Selected Neologisms: January-March 1994

ALAN CLARK, the former defence and trade minister, yesterday said that the pounds 234m development money paid in the Malaysian aid-for-arms row was used as a 'soft loan' to win the contract for the Pergau dam. Mr Clark's remarks will open Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, to further

date, followed by a replay of their individual confessions to the cameraman -a part known to the production team by the cutesy (and apparently meaningless) name 'bish-bash'. Then comes Cilla's inevitable question: 'Well, are you going to see each other again?' And what's the answer? Nearly always 'No'. One of Blind Date's hallmarks is...

Asked to define 'bobbitt', Anne Seaton, of Chambers Dictionary, says: 'It's a woman's violent and vengeful removal of her partner's penis. Perhaps one might call it 'depenistration'.'

Last month in the city of Taichung, a Taiwanese wife bobbitted her husband with a pair of scissors after learning of his affairs with other women. Chien Liu-liang, 51, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment

ways but I'm very childish, 'said one 'only'. 'I'm a sort of retard.' Yeah, yeah, you with siblings may be saying. This is mere palmists' patter, stuff which applies to everyone. True, but I would argue that 'onlies' experience this feeling in spades. Apparently, most only children find it difficult to rebel as adolescents. Since they are often one against two,

the distribution power of a banking network has been much copied, most recently by Halifax Building Society. It has become commonplace to assume that 'bancassurers' will have half the life insurance market by the end of the decade.

J SAINSBURY is planning to launch a new branded cola to challenge Coca-Cola and Pepsi. It may also repackage its ragbag of own-label petfoods under a strong single sub-brand in a threat to Mars-owned Pedigree Petfoods and Dalgety.

In north America a whole anti-consumerism movement is gathering strength to combat the toothbrush explosion and other excesses. But in Britain product proliferation continues apace. Philips alone produces 13 different kettles

Angela Eagle, the Labour MP for Wallasey, had been planning to ask about the Pergau dam in Malaysia, the subject of a so-called arms-for-aid controversy. When she was called by the Speaker, she quickly changed her mind, asking the Prime Minister how he could say that British industry was not a matter for

The Ottawa Citizen urges students to learn how to cope with 'bobbitting'. The Washington Times praises former US president George Bush for 'the bobbitting of both Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega'.

Alcohol appears to trigger bobbitting. The Taiwanese couple had been drinking on the day of detachment, as had a Turkish victim whose case was reported last month in the newspaper Hurriyet. Abdullah Kemal Konak, a

Thomas Joshua Cooper, head of fine art photography at Glasgow School of Art, is one of the few people to have seen her firestacks in situ. Built of rounded stones fitted together, Brook makes the firestacks on the beach at low tide. She piles driftwood on top, and sets it alight as the tidewater floods back.

The new goutists: Unfashionable? Definitely. Painful? Highly. Funny? Hilarious . . . unless you happen to be the one who has the gout, says our Political Correspondent Paul Routledge.

But my right ankle was swollen and extremely painful. I could walk only with the greatest difficulty. Never fear, help was at hand. We goutists never go anywhere without an emergency supply of Naproxen, the vivid yellow bombers guaranteed to get rid of an attack within a day - or two, at most.

What is missing in the saga, it seems to me, is the comradely spirit. There is no hi-falutin' sufferers' club where us goutists can get together and yarn about ankles and big toes. Even sufferers of 'yuppie flu', which has not yet been satisfactorily proven to exist, have a mutual help group.

Sir: Melissa Rapp characterises British tourists in America as 'whiny and complainy'. She must understand that perhaps they are feeling a bit stressy about being robbed and shot by the happy, smiling Americans. Yours faithfully,

The industry is concerned that it is legal for people to change the electronic serial number of mobile telephones - a process known as 'de-chipping' - making easier to sell stolen telephones.

BT confirmed it was having talks with Pearson, LWT and Kingfisher to develop and provide a dial-a-video service that can be delivered down telephone lines. Analysts believe VoD could generate annual sales of pounds 1bn by the year 2000.

quite feckless.
Yes we are.
What is feck?
You agreed just now that we are feckless. You made it sound as if you knew what 'feckless' meant. So I asked you, what is 'feck'?
I don't think I've ever thought . . .
I believe you. You will go through the rest of your life never wondering what 'feck' is.
That's because I have more important things to do.
No it isn't. It's because you're a blithering idiot.

community was 'the right answer. Nobody wants to go back to the old mental health institutions with locked wards and impersonal care and treatment'. But there was a need for long or short-stay 'haven-type' or 'asylum-type' accommodation, for those mentally ill people who could not cope in the commmunity.

they assemble in Basle for one of their regular meetings. Central banks come at the problem from differing perspectives. The Continental supervisors tend to see hedge-fund players as wicked destabilising speculators, wreckers of fixed exchange rate mechanisms and destroyers of bond markets. The Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Board on the other hand are much

Reports sent by the council to the Department of the Environment show that residents were neither means tested nor properly interviewed before being given the cash. Yet in its alleged 'homes-for-votes' policy the flagship London council spent millions of pounds of public money clearing out council properties. Some of this money was used to send a number of families

In his efforts to smother UN peace-keeping operations by withdrawing congressional support, Mr Dole yesterday introduced the draft of a 'peace-powers act' that would severely restrict US military involvement in UN operations.

Specifically, Mr Dole's 'peace-powers act' seeks a prohibition on US troops serving under foreign command in UN operations not directly in Washington's interests.

Plane-spotters are almost exclusively white, male and British. There is no such thing as a black female plane-spotter from Uganda. They have better things to do. I did once meet a spotter at Seattle airport, but he turned out to be a British Airways steward on his day off.

Sir: David McKeown says in his article on obsessions (24 March) that plane-spotters are 'almost exclusively white, male and British. There is no such thing as a black female plane-spotter from Uganda.' Not so. Some of us know our 200 series from our 400, our Big Tops from our Megatops, from years of walking over the many models in a son's bedroom.

No single company has control of the Independent or the Independent on Sunday and our three partners are all proprietor-free newspaper groups. The commitment to complete editorial independence is total - that is what the Independent is about, that is why we exist.

gee-whiz Governor of Arkansas. As to whether he and Mrs Clinton did anything seriously dubious, even illegal, all those years ago, nothing convincing has yet emerged. A spot of small-state you-scratch-my-back politics, for sure; maybe a tardy tax payment or two.

Beware the third up-tick By JIM SLATER in the so-called golden scenario of strong economic growth coupled with low inflation. Many professional investors believe that the first up-tick in interest rates is not too worrying. They expect the market to have a correction and then recover.

There is no need to panic out of the market -it is quite possible that in a week or so the Fed's first move will soon be seen as prudent and good for the long term. However, a second up-tick would be a cause for worry, especially as so many people interpret three up-ticks as a strong bearish signal.

Naples has produced sickening evidence of decades of complicity between the Camorra and politicians - led by 'Don' Antonio Gava, the former interior minister - of the southern votes-for-favours system. The city also produced possibly the vilest corruption cases of all - the multi-million pound deals between top Health Ministry figures and the

US economists say that Mr Greenspan is aiming to shift monetary policy from an 'accommodative' stance to one of neutrality. For the past two years, the Fed held the key funds rate at 3 per cent to revive the economy and allow the financially crippled banking system to recover. This has meant that real

State of the Union message, and who lent his considerable credibility to the Democratic president's deficit-reduction tax plan. This is the 'overly accommodative' Federal Reserve chairman who brought US interest rates to 30-year lows and kept them there through President Clinton's first year in office.

Paul Smith, CBE, is no longer a mere purveyor of yuppie flash. He is becoming an insistent and articulate lobbyist on behalf of British design - the bespokesman of his industry. Doubtless, this shifts boxer shorts, and Paul Smith needs all the publicity he can get as he launches his first womenswear collection this year. But it

Finn admitted: 'To be honest the real reason I'm doing this is to get as much publicity as possible.' Meanwhile, in the programme was an advertisement for 'box-aerobics' classes run by Finn's partner, Pauline Dickson, urging women to 'come and get fit and learn self-defence at the same time in a fun, safe, environment'.

Bettino Craxi, Italy's longest-serving prime minister, who gave the Italian language the noun craxismo - a synonym for political decisiveness - is nonplussed. 'I think the imbecile who made the decision to remove the word is as big an imbecile as the one who decided to include it,' he said with characteristic craxismo. Giancarlo Oli, editor of Devoto-Oli, Italy's equivalent of the Concise Oxford, decided to delete the word from the next edition, due out in 1995.

they're made by people who can't draw - hack writers and accountants.' So what is the essence of cartoony-ness? 'Just funny drawings, basically - wild, surreal drawings - and butt-jokes.' Ah yes, butt-jokes. Ren & Stimpy is consistently, at times unnervingly, scatological, and sometimes snotological too.

in Arizona, cactus-rustling is a major social problem. Forty years ago, a man called Delmer Steel, the original rustler, uprooted his first Saguaro from the desert, strapped it to the back of his pick-up truck and delivered

Germany is providing 8bn Deutschmarks (pounds 3bn) to build housing for some of the families in Russia, as part of the cash-for-unity deal agreed with Moscow but little of this has been completed.

time women were allowed to have D-cups. The rest of us are with Louise Atkinson in the Daily Mail: 'women are intimidated by these powerful, cleavage-wielding women'. Both sides pretend to feminist principle, but the real difference, I fear, is the possession, or not, of cleavage.

It is a normal weekday in the Conran Shop. Oysters are selling on the stalls outside, smooth bespectacled men in loose suits lounge among the cocoon-shaped lampshades. Sofas and tables are spaced out like museum pieces across the shop floor.

At the same time another French designer, Madame Paquin, was turning out cocoon-shaped evening coats and costumes embroidered with - you've guessed it, roses.

He kept putting off rehearsing his campaign speech, in which he said, 'Mah fray-ins, this is a tahm of great pay-ril foah owuh blovid cuntrah.' He hated that speech.

yew, mah fray-ins, if we c'd git thim pin-strahped ayghaids down heah t' meet yew good folks, waall, mebbe they'd have thim a bitter idee whut a gret cuntrah we got heah - the Yew-nighted Stets of Uhmurka,' he'd cry, mopping his brow with a red bandanna

around portfolios of customers, arranged according to expected lifetime purchasing value. Even new product-development activities become secondary to the customer-management structure. The payoff can be enormous.

an all- individualised product.' These approaches are in their infancy, and no company has yet fully embraced a customer-management organisation structure. Nevertheless, those who effectively get their hooks into customers this way will probably have the basis for relationships that can, even in these fickle days, stand the test

Silly Questions: Advice for the deodorantly challenged

the more hirsute males need longer to shave and thus have less time available to deodorise themselves; hairy, deodorantly challenged,

overcoat, parked disconcertingly on Harry Enfield's rail by Mr Manzi's staff, was classified by them as 'worn but not rough'.) I later spoke to a distresser, reputedly the best in the business. Alex Carey's visiting card describes him, less dramatically, as 'specialist in painting and decorating fabrics and costumes'.

And if you think Compo's tight-fitting jacket and baggy trousers in Last of the Summer Wine have 'gone too far', you now know that his distresser, Mr Carey, agrees. Trouble is, Compo needs at least three identical versions of his garb: a spare for his stunt double and another to continue filming

I caught the odd drib and drab of yesterday's play between the adverts on Sky (that is, I was glued to my screen - a drib here and a drab there is all we are offered)

I doubt if all things green have yet gone so far out of fashion that cars bearing government-proposed 'eco-star' ratings will not be marketed as such

the numbers living in poverty have trebled to 3 million since the Tories came to power in 1979. So much for Mr Patten's egg-sucking lessons. How well have he and his predecessors been doing their job at the Department for Education?

[allusion: teach one's grandmother to suck eggs]

'This system spread from Mali to the West African coast, and then by slavery to America.' Cooder isn't being drawn into ethno-musicological speculation. 'I'm a practitioner, not an academic

At a Scotland Yard press conference yesterday Mr Condon said: 'There is only so much I can ask my officers to take. I have always said the arming of the Metropolitan Police will be event-driven and this shooting takes us closer to being armed.'

Among James's other books was one called Fame, so he should be able to explain to the Princess that, once a person becomes infected, celebrity is not event-driven, but celebrity-driven. Jackie Onassis retreated from public life 30 years ago, and her position in American life is now entirely one of curiosity

secretary of the Government's co-ordinating committee on cervical screening, the forerunner of the new structure, said that one of its concerns was the high number - about a quarter - of 'false-positive' cases, which result in women being given the test annually just in case cancer or pre-cancerous cells have developed.

Little grey persons from fruitcakeland: 'Dark White: Aliens, abductions, and the UFO obsession' - Jim Schnabel: Hamish Hamilton, 16.99 pounds

their spaceship. By now pyjama-clad, he was subjected to an intimate physical examination before being returned to the folk whence he came. This bizarre rumour has filtered up from fruitcakeland to the semi-serious press.

but on every page there is something new to make us wince. There isn't really a term for novels of this sort. It's certainly not fiction, and it's barely even faction. How about fuction? Shall we try fuction on for size?

Irresistible whistling song from Walsall's young-adult rap superstars. The video is pretty good too. Ben Thompson Furry Lewis: Fourth & Beale (Verve, CD). Superb grunt'n'slide set from a maverick country-bluesman, recorded live in bed. BT

of stories - presented, a little portentously perhaps, as a 'quartet of novellas'. They all have male protagonists and deal with what Garrison Keillor, in one of his latest outbursts of twee, has termed 'guyness'. Like The Book of Guys, from which that phrase comes, and a lot of other recent male fiction, the stories in The Palace Thief offer sympathetic anatomies of

In 'City of Broken Hearts', the protagonist, Buck, whose wife has left him for another man and whose piously modern son lectures him on the new sexual etiquette, offers a variation on one of the central 'guyness' riffs. 'He could certainly see how women had suffered great difficulty in the world, but he did not understand why this should be of concern to his son.

Paramours, Celebrated Handfast Spouses and Royal Changelings. Professionals informed him that he would have sold many more copies by substituting 'concubines' for 'handfast spouses' but, as he observed, 'I cherish my father's memory.'

Robbed of their best argument on the narrow front, the homocritical, as they now like to call themselves, have had to shift ground to the broad question of the undesirability of homosexuality as such.

In Britain, there is a special caste, known as the Royal Family, which is the focus of the prime and permanent attention of the infotainers. Here and there the odd politician gets the treatment - Profumo, Parkinson, Mellor, Yeo - but most of the time the headhunters of infotainment are after more

THIS week we have speakers who laugh more than their audiences and subjects of tickling experiments who may laugh if the experimenter says 'koochie-koochie'. In 'Laughter Punctuates Speech: Linguistic, Social and Gender Contexts of Laughter' (Ethology, vol 95, 1993), Robert R Provine draws some fascinating

conditioned to react to a gesture that precedes the tickle, rather than the tickle itself. Whereas Hoshikawa's pre-tickle gesture was the verbal stimulus 'cotyo-cotyo', the present researchers changed it to 'koochie- koochie'.

Captain Moonlight: Art of lunchmanship By CHARLES NEVIN

I'd rather have a host who made you welcome by at least sharing the same tucker, not one who makes you feel guilty about a bit of warm chicken. But this pale form of lunchmanship is catching on all over. Bound to be of American origin.

to simplify her life and, with a typical dramatic flourish, describes the sale as 'a cleansing of the heart and the mind and the soul'. In fact, she had reached a situation where she was over-housed. In addition to her principal residence in Beverly Hills, she had an apartment in New York and, until last year, a 20-acre estate by the beach in Malibu

But badgers are almost entirely nocturnal, and tend to be deliberate and slow in their movements: one thinks of them as trundlers and padders, rather than sprinters.

Poop-scoop proposals: Readers wanted more help for dog owners to be clean. Coin-op bins and plastic glove dispensers in parks were suggested; poop-scoops should be supplied free - and should be easier to find in supermarkets. Some thought carrying clean-up equipment should be compulsory.

Using the image-processing system, documents arriving from the post offices are made up into blocks of 3,000 items and put through the Unisys DP1800 reader-sorter. This machine performs all five processes formerly carried out in separate handling areas, at the rate of 55,000 documents an hour. First it reads the printed information on the document electronically. Next it

As the operator finishes keying the amount the image changes to the next document. Not all documents are in mint condition, and if the reader-sorter is unable to capture the printed information, it will transmit the document to a data correction work station, where the operator keys in the amount and any other

Some of these markets are little more than 10 years old, and yet the amounts of money being hedged, rehedged and hedged again in a seemingly never-ending spiral of computer-driven transactions have become almost beyond comprehension

the portfolio manager will sell some of his upside in return for protection against the downside. That position will then be rehedged with counterparties who have different priorities.

Dear Harry Enfield: A fond farewell to the comedian's rib-tickle-tabulous DJ characters, Smashie and Nicey. Now maybe it's time to disconnect the ubiquitous Mr Cholmondley-Warner

Mr You-Don't-Wanna-Do-That. When Smashie and Nicey opened their mouths, their language was, typically of you, right on the button: rib-tickle-tabulous. Remember last year's Brit Awards, when they summed up the whole not-exactly-rigorous electoral practices of the event in one word? 'It's vote-rig-mungous to be here,' Nicey said.

the quality lessons - was the Rover 200/400, launched in 1990 and also sold as the Honda Concerto. It was at base a Honda, but was so successfully 'roverised' that the Rover version was acclaimed as the more distinguished car and sold much better. The partnership was starting to come back into balance.

In contrast, its pupil, Rover, was performing startlingly well. Its 'roverised' version of the Honda Accord, the 600, was outselling its cousin

The spikadelic [software] icon piles on the mph, careering through gorgeously coloured jungles, snow-capped mountains and underwater mazes. With six zones in all, each with two areas, the total is some three times larger than the original,

When they used salmon skin last summer, they made a simple shoe, a loafer. For this summer, the loafers are made of more exotic stuff: Patagonian toothfish skin. They have also been known to use denim, unshaven hairy cowskin, and hairy suede.

forgiveness and reconciliations that come at the end of many lives, is obviously a good and necessary thing. But why prolong the state of un- life, un-death, just because the machinery to do so exists?

But time turns out to be a confusing commodity. Busy people will, if they can afford it, spend money to save time, buying time- saving equipment for their homes, pre-cooked meals and help with their chores. The unbusy, on the other hand, spend money to buy time - time to travel, time to learn, time to play and time to keep fit - or spend time doing for themselves what they used to pay others to do.

In the playground at primary school we practised the jump, sang the aaahmonies and trilled Paul's trademark 'oooh'. 'Twist and Shout' also became important in retrospect, as proof that the Beatles could indeed rock, and weren't just boring latter-day Schuberts

arrangements by Garth Hudson. Springsteen's 'Atlantic City' gets a Cajun accordion and a smear of rouge, while Dylan's 'Blind Willie McTell' becomes the perfect vehicle for the achy-breaky voices of Helm and Danko.

They're astute too. In 1983, a UB40 single failed to chart for the first time and the Midlands agit-reggae scene that spawned them was fading. They just dropped the songs about unemployment and learnt the words to Neil Diamond's 'Red Red Wine', which went to No 1

SO Kelvin MacKenzie is quitting as editor of the Sun. To read the posh papers you'd think Britain was losing the Crown Jewels. Suddenly Kelv is a loveable character, a great institution. The airy-fairies who live in Hampstead and Islington are saying he was a mighty fine guy. Some of these air-brains are even calling him a genius.

When my bait remained undisturbed, I decided that I must have scared the fox off when I went up the path. Not at all. As we were washing up, we heard a new wave of alarm-clucks sweep through the chickens outside. Looking quickly uphill, I saw that the white corpse had vanished. Then I noticed that something pale was jerking and

out of 260 items from the ancient world. Of the first 100 entries in the exhibition, about 10 per cent have a usually skimpy provenance, 40 per cent are allegedlies (as in 'allegedly from the region of Troy') and the remaining 50 per cent give the provenance as 'no indication'.

At first we, the British students in our Doc Martens and thermal underwear, imagined a medieval gingerbread beauty. After a week smothered on sweating trolleybuses, we closed our eyes to the Sovietski anarchitecture. After a fortnight we had realised that Hades is cold, not hot, and, like Chekhov's Three Sisters, we wept each night into our pillows, murmuring 'To Moscow

connects the different neighbourhoods of the huge Los Angeles basin and carries about 13 million people a day. The smog-choked Pacific coast city, once known as 'autopia' because of its 700 miles of modern freeways, faces months of gridlock on its already overcrowded roads.

Once again attention focused on disputed comments made by a politician to a journalist. In the past the Prime Minister has been at the centre of these rows dubbed variously as 'bastardgate', 'barmygate' and 'dinnergate'. This time it was Mr Lamont, still bruised by his dismissal eight months ago. But the result for Mr Major was the same: another debilitating row over his

In one of many attempts to unite the party and reassert his authority, Mr Major launched the ill-starred 'back to basics' campaign. Unsurprisingly, given the heavy overlap between right-wingery and Europhobia, it was given its most damaging moralising twists by representatives of those tendencies in the Cabinet. The havoc wrought by 'basics-gate' will live on, bringing accusations of hypocrisy when Tories of whatever stripe depart from mainstream standards of public and private morality.

Sir: Rosalind Miles does the cause of feminism no good when she accepts the News of the World's stereotyping of Bienvenida Perez-Blanco ('Why kiss 'n 'tell hurts women most', 15 March). Surely the 'bimboisation' of women by the tabloids is something to fight against: by accepting it, and blaming the woman, she is reinforcing a picture of women as nothing but adjuncts to men.

THE LATEST set of Boris Yeltsin's memoirs have finally arrived in Britain, not in the diplomatic bag, but in a cardboard box carried by one of the new breed of Russian 'biznizmen' now commuting regularly between Moscow and London.

humiliation in the World Cup qualification process, Graham Taylor is back on the tabloid back pages. 'Effing mad Turnip in TV shocker' yelled the Sun yesterday after the paper's bleep-checker had been put to work on Mr Duncanson's fly-on-the-dugout-wall piece about a year in the England manager's life. 'Taylor is set to stun TV audiences yet again with his

I started to dislike, and still do, groups of sports-playing men; the we- are-superior attitude is everything I hate. The group team ethic is: women are either bonkable or not, Indians or Pakistanis are inferior - 'We are the lads and we are the best.'

A hunting enthusiast since the age of 10, he still rides out the best horse he has ever had, apparently unhindered by both age and piloting through drooping, brambled eyebrows. The Double Silk team is completed by Ron Treloggen, 38, who used to ride for and against Martin Pipe in point-to-points down Bristol way

slovenly English in a determinedly street-cred production by Jon Harris. I was soon irritated by John Peters's Mafia-boss Pyrrhus and Adrienne Swan's brattishly whining Hermione. Then the Racinian mechanism engaged, stretching these apparently callow figures on the rack.

Children's menu for under-12s offers half portions plus Welsh rarebit, omelettes and breakfasty items. Preservative- and additive-free foods for small babies are offered; they are happy to heat up milk as well.

In 1954 he became Junior Counsel to the Crown in Peerage and Baronetcy Cases, an appointment he held only briefly (and brieflessly) until taking silk in 1956, although later he was appointed Honorary Historical Adviser in Peerage Cases to the Attorney General.

line Rovers over BMWs not simply because the cars are now well made and offer good value, but also because they are made in Britain and are seen to represent certain broguish British virtues. They buy for emotional reasons.

'Wayne is a happy guy,' said Myers. 'Suburban kids, like Nature, abhor a vacuum. They will always find a way to have a fun time.' As millions of burbanites across the globe discovered a hero, Myers was catapulted from a struggling stand-up comedian into an international film star, of the kind who, on a short trip to England, stays at the Dorchester

get it up. His would-be Lothario lope towards Felicity Kendal's Lucienne looks like the final stages of a sponsored walk across the Sahara. Repeated buttings-in from Ken Wynne's hilariously interfering family retainer don't help to bring out the Casanova in him either.

Heart attack? A card-carrier collapsing in the street could be treated in the ambulance on the basis of card-borne information on blood group and allergies.

Advice can be refined by selecting menu choices including 'recruitment', 'investment' and 'marketing'. For real churn-and-burn types there is even a 'one-minute decision maker' facility. But why would successful business people check their own judgement? 'There is a considerable intuitive element in every rational decision we make,'

friend's birthday party, he asked me to change out of my jeans. 'Will you wear some lipstick and earrings,' he pleaded. 'And put on a skirt and your clippy-cloppy shoes?' So I did, and he looked so pleased, and I remembered what it felt like to care about your mother's clothes.

The bright young comedians must at all costs seem hard-bitten, for fear of seeming sentimental or - worse - coddable. Somewhere along the line, comedy's necessary dissidence and anarchism has forgotten that a comic has in some degree to love his targets. The moderns have also been cursed by Political Correctness.

What was impossible to take away from the 900 was its reputation for crashworthiness, endorsed wholeheartedly both in Europe and in the famously demanding United States long before the car industry in general started to tighten up on passive safety.

As a result of the new realism, what one head-hunter calls 'mindless credentialism - excessive reliance on paper qualifications, which can compromise meritocracy' - is on the wane. This is hitting the thousands of aspirants who believe possession of an MBA

He describes the difficulty of rendering the crowiness of a crow, 'the barefaced, bandit thing . . . the macabre pantomime ghoulishness and the undertaker sleekness

But has Montpelier actually arrived? Though those who live there know it has, crusty-minded surveyors will often consider otherwise and downvalue sale prices accordingly. They refer to those houses close to the St Paul's border as 'too close to The Front Line'.

TOUCHE ROSS'S offices in Crutched Friars were a bit, well, crutched yesterday. A power failure knocked out electricity, the telephones and computers. The good news was that the lifts, which are on a separate power

(gay male nuns) as a protest against the Vatican's condemnation of homosexuality. There have been queer weddings in Trafalgar Square, 'kiss-ins' and 'cuddle-ins' in Piccadilly Circus, 'frenzied bonking' in a Wendy house outside Parliament and a 'homo promo' of posters featuring naked gay couples outside Conservative Central Office.

They have become household faces, at least in households of 25-year-olds. It's a cultish programme, watched by three million young culters, not all of them sober. What they love is jeering at the presenters and rubbishing the music. The present series finishes on Friday. Then what will happen to her?

More de-bafflement for puzzled readers. Is it my imagination, or do disproportionately many postcodes include the letter Q? (John Humbach, Brussels)

Toby do not get the terse rebuff familiar elsewhere and he has developed a verbal shorthand to accommodate as many enquiries as possible. Thus, Balding gave this clipped, definite-article-free and almost military run-down on his gelding's fitness yesterday. 'Horse in very good nick. Will only run on Saturday in hurdle race if trainer feels ground is suitable.'

Science: All the answers from dial-a-boffin: And now, everything you ever wanted to know about science but were too afraid to ask. Christopher Riley introduces a new telephone helpline

the original Chinon is an ancient wine- making centre. This Chinon is in a little parade of shops near the BBC's Kensington House in Shepherd's Bush, London - a dinky-boo suburb, central but leafy. The streets are now a one-way maze, punctuated by piffling roundabouts.

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