Friday, January 29, 2010

Cockney Rhyming Slang

For almost two years, I appeared on a live radio show in Kansas City (The Walt Bodine Show) as part of a panel to discuss the Origins of Everyday Sayings. It was a fun time for me as many listeners called in and asked for a definition of a particular word or expression they had perhaps heard in a movie or read in a book. Later, I wrote a column for a weekly newspaper entitled Origins and once again people contacted me in regard to cockney rhyming slang. Since there seems to be an interest in this topic, I've decided to post one of my columns from 2005 today.

"This week, I thought we would look at slang and in particular, Cockney Rhyming Slang. Over the years, I have had many people ask me the meaning of this or that – perhaps they have read or heard a particular phrase or saying that has completely stumped them. In the following column, I will try to address some of the more common Cockney rhyming slang words and sayings and how they came about. By the way, to be born a “Cockney” one has to be born within the sounds of Bow Bells Church located in the East End of London.

Cockney rhyme began as a means for the working class to “talk” to each other without the upper class having a clue as to what was being said. Needless to say, the unsavory characters of London also adopted the language in an attempt to baffle the police force. In any event, sometimes the origin of the saying is hard to follow and is convoluted, but after all, that was the idea!

To help understand how the slang was used, I have used them in a sentence.

Trouble and Strife = wife. I’m going home to the trouble and strife (wife).
Porky pies = lies. You're telling me porky pies again (lies).
Butcher’s hook = look. He was giving me a good butcher’s hook (look).
Apples and pears = stairs. The toilet is up the apples and pears (stairs).
Whistle and flute = suit. That’s a smart whistle you're wearing (suit).
Daisy roots = boots. I like your daisy roots (boots).
Skin and blister = sister. Hands off her; she’s my skin and blister (sister).
Barnet fair = head of hair. The girl has a beautiful barnet fair (head of hair).
Mutton Jeff = deaf. The poor man used to hear well, now he is mutton deaf (deaf).
Bowler hat= rat. I once thought he was my friend, but then he turned into a bowler hat (rat).
North and south = mouth. She has a right ‘ol north and south (mouth).
Tom and Dick = sick. I have to leave work because I’m Tom and Dick (sick).
Artful dodger = lodger. I need help paying the rent. I’ll have to take in an artful dodger (lodger).
Brown bread = dead. He was all right when I left him, then I found out he was brown bread (dead.)
Bakers dozen = cousin. No, he’s not my brother; he’s my baker’s dozen (cousin).
Bill and Ben = writing pen. I don’t have a pencil, but I do have a Bill and Ben (pen).

Often several slang terms were used in conjunction such as: “I was wearing my best Whistle, walking down the Apple and Pears when this Bowler Hat whom I used to consider a Baker's Dozen, asked if I’d been Tom and Dick because he hadn’t seen me for a while. I told him I needed to get home to the Trouble and Strife because she had a real North and South and if I wasn’t careful, I could end up as Brown Bread.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sorrento, Italy

Just when I thought I had seen everything in Sorrento, Italy, I came across the lemon grove. Located in the middle of town, it’s almost hidden from view. Away from the hustle and bustle, businessmen and women sat in their beautiful tailored clothes eating their packed lunches and reading their newspapers. It was so quiet and peaceful, I almost felt as though I were an interloper, disturbing their private time.

Sorrento is famous for its Limoncello drink which is served ice cold, usually after dinner. Much care is taken during the growing season and, when the lemons are ready to be harvested, they are handpicked with care. The climate in Sorrento and the surrounding coastline produces some of the finest lemons in the world. They are symmetrical and elliptical in shape, are a glorious bright yellow, and thick skinned. The area also produces wonderful nuts and olives which are collected in nets hanging from the olive tree branches.

Besides all the wonderful sights to see in Sorrento, there is great train service to Pompeii (as well as other locations). It’s inexpensive and a traveler gets to experience the “real” Italy - to see it close up and from a completely different perspective. Also, buses leave Sorrento regularly taking travelers up the Amalfi Coast. I highly recommend taking the bus rather than driving your own car because the roads are very narrow and busy. The guide provides a running commentary and there are plenty of stops so travelers can enjoy a cup of coffee or buy souvenirs made by the local artisans who are known for their colorful ceramics.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Napa Valley, California

A couple of months ago while touring Napa Valley sampling the wines, enjoying the fantastic restaurants and scenery, I noticed there were rose bushes planted along the rows of vines. Even though it was November, I could still see the remnants of roses - some red - some white. Curiosity got the better of me and I began checking out every single vineyard we visited, and saw rose bushes in many of them. Was this just an attempt to make the vineyard more pleasing to the eye, or was there another reason? On further inquiry, it seems that black spot, powdery mildew, bugs and flies often attack the rose bushes before entering the vineyard. If a grape grower sees bugs on the rose bushes, he has a chance to spray the pesky insects and fungus before they do much damage to the crop. In essence, the rose bushes act as the first line of defense against such troubles. Nowadays I understand there are much more sophisticated ways to determine the conditions of the vineyard by taking soil samples, water samples, etc. to monitor the health of the vines, but the rose bushes are still there...perhaps just in case.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Breckenridge's “Bullwinkle” Moose

Photo courtesy - Kelly.

Just last week my tennis buddy Kelly, and her family saw two very large moose meandering around their bungalow in Breckenridge in the early morning. Camera in hand, Kelly’s husband approached the animals, but kept a healthy distance knowing they would charge him if threatened.

Most people associate the wild moose with a fictional cartoon character called “Bullwinkle" who debuted in 1959. Although he was portrayed as a dim witted moose, he quickly became a favorite with children and adults who perhaps felt sorry for the oddball character.

I can only imagine the excitement when my friend’s family saw two large Bullwinkle’s so close to their home - thank you Kelly for the photos.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two Countries - Two Societies - Two Writers

Photo: Sylvia Kent book signing event at Waterstone's Book Shop.

I have the privilege of belonging to two of the oldest writing societies in the world. The Society of Women Writers and Journalists in London (1894) and The Denver Woman’s Press Club (1898) here in the United States. Both have so much to offer a writer that it is difficult to know where to begin. Suffice it to say, both societies have enjoyed a robust and interesting lifespan of 110+ years, providing continuous guidance, advice and support to their members, as well as contributing to the community as a whole.

Just recently, Sylvia Kent wrote a book entitled: The Woman Writer - The History of the Society of Woman Writers and Journalist (ISBN-10 9780752451596.) The book has been very well received since its launch last month with articles in The Times, the International Writing Magazine, and the Journal of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, among others. Within the pages of her book Kent has mentioned the strong connection between the two countries including American playwright, Pearl Craigie who was the first President of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and that audacious young journalist Elizabeth L Banks who took London by storm in 1902 with her audacious reportage. Also included in the book is a wonderful photograph of First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt who stopped by to visit women journalist in 1959.

Kent is a columnist working for Newsquest and a freelance writer. She is Archivist/Press Officer for the SWWJ, Vice-President of Brentwood Writers’ Circle and a Patron of the Essex Book Festival 2009/10. This is Kent's 7th book published whilst supporting other writers, particularly in the field of local history. She is a Trustee at the Cater Museum, Billericay, Essex, England.

For more information go to:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Left to right: Marni Jameson and Susie Masterson

The Denver Woman’s Press Club hosted a scrumptious brunch last Saturday. The guest speaker was Terry Vitale, President of Colorado Expression. Upbeat and positive, Terry led the members and guests though her fascinating life, the continuous challenges of running a good publishing house, family and friends. After the meeting with Terry and hearing about her life, I felt as though I could accomplish anything!

During brunch, I had the pleasure of being seated with Susie Masterson another publisher here in Colorado. Susie specializes in guide books in Winter Park, Moab and surrounding areas. The following was taken from her web site.

“To begin with, we are natives. With respect to the local saying, "You are a Coloradoan if..." - We hike, bike, paddle, ski, camp, golf, hammock, play and live at high altitude. This gives us a distinct advantage in understanding a Colorado tourist destination.

GuestGuide Publications® is an experienced Grand-county based publications firm. We understand the specific needs of our local tourist markets. We firmly believe in doing it right and doing it on time. We use and are very thankful for the help of local experts and volunteers who also are eager to give us needed advice, time and opinions. Our publications all are designed to reach a variety of audiences, from the young to the young at heart.”

Another very interesting person at the brunch was Marni Jameson. Marni is a nationally syndicated home design columnist, and author of the best-selling The House Always Wins (DaCapo/Perseus, April 2008). Marni’s hugely popular syndicated column, “At Home With Marni Jameson,” appears in more than 30 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada reaching 7 million readers each week. Though her column is humorous as well as helpful, Marni shares her serious side in some of the nation’s most prestigious print media. A long time writer for the Los Angeles Times (more than 200 features), she also writes for other top-tier media, including Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Child, and Fit Pregnancy. She has been a guest on numerous television and radio programs around the country.
For more information on Marni go to:

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Real Ale in Denver

For some years, I’ve heard about Pint’s in Denver. Last week, we had the pleasure of stopping by the pub enjoyed a meal and had a couple of drinks. Although I know relatively little about ale, my husband does! He remarked, on tasting his first pint of Lancer IPA ,“This is the best pint of ale I’ve had in America.” He followed with a pint of Dark Star Ale, which he said was typical of the darker ales found in Northern England. Both are great casked-conditioned real ales, but the Lancer was more to his taste. He enjoyed both with English style bangers and mash.

The following is quoted from Pint’s Pub website.
“Welcome to Pint's Pub, a traditional British brew pub that strives to be your "local" regardless of your locale.
Here at Pint's, you'll find the charm and personality of the "local", a place that serves as a crossroads for society, where good beer , freshly prepared good food and as importantly, good conversation are on the bill of fare.
Please be aware that despite our corner pub ambiance, Pint's is nationally famed for two world class features. We are brewers of authentic traditional British "cask conditioned" or "live ales". These hand crafted ales, served from the hand pumps are rarely found in the U.S.
Additionally exceptional, in fact unique, is our offering of Single Malt Whisky.
We are proud to be the purveyor of the largest selection of single malt whisky this side of Edinburgh, Scotland.
So, settle with a pint, a wee dram or some pub grub, read the London Times (you’ll find it by the front door) or chat with a neighbor. You’re among friends!”
For more information on Pint's go to their website at: