- Paperback: 267 pages
- Publisher: Lotus; New edition edition (31 December 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8174364242
- ISBN-13: 978-8174364241
- Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,58,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Hack's Progress Paperback – 31 Dec 2005
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About the Author
Phillip Knightely is the author of many books, including The First Casualty, The Second Oldest Profession and Philby, KGB Masterspy. He divides his time between London, Bombay and Sydney.
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In 1954 he invented a story about a sex criminal known as the Hook who haunted the Sydney train network raising women’s skirts with a length of wire fashioned from an old coat hanger. “The wire ran over his right shoulder and down his coat sleeve where it stopped in a hook just short of the cuff. The Hook, while pretending to read a newspaper, would sidle alongside an attractive and unsuspecting girl as they stood in a crowded train, drop his shoulder to extend the hook which he would then slip under the girl’s skirt and surreptitiously raise it to look at her stocking tops.”
Knightley quoted an anonymous officer saying that suburban police had been inundated with complaints; an anonymous victim spoke of her resolution to avoid the trains until the pervert was caught; and a staff artist drew his impression of the Hook at work. Knightley’s editor approved the story, and it ran with the headline HOOK SEX PERVERT STRIKES AGAIN.
On Monday morning Knightley’s phone rang.
“Sergeant Williamson here. Did you write that stuff about the Hook?”
“Right. Well, I just want to thank you and let you know that we go the bastard this morning.”
“Yeah. Arrested him at Punchbowl station. Caught him in the act. You might want to write about it.”
“Thinking about it, as I still do from time to time, I came up with several explanations. Possibly a copycat had read the story, emulated the Hook, and got caught. Possibly a Hook had really existed who coincidentally matched Knightley’s story. Or possibly the Sydney police had nominated a minor sex offender as the Hook in order to polish its record. “I decided that the last explanation was the most likely and, filled with guilt, I swore that would be the first and last time I would ever make up a story."
A bit ruefully, Knightley adds: “This turned out to be a vow that was not easy to keep, because I soon fell in with the Fleet Street Royal press corps, which made up stories all the time.”
Altogether, a very fine autobiography filled with insights about the London press corps.
Robert C. Ross