EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
TOUCH - Andrew Lee-Hart
PORTOBELLO ROAD URCHIN (1) – Ivan de Nemethy
THREE POEMS – Alexis Lykiard
THE WAY WE WERE – Lynda Green
ALGER HISS, WHITTAKER CHAMBERS AND THE
NEWTON’S PRINCIPIA –John Lee
BARLOW: GULL – Keith Howden
BEHIND THE WHEEL – Tom Kilcourse
JOHNNY THE MOTH – Jeff Bell
FROM LEFTY FOR DEAD – Tanner
BLAKE AT THE WOMEN’S INSTITUTE - Keith Howden
THE NORTHERN MISTAKE (2) – S. Kadison
NEW ADAM CHRISTENS HIS WORLD _Keith Howden
THREE GO TO NORMANDY (2) – Ron Horsefield
THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME – Horace Higginbottom
REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE Ron Horsefield
One wonders if historians of the future will turn up Oik 23 to investigate the demise of socialism just as archaeologists might grub up the ground round Stonehenge trying to get info on the Druids. The object you hold in your hand will have long turned into dust but it’ll be archived on the internet by some autistic crank (just like I did the complete Voices – a working class precursor of the Oik which ran from 1972 – 1984). Jim Burns’ essay on Whittaker Chambers – a US writer and Commie renegade will be well known and available to scholars. But what about a parallel case; that of Harry Newton, another hard-line commie who is now thought to have been an MI5 agent spying on his comrades? John Lee, who knew Harry, explores this crux in an Oik exclusive. He doesn’t come to any firm conclusion but I get the impression Newton was a tub-thumping, self-dramatising seeker of notoriety who just wanted to get noticed, either by the Trotskyite left or MI5; a romantic, deluded demagogue – just another barmy epigone of Stalin, Hitler and Mao.
More serious revolutionaries like Robespierre and St Just are dealt with in Ron Horsefield’s account of a meeting with distinguished historian John Hardman. The title of his piece echoes Burke’s famous right wing rant. John Hardman is of that ilk and even glorifies that rabid Tory John Wilson Croker – the man who killed Keats. JH asserts that nothing great was written in the whole of the 18th century and then exalts Disraeli’s Conningsby in which Croker is portrayed – well, de gustibus…
Ron also continues to wander round Normandy with his lecherous brother Frank who is ever ready to pronounce any great artefact “shite” – except maybe a pint of Shires which he finds hard to come by in that benighted region.
More vitriol emanates from Keith Howden who is convinced the world is going to hell in a handcart. And it’s not just the Westminster Elite to recycle King Alex’s favourite bęte noire, it’s every fucker – even the Women’s Institute. His avatar the certified lunatic Birdy has got the right idea “language in a world that has no language makes us the miserable architects of our own ruin.”
We think autobiography is underrated and make no apologies for another three doses from Count de Nemethy, Tom Kilcourse and the great Tanner. Ivan is now a kid in the Portobello Road selling firewood with the pitch “Penny a tuppeny bundle!” Surely he should have finished up on Madison Avenue. He didn’t. I blame Oxford. It dawns on Tom that mining is dirty and dangerous so he packs it in for a job on the buses. But this too has its drawbacks. It’d be a great job if it wasn’t for the passengers. What next? Management consultancy? Tanner’s accounts may seem like the deranged fantasies of a drunken drug addled oik but I’m convinced every word is true. His book is still in limbo but surely every Lidl and Aldi should have a stack next to the till.
In spite of our preference for a wide-ranging eclecticism we make a nod to fiction with new contributor Andrew Lee-Hart’s story Touch and another instalment of S. Kadison’s The Northern Mistake. We hesitate to include Lynda Green’s snippet under this rubric. It does have a strangely authentic air, but I can’t believe girls in the 1960s took that kind of advice. The exact title and publication details are not available. It’s probably some ironic feminist diatribe with an intro by Germaine Greer. Get in touch if you recognise it.
A Church of England vicar, our Headmaster,
taught us Classics and Scripture - OT and NT.
I have described him elsewhere, sometimes recollect
his features, reflect on that baffling 'Leaver's Talk'
delivered in his study. He urged "Don't defile
the temple of your body. A good Christian won't."
Et cetera... How come I ended up an atheist?
Did I not muse upon "the dark lasts of the flush",
as a guest preacher sermonized one Sunday
in the nearby village church? Eversley, Hants,
was where Charles Kingsley in Victorian days
wrote worthy, edifying yarns for boys and girls —
Westward Ho!, The Water Babies — both were read
as moral works in post-war England. I preferred
Foxe's Book of Martyrs and The Lancashire
Witches, perplexing finds in the school library,
both weird and gruesome fare for the pubescent mind...
Kingsley, a rather complex country parson —
pedagogue, perhaps a closet paedophile — held
flagellant fantasies and may have mortified
that wayward flesh which we were cautioned to eschew.
'Muscular Christianity', the famous phrase
espoused by Anglicans and zealously applied
to children of the Forties, recognized that we,
like our fond parents, reckoned corporal punishment
could well discourage serious misbehaviour.
Our Saviour's own example, Bible-reading hours,
and decent manners, would prepare us best for life.
Matron — Miss Dobinson, gaunt and horse—faced (Dobbin
of course!), her grey hair in the neatest bun,
made sure we all stayed 'regular'. A tick or cross,
entered in her big black ledger every day,
judged whether any laxative would be required.
The constipated bowel might receive
a dose of Scott's Emulsion, Syrup of Figs,
or Milk of Magnesia — what a nauseous choice
was ours! No other female crossed our path
but the Headmaster's wife, elderly too.
Such was the healthy life, the rural setting
wondrously idyllic, where pine-wooded grounds
(with gumboots — never 'wellies' - quintessential)
had rhododendron, adders, easy trees to climb;
escape from cheerless Maths or morning prayers, PT
with star-jumps, stretches, running-on-the-spot! Our sweets
were strictly rationed though, as in the world outside:
eight items each, extracted from your Term's supply,
would be doled out twice weekly. Swaps took place —
Willem de Kooning Untitled 1957