Monday, May 15, 2006

The Mystery of G.K.'s Weekly

[Reprinted from G.K.'s Weekly the week ending April 4, 1925]
From Notes and Queries of the later twentieth century.

The question of the meaning of the letters "G.K." on this rare and quaint old broadsheet have been much disputed. "Curious" will find the question discussed at length in Pillington's "The Alphabet of Industrial England." The view that the two initials stood for the "German Kaiser" is now generally abandoned; though Higgs points out that the German sovereign in question was an amateur in many of the arts, and was quite likely to have edited a literary paper all by himself; and that the contents of the paper show traces of the mental disturbance or weakness that is said to have been heriditary in his house.

It is now generally agreed that the monogram probably stands for the statement "God Knows," which was a ritual or religious reply common in the England of that time to a variety of questions affecting public life and private welfare. It can be ascertained from contemporary documents that questions such as "What will happen next?"--"What is the Protocol?"--"Where shall we get a house?"--"Why was Jinks knighted?"--"Who is playing with the bank rate?"--"What has become of the Navy?"--"What does this picture mean?"--"Who are the Slovenes?"--"Where will the income tax stop?"--"What on earth is to become of us?" and even "Is there a God?" were answered by this devout and dignified reply of "God Knows."

It is itself a sufficient proof of the passionate devotion to dogmatic theology that was the mark of the time, and a refutation of the idea that it was infected with scepticism. Various other theories, as that G.K. stood for Getting Kicked, Golfing Knickers, Going to the Kinema, General Kissing and Gratuitous Killing may be dismissed as most improbable. But a case may perhaps be made out for the theory recently advanced by Professor Pooter, that the Gin King, the celebrated bootlegger who became the richest man in the world by providing all the Prohibitionist countries with their chief article of consumption, conducted this organ in the interests of his immense business.

This, as the learned scholar truly remarks, would account both for the formal concealment of a formally illegal thing under initials, and for the actual ostentation and even vulgarity with which the initials are displayed. It has all the character of a brazen and accepted legal fiction. As to the notion that the personal initials of some obscure individual journalist, now forgotten, could ever have been counted sufficiently important for such a place, it is too absurd for discussion.

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