How the Yippo Lost His Name

Underneath the Bunker, god bless the little monster, has re-published yet another of my Greatest Novels reviews. Let us celebrate with a rendition of the Latvian national anthem. Dievs, svētī Latviju!…

Now let us pause to consider a question provoked by said review. Every other novelist to appear in my Greatest Novels List comes equipped with a full Christian name. Pyetr Turgidovsky, Koira Jupczek, Alexis Pathenikolides. Why then ‘Y Yippo’? Where is the rest of the man’s name?

This is a perfectly valuable, eminently worthy and adequately apposite query. It oozes with good intentions. It carries with it the sweet scent of common sense; the holy perfume of integrity. It demands to be pondered.

So ponder we shall. Perhaps we might even – dare I say it – venture an answer? An answer: oh yes! What a thing that is: an answer! What a thing indeed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world was as full of answers as it is of questions? Or would it? I know not… Nor do I know, alas, the answer to this particular question; at least, not an absolute answer. All I have is speculation: a nest of viperous rumours, vying for dominance.

There are, as ever, several schools of thought. The first is that Mr Y Yippo’s first name is just that: ‘Y’. Nicknames are the bane of many people’s lives; nevertheless, they are inevitable. People simply will shorten things. By all means call your child Persephone, Bartholomew or Maximilian, but don’t expect other people to do the same. Unless, of course, you decide to exercise some control on the situation. Knowing that people will only shorten the name, why not start short? Cut to the chase. Keep it brief.

‘Y’ it is, then. Or is it? A second school of thought has it that ‘Y’ is not, in fact, Mr Yippo’s full name, but the initial of a name he wishes to keep hidden. Perhaps he is embarrassed, or perhaps he simply wants to keep it to himself. I know not which. One cannot help but speculate, however, over the nature of this ‘hidden name’. Is it Yevgeny? Yanisin? Yeshaya? Yvonne? Perhaps he was named after a place or object: Yorkshire, Yoghurt, or Yellow? This could go for ever. Yacht? Yodel? My fancy leans towards the latter. Yodel Yippo. Could it be?

What possibilities, what possibilities – which leads us, of course, to the third school of thought: that Mr Yippo is a ringmaster, and we the circus ponies, merrily prancing around his pernicious puzzle. It will transpire, no doubt, that the man does indeed have a full, healthy Christian name, but that it doesn’t begin with a ‘Y’ at all. Maybe it doesn’t even end with a ‘Yippo’. Fabrication, all fabrication: one of many, so many, pseudonyms. Which leaves us with this question only: why choose this one in particular? Why ‘Y’?


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