Here at Cockney Rhyming Slang we’ll be having a proper Cockney Christmas. A good-old knees up and a sing-song round the pianner. We hope. You don’t have to be a Cockney or even live in London to have a right old ding-dong this Christmas though. Here are our top-ten tips for a magnificent Chrimbo, Cockney-style.
Visit Dennis Severs house
Located in the Spitalfields area of east London, Dennis Severs house is an amazing magical journey back into the past, when the Cockney identity was first beginning to establish itself. This eerie and atmospheric house is not a museum or a gallery, it’s an experience you can’t quite describe. Visit the cellars below stairs on a freezing cold winter’s day to get a feeling of what life was like for the working people of the East End in the 1800s. On the top floor you’ll find a truly Dickensian scene of poverty and want, but you never get the sense of sadness.
See Chas and Dave live
Two of our best-known exporters of Cockney culture are reforming for a Christmas special at the IndigoO2. It’ll be a proper Christmas ding-dong with all the favourites such as “Rabbit”, “The Sideboard Song”, “Give Me A London Girl”, and “Margate” to take the winter blues away.
Have a pie and mash experience
Enjoy the steamed-up windows and proper London grub and Pie and Mash near Spitalfields market. As you’re near Brick Lane you could round off your culinary day with a curry too!
Try Square Pie.
Take the Jack the Ripper Tour
Jack the Ripper terrified the working class slum-dwellers of Whitechapel in the 1890s. His gruesome and pitiless slaughter of six women still sends a shiver down the spine. Whilst the Whitechapel of the Ripper’s day is alomst all gone now, you can still take a walking tour to see the sights and get a sense of what life must have been like. In the cold and the dark of winter, it’s an experience nobody can forget.
Learn about the Pearly Kings and Queens
The living embodiment of Cockney culture, the pearlies are alive and well. On Dec 5th 2012 you can hear a lecture on the history and traditions of the Pearlies.
Visit an East End Christmas market
Forget the West End – this year head out East to get away from the roaring traffic and visit a part of London with a little bit of heart and soul left in it. Columbia Road Flower Market in Bethnal Green is the place to head for every Wednesday evening in December until the 19th. It’s all about vintage clothes, original artwork homewares, left-field trinkets and jewellery, and above all – food! I can smell the mulled wine from here!
Drink some proper London beer at the Greenwich Meantime Brewery
The Greenwich brewery is a relatively new brewer, but their beers (we can vouch for this) are steeped in tradition and very, very, quaffable. We especially love the deep, rich London Porter – an ale that was originally drunk by the street-chair carries (porters) of London, and over time morphed into stouts such as Guinness and Murphys.
Take the Dickens Tour at Christmas
Dickensian London is best seen at Christmas. His characters personify the London of the emergent Cockney era, and Cockney Rhyming Slang even appears in his books. Visit the Old Curiosity Shop, discover the place where Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol ‘went down a slide 20 times in honour of it being Christmas Eve’. Discover the maze of alleyways where Dickens placed the counting house of A Christmas Carol’s Ebeneezer Scrooge.
Dickens London Walk
The South Bank Christmas stalls
The South Bank is one of London’s most romantic and atmospheric promenades. All along the South Bank each Christmas there are stalls selling everything from hot chestnuts to mulled wine to Christmas presents and curiosities.
and finally …
See in the New Year with an East End Blitz Party in Shoreditch
The East End of London was fairly well flattened during the Second World War. The tragedy is that this was largely the main cause of the Cockney flight to Essex and the surrounding countryside, which was the start of the decline of East End Cockney culture. Nevertheless this culture is still alive and well in the outer ‘burbs and counties. This year, why not celebrate New Year in a different way at THe Blitz Party. Dress up as a soldier or a swinger, and then take cover – the sirens wail, the spirit of the Blitz is upon you!