Thursday, February 11, 2010

Defunct Occupations: Knocker-Upper


The term Knocker-Upper puts me in my mind of my 21 year old son, Tom. Not because he is the sire of numerous progeny but because of his sound sleeping. Tom would sleep through a nuclear explosion, which makes his morning rising a somewhat traumatic event within the domestic circle. Tom sets his alarm at half hourly intervals, commencing at 6.30am. The problem is that he does not hear it going off, although everyone else in the house does. The longer it goes without being answered, the progressively louder it bcomes. This gives rise to such shouts as “Thomas, sweetie, your alarm is going off” or “Goodness, what an annoying alarm.” What he needs is a Knocker-Upper.


A Knocker-up (sometimes known as a knocker-upper) was a profession in England and Ireland that started during and lasted well into the Industrial Revolution, before alarm clocks were affordable or reliable. A knocker-up's job was to rouse sleeping people so they could get to work on time. The knocker-up often used a long and light stick (often bamboo) to reach windows on higher floors. In return, the knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week for this job. The knocker-up would not leave a client's window until they were assured the client had been awoken.
Generally the job was carried out by elderly men and women but sometimes police constables supplemented their pay by performing the task during early morning patrols.
Knocker-Uppers were often employed by the local mills to wake their workers and ensure that the workers turned up on time. They were usually paid a penny a visit with up to 50 calls on a round, finishing at about 6.00am and then going home for some breakfast before heading off to their own day jobs.

Question:  Who knocked up the Knocker-Up?

Now excuse me, I have to go wake Tom..

Thomas..    Thomas..    Tom..    Tom..    Thomas..     TOM!!

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