KIDS & BABIES
||LONDON IS FULL OF QUIRKS AND SURPRISES. HERE'S SOME INFORMATION ON THE INSPIRATION BEHIND OUR DESIGNS
|TEENY TODD |
Sweeney Todd is a fictional character who has appeared in print, on stage and screen. Nicknamed the Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ he murdered his victims and in later versions had them baked into pies.
In a special London twist, his name became rhyming slang for the flying squad, a branch of the metropolitan police dealing with armed, violent criminals. In the 70s the eponymously named ‘The Sweeney’, starring Dennis Waterman and John Thaw was both popular and critically acclaimed. It came to define an era that saw a massive shift in both in how the police were portrayed and perceived, putting London street life on the TV map in a way previously neglected.
|ROSIE LEE |
Londoners love their tea, so it’s very common to be asked in for ‘a nice cup of rosie’. A typical example of cockney rhyming slang, tea was rhymed with ‘Rosie Lee’, a famed burlesque performer of the early 20th century. Rose Louise Hovick was better known by her performing name of Gypsy Rose Lee.
Although initially ‘taking tea’ was initially a fashionable pastime amongst the British upper and middle classes, it gradually became a cheap and easy beverage enjoyed by all.
It’s said that the introduction of tea drinking to the British working classes signified a great leap forward in their levels of health. We now know that tea is full of antioxidants, but its early health benefits go far beyond that. The boiling of water for tea meant that water-borne organisms were killed off, providing a safe, and eventually affordable, thirst quencher.
Tea has become such a British staple that there is almost no social occasion, crisis or emergency that cannot be improved by a lovely cuppa.
UK Tea Council
Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee.
|LONDON EYE |
When in London make sure you are looking your best! The average person here is filmed more than any Hollywood film star - up to to 300 times a day. What with streets, parks, trains, buses, airports, stations, shops, schools, homes and even traffic junctions all having their own cameras, it’s estimated that there’s one camera for every 14 people. And coming soon, the nanny-cam, a talking CCTV camera to keep naughty Londoners in line.
If all that makes you feel a little self-conscious there’s always the other London Eye. The giant ferris wheel has quickly become a favourite for visitors and Londoners alike, Reputed to have the best view in London it’s a great way to soak up the London scenes – no camera necessary!
Official website for London’s top tourist attraction
|PEARLY KINGS AND QUEENS |
Traditionally drawn from the market-stall holders of London, the pearly kings and queens are true London royalty. Their beautiful pearl button encrusted clothes are decorated with patterns and symbols to rival the crown jewels!
Descended from the early coster-mongers (barrow boys and girls) the pearlies dedicate themselves to collecting for charity and helping those less fortunate than themselves. There is a pearly family for each area of London and the title is passed down through the generations, with the very first pearly king (Henry Croft) still represented by his great-granddaughter.
Often credited with the origins of cockney rhyming slang, the pearly families of London represent London’s heartbeat, a living tradition that is all about the people and their city.
One of several ‘official’ pearly king & Queen Websites
Another ‘official’ pearly website, including link to ‘Cockney Pride’ live band
A fun and informative site with info and great pics
Website of the pearly king of Camberwell, with links to a great video of Jim giving a guided tour of cockney London
|COCKNEY RHYMING SLANG |
Cockney rhyming slang has been around since the 1500s, became much more widespread from the 1800s. It is said that it originated to allow street-life Londoners to discuss their plans in front of the first ‘Bobbies’ (named after Robert Peel who set up London’s earliest police force) without them knowing what was going on. The costermongers (street hawkers) and market holders were instrumental in its spread (see pearly kings and queens).
To this day it remains a vibrant addition to the English language, with much of it crossing over into common parlance. For example that old hippy / rock’n’roll term ‘bread’ comes from ‘bread and honey’, meaning money.
As part of a living language, cockney rhymes are always being updated. The use of famous names is common, with modern celebrities often ousting their predecessors. For example Brad Pitt has usurped Eartha Kitt – We’ll let you figure out for yourself what it rhymes with!
Lots of info about the history of this very special part of London
Loads of information relating to London, Cockneys and the East End
Not only Cockney rhyming slang, but all manner of London longo listed for you here.
|LONDON DOVES |
The pigeon (or London dove as we like to call it) is an intrinsic part of the city. To some, they’re iconic, to others a nuisance and to a few, downright scary. They used to be a central feature of Trafalgar Square, where tourists paid good money for birdseed. They’re now banned from there, kept in line by falcons and the like.
Their history is varied. In the 19th Century they were used to carry stock market information between London and Paris. They were a common part of the working man’s life for hundreds of years, being bred for racing, and to this day London has its share of ‘pigeon fanciers’. Their incredible ‘homing’ ability meant that they were utilised for carrying news, stock market quotations and vital military information. Pigeons have even received medals for their part in World War Two.
The Molly and Berts pigeon is cheeky, ‘street’ and ready for anything – a true Londoner.
|JACK THE NIPPER |
Nipper’ is a slang word for baby or child. Back in the 16th century a nipper was a pickpocket, a more historic Artful Dodger if you like. Although used throughout the UK, it’s particularly common in London. Loving our word play, we at Molly and Berts have also used ‘nipper’ to refer to our cheeky pets.
Now, on to Jack himself. We don’t want to condone any violence, never mind such horrific crimes as his, yet he still retains a grisly fascination for the world. His continued notoriety may be because his identity was never discovered. He was named ‘Jack’ because this was the generic name for man or male, as in ‘every man Jack of them’ or even ‘lumberjack’. It is also likely that he was one of the first cases of the media-made story, and his ‘fame’ is closely linked with the growth of the early ‘media’, or more particularly the popular newspapers.
|LOAD OF OLD BOLLARDS |
Dictionaries suggest the word ‘bollard’ came from the bole (or trunk) of a tree. We think it sounds a lot like one of our favourite anglo-saxon words. Indeed, to paraphrase an iconic London band, ‘never mind the Bollards, here’s Molly and Berts’!
Bollards have been part of London for hundreds of years, used as markers, boundaries or tying posts. An early example of recycling, they were often made of old cannons. You can still see a great example of one of these in Vauxhall, on the corner of Vauxhall Walk and Black Prince Road.
|ABSOLUTELY BARKING |
It’s hard to find out where ‘Barking Mad’ comes from. Apparently it’s not even listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. I guess we can all come up with something, but my personal favourite is someone who believes they can talk to animals. Maybe they have ‘gone to the dogs’, woof woof!
Perhaps the most fun fact is that the place in London with the most dogs per capita is, you’ve guessed it… Barking!