I'll be talking in Blackwells Newcastle today at six, and Blackwells Edinburgh tomorrow at six thirty. Also, The Horologicon has just been voted the Alternative Christmas Bestseller by independent bookshops. Here's a Telegraph article about it.
I have been learning the language of bookmakers, from a bookie. Well, to be honest, I've only been learning to count to ten. It's a curious counting system, which has a fair amount of backslang. Backslang is the old Victorian underworld system of slang that gave us the yob, or backwards boy. You get this with ruof, xis, neves and possibly tee aitch. Then there's the rhyming slang of cock and hen for ten. One is taken directly from the semaphore system used on the race course and actually said aloud as "top of the head", which seems rather cumbersome. And my informant has no idea about bottle or carpet.
1 Top of the head
2 A bottle
4 Ruof (pronounced rough)
6 Xis (pronounced exes)
7 Neves (pronounced nevers)
8 Tee Aitch (presumably back-slang from eight or THgie)
10 Cock and hen
The reason I note all this down is that, apparently, the language is dying. Moreover, it doesn't seem to have made it into the OED, with the exception of Neves, which is defined as obsolete criminal slang.
The Inky Fool was sure of backing a winner