AD: Grow your business with AT&T.

  london - davey winder

Gordon Bennett, Cockney on the Net!

Would you Adam and Eve it? Now you can connect your PC to the dog and bone and learn to speak Cockney -- thanks to a cushty online handbook.

If the sentence above makes sense to you, then hello me old mucker, nice to meet another Londoner on the net. If it doesn't, then you probably wonder what I'm wibbling on about this time. Let me explain.

"Would you Adam and Eve it" means "would you believe it"; the "dog and bone" is the telephone, and "cushty" means OK or good. (Oh, and who is Gordon Bennett? Nobody: it's just an expression of surprise.) You've just had a crash course in cockney, a London dialect often mistakenly thought to consist of rhyming slang and nothing else. If you want to become fluent, you could do worse than to visit Col Morrison's Cockney Handbook site. You'll find a labour of love and something of an essential reference guide to London lingo.

I am not a proper Cockney, although born in London (the Old Kent Road: cheapest property on the UK Monopoly board). You have to be born "within the sound of Bow Bells" to qualify in the strictest sense. But these days most Londoners think of themselves as cockney -- it's a cultural attachment. So, proud of my roots, I was extremely pleased to learn of Col Morrison and his Handbook. I've had a look around, and a chat with the man himself -- here's what I discovered:

Picture of Col Morrison. Col started the site because it was there, or at least the free web space was. "My ISP, Demon, gave all its customers 5MB of web space to play with last year, so I had a good incentive to teach myself HTML from scratch.

"The Cockney idea was initially intended to be a bit of fun, and to put up a kind of cultural marker. The great thing about the web is its multicultural nature, and I thought: why not toss something into the melting pot? At the same time, the site is essentially about language and how it identifies us, and people talking is something to which everyone can relate. I'm interested in accents and dialects. I didn't want the site to be about me -- but in some strange way it has become, on a personal level, about connecting to my roots. To some extent they'd been 'educated away'.

But the site's essential quality is sentiment. Sentiment about London, which lies close to Cockneys' hearts for all their cockiness or street cool. Even in these years of its relative decline, London holds a strong energy still. The Handbook isn't an intellectual exercise: it reaches out across the world and touches people. It can make them feel more connected to their own roots.

"Then you get people who think that all Cockney slang is rhyming slang and demand to know where the rhyme is in everything. People from obscure Midlands towns insult me by thinking I must get all my information from watching 'The Bill' or 'EastEnders' (BBC and Channel Four television shows), like they do. One very nice lady wrote from the US that she loved the sound clips; she wanted more to assign to various events on her computer. She told me she had Freddie Mercury on her answerphone, which had led people to worry she might be a necrophiliac."

Has Col got a favourite bit of Cockney slang? It's a question I couldn't help but ask.

"I like the ones which have become so embedded in the language that nobody has an inkling that they're rhyming slang, like 'I haven't got a sausage', 'not on your nellie' or 'a proper charlie.' Then there's the wonderfully obscure double-rhyme 'Aris': Aris = Aristotle = bottle (and glass) = arse (ass, in the US). My favourite must be 'Alan Whickers' for knickers, but perhaps you have to know who he is to see the funny side. That one came from Anita Dobson, who used to play Angie in "EastEnders".

Wavey's Parting Shot The Wavey Davey Icon.

Personally, I think that the melting-pot mentality has got it all wrong. Cultural differences are important and ought to be preserved. Cockney slang is a good example; I'd be distraught if it were to vanish. Globally we are getting closer, becoming more of one mind -- but that doesn't mean that we have to destroy our cultures in the process.


madivan said:

Is also another thing is taking into accounting...if is being online, is taking away experience of purchasing album. Is changing beyond recognising. Is ending of "cover art" as is knowing. Could being birth of new era in purchasing music, but is certain death of everything is knowing in old. Ivan Ivanovich

Join the conversation!

Most Active Topics:

Topic 18 People who hates dancing

Topic 3 London Conference Introductions

Topic 49 New in London

All London Topics


The Young Ones!

Cockney Rhyming Slang:
tit for (tat) - hat
'where's me titfer?'
Tom and (or Uncle) Dick - sick
'feeling a bit dicky'
Uncle Ned - head
'On me Uncle Ned, son!'
dicky-bird - word
'I never said a dicky-bird'
pork pies - lies
'you've been telling porkies'
photo-finish - Guinness Stout
'a pint of the finish'
sausage (and mash) - cash
'I ain't got a sausage'
two and eight - state
'in a right old two and eight'

Also in London:

Gordon Bennett, Cockney on the Net!
Davey Winder delivers a web-based lesson in the odd pleasures of the London Cockney accent.

dart - technology is power, get the point?
In his latest London Jam report, Davey Winder looks at DART - that's Disability Access to Resources in Technology, and reminds us that it is people that matter.

a novel ride underground
Davey Winder jumps onboard and rides Geoff Ryman's interactive online novel, 253, set on a London Underground Train, all the way to Elephant and Castle.

Complete Archive


world wide jam


electric minds | virtual community center | world wide jam | edge tech | tomorrow | conversations

Any questions? We have answers.

©1996, 1997 electric minds, all rights reserved worldwide.
electric minds and the electric minds logo are trademarks of electric minds
online information system by Leverage