Thanks, Foxglove. A delightful puzzle with pitch-perfect wordplay and clear definitions. Unlike Ray (whose comment on Late Halloween I think probably belongs here), I was pleased to have an enjoyable puzzle to do which took less than an hour to complete! It could perhaps have been made harder with more deceptive definitions, but I for one enjoy a puzzle which is not too taxing. At least I get to finish it! Also it is not easy to create a puzzle with excellent meaningful surfaces like this which is at the same time not too difficult.
Thanks also for the very clear explanations. There were a couple I didn’t quite parse right.
I had a couple of question marks about the cluing. One was the use of ‘heartily’, but I see now that the QM at the end took care of that rather professionally. I did also wonder about ‘failure’ as the definition for 14a, since it originally meant an inheritance and came to be used for a death, as confirmed by my old paper Chambers. However, more modern sources such as Collins online show that the meaning has drifted further to encompass ‘failure’, as when referring to a plan.
Better late than never…
I enjoyed the puzzle. Each time I was on the verge of giving up, another penny finally dropped. I had the whole top half with only a few in the bottom. Then a few more pennies fell – each with a nice “aah!” moment. I was thwarted from a total solve by assuming I was failing to spot the exact wordplay on NatWest for NEATEST (27a), and not knowing the word for 24d, so assuming it must be octet, with ET being some form of notice I’d figure out later. 🙂 All’s clear now, thanks to your explanations.
Favourite clues 1a, 6a, 17a.