26 across: …to Ms, maybe? Excellent (3, 5)
This one induced a guffaw in a mostly empty cafe that in turn had me explaining the genius to the staff who ended up seeming more perplexed than amused. Brilliant: to Ms, maybe = to PC lass = top class = excellent.
13 across: …pub, where a cad carries what? (8)
Where the question mark is pivotal: a cad carries what? = a louse carries eh = alehouse = pub.
26 across: Heartless cad sounds crook (5)
Here, it’s heartless cad sounds = CD sounds = seedy = crook, and that reinterpretation of cd as CD is devilishly brilliant.
18 across: Letterman intro affected Qantas staffer (6)
This clue displays one of the great DA red herrings. Letterman as the first word looks like it refers to the TV host, and that is so close to the answer hostie that it seems like one is on the right track. But another definition is actually what’s in order: letterman intro affected = postie intro affected = hostie = Qantas staffer.
14 down: Where few rule out holiday, skipping me for cliff-climbing (9)
Exceptionally well-hidden direct clue and an excellent self-reference: out holiday, skipping me for cliff-climbing = out holiday – da + crag climbing = oligarchy = where few rule.
9 across: Row around head of Barwon River (5)
Excellent sentence meaning, where every significant word has something to do with a river: row around head of Barwon = tier around b = Tiber = river.
15 across: Spooner’s link, sheesh — it’s IT heavy (2-4)
Almost every Spoonerism deserves a golden berth: Spooner’s link, sheesh = Spooner’s tie heck = hi-tech = it’s IT heavy.
10 across: Yuan involved with price of money (9)
Another golden anagrammatic discovery: yuan involved with price = pecuniary = of money.
17 down: Cheek sag? (8)
Stunningly difficult wordplay: sag = gas backwards = backchat = cheek.
12 across: Peter, Liz, Harry freed one knot, perhaps, in… (ALEHOUSE) (7)
I’ve said my piece previously about the inconsistent use of ellipses and now I’m ready to let go and enjoy this clue: Peter, Liz, Harry freed one = pretzeli – i = pretzel = knot, perhaps, in alehouse.
7 down: Can slogan be a neighbour way to mention bloke, a neighbour? (5, 5, 5)
The sentence meaning is a little sloppy, but the wordplay is magnificent: be a neighbour way to mention bloke, a neighbour? = be a nz means to mention heinz = beanz meanz heinz = can slogan.
19 across: Alarming dogs along the border (8)
This is the last clue I solved simply because I completely missed the well-hidden anagram: alarming dogs = marginal = along the border.
Did anyone else have trouble picking up this anagram?