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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Bona Bard
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0181  Wednesday, 3 February 1999.

From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 2 Feb 1999 13:49:30 -0500
Subject:        Bona Bard

A few years ago the BBC published tapes featuring Kenneth Williams, Hugh
Paddick and Kenneth Horne in some of  the 'Julian and Sandy' episodes
from the hilarious 'Round the Horne' radio comedy series of the 1960s
and 70s.  In one of them, 'Bona Bookshop', much is made of Julian and
Sandy's versions of Shakespeare in 'the parlary'. This is  an 18th
century actors' and coster-mongers' slang, drawing on Italian as well as
obscure Romany or Gypsy words, and actively used to this day within a
number of  subcultures in Britain, particularly those connected with
show business. I don't know if it's known in the USA: it ought to be. In
the parlary, 'omi' means 'man', 'polone' means 'woman', 'eek' means
face, 'riah' -obviously enough-means hair etc.   It's frequently
combined with rhyming slang as in 'Hampsteads', meaning 'teeth'
(Hampstead Heath) or 'Hobson' meaning 'voice'.  The 'Seven Ages of Omi',
as delivered by Hugh Paddick, with shrill encouragement from Kenneth
Williams has, in my view, classic status.  Wholly outrageous yet
-momentarily and astonishingly- moving, its climax is the account of
'second childishness . . nanty Hampsteads, nanty minces, nanty riah,
nanty everything'.

T. Hawkes
 

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