Something has been troubling me about London’s Soho Square ever since I saw the musical “My Fair Lady.” The diminutive London park must indeed be a littered place.
Otherwise, why would Professor Higgins speak of the inhabitants “down in Soho Square, dropping H’s everywhere?” Litterbugging at its worst. Where can I locate these (in Professor Higgins’ words) “cold-blooded murderers of the English tongue?” I resolved to inspect Soho Square. Later I could pass by Hyde Park and open a drive to clean up Soho Square.
Imagine my surprise when I came upon a tidy little rectangle of green lawn shaded by stately sycamore trees and bounded on four sides by peaceful 19th-century architecture. The only litter in sight was a few fallen leaves.
I turned to an English gentleman walking his umbrella and inquired about the lost H’s.
“’Avn’t the foggiest, old chap,” he replied. “Aiches? What indeed is an aich? ’Avn’t ’eard ’ide nor ’air of them in years.”
The English are nothing if not accommodating, however. Somewhat like a bird watcher looking for an unknown species, my friend with the umbrella was willing to take up my quest.
“They may have migrated, you know,” he confided. “A lost syllable could be anywhere in the Isles, even Scotland. Missing consonants are much harder to find and could even migrate as far as New Zealand. In London, they could end up in ’aymarket, ’olborn, ’ammersmith or as far as ’amstead. Maybe they got mixed up with the Yank tourists at ’eathrow Airport.”
A thought hit me. "We need a detective like Sherlock…er...Sherlock ’olmes." At this point, however, I was seeing the futility of finding a single H in all of London. I told my friend that I would just as soon go to a pub and ponder the problem over a half-and-half.
“A what?” he inquired with a face that would shrivel a raisin.
“I’m sorry. I meant an arf-and-arf."
“Sporting,” he thundered. “You Americans are all right. Why you’re even beginning to speak English.”