Cockneys

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The inhabitants of the eastern parts of London, England, are known as Cockneys. They have a ready wit and warm hearts beneath gruff exteriors, and are frequently to be seen wearing the traditional garb of 'Pearly Kings and Queens', viz. a black suit covered with mother-of-pearl buttons, and doing the Lambeth Walk, a local folk dance.

Traditional Cockney occupations are working in the docks as 'dockers' (stevedores) and as working as costermongers (sellers of fruit and vegetables from mobile or fixed stalls). The term means ' seller of costers', costers being an old type of apple (known today in a slightly corrupted form as a custard apple). Cockneys suffered greatly in the Blitz but were cheered by visits from the Queen Mum (QV) who became an honorary Cockney and used to astonish palace staff with her command of cockney rhyming slang.

Cockneys do not speak normal English but use a regional dialect called rhyming slang. "I'll go down the apples and pears to see the old dutch" means "I'll descend the staircase to see my lady wife." If a Cockney visits the podiatrist he will say "I've got a might and main in my plates of meat" ("I have a pain in my feet").

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