Words: take the wall, v.

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The Independent Culture
PAVEMENT RAGE makes the Friday-afternoon M25 resemble a courtly progress. As pedestrians approach, one moves to his left, the other to his right; a process several times repeated as they meet, when, with a snarl, one shoves the other sidelong.

Honour is at stake, as Pepys discovered in Fleet Street when - unrecorded by the OED - he "received a great jostle from a man that had a mind to take the wall".

Murder was possible. Something duly avoided in the 18th century, when Dr Johnson recalled that

there were two sets of people, those who gave the wall, and those who took it; the peaceable and the quarrelsome . . . Now, it is fixed that every man keeps to the right.

That is, takes the wall. Apparently forgotten, let it be enforced on Oxford Street this Christmas.

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