Words: Tochis, n.

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NO APOLOGIES for returning to John Updike's masterly Bech at Bay. Along with The Simpsons script-writers, he has the most astute eye for contemporary America. At one point, Bech is on a disputatious committee of the great and good, and is told, "all you've got to do is preside. Just sit there on your tochis."

Variously spelt, from the Hebrew for "beneath", it has been used this century for buttocks, as in The Premar Experiment (1976) by R.H. Rimmer. He also ghosted the memoirs of Mistress Jacqueline, Whips and Kisses. This suggests the tenor of Mr Rimmer's work, unreviewed by the TLS, but one should not judge hastily. At least one expression therein - "your tuchis is smiling sideways at me" - would not be out of place in Updike.