PC 239 They Go Together like ………

Cockney rhyming slang has been a feature of life in England seemingly forever but for those of us who weren’t born within the sound of the church bells of St Mary-le-Bow, it’s probably a bit of a mystery! It was created by Cockneys so they could speak freely in front of the local police, who were stationed at the new Bow Street Police Station in the early part of the C19th. Some word combinations are common enough, like Whistle & Flute for a suit, or Apple & Pears meaning stairs; Trouble & Strife is also well-known for wife – the choice of words shouting experience!

The prevailing south westerly winds ensure the sound of the bells covers a wide area of north east London.

Others include Bottle & Glass for ‘arse’, Bristol City for Titty (as in breast!) Butchers Hook for look (“I’ll take a butchers”) at my China Plate – mate. Dog & Bone is well known as Cockney for ‘phone and Frog & Toad for road, but Turkish Bath for laugh? Maybe you know that Mince Pies mean eyes and Pork Pies lies (Porkies??) …… and then Treacle Tart for sweetheart and Raspberry Tart for fart.

Go me thinking about words that have become natural partners, like husband & wife I guess! There are probably hundreds but here are some of the ones that have dropped into my consciousness: you may think the choices reflect my age? Of course!

Ancient & Modern – ‘Hymns Ancient & Modern’ is a collection of 273 hymns in common use in the Church of England. Forced attendance on Sundays has ensured the hymnal’s title is forever burned into my memory!

Bacon & Eggs – rashers of streaky bacon, a couple of fried eggs on fried bread, with optional tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans (and black pudding if you lived north of Watford): those of us who have migrated to a healthier breakfast are often tempted to choose this combination off the hotel menu for breakfast. And why not, once in a while?

Bill & Ben – The Flower Pot Men were an important part of children’s television in1950s Britain. Marionettes fashioned out of wooden flowerpots, Bill and his friend Ben told stories about the garden in which they lived, much to the amusement of another creation called ‘Little Weed’. Not many people had a television set and if you did have one, it was most certainly not colour; this was a programme about a colourful garden so one aspect of the programme was not transmitted!! Bill and Ben had ordinary male voices, although Ben had a trademark nonsense word ‘flobabdob’! Little Weed was a dandelion with a smiley face, forever squeaking ‘weeeeeeeeed’.

Bits & Pieces – A hit song by the Dave Clark Five in 1964: ‘Since you left me and said goodbye, I’m in pieces, bits and pieces.’

Black and Tans – The Black and Tans (Irish: Dúchrónaigh) were constables recruited into the Royal Irish Constabulary as reinforcements during the Irish War of Independence. Recruitment began in 1920 and eventually over 10,000 men were enlisted. (A very dark green and khaki uniform earned them their nickname) They developed a reputation for brutality and reprisal attacks on civilians; this did nothing but sway public opinion against British rule.   

Black & White – used as a title for various dramas, remembered for being a blended Scotch whisky. The bottle’s label featured a black Scottish Terrier and a white West Highland Terrier.

B&Q – DIY enthusiasts here in the UK will know the ubiquitous B&Q, a large superstore selling everything they wanted, and more. Opened in 1969 in Southampton by Richard Block & David Quayle, its initial name of Block & Quayle was quickly shortened to B&Q. By the end of the 1980s B&Q became part of the Kingfisher Group and in the following decade merged with Castorama, France’s largest DIY retailer. B&Q became the corporate sponsor for the international sailor Ellen Macarthur who in 2005 became the fastest person to sail solo around the globe, crossing the finishing line off Ushant after 71days and 14 hours at sea. Her yacht – B&Q!

The orange-and-white 75ft trimaran, plastered with the B&Q logo, had become a familiar sight. A B&Q spokeswoman said: “She has such a ‘can do’ personality; she has proved she really can do it, which fits with the B&Q brand which tries to encourage people to do DIY.” The B&Q slogan? “You can do it if you B&Q it!”     

Bow & Stern – one’s the pointy end of a boat, the other the blunt end.

Bubble &Squeak – a traditional British dish made from cooked potatoes and cabbage, mixed together and fried. First mentioned in 1762.

Champagne & Oysters – both contain complimentary sets of umami flavours that act synergistically to enhance the taste. You need to like oysters in the first place!!

Chapter & Verse – Giving a complete detailed account of what had happened. Often used in quotations from religious texts.

Cow & Gate – A UK dairy products company, founded in 1882. Merged with United Diaries in 1959 to become Unigate.  

Decline & Fall – ….. of The Roman Empire’ by Edward Gibbon (1766-1788). Used in a strangled way by the BBC for its 1976 sitcom ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’.

Donner und Blizen – the most famous of Santa Claus’s reindeer after Rudolph and note the German word for ‘and’!

…..with mushy peas!

Fish & Chips – I remember going to a fish & chip shop at the back of the Royal Crescent in Bath and buying a portion of chips; they came in a cone of grease-proof paper, wrapped in a piece of newspaper. The fish in England is normally Cod, whilst north of the border in Scotland Haddock; Cod has a longer shelf life than Haddock and in pre-refrigeration days most of England’s fish came from Scotland. Traditionally beef dripping was used to cook the fish and chips, although nowadays you are more likely to find rapeseed, peanut or palm oil.

To be continued ………

Richard 16th July 2021


2 thoughts on “PC 239 They Go Together like ………

  1. Another random reading of your valuable posts , thanks Richard.
    I have heard many Cockney expressions and knew part of the stories, and interested to view that map of London

    Not exactly a parallel here – Wind was so strong it blew the dog off the chain .

    Always remember that from a sailing friend in Sydney , who was very competitive in his Laser racing.

    Cheers, Des


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