audibly (5)
DEIGN Well he was a prince of Denmark. Deign means “ to condescend to give” which can be squeezed into consent
25. Sweet strike: perfect! (4)
MINT A satisfying triple definition to finish with.