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The Peeping Tom

Over the weekend, I happened to hear George Formby’s When I’m Cleaning Windows play on the radio and was amused to think that the 1933 smash-hit about a Peeping Tom is still able to tickle my humour over 80 years since its release. 

However, it also got me thinking about how window cleaning has wrongly become associated with the slapstick voyeurism we see on our comedies. I suppose it was an easy target for Formby to use in his song…how many professions can claim to have an intimate view into our homes on a day-to-day basis? However, was he the first to make this connection or has this link between window cleaners and peeping Tom’s always been made?


Not so, we at Washforce argue! Indeed, after careful study of the scrolls of antiquity, we’re keen to finally divulge the truth… the first Peeping Tom was not in fact a window cleaner but ….are you ready for this…a tailor! Indeed, according to legend it was hapless Tom the Tailor of Coventry who sometime midway through the 11th century was tempted to strike a hole from a shutter and view the noblewoman Lady Godiva ride on horseback through the streets completely starkers! Contrary to your initial thoughts, Coventry wasn’t a nudist hotspot during Saxon times – Lady Godiva was riding naked for the rather more boring reason of a marital protest against her husband who had imposed a whopping great tax on the beleaguered townspeople. Either way, despite instructed the people of Coventry to bolt themselves in while she rode past, Peeping Tom couldn’t resist and was struck blind or dead as a result (the records get a bit hazy at this point!)


So we’re happy to say that it was Formby who dealt this completely unfounded stereotype to window cleaners that we in the industry are still typecast as today…if you ask us at Washforce, we’d advise taking a long hard look at your tailor…if Tom’s anything to go by, he may be doing the same to you when you’re not looking!