Victorian Slang of the Week – Funking the Cobbler

Funking the cobbler – a kid’s trick involving the pungent spice asafoetida, also known as Devil’s Dung (nice). The spice was stuffed with cotton into a cow’s horn (everyone had a cow’s horn to hand in the nineteenth century), set alight, and the smoke blown through a keyhole or into the aforementioned cobbler’s stall.

In short, it’s an early kind of stinkbomb, perenially popular with schoolboys. I feel safe in this gender assumption having sat on a fair number of buses that have fallen victim to a gang of lads chucking a stinkbomb on just before the doors close, while we poor saps sit there choking for the rest of the journey. This is especially great if you’re pregnant and your sense of smell has basically become a superpower.

Grrrr! *shakes fist in the manner of an annoyed cobbler*


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