Friday, November 20, 2009

The Prince's Word of the Day: Billingsgate

This one is a tricky little devil. I did not know it existed until I saw the e-mail this morning. Once again, the word is too cute by half.

Billingsgate is defined as "coarsely abusive, foul or profane language." Basically its shit talk. The kind you will hear while taking a leisurely stroll down any street in my humble little duchy. The name comes from a famed London market that was known for its fish and, apparently, verbal abuse.

My main question is how does a market get to be so popular when all the people working there are screaming profanities at you? It doesn't add up. That's why people like farmer's markets so much. Its nice and quiet and the people are usually pleasant and earthy. But this is the kind of earthy you like to associate with. Not the salt-of-the-earthy type of fisherman who will berate you if you inquire as to whether the tuna steaks were line-caught.

I guess a market like Billingsgate does have some cache to it. I saw on the Travel Channel that there was this joint in Chicago (I think) where people go after the bars let out. The people that work there have worked out a unique system for dealing with drunks. They just throw billingsgate at them while they're ordering in a preemptive strike. From what I saw it was really quite popular. The patrons show up and call the women working there bitches and stuff while ordering hot dogs. It's all in good fun though. As an added bonus, if you fill the special tip jar the one lady working there does something that they can't show on basic cable. I think it had to do with boobs.

I'm not sure that I would have frequented Billingsgate if I were a Londoner. I guess it depends on the freshness of the fish and the prices. Sometimes I just want to buy fish without leaving the market feeling worse about myself than when I went in. It doesn't seem like a place to take the kids. You've got to wonder about these guys. If they talk like longshoremen in public, what else would they do? Maybe slit your throat. Or maybe shanghai you onto their boat.

I don't think anyone wants to contemplate white slavery when they're picking out swordfish steaks for their BBQ.

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