Words: first, adv.

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The Independent Online
IN The Spectator, Sheridan Morley reminds us that Coward "first wrote" Private Lives in Shanghai. One could say this of Wilde's drafting Earnest in less exotic Worthing, for it underwent a plethora of intricate revisions, but Coward, as usual, wrote something and got on with the next task. Genius has no rules.

Our supposedly efficient era is awash with tautology. A performer's old stuff is invariably "back catalogue". What can be catalogued other than that already created? "Future catalogue" is absurd. Recently some bod on Jazz FM announced another "all-time classic", the Temptations' "My Girl". Classic, yes; hardly jazz, but temporary classics are a fascinating idea: "Bohemian Rhapsody"? "I Don't Like Mondays"? The White Hotel?

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