EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
ADVENT - Dave Birtwistle
OIKU: BOOKS DO FURNISH A ROOM – Ron Horsefield
MARMOREAL HORNBAGS OF FRANCE No 1 – Ron Horsefield
THE PROBLEM OF AUTHENTICITY – Rosemary Evans
POISONING FOR BEGINNERS – John Royson
THREE POEMS – Bette Braka
THE BRIEFEST KISS – Tom Kilcourse
ARAB QUIRKS – Ron Horsefield
VICTORIAN REVERIE – Brett Wilson
12 OIKUS: OUR ERNIE – Bob Wild
UNCLE BOB – Bob Wild
CYCLE TOURING IN FRANCE : DAY TWO –Ken Clay
MY LIFE IN PRINT CHAPTER 8 – Ray Blyde
OIK EGGHEAD NEARLY POPS CLOGS – Kevin Bludger
COLIN AND DAVE HAVE A GO – Brett Wilson
OIKUS – Dave Birtwistle & Horace Dilnut
JOE – Ray Blyde
OIKUS: Horace Dilnutt – Bob Wild
THE BEST JOB I EVER HAD – Kevin Bludger
SMIRNOFF AND LIME & OIKU – Joe McCarthy
GOING EQUIPPED – Gilbert Harrington
NOBODY HOME – Colin Wilson
BRADDOCK GOES TO OXFORD –
SMALL BOOKQUAKE IN UK : NOT MANY DEAD
The Oik now has a website at www.crazyoik.co.uk. So what? - those of us who prefer the book (and I am one of them) might say. Yet it seems a necessary addition these days and the symbiotic benefits are obvious. This quote from the website intro might explain how the computer is changing the literary landscape:
Do we need yet another literary magazine? They say the best reason for writing is that no one is writing the stuff you want to read. Well, maybe they are – but you’re just not getting to see it. Publishers grow ever larger but stay blinkered by blockbusters. Creative writing courses proliferate to squash talent into a commercial straitjacket. But there are cracks in the monolith. The internet and publishing-on-demand have changed the landscape since even TS Eliot, editing The Criterion, had to shake his begging bowl under some rich cow’s nose. Now you can put up a website for fifty quid and run a magazine with a subscribers’ list of one without filling the back bedroom with hundreds of unsold issues. Nobody’s going to go broke running a magazine these days and a potential readership of 1.5 billion awaits.
Unfortunately oikitude is a defining characteristic of our typical contributor. Crazy rich gits, like say Beckford, Firbank, or even Proust have the cash and the contacts to ensure they get into print. The Crazy Oik will change all that and give voice to the neglected and the uncommercial. Dig out that stuff you buried in a shoe box years ago. Even better –start writing again. We welcome material your old English teacher might hold at arm’s length saying “Ooo no! This won’t do!” We look for a spark of wit or weirdness. Are you a crazy oik or not? See the OED definition on p97 if you want a job description.
We might add to this bookquake the disappearance of Borders which sank last month taking 180 pounds’ worth of Bob Wild’s Dogs of War. Well good riddance to the greedy sods – Bob’s 50P cut on a £10 book was a disgrace. But Waterstone’s and Amazon are just as rapacious. Writers should get together to cut out these parasites. Book production technology has changed utterly (see above). How does Crazy Oik Publications sound?
But money isn’t everything. Ron Horsefield announces some recognition by the Sarkozy govt. Specifically the mayor of Fecamp invites Ron to an initiation ceremony following his recent visit to the town (see back cover). On a day when the distillery will be closed Ron will have to dress in a frock and eat a boiled pig’s ear in the town square. “Are you sure this is fame at last Ron?” I say, “the scroll quite clearly indicates that you will become a member of the Legion d’Horreur”.
We welcome Kevin Bludger to our ranks and wonder if some kind of lexicon would be helpful. On second thoughts we think “cracking a fat, strangling a darkie, turd burglars and the furry hoop” are better left in the decent obscurity of the colonial demotic.
Jaruzelski adds the second panel to his diptych celebrating oik comic heroes (see also Biggles Pulls it Off in Oik 2). Odd that his usual prose style, a fractured sub-Conradian pidgin should become fluently mimetic in these bizarre pastiches. But, of course, his daughter’s flat in Greek street had little else in the way of reading matter.
Bette Braka self-deprecatingly refers to her stuff as “doggerel” well maybe it is – but funny with it.
Finally we draw attention to two harrowing accounts of young oikitude in Ray Blyde’s description of his father’s death and Tom Kilcourse’s tough childhood after the death on his grandmother. You can’t be larfin all the time can you? Especially at Christmas when we mourn the death of our Lord Jesus. Er…I have just checked on Google and find that Christmas actually celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus. Well, who’d have thought it? The internet eh!? Just like I was saying - invaluable innit?!
We were in Troyes, Enid and I, strolling back from the cathedral St Pierre et St Paul. I generally admire the gothic but so many of these monuments, with their cold, gloomy birdshit-spattered interiors inhabited by soutane-shrouded paedophiles, are not exactly welcoming. I asked Enid, to whom I defer in matters architectural, if there were any more glamorous ecclesiastical buildings, say, with a touch of Art Deco. I imagined that black lunatic, the Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic, the geezer who kept his enemies’ body parts in the fridge in case he felt like a snack, had built such a temple in the capital Bangui. Enid told me he did plan one bigger than St Peter’s but the existing cathedral was in fact a quite non-descript edifice resembling a red brick shithouse. Bo’s palace, 80 kilometers out of town, did have Art Deco features, pink beds, gold plated baths etc but was now a rat infested ruin. The best example of gothic chic she could think of was the cathedral of St Eustache in Paris, which she pronounced ‘a decadent melange of renaissance tat.’
“Or,” she added, “the Gaumont at Catford. That was an art deco temple we used to worship at Ron”.
“Yis gel!” I replied “Wot times we’ve ad there on them back row seats, the doubles without an armrest in the middle!”
“Indeed Ron” she added frostily “I can’t, even now, watch Citizen Kane without discordant memories of your fervid gropings”
Then suddenly, as we rounded a corner in the gardens of the Prefecture, I saw it. Swiftly covering Enid’s eyes I ejaculated:
“Cor luvva duck! Avert your gaze Enid! We must take another path!”
“Wot the fuck Ron!?” she yelled, snatching my hand away – and then she saw it too. Against the dark green hedge, in the blazing sun, reared up (in a manner of speaking) the huge marble arse of Le rapt du boucher by Auguste Sucheter.
“Jeezus Christ almighty!” I railed, quickly slipping into feminist mode, a survival tactic I use sometimes to head off Enid’s tirades: “Such a disgusting presentation of women’s bodies as pleasure object is a typically Belle Époque trope which can only revolt the modern viewer”. We hurried back to our hotel – Enid angry and flushed.
After she’d settled down with some mad rant by that egregious Greer woman I said, as casually as possible:
“Just nippin out for some Gauloises luv – might have a snifter in that bar on the way back” She glowered over her book:
“Don’t be late. We’re booked into that posh place off the square”.
“No dear” I furtively scooped up my camera under a Figaro and headed back to the Prefecture gardens. The arse was drawing me back as the moon tugs at the sea. As I approached I noticed, in the background on a bench, a corpulent old bloke. His battered face was half hidden under a broad brimmed leather hat. He wore khaki shorts, sandals and a filthy tee shirt marked BONDI.
“G’day sport! Quite a backside innit?” He’d obviously sussed I was English in spite of my best efforts to look like a Frog intellectual. I suppose my M&S shirt, still pleated out of the box, chinos and deck shoes are hardly the attire of a professor on his way to the faculty.
“Yes” I replied “She does have a certain je ne sais quoi” and then I noticed, poking out of his pocket, the familiar blue cover of The Crazy Oik 2. “The Oik!” I stammered “Where did you get that?”
“The library at Time Magazine. I only bother with the Oik and the Burlington these days. How do you know the Oik.”
“I write for it” I blurted “I’m the French cultural commentator Ron Horsefield”
“Well bugger me!” he croaked “What a stroke of luck! I admired your report on the palace at Fontainbleau – and your comments on Jap films were spot on. I have, however, not yet tracked down the poet Steve Marmalade.”
“And you are?”
“I’m the Oz art critic Robert Hughes.” Bob, as I quickly came to call him, then launched on a monologue about the statue which I shall attempt to reproduce.
“This sculptor is quite obscure Ron. If you Google ‘Auguste Sucheter’ you’ll get only one hit – and there aren’t many things you can say that about. It’s called le rapt du boucher which English monoglots might guess is “a package from the butchers” but it’s not a load of tripe - rapt means abduction, not rape, and boucher can mean brute, oik, yob as well as butcher. It was put up in 1903. What a period Ron! La Belle Epoque! And what floosies they carved and painted! I think you could do a series for the Oik entitled Marmoreal Hornbags of France. The place is full of ‘em. And they look so natural and real. Imagine you’re in some provincial patisserie when in rushes a young housewife who, absentmindedly in her haste, has forgotten to put clothes on. She bends over the counter to select a tarte au pomme. That’s what you’d see.” He waved at the statue. “Astonishingly realistic. Not that monumental old Greek shite – girls with no heads or arms – although that’d have its advantages – they couldn’t push you off and there’d be no endless rabbit afterwards. Women’s bodies don’t change of course but look at how representations change. Think of the transitions from Cranach, to Rubens, to Boucher, to Ingres to Manet. Hegel says in his Aesthetics that hornbags are as distinctive a product of the zeitgeist as any other cultural artefact – crinolines, cutlery, cravats. The rapt du boucher stood here till 1941 when the Germans pinched it and melted it down. I mean, what sacrilege! Who’d prefer a U boat bulkhead or a field gun wheel bearing to that? That’s what the guide books say but I think Goering had it shipped back to his Schwarzwald hunting lodge. Then after the war they copied it in marble and put it back. The only critique I’ve come across is in a little reported lecture by Sir Kenneth Clark on the female nude given at the Moonee Ponds Fine Art College in 1953. I translated it into Australian and it appeared in the Sydney Herald in 1982.” Bob handed over a crumpled Xerox from which I print an extract below. “And before you go Ron – take a picture of me next to the arse. It’ll look good in the Oik don’t you think?”
His translation of Lord Clark’s lecture ends as follows:
“Sucheter must have known some grade one bonzer hornbags if this little sheila is anything to go by. What a fundament! I can only pronounce it most agreeable. It doesn’t have the exaggeratedly steatopygous form of your chocolate coloured cutie but it does, in its well-proportioned white marble perfection give one, to use a phrase reminiscent of the late Bernard Berenson, the horn. Yes, I defy any viewer who is not an unreconstructed turd-burglar to look at this and not feel Perce coming out of his overcoat.”
Inspired by this chance meeting I returned to the hotel.
“You’ve been a long time” said Enid, absorbed now in some Yank lesbian nonsense. “Meet anyone out there? Not bin back to that statue have you?” The questions seemed freighted with menace.
“No dear. Just ran into some fat Aussie git who wondered where he could get an ice cold VB”
In the restaurant, since the conversation seemed to be circulating dangerously round hornbag representations I abandoned my feeble and somewhat hypocritical defensive strategies and went on the attack.
“You’ve no room to talk about me and the statue. I remember sitting at a café on the Champs Elysees where you couldn’t take your eyes of Rude’s statue of the Marseillaise on the Arc de Triomphe – that soldier with his todger on display. In fact you borrowed my binoculars and remained glued to them for a good ten minutes. And another thing – you advert to my disgusting gropings during Citizen Kane yet, as I remember, you became quite unnaturally enflamed when we went to see South Pacific”
“Well” she bridled “It was Rossano Brazzi wasn’t it”
“It may have been on the screen” I snarled “but it was me who lost two flyhole buttons and had to walk home with my mac draped over my groin” Reddening with a mixture of rage and embarrassment she spat: “I liked that Sydney Poitier too!” and inserted into her mouth as much as she could of a massive, tubular boudon noir. The inner portion pushed her cheek out while the remainder jutted from her clamped lips.
“Anyroad Enid” I went on pressing home my advantage “I resent your quite unfounded suspicions that I have any interest in that obscene statue. I remain, as you are well aware, a committed supporter of all things to do with Women’s Lib. Furthermore I suggest you disgorge that obscene black pudding which looks like something out of Bokassa’s fridge. I don’t know what silly point you’re trying to make. Slice it up on your plate like a lady – this is, I would remind you, a one star Michelin establishment.” Just then who should come in but Robert Hughes, smartly dressed by now with a tux and bow tie, accompanied by a delegation from the Musée d’Art Moderne. As he passed our table he leaned over, slapped my back and said loudly: “Hey Ron! That arse!”
I got to know Toshiro Ozu when he was on holiday in Sydney. He was the Services Manager at Osaka General Hospital. He never really spoke English too well but I soon got him to a pitch where he could order two beers. We used to meet up in The Fortunes of War down by The Rocks under the Harbour Bridge. He’d yell, just like an Ocker, “Two VBs darn ere mite!!” and if, as usual, the service wasn’t as quick or as servile as in Osaka he’d add: “In yer own time baarman!!”
Then, returning the compliment, he invited me over to see him in Japan. He said he could get me a temporary job in the ozzie and gave me a tour of the place. It was big but very few westerners visited. Even so he was proud of the new signs he’d got made for the Gynaecology Unit. He’d convinced the big boss that he was a fluent English speaker.
I nearly strangled a darkie (ie defecated – Ed) when I saw the sign. Just then the top dog himself came up and Tosh introduced me saying I was looking for work.
“Ah Kev-San! Gleetings! And what department you like work in?” I muttered something in my pidgin Japanese and pointed at the sign. “Ah so! That vely important work. You will accompany consultant at all times and photoglaph all plocedures with Nikon camela. Also there are many power cuts when you will hold torch for consultant”
Some Aussie pop group was performing that night; there’d been an accident on the stage. Then bugger me, next day, my first on the unit, who should come in on a trolley but Kylie Minogue!
I can’t reproduce my entire portfolio in a family mag like the Oik – but I did take a snap of the sign.
12 Oikus by Bob Wild
A Fine Christmas Present
Our Ernie is a "genius": can't tie his shoelaces, knot his tie or brush his teeth, but speaks eighteen languages; plays the piano by ear and sings opera like an Italian. His truly exceptional talent though is not spending money. Like Scrooge, Ernie never buys presents. Surprisingly, last Christmas-time, he suggested getting me a book. Christmas came: no book appeared. January arrived: Ernie came. "I've got the book for you". I thanked him profusely and flicked it open. "Hey, this is a library book!" "Yes, I've finished it. It's overdue. Take it back for me when you've read it".
A Well-travelled Wine
Ernie 'phoned me saying the people he usually spent Christmas with had gone away this year. Reluctantly I invited him to Christmas dinner. He arrived with a scuffy-labelled half-bottle of Retsina. I put it on one side. He downed a third of a bottle of Meursault with the crab; the best part of a bottle of Margaux with the turkey and with the pudding made short work of my 30 yrs old port. I gave him coffee but hid the Drambuie. Boxing Day he 'phoned saying: "As we didn't drink the Retsina could I have it back".
Hitting the Bottle
Christmas Eve: Ernie 'phoned. No food: the shops had shut early. Reluctantly I invited him to Christmas dinner. A teetotaller he arrived with a half-bottle of Retsina! I put it next to the breathing bottle of Margaux. "Have some cordial; peanuts in the bowl". I went to work in the kitchen. Later, Ernie came in wanting water. "Those peanuts made me thirsty. I'm not keen on orange juice. I've finished that bottle of blackcurrant cordial. Did you put something in it, my heads spinning?" We went into the dining-room. It was then that the bottle hit him.
There Is No Such Thing As a Free Ride
Ernie, the free-loader, caught his four-day £1 bargain Ryan Air flight to Venice. After three days free meals, free accommodation and sight-seeing the parents of a claimed acquaintance rumbled him. He rejected £8 a night YMCA accommodation; instead bought a single £1 ticket on the all-night Vaporetto. He slept "unnoticed" while the boat circuited The Lagoon. At the airport Ernie congratulated himself: four days in Venice for £2! Searching his wallet for his flight ticket he discovered £100 missing. In its place he found a £100 penalty fine-“Receipt for Fare Evasion On A Vaporetto"..
The Terrorist Threat
Ernie used payouts from de-mutualised Building Society speculations to fund bargain trips abroad. Provisioned with non-perishable foods: cheese; biscuits; spare underpants; shirt, he went free-loading on foreign friends. In Italy, needing lira, he went to Banco Milano, Mussolini's masterpiece, pressed the bell, entered the security vestibule. Alarm bells rang. Terrorist procedures activated. A computer voice said: "Put unzipped grip through flap. Lie prone on floor, limbs outspread". The bag entered the scanner. Lights flashed. Clerks hid behind desks. A robot "dog" sniffed the bag: rummaged around. Its probe emerged holding up... one of Ernie's six tins of corned beef..
Ernie and the Art of Roofing
Ernie's gutter dripped, his roof leaked. He'd have to spend money. Two white-van men offered to fix it for £4,000. "Very dangerous, you could have an accident". Intimidated, Ernie consented: "just the guttering". The men ripped the roof off and demanded "cash up front". They drove Ernie, protesting, to the bank: waited outside. Panicked and terrified Ernie blabbed. The Bank Manager dialled 999. The men scarpered. The police drove Ernie home; arrested the men on the roof gathering their gear: charged them with 19 similar offences. The men got 3 years. "Victim Support" were informed. Ernie got a free roof..
On a tram in Amsterdam two Ethnics clamped a chloroform pad over Ernie's face. He awoke in hospital minus passport, money, cheque-book, credit card. Dutch police arrested two druggies; charged them with similar offences. A detective visited England, interviewed Ernie. Ernie put him up, got his address. The trial revealed Ernie's identity and credit card had been used in a money laundering scam: a coffin bought; a bogus funeral held — Ernie was officially dead, his name on a headstone. The compensation award funded many more trips to Amsterdam. Ernie visited his grave, left grateful flowers. The detective regretted accepting Ernie's hospitality.
Ernie heard teabags make good compost. He saved and buried them in his borders with the zeal of a thrifty squirrel. When cost-cutting management at work stopped the tea-breaks, the disgruntled staff bought a kettle, brewed and drank tea in the toilets. Ernie wouldn't subscribe; drank water. Main-chancing, he made frequent trips to the toilets to collect the teabags from the waste-bins. His colleagues spotted this behaviour and attributed it to meanness. Ernie, of course, saw matters differently: "Saving the planet!" Mind you, at home, he invariably recycled the bags in the teapot before planting them in the borders.
Charity Ends at Home
shoes: his soles flip-flopped open showing rows of shark-like teeth. On the
"nearly new" charity shop shelf, shoes cost £2. Avoiding the Assistant Ernie
rummaged the "Not for Sale" box destined for Africa: swapped his own shoes for a
pair of Brogues. Tried on jackets, found one that fitted, offered the Assistant
50p. and his own jacket in exchange. "Too far gone but you look like someone
we're trying to help: take it. Put yours in the rag-box: the van's due". Back
home Ernie remembered he'd left a fiver in his old jacket top pocket.
Ernie was too mean to buy garden fertilizer. The tea-bags he took from work and planted in the borders weren't doing much good. Ernie heard that horses ridden in the park provided rich droppings. Armed with a big plastic bag and trowel he went collecting: "for the roses". The bag being heavy he boarded a bus. Passengers held their noses; complained. The driver ordered him off the bus. In his haste to comply Ernie left the bag behind. He walked home cursing his misfortune. At the stop near his house he found the bag dumped at the bus-stop.
Thrifty Ernie collected horse droppings in the park. A Great Dane bounded up, plonked pancake paws on his shoulders. Petrified, Ernie averted his face. The dog licked him: sniffed his clothing. The owner dragged it off. Ernie opened his eyes. Man and dog had gone: so had Ernie's wallet. The police suggested he'd dropped it or left it at home. "Stolen", Ernie insisted. "I suppose you think the dog did it", laughed plod. "The man", said Ernie, unamused. At home Ernie found the wallet behind the front door. A note from the man said the dog had "stolen" it.
Life's a Lottery
I did Ernie a favour: pointed his house-walls, reglazed windows, replaced locks. Tile materials cost £200. Ernie wouldn't pay: "Money's all tied up in Premium Bonds". He offered to buy me £200 - worth of Bonds from his next winnings. I reluctantly agreed. At the month-end Ernie handed me a list of 200 numbers -"It's the same as buying them - you could win a fortune!" Four years elapsed: I didn't win. Ernie boasted a 20% annual return from his own numbers. I suggested he buy back mine. The following week "my" numbers came up: £2000. Ernie gave me the £200.
French correspondent Ron Horsefield makes an impression on the locals
at the Benedictine distillery at Fecamp