Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Words: lava, n.

HAGGERTY ENTERPRISES Inc's complaint about my innocent quoting of Lorrie Moore's brilliant reference to somebody's blood moving "around his face and neck like a lava lamp" brings to mind Peter Cook and Virginia Woolf - an odd couple, who would be sure-fire clients for Relate.

The word lava prompted Woolf to write in The Waves of "the speed, the hot molten effect, the laval flow of sentence into sentence that I need."

And lava-lava is a Samoan skirt, first noticed by Robert Louis Stevenson: with it, nothing is worn above the waist. Peter Cook, affecting the voice of a stripper's manager, once rang the BBC to ask why it would not book his artistes but had in fact just broadcast the Ipi Tombi dancers in front of the Queen Mother.