– Jim Burns
THREE U.S. ELECTIONS
PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS –
– Mark Ward
THE LAST CLOCKWORK WHIPPET ON THE
MOVING UP -
THE LAST MARSUPIAL WOLF –
THIS ACUTE CRUMBLING –
A FEEL FOR WORDS (7) –
THE DICK TEST –
IF THE PUMP DON’T WORK, DON’T VANDALISE
– Ron Horsefield
FATHERS AND SONS
– John Lee
THE PATENT OFFICE.
THE FIDDLERS ON THE ROOF –
THE REFRIGERATOR –Adam
THE SOMERSET BOOKBARN –
is on the way out what with ebooks etc but there are still active
bibliomanes (usually old farts) who feel anxious about a rapidly
diminishing resource – no, not the rest of their lives – bookshops.
We bookend this issue of the Oik with Jim Burns’ opening rhapsody on
international book hunting and end it, bathetically, with poor Ron
Horsefield’s account of the Somerset Bookbarn, a vast shed housing a
million books all one pound each. Ron, to give him credit, is aware
of the threatening mania “you’d
have to be mad not to check it out” he writes of the Bookbarn “Or,
then again, you’d have to be mad to be in here in the first place.”
Further hints of lunacy loom in Ron’s account of his philosophical
development. He probably thinks JL Austin’s introduction to glider
flying (see p 29) is perfectly sane but the expressions on the poor
cadets’ faces say it all. Would you want to be flying to
Berlin in a Lancaster with this bloke at the controls?
Another thing which
might be on the way out is Blackpool.
Now a squalid shithole – the last resort for dossers, druggies and
dolites - but back in the 50s it was an oik paradise as our photos
confirm. How smartly those oiks dressed back then; trilbies, ties,
jackets, proper shoes – no tee-shirts, shell-suits or trainers, no
baseball caps with a fake dog-turd on the peak and the legend
SHITHEAD – they were togged up fit for Covent Garden or the Wigmore
Hall. And indeed, as the Picture Post confirms, oiks were treated
back then to recitals of Schubert’s Winterreise on the South Pier
sung by Gracie Fields accompanied by Mrs Mills.
genius was George Formby; born in Wigan, lived in Warrington (where he is
buried alongside his dad) and finally finishing up very rich in
Lytham St Annes which, I believe, still has a certain cachet among
aspirant oiks. (Prestonians consider it the dog’s bollocks).
A recent TV documentary by Frank
Skinner revealed an army of GF admirers who meet up in the Imperial
Hotel to play their ukes in unison. Formby was undoubtedly a
virtuoso on the instrument (although I’m still searching for a
recording of him playing Mozart’s K652) and this, allied to his
coruscating double-entendres, justly propelled him to heights of
celebrity not repeated till the era of the Beatles. How oiks larfed
as he adverted to his little stick of Blackpool rock – a ditty so full of subversive menace that
the BBC banned it.
Another noted amenity was Yates’s Winelodge –
burned the ground in 2009 (probably by a Muslim terrorist) it was in
it’s heyday a superb melange of the Moulin Rouge and Les Deux
Magots. While wit and raconteur Frank Randle entertained his
acolytes with his dazzling repartee others of a more plebeian
inclination would dance the Hokey Cokey till the floorboards bounced
hard enough to eject their cargo of spittle and sawdust into the
smoke-filled air – a scene worthy of Lautrec. This is the shangri-la
the Crazy Oik seeks to recreate. To those who’ve never made the
pilgrimage excitedly seeking the first sight of the Tower from the
top deck of a red Lancashire United Transport bus one can only
The meals they
couldn’t sell usually
ended up on the ‘specials’ board:
from there – the soup.
The seats were tilted forward
so you didn’t linger too long
after your dinner,
and the fruit machine
paid in tokens
only be used on the premises.
Yet minor inconveniences aside,
for the price of a cup of tea
there was no better place to hang out.
A meeting place at the end
of the precinct: a
arranged, disputes resolved,
shopping lists ticked off.
People coursed through its aisles,
eddying round prams and trolleys,
crossing junctions in rows of Formica
could meet a girl; or maybe pick
up a bargain from Fred the Bag
on his round of
the pubs and cafes.
It was here I experimented with a
tablet in a vinegar bottle, and was amazed
to see it turn clear as water.
Clear as the memory
of how one day
the collective consciousness that
gravitates us towards a particular place,
waived; and I never went back.
George Formby entertains the troops