Words: banana, n.

MY HISTORY master, David Jones, once read out the overdue library books, including 21 Popular Economic Fallacies: "The whole subject's a fallacy!" Witness the current dispute over bananas and consequent cashmere crisis. Nations are trying to be top banana.

One of many senses absent from the OED, it is a vaudeville term, in use by the Fifties, for ranking slapstick comedians (fitting, then, for politicians' disputes). It can also mean penis, fender, football pass, aeroplane, an adaptive Asian and jaundice victim.

Some believe that Moses' grapes from the Promised Land were really bananas. Meanwhile, let us honour the great Jane Grigson by insisting on tiny ones from the Canaries. Too few are imported: excellent with gin or kirsch, not rum.