Words: scudder, n.

Click to follow
The Independent Online
"I AM perfectly aware that I am only a servant that never presumes on your loving kindness to take liberties, but let me tell you that you're a white man. I'll thank you to lend me a razor." If both familiar and strange, that is because this conflates remarks by two men in disparate works: Maurice and The Thirty-Nine Steps. The gamekeeper enamoured of Forster's hero shares an obscure surname with the man skewered upon Hannay's floor.

Did Buchan hear of Forster's unpublished novel? A scudder moves fast. The verb is from scut, a hare's tail. Hence the missile. Absent from the OED are the Irish jinx and American tedious - and, eight decades after Forster, it came to mean copulation (which could alarm the 10 Scudders in the London directory).