Nakers, not Knackers!
The English-Irish expression "hit in
the (k)nackers" (struck in the testicles) is thought to originate from the
tiny tunable medieval kettledrums called Nakers strung on waist belt
and lying roughly in the testicle region. Struck one handed with a
stick and if you missed.....
During the upsurge of interest in medieval music in the UK in the 60s I
was often out banging my Nakers.
In fact the situation got so serious
that after complaints from outraged listeners, the BBC Pronunciation
Department issued an edict to all announcers (Red Capitals said:
IMPORTANT PRONUNCIATION INSTRUCTION).
"Some pronunciation of the word Naker (a medieval percussion
instrument) has caused offence. Please note that the word should be
pronounced NAY-ker or NAY-kers with a considerable stress on the first
syllable. This instruction must be followed in any use of the word On
The BBC story is true, by the way. The late David Munrow loved to tell
it to anyone who had not already heard it. Which wasn't that many.
Alan M. Watkins
Ken Russell the famous film director for whom Munrow did some work (the Devils film) recalled in the BBC programme entitled Mr.Munrow, His Study on DM and the RAM collection that he jumped on the stage, and declared that he had the biggest pair of knackers in the room. The audience would laugh..and laugh even more when he explained what he really meant when displaying his nakers!
Alan Watkins also mentioned that he once saw DM playing a crumhorn, and recorder at the same time at a Xmas party...I seem to recall this little trick in a photo of DM in the Art of the Recorder.
Also, on the Memorial programme mention was made that he would ensure that everything would be ready for his concerts, and there would be no "cock ups" as he would put it!