How it was
Watering the cracks in the monolith.
Do we need yet another literary magazine? They say the best reason for writing is that no one is writing the stuff you want to read. Well, maybe they are – but you’re just not getting to see it. Publishers grow ever larger but stay blinkered by blockbusters. Creative writing courses proliferate to squash talent into a commercial straitjacket. But there are cracks in the monolith. The internet and publishing-on-demand have changed the landscape since even TS Eliot, editing The Criterion, had to shake his begging bowl under some rich cow’s nose. Now you can put up a website for fifty quid and run a magazine with a subscribers’ list of one without filling the back bedroom with hundreds of unsold issues. Nobody’s going to go broke running a magazine these days and a potential readership of 1.5 billion awaits.
Unfortunately oikitude is a defining characteristic of our typical contributor. Crazy rich gits, like say Beckford, Firbank, or even Proust have the cash and the contacts to ensure they get into print. The Crazy Oik will change all that and give voice to the neglected and the uncommercial. Dig out that stuff you buried in a shoe box years ago. Even better –start writing again. We welcome material your old English teacher might hold at arm’s length saying “Ooo no! This won’t do!” We look for a spark of wit or weirdness. Are you a crazy oik or not? (See the OED definition below as a job description)
Depreciatory schoolboy word for a member of another school; an unpopular or disliked fellow-pupil. Also gen., an obnoxious or unpleasant person; in weakened senses, a ‘nit-wit', a ‘clot'. Hence
oikish a., unpleasant, crude;
oickman (see quot. 1925).
crazy oik (see quot 2009) A vulgar person of proletarian origins or sympathies who continues to write in spite of neglect and hostility from commercial publishers.
1925 Dict. Bootham Slang, Hoick,_spit. Oick,_to spit; abbreviated form of ‘oickman'. Oickman,_labourer, shopkeeper, etc.; also a disparaging term.
1933 A. G. Macdonell England, their England vi. 95 Those privately educated oicks are a pretty grisly set of oicks. Grocers' sons and oicks and what not.
1935 _N. Blake' Question of Proof x. 189 Smithers is such an oick.
1940 M. Marples Public School Slang 31 Oik, hoik: very widely used and of some age; at Cheltenham (1897) it meant simply a working man, but at Christ's Hospital (1885) it implied someone who spoke Cockney, and at Bootham (1925) someone who spoke with a Yorkshire accent.
1940 M. Dickens Mariana iv. 109 The old Oik mentioned it over a couple of whiskeys.
1946 G. Hackforth-Jones Sixteen Bells 260 Come to think of it he must have been a bit of an oik when he worked at Bullingham & Messer. That crack about long hair was well merited.
1957 F. King Widow i. v. 63 He and Cooper had fought a battle with three ‘oiks' - this was apparently school slang for the boys of the town.
1958 B. Goolden Ships of Youth vii. 162, I only need my cap on back to front to look the complete oick.
1959 W. Camp Ruling Passion xvi. 126 Who's that incredibly uncouth and oikish man?
1966 _K. Nicholson' Hook, Line & Sinker viii. 95 So glad you got here before the oicks.
1968 Melody Maker 30 Nov. 24/5 Old Stinks from the third stream said: ‘I say you oik, the Beach Boys latest is fab gear.'
1975 Listener 16 Jan. 83/1 The rigmarole about the flat was patent set-dressing, just to impress us oiks.
1975 Times 7 Aug. 7/7 His [sc. Oswald Mosley's] angels, a gang of gullible and bloodthirsty oiks_would come pretty far down the roster of hell's legions.
2009 The Crazy Oik Issue 1 Spring 2009 Crafty oiks, like Lord Sillitoe, learn to jump through the Ministry’s hoops but there’s also the crazy oik who just feels the urge to write. He doesn’t sign up for Professor Amis’s writing course at Manchester University (and he probably wouldn’t get in if he tried) but he just has to get that stuff on the page even if it finishes up in a shoebox in the wardrobe.