Hi all just a quick update across all the socials. The final episode of the Batavia saga has been waylaid by needing to move home. The house I’ve been living at for close to 12 years has recently been sold, although I do have a new house to move to in the coming weeks.
I’ve got a couple of tales set up in reserve, for next week Tuesday, and the week following. I’ll let those drop as planned, so there is a possibility Batavia part 7 may release the same day as one, or even later.
In the meantime, a short tale for this week. As many of you may know the man in the main picture today (sorry email subscribers, I know main photos get lost) was Andrew Jackson. To anyone unsure of who he was, Jackson was the seventh president of the USA. He fought in the revolutionary war, and it’s sequel – the war of 1812 with great distinction. He was a lawyer and land speculator. As president he brought a dozen spittoons to the White House, and a giant wheel of cheese. He fought duels. He was also a monster, responsible for the deaths of a great many native Americans, but that is a tale for another day.
Today’s tale is about an African Grey just like this beautiful creature, below.
On winning the presidency in 1828 Andrew Jackson bought a companion for his wife Rachel; an African Grey parrot called Poll. He would be especially busy. Being relative political outsiders, Andrew worried his wife would be a fish out of water and need some company. Poor Rachel, heavily stressed from the brutal presidential race, would pass from a massive heart attack before her husband took office. President Jackson took on the rearing of Poll the parrot himself. Thinking it hilarious, he taught the young parrot to swear like a trooper.
Old Hickory would stay in office till 1837. He would pass on June 8th 1845 of dropsy and heart failure.
His funeral looked to be a dignified affair, that was until a lone voice reverberated from the back of the church. Someone was volubly swearing up a storm. Poll the parrot, visibly distressed at the gathering, was escorted from the church, all the while swearing up a blue streak.
Hi there folks thanks for liking the page. If you’re wondering where I’m up to, I do have scripts together for the first 4 months, at a podcast a fortnight… and a shortlist of ideas years long. I want to run these weekly, but need to stockpile a bunch of these scripts first.
When will the first podcast be? I have a Blue Yeti mic I bought a few months ago… it seems to hate Windows 10. As an ex lease laptop with Windows 7 costs about the same as the mic, I’m looking to pick one up on my next pay.
Show hosting? Well that’s the next stage. In the meantime I figured I’d start writing a weekly article up here, and drop these back to every other week once the podcasts start. Going on what a toastmasters for dummies site I found online says I’ve been writing the podcasts at around 3,500 words an episode… it’ll be nice to have an off week where I’m just doing a few hundred words on something else.
This week’s topic why O is for awesome and why that may be Ok.
So, New Zealanders will remember in the 1990s we had so many TV game shows, mostly borrowing from American formats. Kiwis may also remember the night -10th October 1992 – when Moana Robinson of New Plymouth swore at the television – no doubt till she was blue in the face. You see, non kiwis, Moana had been picked as an at home contestant on a celebrity episode of Wheel of Fortune. The prizes were great. A 2013 Dominion Post article listed a $4781 porcelain set, and a $36,000 Ford Telstar. Moana was represented by a young Commonwealth games bronze medallist, the boxer David ‘Terminator’ Tua.
Now I’m the last to criticize anyone’s performance on a game show- my experience on Mastermind was terrifying. You silently pick off all your opponents questions, but when the camera is on you, you do freeze a little…. well I did. David Tua had a shocker though! We might forget where, looking for the word Facelift, he asked to buy a vowel – then asked for P. What we do remember though was when he seemed to ask for an “O for Awesome”. Moana swore, her four kids probably swore, her brother swore -apparently – and at the end of the night all she had was a commemorative pen (I’m not sure if it was a nice pen but as of 2013 Moana still had it). Was Tua O for Awesome after that? A little embarrassed maybe, but it became a part of his story that he embraced. He had a licence plate O4OSUM made for his 1973 mini, though has always stated he said “O for (his friend) Orson”.
But, you see, – and let’s just put aside for a second he asked for a vowel, not a consonant – if David Tua said O for Awesome that is OK, cause we play a little fast and loose with language all the time – just look at the word OK.
In Boston, Massachusetts in 1838, a new fad was taking hold. I’m unsure if it was in response to one of Massachusetts’ greatest sons, Samuel Morse, developing the telegraph in the 1830s and 1840s, but Boston was crazy for abbreviating words at the time. The wealthier citizens of Boston, for example, became OFM, our first men. NG was no go, GT gone to Texas, and if something was no big deal it was SP, small potatoes. There was another trend at the time, ‘comic misspelling’ … well it was the 1830s, Americans had only just gotten their first dictionary of American English in 1828, written by Noah Webster. It had 212 new spellings of English words. If Webster could reinvent the language, why not some barfly in a Boston pub? All right became Oll Wright, abbreviated to OW in Boston. All correct became OK by the same process… Oll Korrect.
So why do we say OK now, but not OW? That comes down to the man in the third picture, the 8th President of America, Martin Van Buren. Van Buren, who lived in Kinderhook New York, ran in the 1840 election. His campaign slogan was “Vote for OK” standing for Old Kinderhook. It may have also been meant as a sly dig at his opponent, Andrew Jackson, who was really not a man of letters. This embedded OK in the wider public lexis.
Now OMG has an origin from before the internet too, Admiral Lord John Fisher first used the phrase in an 1917 letter to Winston Churchill; but the practice of abbreviating words, LOL, SMH, BRB, all began in the drinking holes of 1838 Boston.
This blog was originally posted to Tales of History and Imagination’s Facebook page, on 16th January 2019. Edited July 2020. Copyright Simone T Whitlow.