They’ll be after My Fair Lady next

A theatre company has been embroiled in a gentrification row after it announced a series of £55-a-head “immersive” Cockney-themed dinner parties to be held in a traditionally working-class area.

The firm apologised after it released promotional material that showed a cast of tracksuited characters, including a pregnant woman drinking and smoking and a tattooed man striking an aggressive pose, in a pub.

The Cockney’tivity Christmas dinners are scheduled to take place across three weeks in December in an “authentic Hackney boozer” in London’s East End. Attendees will get a three course meal and a “Cockney Christmas story” from the actors.

The company, Zebedee Productions, said it would be a “proper celebration of east London culture” and said many of the people involved had links to the East End. But critics pointed out the entry fee meant that, while local working-class people were being sent up, it was unlikely they would be able to afford to be in on the joke.

“The local people, they just get laughed at, they get joked at and there’s no respect there,” said Joe Ellis, who was born and grew up in the East End.

Josh Clarke, who helped run a campaign to gain asset of community value status for a local pub to save it from closure, said: “These establishments want to keep a certain kind of person out. There’s no one involved in that who said: ‘Let’s respect Cockney culture.’”

The traditional Cockney response to someone managing to get punters to pay £55 pounds for a £10 meal would be along the lines of giggling over that first half and half* and by the time the second was easing down formulating a plan to similarly fleece the mugs.

*Light and lager when I was serving bar out in Stratford, light and bitter by then being for the older crowd.

Perhaps Mr BiS, our expert on these matters, would care to comment?

24 thoughts on “They’ll be after My Fair Lady next”

  1. They used to say that no one ever lost money underestimating the taste of the American public – but in the UK it might be possible.

  2. I would wager that true Cockneys might be more offended by the fact that they have been ethnically cleansed from their home territory.

    I suppose at least some of the bugmen filth who would attend this event might actually be British.

  3. Paul Rain,

    The cockneys mostly weren’t ethnically cleansed – most were moved out in the slum clearances of the 50s and 60s (slum here being an odd choice of word for houses, the surviving representatives of which are worth the best part of half a million nowadays…). It’s why that branch of my family is now found in a semi-circle around east London, rather than on the Mile End Road. It was people of the same colour that done it in the name of social improvement – the same people that would like us to divide into separate little boxes on ‘ethnic’ lines so they can control us.

  4. “It was people of the same colour that done it in the name of social improvement”

    The London Overspill programme was a disaster for some towns in East Anglia. Breaking up functioning traditional communities to house them in poorly designed modern dwellings resulted in increased crime and family breakdown. Thetford, for example, is now a grim place to live.

  5. Don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone order a light ‘n lager. But Stratford. All sorts of disgusting things happen in Stratford.

  6. Wow. They really do know how to give themselves away don’t they.
    Can you imagine if they did this with some other “ethnic group”?
    I had to restrain myself from writing “wiv some uvver effnic group” there.
    I’ll get my coat.

  7. And re Paul Rain’s comment: The area that accredited Cockneys come from was always ethnicly diverse. One of my mates can trace his ancestry back to the Huguenots came over in Lizzie 1’s time. A girlfriend’s family were Russian Jews, fled the pogroms of the late C19th. It’s why genuine Cockney’s got so many bits of forrin’ in it. See if you can work out where “fiz” comes from.

  8. I was a little surprised this story got into a national newspaper. It’s a very local rag type story. On closer examination: a twist. You’d expect a hands akimbo type picture of the local campaigner outside the pub, but instead you get the publicity shots for the event.
    It’s hard to know what the problem is. There’s nothing wrong with the subject matter for entertainment. The popularity of Eastenders and Shameless prove that.

  9. TN scores.
    Bloke I went to school with had a boat of such outstanding ugliness, he could sour milk at twenty paces. Generally referred to as “The Fizog” or ” Fiz” to his…er….fiz.

  10. Fizz = physiognomy.

    Half-and-half here oop North tended to be light and bitter. A friend of mine reported that at the bar where he worked a common order was for “a pint, a pint of half-and-half, a half of half-and-half, and a half”. As the pumps were “metered dispense”, the only way to get a half of half-and-half was to pour a pint of half-and-half, and halve it.

  11. Light and lager? Mild and bitter maybe (half mild and half best bitter), light and bitter was also popular (best bitter with a bottle of light ale) and half and half (stout and ale). Am partial to the occasional Black Velvet myself.

    The Gudgeon family moved out during the 60s and 70s, to new towns such as Stevenage, and multiple points throughout Middlesex, Essex and Kent – although the Millennial generation appear to be returning.

  12. ‘We are not all benefit scrounging slobs going round saying ‘alright mate’ and talking in rhyming slang,” she said.’

    ‘Not all’ is comforting.

  13. I used to drink Brown & Mild, or alternatively, brown split. That was Up North in the 60s. 1/10d the combination. I think I was in the minority though. Haven’t drunk that for decades.

  14. Light+bitter was a boilermaker when I worked on the taps.

    Only because mild wasn’t available, though.

  15. @Paul Rain
    “bis: Nothing wrong with compatible diversity. ”

    Ethnically diverse doesn’t necessarily imply comfortably ethnically diverse. I know from my family history & remembering the way my grandparent’s generation spoke there was a considerable streak of anti-semitism. Couple of the uncles were quite keen on Moseley, before the war. And they regarded the Irish as little better than gypsies.
    But that’s normal. That’s the process by which communities become ethnically diverse. Initial distrust & revilement of the newcomers. Couple of generations down the line, the newcomers join in disparaging the next set of newcomers.
    The difference in the last few decades is the sheer scale of the numbers of newcomers. They’ve gone from being a minority to, in some areas, virtually a majority. Rather than adapt to the host community, they’ve displaced it.

  16. the only way to get a half of half-and-half was to pour a pint of half-and-half, and halve it.

    Didn’t anyone ask for the overflow, seeing as you would be chucking it away anyway?

    half and half (stout and ale)

    Isn’t that a Black and Tan?

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