With a couple of campaigns going well, especially the one where, parodying the M&S advert, we use a prick with a Bullingdon club accent to say how utilitarian and barely adequate our product is, ‘so cheap you can buy two for when the first one breaks,’ and of course my own purchase of no-frills Martin Daktari, I have been trying to pushy-de-envelope with a couple of new clients/customers.
My main inspiration came from the chap who sold Martin to me. He spoke a sort of ceaseless, risqué, camp, Estuary rhyming slang, as if he had no interest in appearing professional, or for that matter selling anything at all. Nevertheless, I bought. There must be something in it I thought.
It’s hard to understand the appeal of the original cockley rhyming slag, let alone it’s mutations and variants, yet people seem to want to connect to it when it’s spoken.
Aris – Aristotle – bottle – bottle and glass – arse.
All that trouble to disguise arse, and end up with aris? I mean.
And Martin’s salesman gabbled too quickly from a basic shyness – like that girl who won the X-Factor pre-Covey, and had already go on to, ‘no I didn’t mean it,’ before you had any idea what he was he had said. ‘How much? Next you’ll be asking me to cross you off.’ He smiles. I nod, then realise a few moments later that I’m playing along with his filthy innuendo. We can’t afford too much gabbling in our advert but then again, we don’t want to go all wa’er in Majorca about it.
For him it was about hiding a perceived disapproved-of behaviour, and his way of speaking was related to Estuary rhyming in the same way as I suppose Polari was once related to cockney, though his was not a sophisticated version of its progenitor as Polari had been.
Polari had to work because the people who spoke it, unlike Gravesend Bobby, lived under the threat of imprisonment for the way they lived. The original cockney, though apparently the same – to disguise their street trade fused with wholesale thieving from the docks, was anything but, and was as much about noisy beery twats declaring themselves interesting as it was to cover up illegal behaviour. Today’s Estuary rhymers have even less to cover up, though they are perhaps trying to allude to living close to something edgy and City-ish and under the counter, and they have produced a cockney-lite as a result. It makes them sound even thicker than the originals, speaking a more ignorant and lazy derivative, without rules of precedence, that will tolerate any extemporised rhyme with anything else. It comes over as a pointless game participated in by morons. And I’m not having a giraffe about that either.
Perhaps the angle for our advert should be to take the perspective of an anti-vaxxer, or someone who was otherwise committed to living outside of the Covey-regs, and who is therefore motivated to create a new secret language to avoid the attention of the authorities, as the original exponents of Polari were. That way too, we can illustrate that with each new generation of rhyming slangers there comes a lazier and less considered than that which went before. But what lower place can you go to after Estuary? I suppose Gravesend Bobby guards that portal, and points the way.
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many thanks to Donovan Grabowski for the image of two men chatting