When travelling, it is often helpful to have a few words of the local lingo to hand. Should you find yourself straying eastward from Kensington, here are a few nuggets of sartorial Cockney Rhyming Slang to help you get by…
Cockney Rhyming slang is the oral language of the East End of London. It’s origins are fuzzy but it combines bits of Yiddish, shards of coded thieves argot (to disguise nefarious talk from the police), backslang (a costermonger trick to hide obscenities and double-dealing from the general public), little bits of bona polari (the secret language of the stage, fairground and gay subculture) with a poetic and scabrous wit.
For example, one may consider wearing a Weasel over one’s Whistle, never mind a Titfer. But if one’s Rounds are Lionels then, if you’ve a Pony in the old Sky Rocket, a trip to Hornets is on the cards. Huh?
Weasel: Weasel & Stoat = Coat
Whistle: Whistle & Flute = Suit
Titfer: Tit-for-Tat = Hat
Rounds: Round the Houses = Trousers
Lionels: Lionel Blairs = Flairs*
Pony: Pony = £25**
Sky Rocket: Sky Rocket = Pocket
* The Mr Blair in question is a hoofer, choreographer and showbiz figure of the Old School, famous on these shores for many a decade now.
** Why does Pony translate to £25? Frankly, we don’t know. And we’ve never had the courage to ask. Any suggestions?