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How Knowing Cockney Rhyming Slang May Save Your Life
By Paul Rance


I'm going to take you into the dark world of rhyming and underground slang. The next time you're in prison you can impress your cellmates with some of these gems.

We begin, in this article, with some Cockney rhyming slang. There are some tough people in Cockneyland, so it's handy to know their lingo.

Cockney rhyming slang can be quite convoluted. Here is an example: Ruby (rhyming slang) = Ruby Murray* (root) = Curry (word). But we'll concentrate on more straightforward Cockney rhyming slang in this article.

Here's a sentence in Cockney rhyming slang, with the word referred to, by rhyming slang, in brackets: "I've got a pain in my glass of beer (ear), on my way to see my Tom Sawyer (lawyer) this gypsy's warning (morning)." Simple, isn't it?

Now, if you're walking the dimly lit, foggy streets of Cockneyland, remember to walk and talk in a confident fashion. The sentence above will help you survive on the mean streets of the Cockerney. The Cockney will rarely pick the pocket of one of their own.

Okay, it's time to widen your Cockney vocabulary. Of course, it will help to get the Cockney accent right, which can be done by studying either Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in the movie, My Fair Lady, Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger in the film musical, Oliver! Or, by studying the guv'nor himself, Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Also, you can call them (amongst other names), as I have in this article, Cockerneys.

Razor Gang
Those without knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang often meet a grim end at the hands of razor gangs in Cockneyland

If you're musical, maybe you like to play the hey-diddle-diddle (fiddle or violin). Maybe you're tired and need to rest your head on your weeping willow (pillow)? Or have you a cold, and are about to bread and cheese (sneeze)? Do you have a favourite whistle and flute (suit)? Have you ever bought a dickory dock (clock)? While this can be used, when referring to one's hands after a drinking bout: "Your hands look a bit currant-cakie (shaky)." Though best not say to a sports fan: "Your team has no soap (no hope) of winning." If you spot a bird lover, ask: "Seen a pretty bow and arrow (sparrow) lately?"

There endeth the lesson on Cockerney. Don't forget to take a torch in Cockneyland, and when you see the glinting eyes of the Cockerneys, say: "No Nellie Blighs (flies) about tonight." You'll then be one of them. Jack the Ripper preyed on his victims in Cockneyland, and was never caught. Use your Cockney words, and there'll be no need to be afraid (not much anyway...).

* Ruby Murray was an Irish singer.

Copyright © 2019 Paul Rance