EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
IN BACON’S SHADOW – Jim Burns
THE NEW ENGLISH BIBLE – Archbishop Temple
BALLAD OF AVARICE – Alexis Lykiard
LOSING THE PLOT (2) – John Lee
SOMETHING AND NOTHING – Keith Howden
PALER HADES – Tanner
A GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS – Keith Howden
READING, RITING, RITHMATIC AND WET DREAMS (4) Ivan de Nemethy
PORTRAIT OF A SOAP-BOILER – Augustus John
HELLEFIELD – Mark Ward
KILLER (2) – Martin Keaveney
MANIFESTO – Andrew Darlington
FIRST NEW YORK POEM – Andrew Darlington
A FEEL FOR WORDS (6) – David Birtwistle
THAT KIND OF GUY –Adam Kluger
THE PRINTER’S DEVIL (2) – Bob Wild
NO MORE GROUNDHOG DAYS – Tom Kelly
BOGSVILLE-UP-MARKET –Tom Kilcourse
REMEMBERING JACK LINDSAY – Colin Huggett
MY MATE GORDON – Ron Horsefield
I had already a couple of issues of Cyril Connolly’s magazine Horizon which ran through 120 issues during the 1940s. Then, plonking about on the internet at abebooks.co.uk I came across another six for about a tenner. There are plenty out there going for about a fiver each. Or you can get the complete set for a mere £600. I was a great fan of Cyril as a young sprog and acquired most of his books. Handling the new finds I thought they were the quintessential little literary mag; about the same size and shape as the Oik with 70 pages instead of 100. What other resemblances do we detect? Well, Horizon was edited by Connolly – an Eton and Oxford educated fat, ugly toff with a Francophile bent. Since it came out during the war it also had a 1940s years-of-dearth air about it. Cy often whinged about not being in touch with la belle France. The Oik too has a 40s feel what with all those mangled Picture Post graphics and we too have a Francophile tendency on account of Ron Horsefield’s travelogues on Normandy not to mention his translations of Proust. And it looks like we shall also soon become disconnected from France. Horizon was admirably eclectic with articles of art, music, philosophy, science and the usual stories and poems. The Oik is eclectic too (a ragbag if you like) and although I haven’t been to Eton or Oxford I could get fat if I ate more. Ugly? – well, eye of the beholder etc.
A fine story by Denton Welch in issue 52 (April 1944) describes a gay time had by a 13 year old with an attractive stranger on the ski slopes while his older brother is away. The brother returns, enraged at the kid’s actions, and calls him a “harlot and a sod” words quite new to the kid. In issue 109 (January 1949) Master Misery appeared, considered by its author, Truman Capote, to be his finest short story. The chunk I extract for the Oik is a piece by Augustus John on a portrait of Lord Leverhulme. (see p 49). Up here in the North West this builder of the Lady Lever Gallery at Port Sunlight is considered the Lorenzo di Medici de nos jours. Surely not after this?
Yes, nostalgia can be what it used to be. If you don’t feel like actually buying back issues (they’re usually quite grubby and decrepit as you’d expect after 75 years) you can read the lot on line at the excellent http://www.unz.org/Pub/Horizon.
Ian Hamilton wrote a book The Little Magazines: A Study of Six Editors in which Horizon is dissected. His general intro reads:
'Why "little magazines"? No one has ever quite been sure where the term came from (though The Little Review has been suggested as a probable source) and it is not easy to define what credentials a magazine requires in order to fit into the genre. There have been large magazines with tiny circulations and there have been diminutive sheets which have reached thousands of readers. But all "little magazines" have been small in one or another of these ways, and usually in both. They have had small resources, small respect for the supposed mysteries of "how to run a business", small appeal outside a very small minority of readers.
'And yet most of them have had arrestingly large-scale ambitions, a deep sense of the unique importance of their task. They have usually felt that they were making points, supporting gifts, promoting tendencies which would otherwise have been fatally neglected. They have seen themselves as nurturing literary growth at a level subtler and more crucial than could ever be imagined by the commercial or "established" press. And here perhaps one can hazard a definition that will cover most of the whole field. The little magazine is one which exists, indeed thrives, outside the usual business structure of magazine production and distribution; it is independent, amateur and idealistic -- it doesn't (or, shall we say, feels that it shouldn't) need to print anything it doesn't want to print.'
Like my hypothetical resemblance to Cyril Connolly I find some points of resemblance to the Oik in this but deny any “large scale ambitions” or “a deep sense of unique importance” His last sentence is, however, spot on.
Yis, I’d like every oik to be as fat and well-fed as I am. None of that bread and dripping shite wot some soup kitchens dish out. No, it’ll be tournedos Rossini for any oik who can pronounce the dish accompanied by a Vosne Romanée Conti (also if the oik can say it proper and spell it with the accent in the right place). I realise these strictures may limit this largesse to the public school educated needy – but don’t forget there is a war on. If we went about handin out top nosh to illiterate riff raff there’s no telling wot it would lead to. The poor ignorant sods probably prefer bread an dripping anyway. And imagine the consequences of a govt lead by Atlee – har bleedin har! Doesn’t bear thinking about – and of course it’ll never happen.
Yis, it’s fat, well fed leaders of men wot we want – just like Churchill – wot a porker!. And as for marriage – well this sacrament needs updating too. You may be on the front line in the desert or in some dreary camp out in the wilds of Scotland while the missis is being rogered by some Yank darkie with a twelve inch dong so let’s get real – you’ve got urges too like most blokes so just go for it. Give the local scrubber a bit of the old pork sword or if there’s a nice clean recruit in the billet try it on with him – bisexuality will become the norm after my changes are instituted – I’ve bin a secret shirt-lifter myself since I was at Eton. Seventy years from now there’ll be overtly bisexual buggers in parliament openly flaunting their proclivities with Polish bum-boys and the like. Failing these options try a nice sheep or cow – they’re not dumb animals, they like it – in fact they’re gagging for it. Then, faute de mieux, there’s always onanism. Nowt wrong with that. The bible just warns about spillin your seed on the ground but be like the Pope. Yis, Pope Pius XII regularly bashes his beef bugle but keeps his ejaculate in a crystal reliquary which will be displayed in a niche in St Peter’s after his demise. Unbelievers will probably mistake this for a jumbo sized bottle of mayonnaise.
But ang on a minute I hear you say, - what about hell an all that? Well take it from me there’s no such thing – and I should know I’m the top dog on religion. And there’s no heaven either so keeping your todger in your pants will do you no good. Where do I get these revolutionary notions? I’ve bin reading the science sections in the Reader’s Digest and they confirm my conclusions. Darwin was right – we’re descended from monkeys and Bertrand Russell says the whole of Christianity is a load of bollocks (this is all in the Reader’s Digest).
I reckon we’ve been reading the gospels all wrong. Jezzer, to my mind, was really a top bloke who liked a booze up and consorted with loose women. Also his disciples were well dodgy – when Judas snogged Jez they thought nothing of it. And then when Pete got ratty he cut off some poor geezer’s ear – a right hooligan. So we’ve got to reassert them original oik values. Let’s get modern. There’ll be bars in every church and cubicles where you can take your girlfriend or simply retire for a quiet J Arthur. Most of them commandments are barmy anyway. Wot’s wrong with coveting the neighbours missis – especially if she’s well worth a portion – or his ox and his ass (that’s ass as in English, not American – but then again, see above). And why should you honour your mum and dad especially as the nasty old pisshead used to beat you black an blue when he came in from the pub? And Christ wot’s the world coming to if you can’t take the Lord’s name in vain when you trap your hand in a door? No, away with all that old shite. Bend them rules - flexit means flexit!