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Monday, April 6, 2009
Monday Spotlight: Vanessa Kelly
Cant and Flash
In Regency England, the hottest thing going (for guys) was to dress like you'd just come from the tailor and talk like you'd just come from the gutter.
Regency London was a melting pot of scene and society, especially for the men of the haut ton. Regency Bucks mixed with MPs and moneylenders, barons and barmaids, debutantes and demi-reps. In the morning, a gentleman could spend hours getting dressed (if his headache from last night’s excesses had faded enough to get out of bed before noon); drink brandy in White's bow window in the afternoon; go for a drive or ride in Hyde Park to see and be seen; and visit Vauxhall pleasure gardens in the evening for more carousing and perhaps a stroll with a “fast” female down one of the more secluded paths in the garden.
Let's face it, if you had a choice between going to Almack's Assembly Rooms, where you had to wear knee breeches and drink the much-hated ratafia—not to mention get husband-hunted by desperate debutantes—or go to a gin parlour where you could put your hand on a willing wench's bum and get 'deep into your cups', which would you prefer?
Just like middle class kids of today wearing 'bling', with their pants 'jailing' past their crotches, Regency Bucks studied and adopted the slang of the lower classes, slipping it into their speech with each other. Why? Just because it was cool to be 'flash.'
In my next post, I'll talk about the original 'flash coves,' Tom and Jerry (and no, they weren't cartoon animals).