Up Sticks

In the West Wing episode called Shibboleth, the word shibboleth is introduced by the president, explained by the president, and spoken at the president by a man who's been dragged from a river of screaming cheese into the big office, so they can check whether he's the type of man who'd know about and be able to pronounce the word shibboleth, and therefore be worthy of receiving help, by hearing him almost not say it, but then, after a kind of bollock-churningly inevitable hesitation, say it. Rumour has it this episode was written by a man being hassled into agony on deadline day by the chuckling ghost of his English teacher. And your trust in the until-then much-better-than-good-enough quality of the writing is replaced by a worry, with fifteen and a half more seasons to go, that the whole thing might end in a gutter of songs and hugs and star-spangled handshakes. But it improves.