Friday, September 30, 2011

See Saw Margery Dawe

Impending fatherhood has made me think and ponder what I can do to help with a new baby, so I decided nursery rhymes would be my job.

My first entry appears to only be known in the UK despite it having been around for 250 years.

Brought up from the folk tradition of workers complaining about anyone in authority (one of my favourites was "I'm the fat man, the very fat man who waters the workers beer"!)

It is possible that workers using a saw would cut to the rhythm of the rhyme to work faster, given the possibility of two workers at either end of the saw would give credence to this. The workers then taking the rhyme home and singing it to their kids could be how it ended up being a long running nursery rhyme.

See Saw Margery Daw
Johnny shall have a new master
He shall work for a penny a day
Because he can't go any faster

Some other places on the internet use Jenny, Jack, Jackie and even other names, but I've always known it as Johnny so that's correct and don't argue.

Here's a twee video of the rhyme

Oliver Twist, Brahms and elephants

So what do Brahms,

 Oliver Twist

 and Elephants have in common?

Well they are all cockney rhyming slang for the state of inebriation. Brahms (and Liszt) is quite a common rhyme for pissed (British slang for drunk) as is Oliver Twist.

Elephants? Well this is short for "elephant's trunk" rhyming slang for drunk.

There are quite a lot of others, Schindler's List is another. One I've never heard said but have seen written down is "Newton and Riddley" rhyming slang for "tiddley", this seems funny as Newton & Ridley is the name of the brewery on long running British soap opera Coronation Street.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What A Mouth, What a North & South

So for those not in the know "north & south" is rhyming slang for mouth. A song recorded in the 1960's by Tommy Steele and originally written by music hall comedian Harry Champion and arranged by R.P. Weston, between them responsible for a host of comedy songs.

Champion, himself immortalized in song (Harry Was A Champion) by Chas & Dave, was responsible for such songs as Any Old Iron, Boiled Beef & Carrots, I'm Henry The Eighth I am and other rather curiously titled songs A Little Bit Of Cucumber and It's Cold Without Your Trousers. A generation ahead of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, Champion was a music hall giant in the early 1900s.

R. P. Weston could also be considered a music hall giant, but behind the scenes as a song and monologue writer (mostly with Bert Lee), they co-wrote My Word You Do Look Queer and my favourite Brahn Boots, about a man who turned up for his mother's funeral in brown boots (no, it really is funny, I'll probably mention it again another day).

So back to the topic, the person who made this video seems to be a fan of Rowan Atkinson (no bad thing) and there appears to be no footage of Tommy Steele singing it or indeed any recordings of Harry Champion.

Boat Race

The Oxford/Cambridge boat race. Dating back to 1829, it has been an annual event since 1856. The tradition is for the losing team to challenge the winning team to a rematch the following year.

The race is held every spring on the last Saturday of March or first Saturday of April. The two boats race along over 4 miles of the River Thames.

Hugh Laurie was a competitor for the 1980 (losing) Cambridge team.

"Boat race" or often just boat is used as cockney rhyming slang for face. "Look at the miserable boat on that".

Here are the jubilant boat races on some winning Boat Racers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mancunian rhyming slang - Money - Whalley Range

Whalley Range is most notably the place just outside Manchester city centre, there is also a Whalley Range in Blackburn which is probably where the Manchester one gets its name from as Samuel Brooks, who built the area then known as Jackson's Moss, and was born in or near Whalley in Lancashire.

Anyway I digress. Now most of my Cockney knowledge comes from my dad who was a bona fide cockney and I often heard him use Whalley Range as an expression. Doing a bit of research it is possible that this isn't cockney rhyming slang and a Manchester based alternative.

Since most Cockneys never leave the East End and have no knowledge of any places beyond West or East Ham they would not have heard of Whalley Range so wouldn't have known of its curious use as rhyming slang for change. I have of course slightly exaggerated that, Cockneys do occasionally experience other parts of the world, I believe Peggy Mitchell is currently living it large in Spain and she's even been there before.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cockney rhyming slang - jockey's whip

I've given a "jockeys" to all kinds of people, taxi drivers, waiters, barmen, porters, barbers and many others. So if you didn't already know you may by now have worked out that in rhyming slang a "jockeys" is a tip.

Man with box on head playing guitar


Statistics show that buskers with a box on their head raise more money than those without. Boston, MA. September 25 2011.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cockney rhyming slang - money - Nelson Eddies

Nelson Eddy was a man of many talents, to such an extent that it isn't such a big surprise that his name is now mostly used in the plural courtesy of rhyming slang.
Nelson Eddies is rhyming slang for readies a more common use of the term for ready cash or money.

It can often be used by traders for doing deals in just nelson eddies so there is no invoices and therefore no taxes to pay on it, it's the way Del Boy and Arthur Daley would have done it!

Nelson Eddy was born in 1901 and his career took in a variety of musical styles (from folk to opera) both performing and composing and a range of films in the 20s and 30s. He was most noted for work with actress/singer Jeanette McDonald, the two, who were married to other people had a long affair despite MGM publicity issuing rumours that they hated each other. They both would have divorced but they didn't have the readies!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cockney rhyming slang - money - a penny

So now the smallest of legal tender British coinage, previously the UK have had half pennies (aka "a brown" = Camden Town) and even other fractions in days long gone by.

One pence is also known as a penny and various names that rhyme with that have been used a Jack Benny, an Abergavenny, Kilkenny are slightly more common ones.

The only real term I have heard used is "clod". To get to the slang we have to go back a bit further. A clod is a variant of clot and used for a clump or lump of grass or earth.
A"clod-hopper" dates back to the late 17th century as a term for a ploughman who tears up the earth.
So "clod-hopper" = copper. Pennies were originally made from copper.

George Formby's When I'm Cleaning Windows

Trying to explain George Formby to those not in the know is almost impossible.

He was essentially a musician, but also a singer, comedian, entertainer and actor (well he made films!), at the time of the World War 2, Formby was the UK's biggest star and played his part entertaining the troops.

I may mention George again in the future but on with the song.

When I'm Cleaning Windows was written by Fred Cliff and Harry Gifford and George himself. It tells the story of a window cleaner and what he sees while he's on his round;
"the blushing bride, she looks divine, the bridegroom he is doing fine, I'd rather have his job than mine, when I'm cleaning windows", so a bit of a pervert, but he just about got away with it.

Here he is performing the song from the film Keep Your Seats Please, the song appears to have absolutely no relevance to the rest of the film as George performs it to a rather uncomfortable looking woman. For regular followers of my blog, the film features actor Harry Tate who has become known as cockney rhyming slang for the number 8.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cockney rhyming slang - Money - Pound

There seems to be a lot of rhyming slang for all types of money, the rhyming slang is often rhyming another slang word.

So a pound is often referred to as a quid, a term dating back to at least the 17th century. It is thought that it derives from the Latin word quid and possibly from the phrase "quid pro quo" but no one has established a definitive derivative.

So "teapot lid", "saucepan lid" (phrases also used for "kid") are rhyming slang for quid, as is 'squid'.

A 'nicker' is also slang for a pound, originating in horse racing and gambling circles, I have a feeling that this may derive from nickel as small pieces of metal were thrown down to signify a bet being placed.

So for nicker, rhyming slang has "cherry picker" and a few other obscure ones.

For pound itself the most common is "lost and found" or "hole in the ground".

In summing up, rhyming slang for a pound is not as common as general slang for a pound. I have also heard terms "funt" (based on the German or Yiddish) and even more confusingly "dollar" which can also be used as a more general term for money and often only used in the singular.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cockney rhyming slang - Money - Greens

To kick off the first in my rhyming slang money series we have "greens" a general term for money, or is it?

I had always thought that 'greens' was a term arrived at for money as pound notes were green for quite a long time, it appears that "greens" actually pre dates pound notes being green and is in fact rhyming slang.

Greens = greengages = wages.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cockney Rhyming Slang - Brown bread

One of the more common rhyming slang is brown bread meaning dead. I've no idea why brown bread became the established rhyming slang as opposed to white bread, granary bread or indeed any other type of bread.

Toasted bread is used but mostly abbreviated to just 'toast' and used in expressions such as "If you don't pay the money you owe, you'll be toast".

'Loaf of bread' is used to mean head and you will often hear the expression "use your loaf" to mean think before you act/use your head.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ross' new rhyming slang - Wayne Rooney = prunes

In my new rhyming slang, Wayne Rooney is rhyming slang for prunes, hence the expression "Wayne Rooney don't half give me the two bob bits".

So how, I hear you ask?


Wayne Rooney = Looney (tunes) = prunes.

I do not know if Wayne Rooney likes a dried up old prune.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cockney Rhyming Slang - Cream Crackered

Cream crackered is rhyming slang for knackered. Knackered itself is a slang term for tired/exhausted.

A knacker is a term now used for an animal slaughterer who slaughters animals not for food use.

Oddly enough the word knacker is from old Norse for saddle maker. The worn out bits from old horses' saddles, whips, etc were sent to the knacker, presumably for recycling into new saddles. The use of that part morphed into a person where they send worn out old horses to turn into glue, dog food, etc..

People past their prime talk of being "sent to the knackers' yard".

Apparently "knacker" is used in Ireland as a similar term to "chav" in the UK. So perhaps eventually chav and knacker will merge to "cream cracker" to describe a certain class of people in the British Isles.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ross' New rhyming slang - A madonna

A Madonna is rhyming slang for a 'goner', ie something or someone that is past their prime.

I've got an old piece of meat in the fringe, looks like it might be a madonna.

A Madonna

Cockney Rhyming Slang - An Egon

This is another of those rhyming slang expressions that I've only seen written down, but I found this one too amusing to pass up (if you pardon the expression!).

An Egon is short for an Egon Ronay, the famous food critic and guide book author.

Also used for Egon in rhyming slang is macaroni and baloney, amongst others.

So here we go

Egon (Ronay) = pony (and trap) = crap. This can be used to describe something as not being good or the act or product of you know...

So there we have it, an interesting blog entry or just a load of old egon?

Egon Ronay, all that food tasting makes a lot of Egon

Parsley and The Adventures Of Parsley

I've recently decided that parsley is wonderful, it can be added to most things and improve it, mostly food though, in my experience it doesn't do much for diesel, coffee or an iphone.

Fish, soups, garlic bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, salads all benefit from a bit of parsley, lus it has a nice green colour.

It comes in three types, flat, curly or dried.
Now when I decided on this exciting and informative blog entry I remembered that Parsley was on a kids TV programme.

I actually thought it was Pipkins, my mind went to "Parsley Hare" but then I remembered that that was "Hartley Hare". So I Googled "Parsley kids TV" and came up with The Herbs.

The Herbs was a stop animation cartoon written by Paddington Bear author Michael Bond and animated/directed by co-creator of The Magic Roundabout Ivor Wood.

The Herbs were 15 minute episodes first broadcast in 1968

Parsley The Lion never spoke but his thoughts were voiced. Parsley made it to his own spin off of 5 minute episodes broadcast first in 1970.

They went out early evening before the news.
They featured amongst others, Dill The Dog, dill is also a fine herb, worthy of an entry of his own!
Anyway here's an episode of The Adventures of Parsley

Monday, September 5, 2011

Captain Pugwash

Captain Pugwash was first shown on TV in 1957.
Captain Horatio Pugwash sailed the seas in The Black Pig, his ship.
The first lot of cartoons aired in 1957-1966, then in 1974-1975 and a new cartoon appeared in 1997
Pugwash debuted in 1950 in The Eagle as a comic strip and later in the Radio Times.
The most cheerful part was the theme tune, apparently a tune dating back to before 1850 known as the Trumpet Hornpipe or Thunder Hornpipe
Anyway here is Horatio and the gang (the theme tune's at the end)

Watch Captain Pugwash Ep01 - Down the Hatch in Animation | View More Free Videos Online at

Cockney Rhyming Slang - Made in Hong Kong

I only heard this rhyming slang today, can't recall hearing it before although it has existed for a while.

Similar to "it's all gone Pete Tong", "made in Hong Kong" means something is wrong.

As far as I know it's used for objects and people, for example if you know a dodgy geezer who's been doing bird for various misdemeanours, it's likely he's a bit made in Hong Kong.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A genuine dog and bone "dog and bone"

So my latest cockney rhyming slang entry brought up what I think is the first time I have seen the slang being made into what it is, dog & bone = phone.

I'll continue my search for a staircase made of apples and pears, someone married to a Teletubby, a hair piece made of syrup of fig or a watch that was really a kettle.

Dog & bone phones can actually be purchased on Ebay.
Labradors and golden retrievers seem to be the popular types.