Monday, March 3, 2014
Ever wanted to 'knock someone up' for a living?
I remember my early encounters with American-English with some amusement. Since I spoke (and largely still speak) English-English, some expressions (I learned) didn't translate very well. There was the time I said to an American lady, who wanted to see the sunrise from a well-known vantage point, "Sure, I'll come by and knock you up at 5.30 tomorrow morning." From the utter horror on her face, I deduced that to 'knock someone up' meant something a little different on this side of the Atlantic to what it implied on the other side (where it meant, and still means, to knock on the door, or telephone them, or attract their attention in some way). Her friends, giggling madly, had to explain what I'd apparently offered to do to her. I think she found it hard to believe my attempts to excuse myself . . .
Be that as it may, there's proof of my innocence at last! I knew that during World War II, one of the professions in demand among civilians was to be a 'knocker-up'. This person's job was literally to go around the streets, knocking on doors and windows to wake up workers for the early shift at war production plants. With so many men in the armed forces, women were hired for the job in unprecedented numbers.
In a fascinating photo essay titled '11 Jobs That No Longer Exist', Imgur includes pictures of actual 'knockers-up'. Here are two of them.
There are more photographs of long-extinct jobs at the link. Interesting viewing.
(And for the guys who thought the headline to this post meant I was offering a rather more interesting job opportunity . . . sorry, you're out of luck!)