Fancy a slug of Vera Lynn? Not on your nelly
Use your loaf. Cockney rhyming slang evolved, so it’s said, so the costermongers and potato barkers of the traditional Victorian East End markets could trade chat without the punters catching their drift.
Such illicit rabbit was never meant to merge with the monied mainstream. And so it has proved.
A company tried to hawk its gin under the name Vera Lynn on account of the rhyming slang connection, but the lady – born in East Ham – was having none of it. Such bottle, was her riposte.
The centenarian singer, and forces’ sweetheart gained £1,800 in legal costs once it was determined that Halewood International could not trademark the sainted singer’s name.
The Dame argued she’d been using Vera Lynn as an unregistered trademark since 1939 and any unlicensed use might be considered endorsement.
Her legal team told trademark hearing officer Al Skilton, “Dame Vera is an extremely well-known singer and performer whose musical recordings and performances have been popular since the second world war.
“She is also very well-known for her charity work, including with ex-servicemen, disabled children and breast cancer.
“Well-known personalities are known to endorse products, there will inevitably be confusion that the opponent has endorsed the applicant’s products.”
Halewood was having none of it, outraging the known universe by suggesting that her name was better known as cockney rhyming slang for their product than as the moniker that kept our brave fighting lads tip-top and raring to go with heart-twanging ditties about the geological highlights of glorious Blighty’s mighty edge.
What was the verdict?
Ms Skilton supplied the tonic, saying “The applicant has failed to provide any evidence of the level of understanding of cockney rhyming slang in the UK, or anything to illustrate the level of awareness of the term Vera Lynn with reference to gin.
“The evidence falls a long way short of showing that the relevant public for alcoholic beverages will, on encountering ‘Vera Lynn’, see it as a rhyming slang reference for gin, rather than bringing to mind the entertainer Vera Lynn, who has been in the entertainment business for 84 years.”
Halewood International may still appeal the decision. Or, in Vera lingo, we’ll meet again.
9 other slangy celebs
- Tom Hanks – thanks
- Bernard Langher – banger
- Errol Flynn – chin
- Sean Ryder – cider
- Vincent Van Gogh – cough
- Jeremy Beadle – needle
- John Major – wager
- Billie Piper – windscreen wiper
- Calvin Klein – wine
Not on your nelly
Not on your nelly comes from Nelly Duff, which is rhyming slang for puff, an informal word for life. The name inspired a contemporary art gallery in Bethnal Green. No-one is quite certain of who Nelly Duff was but it is thought she might have been a fictional creation.