The Vulgar Tongue Show with Lee Crocker

Alan Dearling on a busy  afternoon/early evening in Manchester.

As planned, I met up with Bury/Manchester artist, Lee Crocker to take pics of him and his ‘Vulgar Tongue’ images/words as part of the strangely entitled: Sit Down & Get Out! The Trouble with “Polite Society” exhibition at the Portico Library and Gallery. This was during the pre-preview show for artists, and their friends and the great and the good (I guess!). The Portico is a magnificent space upstairs in the centre of Piccadilly. Here are a few samples of mostly Lee and his work, though his works are a part of the larger show.

One of Manchester’s longest-running institutions, the Portico is a subscription library and newsroom whose historic collection of over 25,000 books and archives spans over 450 years, housed in the beautiful Regency building, which is 215 years old

I was informed that, “The Portico Library was established by 400 founding subscribers in 1806, during Manchester’s emergence as ‘the first modern city’. Early readers and associates included world-famous authors, future Prime Ministers, leading scientists, and educators. Built with wealth derived from the Industrial Revolution, British empire-building, and colonial expansion, the Library amassed a collection that reflects the innovations, but also the exclusions and inequities of its time.

The Portico Library became a registered charity in 2017 and now plays a central role in Manchester’s cultural life and literary heritage. Working with our region’s diverse communities, we explore and confront the city’s complex histories through eclectic and imaginative events, exhibitions, and learning programmes. The prestigious Portico Prize promotes Northern writing and publishing, while the Portico Sadie Massey Awards nurture literacy and learning among young people.

The Portico continues to support its thriving and growing membership and welcomes the public and researchers for free, five days a week. It receives support from the National Lottery Community Fund, 42nd Street, John Rylands Research Institute and Library and Chetham’s Library.”


I was delighted to gain early access to the exhibition and indeed, some personal time with Lee Crocker.

I explained to him that I wanted to focus this review on images of his work at the Portico Gallery. Witty, a lovely mix of words and his illustrations of local ‘characters’ from the streets around Bury and Manchester. The outcome is a colourful melange or maybe it’s a meringue! Chaotic, and a Vulgar Tongue and Eye-full of Fabulousness.

Alan: “Great to catch up with you again, Lee. Rather than actually interviewing you, is it OK if I just use images from your Vulgar Tongue exhibition and words from the ‘Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue’ 1785-1823 compiled by Francis Grose and Pierce Egan in a new edition by Gannet Games, and available through Amazon 2021?” “Actually, I want to take the piss out of you a bit if that’s OK, using some of the words from the dictionary as a kicking off place.”

Lee: “Absolutely fine.”

Alan: “Here goes then with some definitions from the Vulgar Tongue dictionary:

I’ve just been down to the BOWSING-KEN – The ale or gin house, downstairs at The Bank pub below the Portico Gallery.

In the dictionary, your name is there: CROCKER – A foreteller of misfortune or accident.

I have to say you’re looking a bit SQUELCH-GUTTED – Having a prominent belly.

But, after the show, you might want to head out in search of a RUM DOXY – A fine wench.

However, look out for a THINGSTABLE – A policeman, avoiding the first syllable of constable – ‘Cunnus’ (Latin) – a nasty name for a nasty thing.

I also like these entries from the ‘Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue’:

NIGMENOG – A very silly fellow.

SPIFLICATE – To confound, silence or dumbfound.

MARINATED – Being transported to some foreign plantation.

MARPLOT – A spoil sport.

FLOGGING CULLY – An (old) debilitated lecher whose torpid powers require stimulating by flagellation.

MUTTON MONGER – A man addicted to wenching.”

Lee: “Great stuff – there are a lot of words you’ve found in the new compiled edition that were not in the original Francis Grose one.”

Alan: “Definitely not PC – politically correct – but great fun, methinks.”





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