Thursday, 30 July 2009

'If you go crooked I'll 'ave your wall-paper orn'minted wiv your brains'


One of many fun quotes from Clarence Rook's Hooligan Nights, a tale of street-crime, 1890s style. Here's a compendium of slang from the book which I just put together, some of it familiar, some not. How do you like your wobblers?

Barker –gun
Beano – rowdy entertainment, festivities, fun
Boko – nose
Brass – money
Bull-dog with six teeth – gun
Bung – landlord
Can – barman
Chivvy – face
Class, to be; doing something class - being or doing something impressive, admirable amongst criminals
Cocker – mate, pal
Cop – policeman
Crack a crib – burglary
Dabbed about – thrown
Dial - face
Fanlight jumping – burglary by breaking in through fanlight
Full up to the knocker – thoroughly drunk
Gargler ­– throat
Glim – candle, light
Hooks ­– hands
Kip – somewhere to sleep
Lagged – imprisoned
Lam – beat up, thrash
Lamps – eyes
Lever – lever-watch
Mug – idiot
His number’s up – he’s finished
Napper – head
Nipper – child
Off your rocker - mad
Prig – thief
Put someone’s lights out – kill them
Ready – ready money, money
Quiff – dodge, trick, ploy
Raws – bare fists
Razzo – nose, esp. a red nose
Row – fight
Do a scoot – flee; do a runner
Shut your head! – shut up
Slavey – (female) servant, maid of all work
Slop - policeman
Snide coin – counterfeit; planting snide coin
Snuff (someone) – kill, harm
Split – informer/detective/policeman
Sticker – knife
Step short – hurry up
Swag – ill-gotten gains
Swank – behave ostentatiously, swagger
Tea-leafing – petty opportune theft
Throttle – throat
Ticker – watch
Trotter cases – boots
Wet – beer/drink
Wobbler - egg

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Body Beautiful


The Wellcome Collection sends me a press release for their forthcoming exhibition 'Exquisite Bodies' on the intriguing subject of anatomical models. There is some good Victorian stuff here, and the rather disturbing images and content you might expect.

"Exquisite Bodies looks at the curious, beautiful and grotesque story of the anatomical model. First produced to stem the demand from Anatomy schools for fresh corpses in the 19th century, these beautifully crafted wax models are shockingly real.

We will have a series of free life-drawing workshops to coincide with the exhibition as these dolls and models offer such a radically different way of looking at the human body."

Not much on my site on this subject, I fear, but I've always liked the sound of Dr Kahn's Grand Anatomical Museum.

Friday, 24 July 2009



Ever wondered how the Victorians managed without modern refrigeration? Well, of course, they had their methods - in particular, the global trade in ice - an amazing story of supply and demand. Here's a piece from Andrew Wynter on this remarkable subject. There's a handy Wikipedia brief article here, too.

Thursday, 16 July 2009



How can I put this? How about


After spending two or three days sorting this map out, I made one unfortunate keyboard click - partly frustration with Google becoming a little cumbersome with over 300 place markers on the map - and this map was accidentally deleted from the Google site.

Yes, it's gone. If you've come to this page, looking for it, I'm sorry (and slightly depressed).

There is the earlier Google Earth version of the map (not quite so many places but pretty good) still visible under Maps on the main site.

Unfortunately, I don't really have the time or energy to rebuild - so I better shut up and chalk it up to experience. Grrrr.

I've made an effort to map Victorian London before on GoogleEarth, but Google Maps is more accessible and user-friendly, so I've now imported the old map and added a few things. You can see it below, or as a full page here.

I'd like to add a lot more to this map, and wonder if anyone has suggestions for particular Victorian buildings, past or present that should be pinpointed? Obviously, I have a few ideas myself ... but any favourites that I've missed?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Victorian Farmers Wanted


An advertisement sent to the author, which I'm happy to disseminate :-




We are looking for people for a unique opportunity to escape the modern world and spend a week on the farm featured in the BBC2 series ‘Victorian Farm’.

The team behind the original series are now looking for everyday families to take part in a new BBC2 series called ‘Escape in Time’. The families will have the chance to live on the original Victorian Farm estate for one week, rediscovering the practical skills and self-sufficiency that our grandparents had, but which we have lost, whilst competing against each other mastering tasks and crafts from the Victorian age.

It’s an unparalleled opportunity to work together as a family and enjoy the pleasure of learning to plough fields, weave baskets, make bread, sheer sheep, brew beer and many other skills.

If you think you might be interested, and you and your family (minimum of two people) can be available for one week’s filming in September 2009, please email with your contact telephone number, for more information."

Old Maidism


More from Andrew Wynter - this time on the introduction of "flats" (a concept the Victorians were very reluctant to adopt) with a collective kitchen, as a possible solution to metropolitan housing. Click here for the full article. However, what I really liked was the description of 'old maidism', the life of the lonely spinster ...

"Where once she was heard singing about the home, like Una making a sunshine in the shady place, her voice is now heard shrill in complaint; parrots and cats accumulate, taking the place of a more human love, and her words are those of sharp reproof and spite against those very instincts of maternity which have been so long the master-spirit of her thoughts."

Parrots and cats accumulate.

Think on, ladies. Nothing worse than accumulating parrots.*

[* with apologies to Ms. Kahlo]