Posted by David Styles on 16 May 2012 | 0 Comments
People are always asking about what it's like to be a cabbie and how we did "The Knowledge"; even Londoners ask and it would seem that the public's appetite for enquiring into our fellow jobs is undiminished. But no matter how unusual a London cabbie's profession might be, it is not comparable to some of the very strange ways that some individuals earn, or have earned, a living in the capital.
Take the Constable of the Tower of London who for 600 years has been officially authorised to extract a barrel of rum from any naval vessel using the river; any livestock falling from London Bridge, he has the right to claim as his own and should your pig stumble into his moat, he will charge you 4d, an old penny for each leg. One of his staff - The Ravenmaster - is charged with preventing the ravens from leaving the Tower, as tradition dictates that England's crown will fall should they so to do. An unlikely event as he rather cheats by clipping their wings.
James Donalson is commemorated by a 17th century memorial in St. Margaret Pattens Church, Rood Lane, in the City of London, as being the man who specialised in selecting spices - The City Garbler.
In the 1860s with London's population only at one third of today's size, 80,000 prostitutes touted for business giving the decade the nomenclature "the heyday of the whore." During the Profumo Affair, back in 1963, Harold Wilson was quoted as complaining of a society which pays a harlot 25 times as much as it pays its Prime Minister.
In the days when London's streets were not as clean as they are today, Lady Herb-Strewers were employed to scatter sweet-smelling petals wherever the monarch processed within the royal apartments as well as outside in the streets. Today the Fellowes family, which Julian Fellowes - Director of the movie Gosforth Park - is a member and can still claim that hereditary right on behalf of their eldest unmarried daughter to be the official lady herb-strewer.
Now replaced by machines Fluffers were employed for years on London's Underground to walk the tunnels each night collecting waste material, the largest component of this waste left behind by the passengers - human hair.