19 AUGUST 1989, Page 20


Sir: In The Spectator of 17 August 1985 you published this letter, which I thought should have settled the meaning, if not the origin, of this succinct and useful word once and for all:

We, as Officers and Gentlemen of the Royal Navy (1943-1951), always knew what `naff' meant. Not available for fucking, deeply ghastly in other words. Now tell us about 'dike' and `plate'....

R. Rubin has got near. Valerie Grove started all this the last time, and my letter (for it was I) attracted quite a correspond- ence and no disagreements, some even fit to print.

James Mortimer

Flat 9, 10 Brompton Square, London SW3