Sunday, 7 August 2011


'Tot' is a noun that means 'a small one' - it is usually used to indicate a small amount of alcoholic spirit or a child.

'Totting' is east End (of London) slang for the trade of a Rag & Bone man - a man who pushed his cart around the streets buying up old rags, bones and anything else people would sell to him.
The Rag and Bone Man is a champion of recycling - like scrap metal merchants - occupations with a dirty/sleazy reputation, but providing a valuable service. When I was a kid, the rag and bone man with his cart and horse, would come round the streets calling out "ragn-bone" and householders would offer anything that they no longer wanted, whatever condition. Bigger houses had better cast-offs, but they were less inclined to haggle and would often let stuff go for nowt - so good pickings there.

"Pickings" - that reminds me of other recyclers - rag and rope pickers - years ago, kids used to sort through rags for reusable material and unpick rope, so that the fibres could be re-used.

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