In all of Cockney Rhyming Slang, Apples and Pears is by far the by the best known and most widely understood, even outside the UK. But in fact Apples and Pears is almost never used in real Cockney speech today. It's simply the slang's most famous example. Perhaps because it is the archetype of the genre, it has become cliché and passed out of real usage.
The first recorded usage of Apples and Pears came in the 1850's but it had fallen out of favour in print by the 1960's.
There are several alternatives for the word "stairs", including Fred Astaires, troubles and cares, and stocks and shares, but none have gained much traction or are in common usage today.
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Apples and Pears
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