EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
THE COLOURS – Martin Keaveney
READING, RITING, RITHMATIC WET DREAMS (2) Ivan de Nemethy
TWO POEMS AND TWO HAIKU – Alexis Lykiard
SHAKESPEARE – Fred Whitehead
HANGING ALICE NUTTER – Keith Howden
A CUP OF COFFEE – Adam Kluger
AMERICA’S DREYFUS – Jim Burns
A CARELESS INTERLUDE – Tanner
THE PARABLES OF ITCH – Keith Howden
THE LEMOINE AFFAIR by SAINTE BEUVE – Marcel Proust
THE DAY SHE LEFT ME - Andrew Lee-Hart
A FEEL FOR WORDS (4) – David Birtwistle
RUSSIAN GIRL – Eric A. Buckley
ARTHUR’S PLATE – Mark Ward
AN OIK IN LOVE – Ron Horsefield
THE OU ADDICT – Bob Wild
What exactly is an Oik? Might you be one? If you’re worried there’s a complete definition from the OED on the website (Introduction) and Steve Bell’s great cartoon (Oiklet 27) but maybe the oik is like the unicorn – in the dictionary but actually a chimera. Steve latches on to the Bullingdon Club appropriation and recycles the notion that Osborne and Cameron poked fun at poor William Hague (a comprehensive school upstart from Rotherham) by calling him one. Now he’s Baron Hague of Richmond. Oik made good or traitor to his class?
Chimeras or not we have two good examples of oikitude in this issue. John Bratby might be considered an echt oik being a rude vulgarian who didn’t give a toss for the authorities. He was a dead ringer for Gulley Jimson , a bohemian low life painter in Joyce Cary’s 1950’s novels. Bratby did the pictures used in the film of 1956. A founder member of the Kitchen Sink school of art his first sale to the Tate gallery was Still Life with Chip Frier (he actually dropped dead on his doorstep on his way back from the chippy aged 64). John Russell, the Telegraph Art critic compared his cornflake packets with the Rokeby Venus (what Russell probably said was Bratby’s not fit to lick Velasquez’s boots – but that’s critics for you – anything to get noticed). JB faded somewhat with the rise of Pop Art and abstract expressionism but he remained popular with oiks and could be considered a few notches up on modern masters like Jack Vettriano.
Then there’s literature. You can have naïve art and naïve music but you can’t have naïve lit. People hang not only Bratbys on their walls but daubs by chimpanzees – then there’s artists like Pollock and Bacon who just throw paint on the canvas and hope something interesting emerges (and sometimes it does). And in music we learn that the greatest song writer since Schubert (according to highfalutin critic William Mann) Sir Paul McCartney, also painted by Bratby, couldn’t read or write a note. A real musician described the scene as Sir Paul “wrote” his oratorio “"When I say 'write'," my friend said, "I use the word very loosely. A whole army of people were flown out to his place, and found themselves staying up for 48 hours at a stretch while he wandered around, humming. It was their job to turn this total arse-dribble into a score for chorus and orchestra. He seemed quite pleased with it in the end. Of course, it's never been played since.” Yes, Sir Paul must be considered a contributor even if he couldn’t manage a Tannhauser or an Art of Fugue. Likewise Pollock and Bacon – the art resides to some degree in what they choose from the chaos (photography might be another such activity – aleotoric but not entirely worthless). Great word or what? – I found it by chance flipping through the OED.
But oik lit? Can there be such a thing? Naïve language isn’t up to it. There are no lucky hits in lit. Writers have to master that intractable instrument by reading and writing a lot. Nevertheless there are effusions of oikitude and the Crazy Oik happens across one every blue moon. In this issue we present An Oik in Love being a passionate outpouring to a lost inamorata. Yep, even oiks resort to words occasionally if only to insult the supporters of an opposing team. Other instances might be the funeral oration (followed by I Did It My Way) and inscriptions on gravestones where some truly barbaric yawp might get its lapidary immortality. Nowadays, of course, twitter and facebook are replete with such illiterate shite but the Crazy Oik’s mission is to select choice examples of the genre and enshrine them permanently in the decent obscurity of the literary magazine. And who knows what linguistic mutants will survive? It seems impossible to gainsay that “you know” has more than half its letters quite redundant and that our anonymous scribe’s “uno” is a distinct improvement.
Meanwhile in another part of the forest, we continue our series of Proust pastiches. The first on Flaubert appeared in Oik 15 and you should read that before tackling his pisstake of Sainte-Beuve. The great 19th C critic is in fact nitpicking at the Flaubert pastiche and adding his own blizzard of arcane namedropping references – yes all very complicated (you can see why nobody has ever translated these before). A good start on the background would be the Goncourt Journal – only 4500 pages. We plan to do Proust’s pastiche of Goncourt in a future issue.
Ken Clay April 2016