Thursday, January 13, 2011

The world of Naff revisited

In reorganising bookshelves at home I have been reunited with one or two comfort books that I occasionally turn to over the years. Among these is The Complete Naff Guide, published as a Christmas stocking filler type thing in 1983. Credited to Dr Kit Bryson, Jean-Luc Legris and Selina Fitzherbert, it was actually written by Willie Donaldson of Henry Root Letters fame.

It became a particular favourite because a friend of mine at the time used it as a basis for a (rather unsuccessful) parlour game which seemed to involve people memorising and then reciting whole chunks of the book. Although just a succession of lists of naff things, people, activities etc. without any further explanation, the entries did seem to have their own resonance. So the list of 'Naff hairstyles' includes: 'Telly Savalas (paradoxically not Yul Brynner)'. Other entries include: 'Naff positions in the batting order: 7', 'Naff dead pop stars: Sid Vicious, Bing Crosby'; 'Naff cats: There are no naff cats, however it is extremely naff to keep a leopard'.

But the best entry in the book is the list of 'Naff remarks by Peregrine Worsthorne', which includes the following:

It should be obvious, except perhaps to a Guardian reader, that Peter Reeve, the escaped Broadmoor killer, will be more dangerous to the public, rather than less, as a result of having studied sociology at the Open University.

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