EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
LOSING THE PLOT (1) – John Lee
FIVE POEMS & ONE HAIKU – Alexis Lykiard
READING, RITING, RITHMATIC WET DREAMS (3)
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE – Keith Howden
ELEGY IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD –Keith Howden
SOGGY – Tanner
THE MAESTRO IN SIX MOVEMENTS - Andrew Lee-Hart
THERE’S A LOT OF IT GOING AROUND -David Birtwistle
A MAN’S MAN – Keith Howden
IN THE YPG – Eric A. Buckley
TO THE POINT – Nigel Ford
HOW THEY SELL BOOKS IN FRANCE – Ron Horsefield
A FEEL FOR WORDS (5) – David Birtwistle
KILLER (1) – Martin Keaveney
THE CLEAR OUT – K. Taylor
THE LEGENDARY DETECTIVE– Jim Burns
ALL ACROSS TOWN – Adam Kluger
COME MINCING – Tanner
COLERIDGE STREET – Mark Ward
THE PRINTER’S DEVIL (1) – Bob Wild
THE SPOT – Nigel Ford
ARSEING ABOUT IN ARS – Ron Horsefield
From the outset I feel readers of a delicate disposition (yes, there are some who put on rubber gloves to open the Oik) should be warned about p83 which contains an account by Scouse laureate Tanner. In it he describes a hangover during which he vomits up his liver. How I larfed! And how right I was, I reflected, to reject my dad’s plan for me to become a doctor (the aspiration of most oik parents back then). Not that I was clever enough anyway but I see now that I probably would have been deficient in the bedside manner department. “Help me doctor I’ve vomited up me liver!” “Har! bleedin Har! You crazy bastard!” Tanner revises his self diagnosis when he notices several empty bottles of Nottingham red –an appellation I have not yet come across. I guess it’d be Chateau Clough – the one that did for the great football manager and pisshead.
But what this illustrates is the power of language. Céline, one of Tanner’s gods, is full of such stuff – high flown horror. Just cop his account of a rough channel crossing from Death on Credit (see the Crazy Oik website Oiklet 20). How I larfed at those poor sods honking up their guts – and maybe Céline did too – and he was a doctor. What we’re relishing is the power of language regardless of the substantive content.
My first intimations of this phenomenon were chunks of Shakespeare and Paradise Lost. These affected me in ways quite different from my habitual immersion in the Rover or later the Haynes Manual for the Ford Anglia. Shortly after that I came across Ulysses and was similarly transfixed. So I say, dear reader, if you’re not mysteriously moved by such texts then you’re reading the wrong mag. “Mysteriously” I say since, like me, it’s odds on you won’t know what the hell Shakespeare, Milton or Joyce are banging on about most of the time when you first read them. You’re responding to the medium, the power of language.
Art might be even more connected to such chthonic powers. What’s Pollock about? What’s Rothko about? Our cover artist Francis Bacon didn’t think much of either of these artists but seems similarly in thrall to the subterranean currents of creation as the article from MoMA illustrates. Bacon never had an art lesson in his life and lived in a London garret surrounded by a vast pile of rubbish comprising crumpled old photos and other visual triggers. His studio has been recreated in Dublin where he was born. (see back cover) He needed chaos to release the chthonic powers. It didn’t always work and he destroyed a great deal. “Chance” and “accident” frequently crop up in his accounts of his working methods – chthonic powers might just be a fancy label – but he knew good from bad and that was enough.
So give Tanner (and his fellow contributors) a chance. No, he didn’t honk up his liver, and probably didn’t even think he had. Just see if you can get a kick out of his use of language – as the poor derelict in his more measured piece Soggy puts it – see if you can ‘Borrow yer spark dere, lad?’
I awake on the landing, salty pube imbedded in my mummified bottom lip, and it’s sadly mine … I’m crawling to the bog on my hands and knees … I wince onto the cold seat … I’ve an outer-galactic turd burning throughout my innards towards my arsehole … I’m SCARED … I’ve barely started to force it out when my throat gets gagging … I’m sat there on the bog shivering, my head clucking … a big load of puke, ready to blow … what should I do first, shit or spew?
I get on the floor and stick my head in the toilet just as it implodes out my mouth like a sprinkler, ‘Gur-larrrrg!’ it slices my tonsils as it charges, ‘Gur-lar-lar-lar-larrrrg!’ this series of red hot snowballs pounding out from deep within my chest … Red? What the fuck, red? What I’d just puked, it’s red and lumpy … the seat’s doused in this burgundy goo, the bog water a cauldron of bubbling blood … ‘Am fuckin dyin!’ the red stuff drips off my tongue in burning curdles … then the guts begin PUNCHing at themselves again … ‘Oh dear Lady Moses above, fuck, fuck FUCK!’ I jump back on the seat … a mammoth log of raw fire charges at my a-hole, head butts its way out of me, ‘ARGH!’ I wail, bloodied with my legs aloft as this flamed alien rapes me from the inside-out, ‘NOOOOOO!’ I’m giving birth to a sloppy poker out my arse, it’s screaming forth into our dead dole world …
then it’s all over, I feel the tail flick out of me, its coarse journey done … I sit, panting … my insides desecrated
I daren’t look – but I have to – get on my shaking knees and peered down
There it is: a pink yam. A purple, half-deflated balloon. This soggy juicy thing, an organ … pulsating there, slowly sliding down into the bloody bubbling water, leaving a deep red smear behind … THAT had come out my body. WHAT had come out of my body, WHAT was THAT that I had just crapped? ‘Me appendix?’ I sob, jeans bunched around my ankles. ‘A kidney?’ hanging onto the toilet for my life, ‘Oh christ, me liver! It finally happened, I shat me liver out!’
My phone starts buzzing
I try to compose myself. Take deep breaths … my first telephone conversation as a man without a liver:
‘Uh.’ It hurts my bum to breathe.
‘This is Mr Hunter from yer job centre.’ Munter Hunter, a lumpy bag of Uncle Festering whose dewy neck flaps squirt onto my Jobseeker diary, rendering my fruitless job-hunting scrawls officially indecipherable tediously metaphorical, that.
‘Oooh,’ I start to weep once more, the tears salty in my scorched throat.
‘You were due down ere half an hour ago for yer review.’
‘We recently found you employment an your potential employment contract was terminated after just one shift. We need ter discuss with you the reasons fer this – it’s standard procedure …’
‘Excuse me, I turned up, I did me job! It was the bastard in charge, ee sent me away without explanation. S’like cherry pickin the dockers! I can’t elp it if society’s goin backwards …’
‘Yeah, that’s all very well an good, but this review’s necessary to the continuation of yer jobseeker’s allowance!’ he barks.
‘Meanin?’ I squeak, as my rectum belched itself.
‘Meanin yer don’t come in, we STOP yer allowance.’
‘Woe is me,’ I pat my buttocks with sorrow.
‘So if yer lucky, you can get down ere ASAP an we might just let yer do it before we close terday.’
‘I can’t. I really can’t.’
‘Oh yeah, why’s tha?’
‘I’ve passed me liver out,’ I sniff.
‘Um, Mr Francis?’
‘Just try an get ere soon as yer can if yer want yer dole,’ and he hangs up. I stumble around, arse heaving, mouth gasping … ‘I don’t wanna die in the job centre,’ I wheeze, ‘pooing meself away …’ a foot catches a bottle, it rolls under me, sends me flying backward I land on my back … the bottle rolls beside me. The label says it’s a fine European red blend, brewed in the luscious vineyards of Nottingham … there’s others like it strewn about the room, maybe five or six bottles of the stuff … that was some lonesome bender … all the bottles were red …
And over there, a cup lies on its side … thick brown sludge spilt out of it, crusting on the floor in a dark puddle, a fork embedded in the dry lump … beside a box of gravy …
Oh. Now I remember. All I had left to eat was the gravy. No wonder I was pumping lumps that was, what, the day before the day before yesterday? Dole Time is not like Time. And then I tore my way through all them bottles? … no wonder I had pink diarrhoea.
So I still have my liver. And I’m due down the job centre …
Francis Bacon's Studio