Words: senior, adj.

IN THE bar-parlour of the Angler's Rest, Francis Wheen's fatigue at pruning the word "fretful" from his life of Marx pales beside that of the Waugh scholar Michael Davie: no sooner had he overcome flu than his wife summoned three double-glazing salesmen, each of whom claimed kinship with the books on the shelves ("I very much enjoy opera myself"). Davie remarks that he has to excise "crucial" from his prose and recalls that Robert Stephens, the Arabist, always asked, "are you a `however' or `nevertheless' man?"

Meanwhile, Anthony Sampson said that an American recently called a lapse of memory "a senior moment". Adds Sampson, "I can't recall who it was - a senior moment!"