19 AUGUST 1989, Page 20

Sir: Naff: Oh, come on — I thought we'd settled

this years ago.

The first sighted use of 'naffing' and `naff off , so far as I know, was in my novel Billy Liar (1959). It was conscript talk. Ama- zingly, it seems now, 18-year-olds then euphemised their swear words — 'frig- ging', for instance. Islaff was a euphemis- tic re-acronym of what Naafi was supposed to stand for — 'Nasty, awful, fuck it'.

'Naffing' was much used in John Schle- singer's film of Billy Liar which I scripted with Willis Hall, and later in Ian La Fresnais' and Dick Clement's musical adaptation of the novel and play.

Ian and Dick then used the expression freely in their television series Porridge, from which it entered the vocabulary of Princess Anne and her circle. And that's how it got into the dictionaries.

Keith Waterhouse

29 Kenway Road, London SW5