There are 126 languages officially spoken in our schools—but in reality the 127th, Cockney, is probably the biggest of all, even though it’s not on the census form.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining the Pearly Kings and Queens at the Carpenter’s Arms in Stepney to celebrate East End cockney heritage, and listen to them talking about the history of cockney rhyming slang.
The Pearlies are London’s other Royal Family. Their long coats lavishly decorated with buttons symbolise a long and rich tradition of raising money for charity, and they’re an important part of East End history.
Whilst Cockneys are famous for not suffering fools gladly, they’re also known as incredibly welcoming and inclusive bunch. I was born in Bangladesh, but came to Britain at the age of four and certainly consider myself to be an East Ender, and proud to be so.
With the Olympics, we are welcoming the world to East London and it’s a great opportunity to showcase everything this thriving area has to offer. As well as our businesses, our parks, our landmarks and our found, culture is an integral part of this, and cockney heritage is an integral part of our culture.
Let’s give the Olympics a proper East End welcome!