Nineteen Of The Gang

Early purl was a drink made up of hot beer and gin and was the perfect pick-me-up for a cold morning. It sounds intriguing and its delights and efficacy was enshrined in the following piece of doggerel: “I’m damned if I think/ there’s another such drink/ as good early purl”. Perhaps it was a favourite of those whose accommodation was without eatings, a term used to describe what we would now know as board. Too much of it, though, might make you elephant’s, an abbreviation of elephant’s trunk and itself rhyming slang for drunk.

The 1880s was a period of social unrest and in socialist circles there was the fear of and outrage at being Endacotted or illegally arrested. It derived, James Ware notes in his Passing English of a Victorian Era, from a policeman of the name of Endacott who was tried and acquitted in 1887 on the charge of illegally arresting a young dressmaker whom he claimed was a notorious woman of the town. As is the way with these terms, it was abbreviated to “cotted” and then fell into obscurity.

The denizens of the county of Essex have always attracted opprobrium, particularly from their neighbours. They were known as Essex calves in Suffolk and as Essex lions in Kent. Kentish folk seemed ready to give nicknames to those originating from counties nearby, coining Hampshire Hogs, Sussex Sows, and Surrey Swine. At least they had a nice line in alliteration.

Blowing your own trumpet is something most of us strive to avoid as it can be annoying to those around you. A marvellous retort, a gentle protest at self-laudation, one could aim at someone who is not shy in broadcasting their virtues is yes, everything is nice in your garden. It is said, by Ware, to have derived from one of the princesses, probably Beatrice, when something in her garden at Osborne House was praised by Queen Victoria.      

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