Is one of Britain's best-loved dialects heading for oblivion? This is the curious language of personalised number plates, a lingo in which "Hair do" is spelled H41 RD0 (as purchased by celebrity hairstylist Nicky Clarke) and BOT 70M is a cheeky, if not particularly sophisticated, joke.
For the Continentals, number plates are all about location, location, location; in France, for example, a "75" suffix instantly associates a car with Paris, while in Germany, "M" shows that a German car is registered in Munich. In 1994, Italy dropped regional identifiers but, after protests, these had to be reintroduced in modified form in 1999.
In Britain, by contrast, it is quite difficult to link a car or its driver to a location via the number plate " except, of course, if like James Duddridge, it comes from E55 EXX, in which case the platespeak is likely to give the game away.