Posted by Brian from Shawnee on January 04, 2006
In Reply to: Fall asleep on a clothes line posted by James Briggs on January 04, 2006
: : 'I could fall asleep on a clothes line' or 'I could go to sleep on a clother line' is a phrase that I have used and I do, I think, sort of know the origin. Many years ago in hostels or places for the homeless one could lean on a clothes line to sleep?
: : What is the exact phrase as I can't find it anywhere and is this more or less the correct origin.
: I beleive that it just implies that someone is so tired that they could fall asleep anywhere, even a place as unstable and uncomfortable as a clothes line. The saying was certainly in established UK use when I was a boy - 60+ years ago!
Believe it or not, this has been discussed before! There were apparently places where indigent Londoners could sleep for 2p back in the 1930's, where they would sit on a bench and lean on a rope or clothes line. At 5 in the morning the "valet" would wake everybody up by cutting the rope. The link below provides details from George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.
See also: the meaning and origin of 'sleep on a clothesline'.