He saw a new rash break out on the scarred face of the city. Wherever the name of a gang was scribbled the words YA BASS was added. The application of the phrase caused some dispute at first. Nobody doubted YA BASS meant YOU BASTARDS. But the grammarians who discussed it were undecided about its vocative or apostrophic use. Some said COGS YA BASS meant O COGS! YOU ARE BASTARDS! Others said it meant WE ARE THE COGS, O YOU BASTARDS! A fifteen-year-old boy charged with assault and breach of the peace, and also with daubing TONGS YA BASS on a bus-shelter, said in court that YA BASS was an Italian phrase meaning FOR EVER. But the sheriff didn't believe him.
Some of the intelligentsia seemed to believe him.
Following a fashion, as the intelligentsia often do, they wrote the names of miscellaneous culture-heroes in public places and added YA BASS. Thus soon after the original examples of COGS YA BASS, TOI YA BASS, TONGS YA BASS, FLEET YA BASS, and so on, which were plastered all over the districts where those gangs lived, a secondary epidemic occurred on certain sites only. SHELLEY YA BASS suddenly appeared in the basement of the University Union. In a public convenience near the Mitchell Library MARX YA BASS was scrawled in one hand, LENIN YA BASS in another, and TROTSKY YA BASS in a third. When The Caretaker was put on at the King's Theatre PINTER YA BASS was pencilled on a poster in the foyer. BECKETT YA BASS, later and more familiarly SAM YA BASS, was scribbled on the wall of a public-house urinal near the Citizens' Theatre the week Happy Days was on. When the same theatre presented Ghosts somebody managed to write IBSEN YA BASS in large capitals on the staircase to the dress-circle.