Cockney rhyming slang gets Olympic visitors confused

Take a butchers (butcher’s hook – look) in this Captain Hook (book) abaat Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (rhyming slang).  Next time you’re havin’ Britney Spears (beers) with your china plates (mates – friends) in the nuclear sub (pub), amaze them with your Cockney rabbit and pork (talk). Rhyming slang phrases are created by taking an expression, which rhymes with a word, and then using that expression instead of the word.  For example the word ‘look’ rhymes with ‘butcher’s hook’.  In many cases the rhyming word is omitted.  ‘Take a butchers at that haddock!’  (Haddock and bloater – motor, meaning car).  ‘Look at that car!’   See, it really is so simple! Cockney is the authentic accent and language of London, made famous in My Fair Lady, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Oliver Twist.  Rhyming slang has been evolving in the melting pot of London’s East End since the 16th century.  The ultimate kudos is achieved when a person’s own name becomes embedded in rhyming slang.  The list is topical and contemporary:  Keira Knightley – slightly, Johnny Depp – step, Beyoncé Knowles – sausage rolls, Osama bin Laden – garden.  However, rhyming slang names like James Blunt, Brad Pitt and Sigourney Weaver shouldn’t be used in polite company. Rhyming slang was invented by criminals and dodgy street traders to provide euphemisms for embarrassing conditions and to confuse the police. But if you want to talk to Londoners in their native lingo, you’ll have to be quick.  A 2012 survey by the Museum of London tested 2,000 Britons, including 1,000 from London, on their knowledge of both Cockney and modern slang usage in everyday conversation as well as attitudes towards slang.  And it would appear that Cockney rhyming slang is nearly brown bread.  But head down to any East End market, or the trading floors in the City and you will be guaranteed not to understand a bleeding word of anything said.   How’s this for a few Cockney gems? ‘Would you Adam and Eve it?  The pork chops don’t ‘ave a didgeridoo abaat the tea leaf what left Little Red Riding Hoods in Bob’s jam jar’.  Translation:  ‘Can you believe it?  The police haven’t got a clue about the thief who left stolen goods in Bob’s car’.     ‘Ken’s jellied eels is off the frog and toad.  It’s got a dodgy Starsky and Hutch.  It’s skylarked aatside me skin and blister’s Mickey Mouse.  Now Ken has to Jimmy Savile on the OXO cube’.  Translation:  ‘Ken’s wheels (car) is off the road.  It has a bad clutch.  It’s parked outside my sister’s house.  Now Ken has to travel on the Tube’.   ‘Did ya clock the baked bean on the KY present and past black and white talking to all them dustbin lids?  She was wearin’ a purple mustard underneath a blue nanny goat, with matching rhythms and a Porky Pig titfer’.  Translation:  ‘Did you see The Queen on the television last night talking to the children?  She was wearing a purple dress, a blue coat with matching shoes and a big hat’.   David Beckham, Michael Caine and Ray Winstone are Londoners, but they’re also true Cockneys, each having been born within the sound of Bow Bells (St Mary-le-Bow church in Cheapside, east London).  Not surprisingly, of the 8.5 million people inhabiting the metropolitan sprawl of London, there aren’t many who possess the true Cockney birthright.  So the term ‘Cockney’ has been widened to include anyone with a vague London, working class accent. Films about Cockneys invariably involve gangsters.  This is because all true Cockneys are related to the legendary Kray twins, Reggie and Ronald, east London’s most notorious perpetrators of organised crime during the 1950s and 60s.   WATCH THIS:  Spoof of organised Cockney crime gangs in London.   Cockneys don’t go in for rural Morris dancing, but their Cockney Pearly Kings and Queens do like to strut about in their pearly button-embellished costumes, singing along to a piano and generally having a bit of a knees-up.  And it’s all about raising money for good causes.   WATCH THIS:  Pearly Kings and Queens gather for a sing-song.   LISTEN TO THIS:  Rabbit.  Cockney knees up from Chas and Dave.   But visitors to England should be on the lookout for ‘Mockneys’.  This Cockney sub-species evolved around 20 years ago on the set of Eastenders (BBC soap opera set in the make-believe Cockney epicentre of Walford).  Mockneys don’t actually come from London, but they’re wannabe Cockneys.  Despite their affluent, provincial, middle-class backgrounds, Mockneys, like Jamie Oliver, Russell Brand, Guy Ritchie, Victoria Beckham and Mick Jagger speak with cool, matey, contrived psuedo-Cockney accents.   WATCH THIS:  Harry Hill mocks a Mockney.   Being English is a basic requirement for anyone who wants to speak like a Cockney.  Many a Hollywood septic tank (American – Yank) has attempted to mimic this London accent, and few have succeeded without sounding Uncle Willy (silly).  Dick Van Dyke’s portrayal of Bert, the cheerful London chimney sweep, in Mary Poppins, is textbook ‘how not to speak Cockney’.  It’s widely regarded as being the worst cinematic Cockney accent of all time.   WATCH THIS:  Cockney rhyming slang interviews.   WATCH THIS:  Dick van Dyke as Bert in Mary Poppins, demonstrating a unique American version of Cockney.   Here follows a few words and phrases taken from the lexicon of Cockney rhyming slang:   Adam and Eve – believe    ‘You’ll never Adam and Eve it!  We saw the baked bean!’ (The Queen) Al Pacino – cappuccino    ‘I like Al Pacino at the Colonel Gadaffi’. (café) Alligator – later   ‘The band’s performing alligator’. Apple tart – fart ‘Phew! Who’s appled in here?’ Apples and pears – stairs    ‘I’m going up the apples to Uncle Ted’. (bed) Austin Powers – shower    ‘Bob’s taking a quick Austin before we go out’. Ayrton Senna – tenner (£10)     ‘Oi, can you lend us an Ayrton?  I’ll pay you back alligator’. Bacon and eggs – legs     ‘This table is wobbly.  It’s got two short bacons’. Bag of sand – grand (£1000)     ‘Pete won a bag of sand on the Derby’. Bag of yeast – priest    ‘Who’s the bag of yeast at Jim’s funeral?’ Baked bean – Queen (Elizabeth II)    ‘The baked bean has more bees and honey (money) than anyone else in the country’. Banana splits – shits     ‘That Ruby Murray (curry) gave me the banana splits’. Bangers and mash – cash, slash (urinate)    ‘If you want to buy the jam jar (car) mate, it’s bangers and mash only’. Or ‘Keith’ll be two minutes.  He’s just gone for a bangers and mash’. Barack Obamas – pyjamas    ‘We went to pick up Tommy and he was still in his Baracks’. Barnet Fair – hair     ‘The wind ruined Tracy’s Barnet, poor luv’. Barney Rubble – trouble    ‘Uh oh, here comes Barney Rubble’. Barry White – shite     ‘What did you think of the live music?’  ‘Barry White’. Basil Fawlty – balti (type of curry)     ‘One chicken tikka masala and a lamb Basil Fawlty please, guv’. Battle cruiser – boozer (pub)    ‘Which battle cruiser on Friday night?’ Beans on toast – post (mail)       ‘Let’s have a butchers at the beans on toast’. Bees and honey – money    ‘Mick’s a happy man.  That building job landed him couple of bags of sand – plenty of bees and honey’.   Extracted from The Oddball English by Annie Harrison  

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