Saturday, August 03, 2013

I Get It! I Get It!

My friend Lee and I are always commenting on the fact that sometimes you see or hear something over and over and don't really get the "in joke" or reference until many weeks, months or even years later. For example, the newest Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream logo. I had looked it at dozens of times while driving by it before I saw that there was a "31" within the "BR". Very clever!

Also, many people don't know the puns of certain comic strip names, like "Andy Capp". This was a UK comic strip that ran in the US about a man who liked to frequent the pubs and was always drunk. It wasn't until later that I realized the pun of "handicap" for the strip's name. Ha ha ha! Again, very clever.

Here's an example that has taken me 30 years to realize. Some have figured it out much sooner than I after doing a cursory look in the Internet. In 1983, Paul McCartney released an album entitled "Pipes of Peace". On it, there's a song called "The Other Me". At the time, most US reviewers massacred the song's lyrics citing the line "and I acted like a dustbin lid" as a very poor example of lyric writing. I now realize that this was Cockney rhyming slang.

Granted, I live in the US and although a pretty good anglophile, I did not hear of Cockney rhyming slang until the third Austin Powers movie called "Goldmember" where Michael Caine, in portraying Austin's father, explained what Cockney rhyming slang was.

Today, I was watching "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin", a great UK comedy from 1976 that I've seen many times before, but never really "watched" it. I have purchased a number of DVD sets of various TV shows that I've liked over the years and now make it a point to really watch every episode and pay attention to them. I'm sure I saw the third episode of this series before, but never really paid attention what Reggie's grown son was saying.

In the episode, he spouts off some Cockney rhyming slang and says "dustbin lid". He explains that he meant "kid", referring to his sister's children in the episode. Ironically, way back when "The Other Me" came out, my friend Ed said that "and I acted like a little kid" would have been a much better line than "dustbin lid".

I always assumed that McCartney meant dustbin lid as being kind of "open and shut" like a dustbin lid. Obviously now, this is not the case. He was using Cockney rhyming slang and was meaning "little kid".

That is the frustrating thing about McCartney sometimes for us Yanks. He is so immersed in being English or British that he puts lyrics like that throughout his songs. Lennon and the rest really abandoned that practice, mainly because Lennon and Starr moved to the US and even Harrison spent an appreciable amount of time here (in Hawaii) in his retirement years. McCartney does own homes here, but he really likes to remain quintessentially British, and it is reflected in his work with and without The Beatles. And of course, he's the only Beatle that's been knighted.

How about you? Is there something that you saw many, many times that you now have just "got"? Please let me know. I'd be curious to know what other people think.