EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
COMPELLING PERSUASIONS – Jeff Tikari
MATES OF 58 – Peter Street
MIDWEST IN WONDERLAND (2) – Kayti Doolittle
THE KITCHEN OF EMOTIONS –Jack Smylie Wild
DOWN HOUSE – Dave Birtwistle
THE FESTIVAL OF THE OPPRESSED – Stefan Jaruzelski
MRS GAINES – Ken Champion
DAD’S DOG – Ken Champion
A VOID – Tanner
NIGHTINGALE – Brett Wilson
THE JAZZ BARONESS – Jim Burns
THE BIG KNIFE – Alexis Lykiard
BOLTON LION TAMER – Peter Street
THE ADOLFIANS –Tom Kilcourse
BIRKENHEAD ENGLAND – Kenn Taylor
CAR WASH – Nigel Ford
Wider still and wider. This issue has contributions from four exotic locales. Jeff Tikari worked on tea and coffee plantations in India and Papua New Guinea. His story is about rural superstition and extols brain-eating as an aid to mental development. Then there’s Kayti Doolittle from Kansas reporting on the scene in Thailand where the popular sport is a variety of ping-pong. Surely with the advent of 3D TV the time has come for this game to be included in the Olympics. I’d be a fan – and possibly there’d be a Wii version where you joined in with your own bat.
Scandinavia isn’t generally considered exotic but Danish TV crime series are changing that misapprehension – and helping pullover sales. I’ve described Nigel Ford’s strange stories as a Jacques Tati film scripted by Kafka. His latest concerns a car wash which insists on scrubbing the driver. We get an inkling where this might be taking place but have our expectations dashed by discovering it’s Polovia (no, not Pullovia – that’s Denmark). So lets say a Bergman film scripted by Larry David….but isn’t that Woody Allen? Oik film buff Alexis Lykiard would know.
The fourth exotic locale is…Liverpool. Even though I live within 20 miles of the place and have worked with scousers all my life I still find the place exotic. It’s not England, it’s not Ireland, it’s probably not even the world, it’s Liverpool. Thatcher couldn’t understand the place and condemned it, back in the eighties, to “managed decline”. The natives, however, refused to decline gracefully. Tanner’s vitriolic account of a dolie forced to work in a charity shop stands up with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (but much funnier). Kenn Taylor’s more measured account of “managed decline” tracks an oik’s disintegration through unemployment booze and drugs (the standard route). Our last major scouse epic was Ray Blyde’s account of life in the printing industry. That finished in issue 11 so it’s good to get an update from this exotic outpost.
A more overt madness is on offer from Brett Wilson who does a Lytton Strachey on the eminent Victorian Florence Nightingale. Dave Birtwistle scrutinises another great Victorian, Charles Darwin, and reveals he was a secret pisshead and nail straightener. I thought nail straightening began only in the 1940s when no oik household was without a jamjar full of rusting nails and screws but now we know different. Dawkins will no doubt be shaken by this. Tom Kilcourse, not normally known for surrealism (at least in this magazine) manages to offend both Muslims and Fascists (two categories conflated by the recently deceased Chris Hitchens) in his parable The Adolfians. The Seine valley – where Tom lives – is a long way from Toulouse so he’ll probably be OK. Finally Jaruzelski explains last years’ riots as a result of the dearth of decent copies of A la recherché du temps perdu in the shops. Er…well, up to a point Stefan. Jack Smylie Wild (Bob’s nephew who shares the Wildean family trait of remorseless wordplay) goes quite crazy in a writer’s restaurant.
More solid contributions include Ken Champion’s story Mrs Gaines (one of a series featuring psychoanalyst James Kent) and his fine poem Dad’s Dog with its useful annotations (if you’re ever dahn the east end at a dog track or ordering at a greasy spoon.) Peter Street, an oik poet from East Lancs, recalls an epiphany in the toilet (shades of Ulysses) and the sad fate of a braggart lion tamer in Bolton 1897.
The Oik also takes on the London Review of Books with an excursion into criticism. Jim Burns in progess to re-issue a lifetime’s essays on jazz, Beats and painters (three vols have already appeared) allows us to reprint his article on Baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild de Koenigswarter – no, don’t stop reading – this lady was a jazz nut who patronised the great Thelonious Monk. On film the poet and novelist Alexis Lykiard allows us to raid his great blog for crits on neglected b&w masterpieces. I can’t say I entirely concur with his enthusiasm for The Big Knife but he has a point and the film is well worth a look.