Berners Street Hoax of 1810

The real prankster is the guy who sold him that haircut.

The real prankster is the guy who sold him that haircut.

Playing a prank on someone should be a harmless jape that leaves both parties laughing and leaving on mutual terms, their friendship made ever stronger by the moment they just shared.

Note the use of the word “should” there, since not all pranks are mutual, take perhaps the most famous one of them all, the Berners Street Hoax of 1810. Theodore Hook while absentmindedly talking with a friend claimed that he could make any house in the entirety of London the talk of the town. His friend, rather than nodding along and secretly wishing Pokemon has already been invented, agreed to the idea.

Hook quickly set about sending out thousands of letters (by hand, since he wasn’t a time traveler) to dozens of businesses and dignitarie,s up to and including the mayor of freaking London himself, who amazingly, turned up along with 6 pianos, a dozen chimney sweeps and the archbishop of Canterbury.

But here’s the part you should be aware of, the owner of the house had no idea what was happening. They had half of London knock on their door, the majority of them demanding payment for hundreds of services they didn’t need, want or ask for. It’d be like if you ordered a pizza to your neighbor’s house then the owner knocked on their door with shotgun demanding they buy his restaurant. Hook and his friend watched the entire thing from a nearby house, no doubt laughing themselves silly. Neither saw any recompense for this mischief. Because really, all they did was ruin some poor person’s entire day and have half of London want to beat their skull flat with a broom.

Source. Source.

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