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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).


Caffey said...

Vanessa, a wealth of information from you!!! Did you get to learn alot of this from doing your own research and/or studying this time period? I heard of Almack's quite a few times in books but not the gin parlour! I'm learning lots today :) And those corsets, heard how uncomfortably (and painful) those were!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Caffey,

I did learn this from my work in graduate school, and also doing research for Mastering The Marquess. And there were many gin parlours in the poorer neighborhoods of London.

Thanks for asking!