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Letter From England: Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be

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In 1960 a new musical appeared on the London stage. Its title was 'Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be'. Not very good English. I know but then it was deliberately intended to depict life in East London where people spoke ‘Cockney’.. This is a particular brand of English where you change vowel sounds, forget all about grammar and show a complete disregard for what is known as Received Pronunciation, not the sort of English of course that we use on english.best
It all started as long ago as 1350 in East London where various traders and market stall holders used to shout out the names of the things they were selling. This way of speaking became a sort of secret language and they even used a special device called rhyming slang. So for example instead of saying - I’m going upstairs, you would say - I’m going up the apples and pears. But I’m wandering from the point and I should put the title of that musical in correct English - Things are not what they used to be. In other words - life has changed. And here in the UK in 2020 things have certainly done just that.
Let’s go back to 2016. The Prime Minister at the time felt that people in the country wanted to leave the European Union - a union of some 28 European countries, which Britain joined in 1973. To test the strength of that feeling he held a referendum. The result was 48% against and 52% for. This showed really that the country was split down the middle. And for the last three and a half years we have all been driven up the wall (made thoroughly annoyed and angry) by the endless discussions and debates about whether it was a good idea to leave or stay. As a result new words came into use. Brexit was the word to describe Britain leaving and those in favour of that were called Brexiteers and those against were called Remainers. The Brexiteers called Remainers ‘Remoaners’ because they always ‘moaned’ about (complained about) the very idea of leaving. A very boring time for most of us because every time you watched television news or listened to radio news, up popped the word ‘Brexit’ again and again and again. Just after the referendum the original Prime Minister decided to resign and run away from it all rather like a frightened rabbit. Incidentally he had a summer house built in the shape of a Gypsy (Traveller) caravan for around £25,00 (he is by the way a millionaire) so that sum is peanuts (little money) for him. He then left Parliament and then he hid in the caravan and wrote his memoires. This has been published but I am pleased to say that it’s not selling at all well. Then we had a General Election to elect a new Prime Minister, to replace the one in the Caravan. This one became the second woman Prime Minister in Britain, who had hoped to gain a large majority to be able to proceed with Brexit. Unfortunately she only ended up with a small overall majority. As a result she had a hard struggle to do anything because every time she proposed a plan to secure a deal for Brexit, she failed to get it passed in Parliament. The poor woman was so exhausted by all this trouble she decided to resign. Her Party was therefore obliged to find a new leader. More boredom for Joe Public (the average person) as we had to live through a sort of Beauty Contest to find the new leader and as a consequence the new Prime Minister as each of the six or so remaining Beauties paraded themselves on our television screens to show how they were the best choice. Mind you only paid up members of the current ruling political party, some 130,000 could vote. After several TV debates one man was chosen. And what do you think happened next? Yes, you’re right - another General Election. The new Prime Minister, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson found he too had a small majority and that’s why he plumped for (chose) the election. A man with a large name and an equally large ego then proceeded to bore poor old Joe Public with several weeks of electioneering. Johnson, not the brightest star in the firmament, used this time to make speeches of little substance but many sayings and slogans. Whenever he was asked a difficult question, he would resort to his favourite mantra - Let’s get Brexit done. This was repeated so often that you could hear small children chanting it without having a clue what it meant. Then came the day of the election, December 12. In the small hours of the following morning we learned that Boris Johnson had gained a thumping (huge} majority. To celebrate he has gone on holiday with his girlfriend to the private island of Mustique in the Caribbean. I should add that he is still married and currently in the process of divorcing. Perhaps now you understand what I meant when I said things were changing in the U.K.
Author: Alan Townend, UK