Words: postal, a.

THE OTHER day in Twin Falls, Idaho, the police were scarcely surprised when they saw several armed men go into the post office. This is a reasonable precaution for members of the US public to take when buying a stamp.

Such has been the spate of cases over the past decade in which a postal worker has gone berserk that to "go postal" is now a common expression for any such wild behaviour. It was given further currency in the movie Clueless, but has yet to reach English lips, on which it could, of course, mean weariness at queuing for a long time.

In fact, that day in Twin Falls, everything was entirely peaceable: the gun-toting men formed an honour guard which had arrived for the swearing- in of a new postmaster.