EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
WINE, WOMEN AND WORK – Alexis Lykiard
THE DUNGIAD - Keith Howden
NOTHING LIKE DYING – Keith Howden
KILLALA – Aubrey Malone
DESPERATE REMEDIES – Alexis Lykiard
CREATURE COMFORT Alexis Lykiard
AUTUMN MARVEL - Alexis Lykiard
NO DAWN YET - Alexis Lykiard
LAND OF NOD - Alexis Lykiard
THE SECRET WAR AGAINST THE ARTS – Jim Burns
A ROUND DOZEN – David Birstwistle
DONNITHORNE (2) – Andrew Lee Hart
ME AND LS LOWRY AT THE STONE GALLERY – Tom Kelly
ON TIME – John Lee
INTERNET BANKING – A COMMIE BOON – Ron Horsefield
SOCIOPATHIST – Tanner
THE CONFESSION (1) Bob Wild
RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS – Ken Champion
I ATE IT COLD (1) – Ivan de Nemethy
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – Nigel Ford
BERNARD AND BUKO
The centrepiece of Bernard van Orley’s great triptych The Virtue of Patience shows the unleashed forces of evil bringing down the palace. Those rich gits look quite shocked. But where are these unleashed forces today when you need them? Luther’s Diet of Worms took place in the same year and a few years after that the German Peasants’ revolt kicked off. Luther was agin that too and thought the ratty rustics should be shot like dogs. Destroying the Catholic church was, apparently, enough to be going on with. Now, exactly five hundred years later we’re still waiting for the rich gits’ comeuppance; but don’t hold your breath. The left panel showing Job losing his sheep farm is about where we are now.
But in another part of the forest Alexis Lykiard kindly allowed me to raid his website. I stumbled across a piece on Charles Bukowski. Buko was an archetypal little mag contributor and stayed loyal to the Black Sparrow Press, long after he became famous. Alexis considers his three novels Factotum, Post Office and Women. His piece appeared in Jim Burns’ magazine Palantir issue 19 in 1982. The mag ran from 1976 to 1983 – Jim edited Palantir from issue 3. The last issue was number 23. The odd example is still on offer for about a tenner at Abebooks, or if you’re a little mag nut you could get a batch of 13 for £50 from a dealer in Norfolk. Jim, no doubt, has a full set in the great library of Gatley. My modest hoard, courtesy of Alexis, amounts to 5 issues which I propose to turn into a website. I’m not a completist but like to reproduce a few to give the look and feel of these things. It’s a kind of literary archaeology.
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was a complete oik original, self-taught in the Los Angeles public library where he picked up Camus, Celine, Hamsun (yes Buko was bit of a Nazi and was born in Germany with a German mother). He latched onto the work of contemporaries like Hemingway, Dos Passos and John Fante. Alexis considers his three novels very droll. I’m inclined to agree recalling my first reading of Post Office about forty years ago. So I read it again – well not quite the hilarious gut buster I remembered with a hero locked into boozing, betting and bonking, (I find Tanner funnier these days) but I picked up on something deeper – a kind of authentic, anarchic stoicism in his contempt for the boss, the system, and his casual acceptance of rejection by society and transient girlfriends – when he gets dumped he simply puts his stuff in a bag and drives to a nearby rooming house. If not quite in the league of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius this book should be on the same shelf.
Henry Chinaski, his alter ego, works for eleven years in a boring Post Office hellhole. If Kafka had been a drunken, sex-obsessed race-track gambler Josef K would have looked like this. Alienation would be the common feature. Buko did three years in the PO so we can’t doubt his sociological observations. But unlike his hero, Buko had another dimension – he was driven to write like a madman even though isolated and neglected until Black Sparrow picked him up when he was in his forties. Inspiring or what?
Aubrey Malone is another Buko fan and has written two biographies: Bukowski (2018 an illustrated edition) and The Hunchback of East Hollywood (2003). Surely Bukowski must be considered the laureate and patron saint of neglected oik scribblers who, not unlike poor Job, was rescued from obscurity by a beneficent deity (John Martin of the Black Sparrow Press).
Ken Clay January 2021
With due deference to Alexander Pope
(Argument to Book the First)
The shallow antics of the man who brings
His fantasies to harm his underlings,
I sing. See how his mad mythologies advance,
Called to his seat by Brexit ignorance:
We by his clownishness deceived and curst,
Watch Dunce the Second reign like Dunce the First.
See how their blindness lulled us into sleep
And spread a darkness over land and deep.
In older times we heard this frightful tread
When Snatcher issued from the Gorgon’s head:
Greed and deceit undid our ancient right
Tempted by Grantham’s child of cash and night.
Then fate, to punish more, a fair idiot gave:
Gross as his mother, this performing knave,
Laborious, heavy and a charlatan
Who rules in anarchy a brainless clan.
His bag of clownish tricks and silly lies
Proclaim the truth that folly never dies.
Oh you, whatever quality you wear,
Intelligent or stupid, straight or queer:
Whether you search the Guardian’s sober air
Or scan the Telegraph, sex-scandal’s lair,
Consult the Times to weigh our Royal farce,
Or use the page to scarify your arse;
Or when the Antipodean sunlight comes
Manipulate your urge for breasts and bums;
Glean the Financial Times to check your pelf
Or merely seek enrichment for yourself
Within the halls where money makes its nest,
Join the massed ranks of gross self-interest.
Eton and Oxbridge set you on your feet
And wealthy mates will help you to a seat.
Here, the tin trumpets of a turgid band,
Great Bojo’s brazen, brainless brothers stand.
Within this bunch of avaricious farts
Are chaps who live by knowing untruth’s arts
And rich to start with, think it by their wits
They get to suck so hard at money’s tits.
Most find it difficult to understand
That honesty precludes the underhand.
Then, once inside the game of this recess
Slink to the Cabinet and join the mess
Of those who there aspire to higher office
Where dignity cedes place to greater profits.
To call a large majority a rump
Is strange but true since even Donald Trump
Might brighten its dull membership and sense
A moral desert, low intelligence.
Here contemplate a Chaos dark and deep
Where nameless Somethings in their causes sleep.
Principle snores where ignorance awakes
And ductile dullness new meanders takes….