Mark Ward’s piece
Growing Weed on Lord Clitheroe’s
Estate (p78) raises the question of English xenophobia which seems
to be the main driver of Brexit madness. The Oik might, at first sight,
seem provincially North West –
Mark Ward, Jim Burns, Keith Howden, Tanner, Bob Wild, Dave Birtwistle
and John Lee are all from the
North West. John now lives in
as a Bargain Loving Brit in the Sun when he’s not in his Perigord
bolt-hole dreaming of…Salford(?). Tanner, a Scouser has moved to
Brighton, a town often full of French tourists (if he wants
to have a natter with these exotics we suggest he checks our ad on p26).
Beyond these parochial boundaries
the Oik has distinctly xenophiliac tendencies. Ron Horsefield is always
banging on about
and has translated Proust and Leautaud for our long-suffering readers
(we just can’t stop the bugger – his wife Enid has done de Sponville and
Edouard Louis). Ivan de Nemethy is Hungarian and Alexis Lykiard is Greek
although both these writers came here as tots and could easily be
considered more English (products of Oxbridge etc) than the proletarian
editor of the Oik. Ivan’s house burned down recently and I wondered why
he didn’t sell the refurbished Hackney gaff and buy a castle in
Devon or the Yorkshire Dales. But he wasn’t having any of
that. He loves that cosmopolitan vibrancy and the fact that his street,
Evering Road, is known locally as Murder
Mile. A true xenophile.
Extending our metropolitan contingent we have
Ken Champion and Jeff Bell. Jeff is a Geordie expatriate in Dalston (but
has a house in France)
while Ken is a Londoner whose dad used to go to the dogs and knew how to
eat a jellied eel. Nigel Ford is also a southerner but has lived in Sweden since
1969 (I suppose somebody has to)
Then there’s the Irish, soon to become even more
foreign unfortunately. Aubrey Malone (Dublin) and Martin Keaveney (Claremorris).
Aubrey’s stories (most recently in
Ballina Stories and Poems)
evoke an exotic ambience of priest-haunted repression (Aubrey’s brother
is one although Aubrey himself is emancipated enough to have written a
biography of Bukowski). If Aubrey’s patch is a recognisable variant of
English provincial life Martin’s
The Rainy Day is almost another planet reminiscent of the great
Flann O’Brien whose fictional academic described a west coast recording
of a pig grunting as the finest Gaelic on record.
And this is just a survey of Issue 41. Earlier
we’ve had submissions from USA,
Egypt, Israel, India,
Czechoslovakia, Scotland, Northern
Ireland and a Russian living in England.
Let’s face it, even celebrate it, we’re all immigrants – just
like the weeds on Lord Clitheroe’s Estate.
Ken Clay Jan 2019
1. Team Photographs
George led me to the
wall where thirty one
photographs in black and white proposed
thirty one seasons of a side that never won
anything. Young and
brash, we colonised
in callow ranks athletically transfixed,
team without distinction. First, he stared,
not at myself but at Hugh
arms folded, head erect in an assured
self-confidence in some earlier team.
George spoke, voice loaded with
'You know the story, that man did me harm.'
He moved to point my later photograph -
'You're sitting where he sat.'
- struck visually
to shape our present quarrel. Seasons later, young,
I poised the same null landscape over me,
the slowly vitiating and
townscapes of a time and mood less innocent
than I or
our young faces had supposed.
Black and white stripes posed celluloid
Petrified, agonistic, we advertised
different seasons of a
side that never won
Upland behind us
the marches of a landscape I had known,
the blind and narrow
town under the moor,
the pattern of the mean, ascending streets
that fashioned us. George pointed Naylor
and myself, wearing
complicit in that landscape’s weather.