This week we’re talking about idioms – figures of speech.
I expect I’ll have quite different ones from my fellow blog-hoppers, as I’m the other side of the pond. Therefore what I can do is educate my American friends in some of the Cockney figures of speech, which they may or may not encounter if they travel to the East End of London at any time. Some of it is rhyming slang, once supposed to have been used by Victorian villains in London to fool the police, but some others are just strange turns of phrase:
- ‘You’re ‘avin a tin barf’!: You’re having a laugh/you must be joking!
- ‘Donkey’s years’: A long time ago.
- ‘Guv’ or ‘Guvnor’: The way a Cockney male usually addresses another man.
- ‘A bit parky’: Rather cold.
- ‘Taters’: Rather cold.
- He/she is ‘A bit mutton’: The person is somewhat deaf.
- ‘Peezy on your pins’: You can’t walk very well.
- ‘Tom’: Jewellery.
- ‘Boracic’: Poor.
- ‘Plates’: Feet.
- ‘Ta -ta’: Goodbye.
- Fortnight: Two weeks.
Below is an imaginary conversation between two old-school East Enders of my father/ grandfather’s generation. Nowadays of course London is more cosmopolitan, but the odd phrase or two still slips in if you’re in the right place at the right time: –
“Hello mate, it’s a bit parky for the time of year.”
“Yeah. How’s it going?”
“Well…me plates are playing up again. Got to go to the quack ‘cos I’m getting a bit peezy on the old pins. Haven’t been there for donkey’s years, but now got to wait a fortnight for an appointment.”
“Yeah, I went there last week for me Chalfonts and ‘cos I’m getting a bit mutton. We’re going private for treatment, so I’ll be boracic at the end of it. Might even have to sell some tom.”
“Good luck with the Chalfonts, Guv. You’ll feel fine for about six hours until the jollop wears off, and then you won’t know what to do with yourself for about three weeks.”
“You’re ‘avin a tin barf, ain’t ya?”
“Straight up! I had mine done last year; don’t need to use the cream at all now.”
“Good for you, but I’m gonna need to think about that one again, so ta-ta for now.”
Chalfonts? Jollop? I thought I’d let you Google those and see what you come up with!
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