Time was when you could be interested in everything, and develop your interests in whichever direction took your fancy. Our chemist today was one such. These days, we are inclined to be more narrow, specialised, and resent being expected to know science and arts and theology and French and birds and words from the mustier corners of the dictionary. Our setters (including today’s) rightly say “st*ff that for a game of soldiers” and whack in any words that take their fancy, especially if they fit a tricky space. This one took me just short of 20 minutes of concentrated effort, properly sorting out the clues either to confirm the solution guessed at, or to arrive at an unfamiliar word or chemist. I liked this well, smiled at several clues for their sly wit, and liked the insertion of a couple of jabs at the very contemporary theme of – um – jabs.
Clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS plus strivings after truth.
1 Weary judge heartlessly put on (5)
JADED J is conventionally short for judge, then put on is ADdED, without its heart.
4 Lift on the other side, with bishops aboard, stalled (6,3)
FOBBED OFF Leave DOFF for lift (one’s cap) until you’ve got the other side, FOE with two B(ishops) aboard.
9 Singular pong surrounding gardens out of place (9)
SKEWWHIFF Authorities are split on whether it’s hyphenated: I think it looks slightly odd without. Anyway, it's S(ingular) WHIFF for pong, outside KEW Gardens, world famous plant collection in SW London, claiming the "largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world".
10 Two actors both oddly refused a drink (5)
COCOA Clever. Take one aCtOr and “refuse” the odd letters. Then take another aCtOr and do the same, then add A.
11 Worthless comrade shot (6)
PALTRY Easy. PAL comrade, TRY shot.
12 Constant choler aroused involving mass burial site (8)
CROMLECH Constant gives C, an anagram (aroused) of CHOLER and M(ass) to be “involved”. Either a single dolmen as shown, or a stone circle like Stonehenge, which may or may not be a burial site.
14 Be taken in by bear (3,2,4)
PUT UP WITH Two definitions, the first referring to having a place to stay.
16 Looking for a queen's wrapping paper (5)
AFTER As in in search of. A plus ER (long may she reign) wrapping the FT, Financial Times newspaper
17 Force left behind that is protecting politician (5)
IMPEL So, that is, IE protects MP the politician, with L(eft) behind
19 Limit those inside coach (9)
CONSTRAIN Those inside are CON(vict)S and coach is TRAIN. Technically that has to be the verbal form, as in my book a single coach is not a train.
21 Most unusual small carriage — it's for madame (8)
SCARCEST S(mall) CAR for carriage, plus C’EST, which for any French Madame is their version of it’s.
22 Surplus from old church stores cleared out (6)
EXCESS EX for old, CE for church (of England) and StoreS with their contents cleared out, which in my experience churches should often and rigorously, but don’t.
25 Pull out most of pages (5)
LEAVE Most of pages is LEAVEs
26 I clean out boils to protect against infection (9)
INOCULATE Curiously not the word we have used to describe the jab we’re all supposed to be receiving (I’ve had my two Phizers) to render us Covid proof. To concoct your dose, be sure to boil (anagram) I CLEAN OUT. Careful attention to the anagram fodder prevents infection with either too many Ns or Cs.
27 Desires profits by close of day (9)
YEARNINGS Place profits, in this case EARNINGS, by the close of daY. Smooth.
28 Conspicuous success of retro cape in story (5)
ÉCLAT Place C(ape) into TALE for story, and reverse (retro) the lot. Chambers: “a striking effect; showy splendour; distinction; applause” from the Old French for break, shine.
1 Chemist treated others' epilepsy, following Jenner's lead (6,9)
JOSEPH PRIESTLEY Phenomenal polymath, discoverer of oxygen (possibly) and creator of fizzy drinks. Check him out on Wiki. Anagram (treated) of OTHERS’ EPILEPSY after the lead in Jenner (which, if you haven’t noticed, is J). Jenner and Priestley overlapped in time, but as far as I can see had no connection.
2 Live carefully, supporting daughter (5)
DWELL Search you thesaurus to find a meaning of carefully that gives WELL, and write it in supporting D(aughter)
3 Moisture finally dried with sprinkling of powder (7)
DEWDROP The last letter of drieD with an anagram (sprinkled) of POWDER. Redolent of talc and bottoms.
4 Pretty good rides to be had here (4)
FAIR Two indications, which together may or may not be true.
5 Be a frequent contributor to rally previously? (10)
BEFOREHAND BE plus FOREHAND, a frequent action in a rally in tennis. Took me ages to see how simple this was.
6 Carbon-capturing plan one set up brings accolades (7)
ENCOMIA Today’s not-terribly-familiar word. Take AIM for plan, add ONE for – um – one, “capture” C(arbon) and reverse (set up) the lot.
7 Crate bound by stripped narrow raised band (9)
ORCHESTRA A possibly original clue, at least not involving a carthorse, in which CHEST for crate is “bound” in nARROw with its ends stripped off and reversed/raised.
8 Ensure personal comforts by settling down? (7,4,4)
FEATHER ONE’S NEST What birds do when they "settle" down on their bits of twine and twig, tee-hee.
13 Press introducing American backed no 1 sewing aid (10)
PINCUSHION Press is PINCH, insert US for American, add NO I reversed (backed).
15 Better articles penned by graduate for boss (3,6)
TOP BANANA That’s better as in TOP that, plus articles AN and – um – AN within BA fro graduate.
18 Lessons to be had from this large city bird? (7)
LECTERN From which the scripture lesson is read in Church, or in a lecture theatre etc. L(arge) EC for city (of London, its postal code) and the bird is TERN.
20 Writing certain to lose initial consistency (7)
TEXTURE Writing is TEXT, certain is sURE from which the initial is lost.
23 Message I put in flimsy cover returned (5)
EMAIL Flimsy is a lame excuse for LAME, which is reversed (returned) and has I inserted
24 Virtually hopeless wit (4)
NOUS Well, it’s almost NO USe.