top of page

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 3 mars 2021

This morning at 7.32am, there was a knock on my door. It was not only too early, but also unexpected, and I mumbled ancient curses under my breath.

Yet, I was able to relieve DPD of the package and, now that we’ve decided all those signatures for delivery were a waste of time as we all knew but felt impotent to affect, send DPD away happily and swiftly.

But imagine the annoyance of Mrs Tottenham, who, at 5am, two-hundred-and-eleven years ago last week, opened the door to a chimney sweep who she had not requested the dawn company of. Having shooed him back from the door, she and her maid were astonished to receive eleven further sweeps, who all appeared to want to render her stacks clear and ready to draw smoke.

Though this turn of events was devilish perplexing to Mrs Tottenham and the staff, it was both a source of immense kudos, and hope for a bet well-won, for the man hiding across the road, and watching through the shutters of the house directly opposite 54 Berners Street, in London’s West End.

This man was Theodore Edward Hook, and he certainly lived a full life.

Born in the same year that the duplicitous Scot William ‘Deacon’ Brodie was being sought for the massive reward of thirty-thousand pounds in the 1788 equivalent, Hook was known as a ‘man of letters’, engaged in literary pursuits, like playwriting, composing, and corresponding.

His youth was spent studying at Harrow, then Oxford, and he was duly regarded as a genius for his ability to score an entire comic opera, The Soldier's Return, at the age of sixteen.

That penchant for improvisation and comedy doesn’t seem to have waned at all, as we find him crouching behind those shutters in Berners Street, watching the fervent activity.