THE ORIGINS OF THE PHRASE ‘PEEPING TOM’ (True)(‘ish)

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MAURICE COLLARUP INVESTIGATIONS

BACKLIT HOUSE

SHADOW LANE

SOHO

 

 

Leofric, Earl of Mercia,

Liveitup Hotel,

Costa del Sol,

Spain

 

22nd. December 1047

 

 

Dear Earl,

 

Thank you for your instructions in this matter. 

As you are aware the objective of our investigation has been to ascertain, in your absence abroad, whether or not your good wife Lady Godiva did accede to your wager that she ride the streets of Coventry naked. We understand that unless she did accede thus then you will refuse outright to reduce what she refers to as, ‘her husband’s oppressive taxation’ a taxation that, in her words causes the townsfolk to, ‘suffer grievously.’ 

In this regard we sent our most experienced operative Tom Voyeur to your city to conduct covert enquiries -fully aware that the Lady herself must not know you are ‘checking up’ on her at all. With the aid of a sonic listening device Tom was able to eavesdrop on conversations the good Lady was having with her handmaidens and servants.  From what we understand a plot was hatched whereby your wife would indeed ride through the city devoid of any and all clothing yet there was – and it may be important for you to know prior to reducing taxation upon the inhabitants – that she (i.e. Lady Godiva) choose to preserve her modesty by wearing an extremely long wig that covered her entire body. The effect of this was that it was, as Tom has reported, ‘Mattered neither here nor there as to whether she was clothed or not!’  Additionally, your staff were despatched from the castle grounds to travel far and wide across Coventry advising the residents that, during Lady Godiva’s horseback endeavours on their behalf in support of reduced taxation, that shutters to every property must be closed and that no person should even consider taking a sneaky glimpse at her on pain of an afternoon in the stocks for any who thought to breach this condition. 

And so it was that this very afternoon your wife took her ride. At this juncture and out of necessity Tom Voyeur was committed to stay hidden yet in order to verify that Lady Godiva had indeed taken said ride he obviously had to see for himself.  Disguised as a bale of straw he waited kerbside until she passed by. By way of what townsfolk are now referring to as an Act of God wretched Tom was struck blind the instance he saw the fair Lady!  Already he is, throughout the City of Coventry being referred to as ‘Peeping Tom’ – a nickname that has every chance of going ‘viral’ and being passed down from generation to generation. 

Plainly it is for you, and you alone, to take a view as to whether or not her actions do constitute acceptance of the wager. The citizens of your city, we understand, await your pronouncement with avid interest. 

We trust then that we have been of service and enclose a note of our charges – a little more than the hourly surveillance rate we had quoted at the outset. This is because, being an ‘Act of God’ the personal injury insurance policy we have in place for all field operatives is invalid.  Tom was, and we are sure you agree, applying his best endeavours on behalf of your good self at the time and the poor man does have a wife and 14 children to support. Clearly he is of no further use to our organisation. Should you have it in your heart to settle the account in full we assure you that all monies over and above the quotation will be given to Tom in his time of need. 

We leave the matter with you. 

Yours sincerely, 

Maurice Collarup

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