12 December 2009
Spiv is a British term for a petty criminal, particularly popular during wartime and seeing a gentle decline in popularity since. The general image of a spiv is a flashy, well-dressed but somehow oily gentleman. Russell Brand has managed to turn Flash Harry into more of a Cockney dandy than a spiv, but if you go back to the original The Belles Of St Trinian's you'll see a perfect example of a spiv - a little pencil moustache, well-cut suit and a brightly-patterned tie, all set off with a rather dodgy hat.
Classic spiv activities include black marketeering, confidence trickery, illegal street trading; it's easy to see how these activities could have thrived in a post-war Britain, particularly as rationing came to an end and imported items became increasingly available.
Labels: the joy of words