Archive for the ‘Slang Riots of 1893’ Category

I just went to Tesco to buy myself a pop. And I was tempted by a Jamaican ginger beer. I do like a ginger beer. In fact there’s nothing I like better than swallowing a nice spicy ginger beer.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Mfl. Snort. He said ‘ginger beer.’ For one like myself, with a rudimentary knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang, that’s an amusing unintentional double entendre.”

But you would be wrong. I really did want a nice ginger beer, but was put off by the idea of bringing it into the office and having the chaps say, “Mfl. Snort. Ginger beer.” Which is fairly appalling of them and disappointing of myself as I’m all for the gays.

It led me to wonder who decided that ‘ginger beer’ would be rhyming slang for homosexual, instead of, say, ‘paneer,’ ‘veneer’ or ‘pint of beer.’ The only explanation is that the manufacturers of Vimto long ago handed over a bunch of used notes to the Cockney Rhyming Slang Board to make the likes of me think twice when the siren call of ginger beer sounded, and to increase sales of their own soft beverage.

You weren’t aware of the Cockney Rhyming Slang Board? Allow me to give you an insight into its work.

It was set up in the 1890s to regulate the use of rhyming slang. Rhyming slang was introduced by educational psychologists to facilitate the memory of words in the feeble-minded. Can’t remember the name of those wooden step things which you climb to go to bed? Then just imagine a lot of apples and pears falling down them. Can’t remember the name of the hand-like appendages at the end of your legs? Then imagine them replaced by two plates, piled high with meat.

But the use of rhyming slang escaped the world of the irredeemably thick and entered common parlance. However, linguistic anarchy ensued.

– “Oi, Harold, ‘ave you got the tequila, salt and lime?”
– “Beg pardon?”
– “The tequila, salt and lime, me old market.”
– “Market? What?”
– “Market trend! Friend!”
– “You really are a tiresome little man.”

In the end, after the Slang Riots of 1893, Prime Minister Gladstone introduced the Cockney Rhyming Slang Board to put a stop to all that nonsense. Its first ruling was that curry would be referred to as a Ruby Murray and not, as some would have it, a McDonald’s McFlurry.

The Board meets twice a year to approve slang for new inventions and concepts. Recent entries in the Slang Ledger have been Falsie for iPod (from false god), Monster for credit crunch (from Monster Munch) and Gotcha for Robert Peston (from Got your vest on). These newly-minted slang words are now being rolled out after a trial in Southwark.

For the record, I bought a Coke and not a Vimto. That’ll teach the homophobes.

Read Full Post »