Words: first, adv.

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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