A Londoner guide to 33 popular Cockney rhyming slang terms

Confused by the traditional lingo in our city – well here’s some ‘lump of ice’

Whether you have lived in London all of your life, or are new to the city, you’ve probably have heard people speaking Cockney.

There’s literally hundreds of Cockney phrases, which means the native  East End language can get pretty confusing.

For those Only Fools and Horses fans you would have heard Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter use rhyming slang including: “would you Adam and Eve it”, which is slang for you won’t believe it.

We’re also used to Danny Dyer tell Queen Vic punters he’s “done some bird” as he plays Mick Carter in EastEnders , or hearing acting legend Michael Caine naturally use the lingo during television interviews.

So to help you navigate your way around the London dialect we’ve comprised a list of of 33 popular Cockney rhyming slang terms and what they mean.

1. China plate – mate (friend)

2. Adam and Eve – believe

3. Apples and pears – stairs

4. Boat Race – face

5. Bird lime – time (in prison)

6. Bricks and Mortar – daughter

7. Brown Bread – dead

8. Bubble Bath – Laugh

9. On the floor – poor

10. Scotch mist – pissed

11. Currant bun – sun (also The Sun newspaper)

12. Dicky bird – word

13. Dog and bone – phone

14. Dustbin lid – kid

15. Duke of Kent – rent

16. Hank Marvin – starving

17. Jam-jar – car

18. Lady Godiva – fiver

19. Loaf of Bread – head

20. Mince Pies – eyes

21. Peckham Rye – tie

22. Pony and Trap – crap

23. Rosy Lee – tea

24. Sherbert (short for sherbert dab) – cab

25. Skin and Blister – sister

26. Tea leaf – thief

27. Trouble and strife – wife

28. Vera Lynn – gin

29. Whistle and flute – suit (of clothes)

30. Wonga – cash

31. Duck and dive – hide/skive

32. Lump of ice – advice

33. Pleasure and pain – rain

Source: A Londoner guide to 33 popular Cockney rhyming slang terms – MyLondon

“They’re Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace”

by Johnny Foreigner

Anytime I see a photo of the “Changing of the Guards” in London, I’m reminded of the children’s song “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace,”  inspired by Winnnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne and made into a hit song by young Ann Stephens in 1941.

London-born Ann Stephens (21 May 1931 – 15 July 1966) was the first to record “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.” Stephens  was a British child actress and singer, popular throughout the 1940s.

Like most many American baby boomers, I first heard this song on the Captain Kangaroo Show. That version was made in 1959 by late British variety performer Max Bygraves.


Bygraves’ onstage catchphrase “I wanna tell you a story,” is only slightly better than Marty Allen’s “Hello Dere!” – but Bygraves is a much better singer. Another well-known phrase of Bygraves was “That’s a good idea, son!” 

Give a listen to each version and comment which version you like better, young Ann’s or Max’s?

Max Bygraves’ 1959 version “They’re Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace”

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Serenity Now: Music And A Conversation With Joan Shelley

The Hobbledehoy is vey much looking forward to hearing Joan Shelley perform in Boston on Friday night. Though she hails from Kentucky, Joan’s music borrows quite a lot from British traditional folk sounds, and English vocalists like June Tabor, who she frequently cites as a major influence. Give a listen to NPR’s All Songs Considered interview below.

In this All Songs Considered guest DJ session, Joan Shelley talks about her latest album, Like the River Loves the Sea and shares songs by some of the other artists who’ve inspired her over the years.

Joan Shelley makes music that lulls my soul. Her new album, Like the River Loves the Sea, is a serene experience. It’s music with a deep connection to British folk music from the ’60s and ’70s but with influences from this side of the world and her home of Louisville, Kentucky.

On this edition of All Songs Considered, Joan Shelley is joined by her musical partner and Louisville companion, guitarist Nathan Salsburg to play DJ. You can hear the roots of the music they make in the songs they chose to share, from American banjo legend Roscoe Holcomb to English folk singer June Tabor and the contemporary music of Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

Joan Shelley tells the story of recording Like the River Loves the Sea in Iceland and how they had to forgo adding banjo to the album because they couldn’t locate one in Iceland. We also hear Joan Shelley’s early trio called Maiden Radio, Joan and Nathan’s new collaboration with Bonnie “Prince” Billy and how she met him at an ugly sweater party in Kentucky [ . . . ]

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW with JOAN SHELLEY at: Serenity Now: Music And A Conversation With Joan Shelley