「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


My life as a Cockney

By Kip A. Cates


One of my favorite Hollywood movies is My Fair Lady. This tells the story of a working-class Cockney girl who's taught to speak English like a proper lady by a British professor. One reason I like the film is because it stars Audrey Hepburn. Another reason is because I used to be a Cockney myself!

Back in my student days, I hitchhiked around England and arrived in London on a tight budget. I stopped at a tourist information center and told them I needed a place to stay. "You're in luck," they said. "There's a guy who's offering free homestays for foreign visitors. His name is Roy and he's a Cockney. Here's his address."

Roy and I quickly became good friends. He was pleased to meet a Canadian and was eager to introduce me to Cockney life. For the first few weeks, he and his friends showed me around the working-class neighborhoods of East London — Hackney, Stepney, Bethnall Green and Whitechapel.

At first, their Cockney accent was hard to understand, but I gradually got used to their pronunciation. Cockneys drop the letter "h" at the beginning of words, so the name "Henry Higgins" is pronounced 'enry 'iggins. For "the rain in Spain," they say "the rine in Spine." Instead of "Oh my God!" I quickly learned to say "Cor blimey!" like my new Cockney friends.

Like most Cockneys, Roy was very superstitious. To prevent bad luck, he taught me to avoid black cats and to never step on cracks in the sidewalk.

Roy also taught me Cockney rhyming slang. This is a secret language that Cockneys use to communicate among themselves. Here's how it works: Find a two-word phrase that rhymes with what you want to say. Then, use the first word as a secret code.

The phrase "trouble and strife," for example, rhymes with "wife." The phrase "apples and pears" rhymes with "stairs." If you want to say, "My wife fell down the stairs" in Cockney rhyming slang, just say, "My trouble fell down the apples." Interesting!

Roy had an unusual hobby. He was obsessed with Jack the Ripper! Jack the Ripper was a 19th-century killer who carried out attacks on women in the slums of East London. Each week, around midnight, Roy took me out to explore the murder sites.

"At this corner," he'd explain, "Jack the Ripper murdered Mary Ann Nichols on August 31, 1888. Her throat was slit!" The following week, he'd tell me, "This is where the body of Annie Chapman was found on September 8, 1888. Her stomach was slashed open!" During my stay with Roy, I visited the site of every murder and gradually became an expert on Jack the Ripper myself!

My life as a Cockney lasted for three magical months. Now, every time I watch My Fair Lady, I remember my adventures in East London!



The Japan Times ST: May 15, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版