Friday, December 31, 2010

China scenes and Cockney rhyming slang

Something that should have been noted but wasn't in yesterday's post on David Jones was the practice he quotes of referring to one's comrades as "china" -- apparently because "china plate" is rhyming slang for "mate." Though marvelous on its own terms in the context of a World War I book -- the fragility of china mirroring that of life etc. -- my enjoyment of it was somewhat heightened by association with the other "china plate / mate" scene in literature, viz. the bit in Wycherley's Country Wife where Horner mates with Lady Fidget while her husband is in the next room, under the pretext of showing her his collection of china.

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