Words: folkwain, n.

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GREAT COMEDY could be made from the perilous pleasures of the pedantry which brings a patina to love, but Tim O'Brien's new novel Tomcat in Love is not it. He is a long way after Peter De Vries, who effortlessly created such phrases as "We are all like the cleaning lady. Come to dust."

Tolkien, as Anthony Burgess notes in One Man's Chorus, was just such a character. He lamented that Anglo-Saxon was waylaid by Latin and Greek, and that the French despair ousted wan hope. "He hated words like omnibus and strove to introduce the native folkwain, which is close to Volkswagen."

I am still sore from being hoist by my own petard, when I asked "Do you know when the next folkwain's due?" and was told, "No, but there'll be three all at once."