Not as much “fun” as George had last week, which is probably just as well. I didn’t initially get much at the top end, and bumbled through the lower clues steadily enough before discovering that the upper ones weren’t that tough after all, coming in just under 20 minutes.
There are an inordinate number of first/last letters variously indicated with a veritable Thesaurus of words for, um, first and last, and what seems like a lot of English and foreign definite articles.
One clue, 14a, I only parsed when I had to in order to satisfy any curiosity you may have.
There’s a Latinate plural that is perfectly sound, but which is not in Chambers (other dictionaries offer it while noting the rarity of its usage)
I offer you clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS to be discovered by clicking on any random pixel on the screen[any random pixel]
1 Fur or feather stole, acquired in that city (6)
BOGOTA The fur or feather stole is BOA, and in that place GOT for acquired
4 One appraises a couple of vessels taking gold round east (8)
ASSESSOR A is A, the two vessels are both SS , with OR gold, all placed strategically round E(ast)
9 The listener’s part in a murder resolved (7)
EARDRUM Much simpler than I thought, an anagram (resolved) of A MURDER
11 Two bachelors in farm machine, one muttering incoherently (7)
BABBLER Your two bachelors are both B, falling into the BALER farm machine as if in a gruesome episode of The Archers
12 Article framed by extremely emotional woman (5)
ETHEL The extremes of EmotionaL surround THE article
13 Worldwide rules Ivan abused (9)
UNIVERSAL Abuse the letters of RULES IVAN
14 Ominous, having shelter with spongy walls! (10)
PORTENTOUS Ah, right. I thought the shelter was (any old) PORT (in a storm), but it’s not. It’s a TENT, and its wall are constructed by POROUS for spongy
16 Deficiency of the Spanish sierra (4)
LOSS the LOS bit is the plural Spanish “the”, and S is the Nato Sierra
19 Guy appearing in Weber opera (4)
ROPE One of the easier “hiddens”, in WebeR OPEra. Not a random bloke, then
20 Newspaper mostly covering African party’s ritual (10)
OBSERVANCE The Observer (the one I know) is the venerable British Sunday newspaper, first published 1791, the world’s oldest. It’s not quite all there, with an insert featuring the ANC, Mandela’s party, founded in 1912
22 Parts of theatres represented in Paris once (9)
PROSCENIA The presumed plural of proscenium. The letters of PARIS ONCE are re-presented
23 Fast mover reversing army vehicle (5)
RACER The army is represented in brief by the Royal Engineers their vehicle an unprepossessing CAR. Engage reverse gear
25 Employ Aussie truck to tour the Italian islands (7)
UTILISE An antipodean truck is a UTE (utility vehicle, presumably). The Italian is IL (as in Trovatore) and the islands IS
26 French city mayor originally adopting current travel industry (7)
TOURISM The French city is the rather wonderful TOURS, with a reconstructed 18th century bridge named for Woodrow Wilson. Add the “original” letter of Mayor and insert I (electrical) current
27 Edicts primarily embracing the old will get you the gold (5-3)
BULLS-EYE Edicts are (Papal) BULLS, and we have E from Embracing “primarily”. Add YE for the old version of the. Early printers substituted Y for þ, thorn, and it should always have been pronounce as th, before Olde Tea Shoppes got hold of it
28 What Smith may be doin’, we hear, being sure to win? (4-2)
SHOO-IN Derived from US slang for a dead cert, sounding like a blacksmith shoeing (a horse) while not botherin’ with the g.
1 Breeder providing accommodation for drones? (9)
BEEKEEPER I assume this is a (not very) cryptic definition, drones being, well, bees. Wiki rather sniffily says “Honey bees are not domesticated and the beekeeper does not control the creatures”: rather like cats, the most we can hope for is that we are suffered to provide them with home comforts and unstinting service. But Wiki also says that “Queen breeders are specialist beekeepers who raise queen bees for other beekeepers”, so that’s alright then
2 Courtyard right in centre of Goliath’s city (5)
GARTH Fine if you know that Goliath came from GATH, and that a garth, once you put the R(ight) in, is “an enclosure or yard (now dialect ); [...] a courtyard within a cloister” (thanks, Chambers)
3 Certain type of singer engaging husband as pageturner (8)
THRILLER Your singer (once you have discarded altos and mezzos and such) turns out to be a TRILLER, engaging his/her Husband
5 Naval officer’s place secured by rent-payer (13)
SUBLIEUTENANT Place is LIEU (French/military)and the rent payer is a SUB-TENANT. It is indeed a specifically naval rank
6 Symbol English doctor associated with the Parisian Metro at first (6)
EMBLEM French the provides the LE, after E(nglish) MB (doctor as in Medicinae Baccalaureus). Finish off with the first bit of Metro
7 Old sailor readily assuming power — Silver, possibly? (4,5)
SALT SPOON Old sailor: SALT, readily SOON, plus P(ower) carefully assembled. The result might indeed be silver(ware)
8 Country river, one in central Russia (5)
RURAL River provides the R, and defines what the “one” is, namely the river URAL, which forms much of the border between Europe and Asia
10 Put on play ultimately about key financier’s charlatanism (13)
MOUNTEBANKERY Put on: MOUNT, plus the “ultimate” letter of plaY surround random one of 7 notes E and BANKER for financier
15 Reportedly criticised exam absorbing one like a hobby? (9)
RAPTORIAL It helps if you see hobby and think falcon. Criticised would be rapped, but sounding as RAPT, the exam an ORAL surrounding I, one
17 Person driving oxen over island (9)
STEERSMAN Does a helmsman “drive” a boat? Close enough for our purposes, perhaps. Oxen STEERS and the random island MAN
18 Excessive deliveries initially made at a London hospital (8)
OVERMUCH Today’s cricket reference, 6 deliveries producing an OVER. “Initially” Made and University College Hospital (on Euston Road, yours for a hundred quid).
21 Bags of writings showing no end of talent (6)
SCRIPS The writings are SCRIPTS, but with no (neither?) end of talent. The clue would work perfectly well with just the first three words as a DD.
22 It sounds like a fruit tree? Exactly (5)
PLUMB Hooray for silent B!
24 Senior officer drinking in atmosphere in African capital (5)
CAIRO Our senior officer is a CO, and AIR is the atmosphere imbibed.