I bought this in order to try and make contact, on some sort of plane, with a somewhat cantankerous / aggressive / mean-spirited close relation of mine. He was dragged up in the East End about a hundred and fifty years ago but has since reinvented himself as a bit of an establishment figure. Hence the fact that these working class roots have been airbrushed from history. That is, until he over-imbibes on lager. And then that old, inscrutable patter just comes tumbling out. Well, the last time it happened, I was ready for him.
He doesn't like me very much anyway, so I could probably have guessed the general meaning of 'You're a right cocky little feather plucker you are' without the help of this book. Then again, I wouldn't have been able to play him at his own game and hurl back a personalised mention of Anthony Blunt. I did have to hit the frog and toad fairly sharpish after that though, because my flicking through this book did manage to send him just a teeny weeny bit Radio Rental. NOT the idea really.
This book is a record of social and geographic history. This is a 'language' that is constantly evolving, the rhymes themselves changing with the times or the historical circumstances. As you may have gathered from the examples I have already quoted, it is a comprehensive work, full of the sort of colourful language you would hear in any pub in town on a Friday night. And that's just from the ladies. The author also manages to inject a great deal of humour into the book, making it a very enjoyable read on its own, without necessarily being used for reference. I would have liked a different layout for the index however. The book is arranged into some fairly confusing chapters ( 'Sense and Nonsense', 'Household Matters, etc. etc.) and the only index is one of the rhyming slang itself. Trying to pin down the rhyming slang FOR a word is really rather difficult.
Nevertheless, this is a lovely little book to have around. You'll never again feel lost during an episode of 'Minder' anyway, not with this.