The Alphabetlets

The plot is porridge – which is to say it thickens. Information recently received from a vaguely reliable source (step forward Jean-Pierre Sertin) appears to offer a whole new perspective on the Y Yippo affair (see here and here). And it goes a little something like this:

Two years ago Mr Sertin was at a literary festival in Lithuania, presenting a paper on the process of ‘literary intercutting’ (more on that soon). He gave his talk to a small crowd, amongst which he spotted what seemed to be a familiar face. Later on that day he spotted the same face. ‘Aren’t you Yippo, the writer?’ he asked the face in question. ‘I am indeed’ answered the face. Pleasantries followed, at the close of which Sertin thanked Yippo for attending his paper. ‘Thanks for your thanks,’ noted the novelist, ‘but I’m afraid to say I missed the event’. ‘Oh,’ said Sertin: ‘oh, of course’.

The next day Sertin bumped into Yippo again. Pleasantries followed, mingled with further confusion. Yippo was, Sertin recalled, a strange man: nothing if not forgetful. First he denied attending the talk, now he now denied having the conversation after the talk. He did so with perfect politeness, mind you, but the denials were nonetheless hurtful. ‘But I never met you yesterday. I’ve never seen you before,’ protested the man. Sertin could only smile.

That evening Sertin was pleased to be presented with an explanation. Yippo appeared once more; only this time he remembered him. ‘I heard you speak yesterday’, he said. ‘Oh yes?’ said Sertin, preparing to challenge him on the nature of his cruelly forgetful nature. Before he was able to do so, however, a couple of men appeared by Yippo’s side. The situation was at once resolved. Yippo was one of identical triplets.

One’s initial reaction to this story is that Sertin was blind drunk. On reflection, however, I am inclined to take his word. After all, does it not offer the best answer yet to the question of Y Yippo’s full first name? One of triplets, you say? That’ll be X, Y and Z Yippo, surely?


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