Two Of The Gang

It is an intriguing prospect. I wonder what I would get if I went to a café and ordered Adam and Eve on a raft. I would probably be met with a vacant stare, be called an Abram man, a 16th century abbreviation of the term Abraham men used to describe a beggar claiming to be a lunatic allowed out of restraint. Whether I would get my desired poached eggs on toast is questionable.

There is something appealing about being labelled an afternoon farmer, a virtuoso procrastinator. Far better that than an anythingarian, someone bland enough not to hold a decided opinion on anything.

To avoid being an Algerine, a penurious individual who persists in borrowing trifling amounts of money, you might consider a life of crime. A couple of the more recherché sidelines might be to practice angling, stealing objects from a shop window using a hooked stick, or avoirdupois laying, stealing the brass weights from a shop counter. Alternatively, you could amuse, the term given to throwing snuff into the face of your intended victim.

A life of crime as an Alsatian, a member of the London underworld, does have its own perils, not least being deemed an Anabaptist, the term given to a pickpocket has endured the judicial sentence of a ducking.

For women, there was always a life as an Ann-chovey, the term given to a female shop worker. What they probably did not want to be known as was an Athanasian wench, the term given to describe an easy lay, delightfully taken from the opening of the Athanasian Creed, “whoever desires”.

Slang seemed much more inventive in the 18th and 19th centuries.              

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