EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
NOT A FAMILY MAN – Tom Kilcourse
YEARS OF A BASEMENT Allan Edgar Pooe
NO ONE’S AUNT – Alexis Lykiard
DEVOTIONAL WORKS - Alexis Lykiard
VIAGGIO IN ITALIA - Alexis Lykiard
PLAIN TO THE GALLERY - Alexis Lykiard
A CHINESE VOYEUR REFLECTS ON THE PLEASURES
OF FORBIDDEN FRUIT - Alexis Lykiard
A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER – David Birtwistle
THE HIGGS BOSUN _ Dave Birtwistle
LAY PREACHER – Ken Champion
PASTRY – Ken Champion
THE PITY OF IT: HUBERT CRACKANTHORPE – Jim Burns
RADIO DEMONS – Muhammad Kheir
LOVE – Nigel Ford
GONE FISHING – Nigel Ford
THE ISLE OF FUCKING NOWHERE – John Lee
THAT’S ALL FOLKS – Dave Birtwistle
ONE BASTARD INTERLEWD – Tanner
RUSSIA AND RUSSITANIA – Alexis Lykiard
THE COURGETTE – Jack Smylie Wild
THE NEWS – Tanner
CHICKENS – Peter Street
ALIENS – Peter Street
WORTHLESS LIVES – S. Kadison
I once asked Tom Kilcourse if a story he written about an incestuous conjunction between two adolescent oiks was autobiographical. Later it occurred to me that this was a monstrous slander but Tom calmly pointed out that it wasn’t and that he’d got it out of the Manchester Evening News. The reader’s natural nosiness – or sticky-beaking as they say in Oz – inclines to such inquiries. An extreme position would be to consider all creative writing autobiographical. Well, up to a point; it should explore the author’s conflicts and anxieties but we’re pretty sure Dostoievsky never killed a pawnbroker, or that Nabokov wasn’t a paedophile, or that Thomas Hardy never sold his wife on the market (like our Tom he too got the story from the newspaper).
Tom describes such productions as “self indulgent exercises in nostalgia, of interest to nobody.” But he relents and has embarked on an autobiography which promises to slag off family life. The 1960’s guru and shrink Ronnie Laing thought something similar. Tom’s opening sentence could have been “All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” if it hadn’t been used already. Personally, call me a nosey git, I’d rather read such confessions than detective stories or sci-fi fantasies – the trick is to be honest and analytical. Not a lot to ask – just bare your soul, let it bleed, and even if the reader nods off you’ll feel better for it.
Other Oik contributors are obviously in this vein. I know John Lee’s account of National Service is true and am pretty sure that Allen Edgar Pooe is exorcising some workplace spectre. Tanner, Liverpool’s answer to Céline, is horribly veracious as is Nigel Ford in his poetry if not in his more arcane prose inventions. Ken Champion is the metropolitan psychologist James Kent but does he really meet these strange patients or are they projections of himself? And did a cockney yob really push a jack handle into his throat in a road rage barney? We want to know. I’m convinced too that the Arab experience is accurately reflected in the stories of Muhammed Kheir. Rowing back a bit from these certainties I’m less sure that Peter Street had his tea thrown out the window and am fairly certain S. Kadison hasn’t embezzled two million quid. I deduce that Dave Birtwistle yearns for the simple life of Walden pond but I know he doesn’t have a huge four by four or a Jag, or even an iPhone come to that.
And what does it all mean anyway? The great nineteenth century French critic Sainte Beuve made a reputation out of aligning the biographical data with the constructed masterpiece but if you look in the Pléiade catalogue today you’ll see that most of his crits are out of print - dead, bankrupt, epuisé. Proust thought he was a nosey sticky-beaker and wrote a whole book to prove it. And we know for certain that Proust, unlike his narrator Marcel, never had a girl locked up for years in his bedroom. But the impulse to sticky beak is still there – just how much of this stuff is true? And where do we find these riveting revelations now that the News of the World has been so cruelly taken from us? In the Oik perhaps?
Ken Clay July 2012
"A1" George Grosz