|Littlejack, the man with the map. (by Ronald Searle)|
'The parrot's name is Magraw,' said Littlejack. ' There aint no O in that.'
Black stood up and smote the table with his fist. ' I'll get rid of O, in upper case and lower,' cried the man in black. 'I'll issue an edict. All words in books or signs with an O in them shall have the O erased or painted out. We'll print new books and paint new signs without an O in them.'
And so the locksmith became a lcksmith, and the bootmaker a btmaker, and people whispered like conspirators when they said the names. Loves Labours Lost and Mother Goose flattened out like a pricked balloon. Books were bks and Robin Hood was Rbinhd. Little Goody Two shoes lost her O's and so did Goldilocks, and the former became a whisper, and the latter sounded like a key jiggled in a clock. It was impossible to read 'cockadoodledoo' aloud and parents gave up reading to their children, and some gave up reading altogether, and their search for the precious jewels went on."
Hope, Love, Valour and Freedom! and a Happy New Year
The Wonderful O James Thurber
© the estate of James Thurber,
Ronald Searle illustration for Penguin Books