4067 Be My Guest by Mr E

2010 started with a pleasant but not too demanding puzzle from Mr E, which had a large blank area in the upper left corner of the grid. Some cells had to have two letters squeezed in, and we were expected to take our lead from the central cell, which was split diagonally from the top left to bottom right corners. When the other cells with two letters were split in the same way, the word CONTESSERATION could be seen running across the grid. This means the act of forming friendship or union by dividing a square tablet as a token, so explaining the division of the doubled-up cells.

The instructions for dealing with the upper left region, spelt out according to the preamble by two of the answers, and the first letters of words removed from the remaining clues, read:

CUT IT OUT. CUT IT IN HALF. KEEP HALF. ENCLOSE HALF WITH YOUR NAME ON IT.

and so, with one triangular piece of paper retained, the other duly endorsed and clipped to the remaining part of the grid, Gregson raised a toast to Mr E, and wondered what the rest of the Listener year would bring.

Extra words are indicated by [].

Across
2 Difficulty when there's no director to control [operations] (7)
HARNESS HARDNESS (Difficulty) less D (director)
7 Man heard by [underworld] god when returning two letters (6)
SAMUEL AS (when) reversed, + MU _ EL (two letters)
The name Samuel meaning “heard by God”
8 I see one getting tossed around – [terribly] draining (8)
SLUICING I + C (see) inside SLUNG (tossed)
10 It would be a tragedy if this beast got into an English [institution] (4)
TIGON If TIGON got inside AN E (English), it would give ANTIGONE, a tragedy by Sophocles
11 A burning car backing into a rickety [news-stand] (8)
CREMATION MERC (car) reversed, + ATION (anagram of INTO A)
13 Iris adapts, [kills] sickly evergreen plant (9)
ASPIDISTRA Anagram of IRIS ADAPTS
18 [Eager] to rove about, on account of being held in small room (4)
ROAM O/A (on account of) inside RM (abbreviation for “room”)
19 Goddess caught mother of 10 cutting head off [eldest] (4)
CLIO C (caught) + LIONESS (mother of 10 across, tigon) less NESS (head)
21 Most popular [party] roaring around street in El Salvador (10)
BESTSELLING BELLING (roaring) containg ST (street) inside ES (El Salvador)
22 Ten lame [elders], ten moving slowly (9)
LENTAMENTE Anagram of TEN LAME TEN
24 Gets evasive about second book by the [northern] writer (6, two words)
COMES BY COY (evasive) containing S (second) + B (book) after ME (the writer)
27 Succeed in interrupting teasing girl not going all the way (5, two words)
CUT IT (normal clue) I’ (in) inside CUTT(Y) (teasing girl, less last letter)
28 Purple [coat] missing in inn (7)
AUBERGE AUBERGINE (purple), less IN
29 Explanation for [lackey] losing head among people in authority (6)
THEORY (F)OR inside THEY (people in authority)
30 New minister [ordered] to take a meal at base with soldiers (7)
ORDINEE DINE (to take a meal) + E (base) after OR (other ranks, ie soldiers)
31 Refined [sugar] doesn't contain a source of food (4)
EDDO Hidden in RefinED DOesn’t
32 Who will bother the queen about measure by [eastern] prince? (8)
PESTERER ER (the Queen) containint STERE (measure), after P (pronce)

Down

1 What chums will do when very good [wines] are found in Nancy? (9)
ASSOCIATE AS (when) + SO (very good, interjection) + A (are) inside CITE (French word for “city”)
2 Without a bit of stealth, like criminals raised imperfectly (4)
HALF (normal clue) S (first letter of STEALTH) removed from FLASH (like criminals), reversed
3 What [intentions] might make Merlin rub a stone? (9, two words)
RUIN MARBLE Anagram of MERLIN RUB A
4 Drink left for [ten] horses outside court (6)
NECTAR NEAR (left side for horses) containing CT (court)
5 Maybe Sol [Hurok] celebrated with force (6)
SUN-GOD SUNG (celebrated) + OD (force)
6 A [yellow] sign - sots might be spelling this the wrong way (4)
SEGNO SPONGES (sots) = SP (spelling) + SEGNO reversed
9 Travellers [offend] black people like myself (10)
JET-SETTERS JET (black) + SETTERS (people like Mr E)
12 An ancient Greek [urn] - one on a toilet that's out of order (7)
ITALIOTE I + anagram of TOILET
14 Only soldier lacking a [regular] grave (6)
SOLEMN SOLE (only) + MAN (soldier) less A
15 Leave with nymph – [naturally] not one having a spouse (8)
PARTNERED PART (leave) + NEREID (nymph), less I (one)
16 European medic is [almost] first to enter unenlightened land (8)
DISEMBARK E (European) + MB (medic) after IS, all inside DARK (unenlightened)
17 Not quite [mandatory] to reach this point at the same time (8)
TOGETHER TO GET HER(E) (o reach this point, less last letter)
18 [Everyone] upset after relative and only child move place of business (7)
RELOCATE ATE (upset) after REL (relative) + OC (only child)
20 [Old] one asked to come in quickly before start of event (7)
INVITEE IN + VITE (quickly) + E (first letter of EVENT)
23 One who's run away - it's said not many go [north] faster (5)
FUGIE FEW (not many) + GEE (go faster), homophone
25 Shucks – [ill] but no time off! (4)
SHOO SHOOT (Shucks) less T (time)
26 Stop [taxing] centre for poor homeless people (4)
OBOE Middle letters of HOBOES (poor homeless people)