Mudcat Café message #2756801 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11034   Message #2756801
Posted By: Billy Weeks
31-Oct-09 - 02:21 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: One Two Three O'Lairy (Count Basie, 1940)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: One-Two-Three-O'Lairy (Count Basie 1940)
'Airey' is a London child's pronunciation of 'area'. In the days when ball games could still be played in the street - and where the street happened to be one with houses with basements (as many in the East End were, before the Blitz) - a ball that went 'down the airey' had to be retrieved by opening the gate and going down the narrow steps, risking the wrath of the occupants.

MtheGM's version was the usual form when I was a child in the 1930s, but I don't hear it much now. The aireys have nearly all gone and so have the safe, car-free streets in which children's games could be played.