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Words: Airfixation, n.

NO SOONER has D. J. Taylor published a 500-page life of Thackeray than he is described by some sort of don, John Mullan, as "a jobbing writer". What would the sneering Dr Mullan think if he knew that Taylor has also been a diligent editor of Airfix Magazine? He is an expert upon variants of the Lancaster bomber and a past master at easing decals from a saucer of water to the fuselage.

Nothing to be ashamed of. In his new book of essays, Geoff Dyer says, "I still only really appreciate presents that are box-shaped (books and CDs opposed to sweaters) because, during those seminal Christmases, anything that wasn't in a box wasn't an Airfix model." Dyer's neat word for it is airfixation. Not in any dictionary, this is an enduring condition.