Words: slag, v. and n.

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TO SOME ears, slag means a heap; to deride; or a woman who will indeed pop her cork for any man.

There can surely be no greater sign of the way we live now than a usage which it has recently acquired. A way of getting off heroin is to substitute methadone, itself addictive. It is the most controlled drug in America. Most of those who are given it have to visit a clinic each day rather than be trusted with a bottleful.

At one clinic in Chinatown, a nurse watches each morning as patients drink a cup, and then asks them a question, to make sure that they have swallowed it rather than kept it in their mouths - "slagging" - ready for expectorant resale.

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