Sunday, 21 December 2014

Bona Tidings of Dowry Joy

This is a post from a couple of years ago, one that was pretty much ignored, so I'm dishing it up again. I think it's a pity we've lost Polari, and this is my small effort to revive interest it. Besides, I can't think of anything else to bloody write. 

I read last week about a new Gay Bible. They obviously don't realise it's already been done, and better. Varda, I bring you bona tidings of dowry joy.

Herd-homies varda'd flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Dutchess trolled,
And Gloria sparkled round.

Bencoves and heartfaces, for the quarter Sunday in Advent, our text is from the first chapter of the Gospel of Matilda, verses 18 to 25, from yer actual Polari Bible - mince over there in a bit and have a varda. Meanwhile, let us put aside for a bijou mo the swiftly-trolling fakements of this world (the gildy clobber, the prezzies, the bevvy and the bona manjarries to come) and get us sat for a serious cackle. We varda here that Gloria Her Absolute Very Self Herself swep' into the world, becoming carnish like other homies, only better: never cottaged, never had the trade round, never took it up the chocolate starfish or even had a J. Arthur so far as we know from the Bona Glossy. She jarried with the landladies and tax-collectresses, and trolled all over, healing the nanti varda and the nanti wallop, and casting out the wicked fairies. Then - and here is the Fantabulosa Gossip - she snuffed it for all the  kertervers* of homie-kind, however manky, and on the third journo, rose from the stiff. Well, after all that, natch, She’s absolutely in bits, bless Her - three to be exact: The Auntie, The Homie Charver and The Fantabulosa Fairy. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, cos all this is part of the Holy Cackle Fart story, but this way you get a through picture and can see it all makes perfect sense.   

(*Rom 6:23 - 'For the parkering ninty of kertever is death' - but not necessarily!) 

The Gossip of Matilda

18 Now the birth of Josie Crystal was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Josephine, before they trolled together, she was found up the duff of the Fantabulosa Fairy. 
19 Then Josephine her homie affair, being a just homie, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 
20 But while she thought on these fakements, varda, the fairy of the Duchess appeared unto her in a dream, cackling, Josephine, thou homie chavvie of Davina, fear not to lell unto thee Mary thy palone affair: for that which is conceived in her is of the Fantabulosa Fairy. 
21 And she shall bring forth a homie chavvie, and thou shalt screech his name Josie: for she shall save his homies and palones from their kertervers. 

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was cackled of the Duchess by the prophet, cackling, 
23 varda, a nanti charver shall be up the duff, and shall bring forth a homie chavvie, and they shall screech his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, Gloria with us. 
24 Then Josephine being raised from letty did as the fairy of the Duchess had bidden her, and lelled unto her his palone affair: 
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn homie chavvie: and she screeched his name Josie. 

OK, now let's remember the prezzies, the bevvy and bona manjarries (the mustard-infused artichoke hearts in Riesling, the traditional hot-smoked organic Cornish Pasties, the limited-edition kimchee Pringles) and how much the Homie Chavvy, Sparkle of the World, sets you back every bloody December.

You might like to troll over here and have a varda, an all. 



CJB said...

AAAHHH!!! Polari! Kenneth Williams and his friend Sandy. How long ago was that? Oy a person gets so old….
Love the Christmas Story, Polari-style and as I have said, many a time and oft, you are a gifted linguist etc.

Vilges Suola said...

Jules and Sandy were about 1968??? Bloody hell. I was only nine!

Anonymous said...

This is very good, but I can’t see Polari raising its head again in queer vernacular...

‘Hello, I’m Julian, this is my friend Sandy...’ Is a frequent phrase I hear on long car journeys, as I have lots of ‘Round the Horne’ recorded.

I am of an age when I can just remember some older gay-men speaking Polari – usually so we chickens wouldn’t understand them. Oddly enough one of the first times I heard it was at the Greyhound in Huddersfield – and the Woolpack in Rochdale – the latter is no more. Then I rejoice in difference, but now I have an ambivalence to membership of a subculture.

I was ever so pleased, a few weeks ago, when we had a heating engineer call and he said he would need drain the radiators and would need to go into our bedroom. It was early morning and my partner was still in bed. I told the heating engineer the room was occupied to which he replied: ‘Oh tell your wife just to pull the sheets up – I won’t look...’ I agreed to this and went to give his instructions to my ‘wife’.

A few minutes later, the engineer knocked on our bedroom door (I was downstairs, getting ready for work) and asked if he could come in. My ‘wife’ was in bed, just his bearded face sticking out of the covers. The engineer roared with laughter and said to us: ‘Never make assumptions...’.

I was rather chuffed – I now like being ordinary and fitting in. Indeed, during my doctoral research it was essential, if the African Christians at one of the faith-based places I researched had got a sniff of the fact I have a male partner, they would have closed ranks against me and I would have lost valuable access to data.

This is ironic, as in the 1980s, when I was fresh on the gay-scene in Manchester and its environs, I was outrageous - but no more so than many straights, as I was an ardent New Romantic: pancake slap and dyed and gelled hair... and I wondered why my dance card was so empty...

As Quentin Crisp noted, the culture of camp is fossilised - fixed sometime before 1926 and it has never really moved on. Yes, drag acts might be little more mucky than they were, but still the mannerisms remain the same – caricatures of women – perhaps even a cruel sleight against women, motivated by the impotence of many a gay man to get the man he really wants..? Polari likewise is now dead to all intents and purposes and if someone were to chat away using its words and grammar they would be regarded as either proof time travel is possible – a queen in aspic, dropped into the 21st century from sometime circa 1966; or a gay version of the morris dancer or crafts’ enthusiast: in love with a past that probably didn’t exist how we imagine it...

So for me, Polari is an interesting archaism - one I am not keen to revive.

Vilges Suola said...

I'm not being serious about reviving it. I don't think I have ever heard Polari spoken by anyone except once or twice as a joke. I just like languages and variations on languages and it seems a pity that so many people will never know it existed or why.

CJB said...

Vilges Suola End-of-Year Language Challenge. Write something in Polari as it would have been in Shakespeare's time.

Vilges Suola said...

Gloria’s bodkin, that were dowry acting dickey, and the parkering ninty on’t belike nought save lavs. An Your Paloneship hath gildy frocks, fantabulosa bevvy and dowry munjarlees to parker, so: else I’ll none on’t, and what bijou lavlets here lie screeved must needs suffice.

CJB said...

Terrific. Very envious, me. Have a cracking festiveness, Steve, and a rollocking 2015, if that's something you think might be quite nice.

Vilges Suola said...

Gramercies! And you!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is a case that all subcultures found their own ‘in-speak’.

In my role of palliative care social worker, I was chairing a hospital ward discharge meeting a few years ago. The patient was a 60 something Pakistani woman with no English, who had a nasty head and neck cancer – usually the preserve of smokers and drinkers, but in her case I think it was just bad luck! We were deciding whether she could go home to die or whether she should need to go to a nursing home. The woman’s daughter-in-law was a 2nd generation Pakistani woman, very Westernised and clearly the main breadwinner of the family; her husband, the patient’s son, was, like his mother, a first generation immigrant with poor English. Daughter-in-law and son were at the meeting along with a SHO (junior doctor), an occupational therapist (OT), a speech and language therapist and a senior nurse from the ward. I usually ask each professional in the room to give a précis of their involvement with the patient and their assessment of the patient’s needs on discharge. I started with the OT, who was newly qualified and not used to cancer care:

‘Mrs Khan has problems with her ADL and particularly care of her perineal areas...’ was her contribution. To which I feigned ignorance and asked her what she meant by ‘ADL’ = activities of daily living... and then I asked what she meant by perineal... she blushed, so I said to the family: she means your mother’s bum and private areas...

Obviously if the family hadn’t been present, we’d have all understood the professional ‘in-speak’ – but it is not appropriate when family members are present.

I find it interesting how professional terms are given curious verb forms – e.g. I noted when working at a hospice last year that the term NFR (not for resuscitation) was referred to thus :’Have you NFR’d the patient..?’ – i.e. has the doctor had a discussion with the patient about their NFR status.

‘In-speak’ is, I suppose, a manifestation of a separate, unique, culture.

Vilges Suola said...

An old school friend is now a doctor and he told me of the much discouraged but still used inspeak of doctors re patients. I was going to quote a few but I've lost the bloody e-mail. One I recall was 'plumbum oscillens', i.e., swinging the lead.


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