This was a pretty tough one for me, on the order of 15 minutes. I had trouble with upper-left corner specifically, but I also think it was mainly because there were a lot of UK-centric answers that I had to work out carefully from the wordplay. No complaints —it's a British puzzle, after all— , just a possible explanation for why I found this one tricky. For all I know, this might be a very easy puzzle.
|7||Often visit area in course of search (5)|
|HAUNT - A ("area") in ("in course of") HUNT ("search")|
|8||Hard skin on foot, chest or back, initially, [or] part of ear (7)|
|CORNCOB - CORN ("hard skin on foot") + CHEST OR BACK ("chest or back") reduced to their first letters ("initially")|
|10||Profits [from this] unsold merchandise? (7)|
|RETURNS - double definition
Technically, returns are sold, no? Whatevz.
|11||Little change [in] patient, ultimately feeble (5)|
|TWEAK - PATIENT ("patient") reduced to its last letter ("ultimately") + WEAK ("feeble")|
|12||Man hurt by shot? Don’t believe it (5,4)|
|URBAN MYTH - MAN HURT BY ("man hurt by") anagrammed ("shot")
Good advice, Felix.
|14||Express article one runs (3)|
|AIR - A ("article") + I ("one") + R ("runs")
There's no question "by air" is a more apt synonym for 'express', but I'm sure someone can find a direct substitution. EDIT: john_dun was the first to point out that ‘air’ is being used in the sense of ‘voice (an opinion)’.
|15||Returned note that’s for builder to carry? (3)|
|HOD - reversed ("returned") DOH ("note", the musical kind)
A stick with a container for carrying bricks.
|16||Line on rugby pitch [that] all the soccer players make (6-3)|
|TWENTY-TWO - double definition
Soccer is played 11 versus 11, hence 22. As for the rugby line, never having played, it seems to be akin to the box in soccer/football in within which the goalie is allowed to pick up the ball.
|18||A long letter (5)|
|AITCH - A ("a") + ITCH ("long")
This is the letter H. Great clue; it must be a chestnut but I'd never seen it before.
|20||Problem / that’s as much as you can grasp? (7)|
|HANDFUL - double definition (or cheeky definition)
But then what do we make of "more than a handful"?
|22||One who’s got out [of] PE: cease to be shocked! (7)|
|ESCAPEE - PE CEASE ("PE cease") anagrammed ("to be shocked")|
|23||Scholarly monk / saved [or] successfully brought home? (5)|
|BACON - triple definition
Roger Bacon was a monk scientist who invented peanut brittle. The other two definitions are references to the idioms "save one's bacon" (rescue) and "bring home the bacon" (earn a living).
|1||Way, however harsh, to progress (12)|
|THOROUGHFARE - THO ("however") + ROUGH ("harsh") + FARE ("to progress")
One of my last in, and I couldn't get the wordplay until writing up the blog.
|2||Send for publication ... [and then] tuck in? (3,2,3)|
|PUT TO BED - double definition
I didn't know the first. I only knew of the general idiomatic use, meaning "to finalize". Er, 'finalise'.
|3||Use a spoon [for] porridge (4)|
|STIR - double definition
'Porridge' and 'stir' are slang for 'prison'.
|4||Eyes a commission coming up involving Irish playwright (6)|
|OCASEY - EYES A COMMISSION ("eyes a commission") reversed ("coming up") contains the answer ("involving")
Sean O'Casey, author of The Plough and the Peanut Brittle .
|5||Irritable, not having finished note (8)|
|CROTCHET - CROTCHETY ("irritable") minus the last letter ("not having finished")|
|6||Area [that’s] sacred, inside boundaries (4)|
|ACRE - SACRED ("sacred") without the first and last letters ("inside boundaries")|
|9||Part of underground movement in a rebellion ok (8,4)|
|BAKERLOO LINE - anagram of ("movement in") A REBELLION OK ("a rebellion ok")|
|13||Unrelated to comedian Bob? / Some chance! (3,1,4)|
|NOT A HOPE - double definition
A reference to comedian Bob Hope. As for the second definition, I can't find it attested but I guess it's sarcastic like 'fat chance'.
|14||Skill [of] boy if meeting wintry conditions (8)|
|ARTIFICE - ART ("boy") + IF ("if") + ("meeting") ICE ("wintry conditions")
How many boys named Art d'ya meet these days?
|17||Repeated chapter appearing in English dictionary (6)|
|ECHOED - CH ("chapter") in ("appearing in") E ("English") + OED ("dictionary")
I knew all the pieces and couldn't believe they made a real word!
|19||Instant / credit (4)|
|TICK - double definition
Didn't know the second, which is apparently an old-fashioned British idiom: to buy something "on tick" means with an obligation to pay later.
|21||Arrests outlaw turning up with son (4)|
|NABS - BAN ("outlaw") reversed ("turning up") + ("with") S ("son")|