The International Writers
It was a crisp September morning with the summer sun still hanging
in the air, abetted with the nice breeze that signified that autumn
was round the corner.
It was 1974, and Wendy Lampkin stepped off the train at Hopemouth
station in her summery pink dress and into the hearts of everyone
and the history books of her family. For Wendy was the first to
go to University in her family. She came from a small town in
the industrial north called Wigan
Its between Liverpool and Manchester, but its neither one nor
the other. No its not Cheshire, its Lancashire and it is most
definitely not Wales, thank you very much.
She was stepping into the hearts of everyone because Hopemouth University
and its environs would pretty soon fall drooling to the floor for Wendy.
She was in short beautiful. Like a cross between Brigitte Bardot, Julie
Christie and Susan George but with her very own cute fawn-like provincial
appeal that would make a clock stop, let alone a man. She was eighteen
years of age, possessor of the most gorgeous pout and furrowed brow that
seemed to constantly ask is this ok? coupled with the slenderest
of figures, yet with hips, a peachy bottom and firm young breasts that
reminded everyone that she was a girl should they ever be stupid enough
to forget and the silkiest, smoothest natural blonde mane in Christendom.
It was in point of fact, the kind of hair that bounced along the neck
and tips of her shoulders as if made of sunshine.
My little ray of sunshine, thats what Dad used to call her.
She was jaw-droppingly, stunningly pretty in the classic sense, and innocent,
oh so sweet and innocent. Coming from the north at such a time she had
much to learn and a willingness to do so. The permissive society had been
something Wendy had only read about briefly in her local hairdressers
of a wet Saturday afternoon, politics meant her dad and his labour party
membership and sex was something you did after you wed. Marriage was something
that you would do when you found someone special and itd be like
in the films. Though there were lots of boys back home transfixed by her
and she was only just coming to terms with that.
She was learning.
She was excited about her education; she was going to study English Literature
and wanted knowledge so badly.
Hopemouth never stood a chance.
And nor did Wendy Lampkin.
I had a lot to learn
"Bloody buggering bollocks!" Guy Block stammered out in anger
as he left a young girls flat that same morning. He was late for
the first day of term, only his second, as English Lit lecturer at the
prestigious University of Hopemouth, but that wasnt the reason for
his outburst. Oh no, the reason for his expletives was more to do with
the fact that he was leaving said girls flat and could see no opportunity
of ever returning. It had not been a successful night and he had failed
to charm her as effectively as he had hoped.
The thing with women is, they hold all the cards and they have so many
expectations of us. We cannot bluff. We have to perform to our maximum
in order for them to be satisfied and if we dont then weve
failed. We are satisfied just to see them with no clothes on. Thats
the problem. Thats the divide between the sexes.
He hurried out onto the street and hopped into his vintage Triumph Roadster,
his woolly tie askew, Paisley shirttails flapping and velvet trousers
not completely zipped. As he pulled out onto the main road, checking his
wing mirrors, he swore he saw last nights (non) conquest at her
window, flicking the Vs.
Guy Block was seen as something of an overnight academic success. Down
from Cambridge at the end of the swinging decade he quickly carved a name
out for himself as a leading expert on DH Lawrence and had recently been
published on the subject. Hopemouth had snapped him up in the previous
year and Block was quick to enjoy the posting, the age and the image he
was quickly creating for himself, thanks to his new found good luck. You
see, hed never really had much of a chance with women as an undergraduate
but he was swiftly making up for lost time now and it seemed his attractiveness
was on the increase. He had grown his blonde hair straggly long and had
started a beard, a wispy affair that he constantly preened or scratched
at (for it did itch) during the day. He had bought the Triumph with his
first advance and despite a natural clumsiness, was enjoying life and
love. He consoled himself with the thought that the failure of the night
before would not be his fault. Not really. It was just hard luck that
the barmaid he had pulled was a little older than him and therefore more
mature in the ways of the love game.
Guy Block was just starting out.
But going off from the post at 100 miles an hour.
Given the chance.
Hopemouth University was hardly four years old as it welcomed its new
intake for the academic year. Once a bomb damaged public school in disrepair
since the end of the war, it was demolished and rebuilt for the education
of all in the late 60s. It was seen as the most satisfying of the new
Universities that had been sprouting up in the deepest reaches of Southern
Englands once sleepy hamlets. Its design and architecture
heralded a new age and a celebration of all things learned. It was a seat
of learning made by modern purpose built concrete and breezeblock, gantries
and glass domes that rose up from the hilly inclines from beyond the River
Hope and shined like a beacon of hope itself; a utopian grey structure
for the next generation of the countries lawyers and engineers, English
theorists and scientists, philosophers and psychologists, mathematicians
It took Wendys breath away as she walked up the steep hill to the
entrance, a large concrete hallway that was designed to look like a book
opened up for all to learn from. She had never seen anything like it ever
and it excited her to be part of this new dawn.
Sometime later Wendy was making her way to her new home, one of the flats
in the halls based on campus. She was keen eager and scared, it was her
first stab at making a home for herself and she wanted it to be right.
"Hi there" came a strange voice from behind her as she struggled
with her bags as she attempted to open the door.
"Oh hullo" Wendy said turning to greet the voice, a shy smile
spreading on her face
"You need to give the door a little kick as you open it ok?"
offered the girl who had said hi. She was quite round of figure, but short
of stature and had a very choppy haircut that looked like shed cut
at the raven locks herself.
"Oh thanks" Wendy replied with a laugh and with a little kick
managed to gain entrance.
The girl walked on in passed her uninvited, which puzzled Wendy but thought
shed best try and be loose about things.
"My names Rain" said the girl; "from San Francisco
she offered the final word as she could see Wendy looked a little unsure.
"Rain?" Wendy asked uncertain.
"Yeah, my dad was a bit of a failed beat writer back in the 50s,
It was originally Lorraine, but now its just Rain" she explained.
"I see" said Wendy, though she didnt really, "Well
Im Wendy Lampkin, from Wigan
"Cool, well Ill be across the way in 5a. If you need anything
just holler, glad to know you Wendy Lampkin," she said as she made
to leave.As she made it to the hallway she turned and putting her head
to one side offered Wendy this; "You know, youre really cute,
like you take up everyone elses quota of good looks
really have to?" and with that she was gone.
Well this is it Wendy said to herself , the big world, I guess Im
bound to meet some odd and interesting people
Now wheres the
Those first few days at University, known as freshers week, are
hectic affairs and one that filled Wendy with giddy excitement and nervous
trepidation as she hurried herself along to get things sorted like her
timetable, her class and lecture room numbers and registering for various
societies and the dull but important issue of registering with the campus
GP surgery. Still one thing her parents always told her was to get things
done as soon as possible and then youve more time for yourself,
so she managed them all skilfully. Although she was a little perturbed
at the surgery, when the doctor, a man named Finley (no relation
mdear, no relation) pretty much rushed through her medical
history and her examination, seeing it far more important, though why
she didnt understand herself, to offer her a script for the pill,
which caused her to blush somewhat, and caused Dr Finley to scoff when
she told him she didnt believe in sex before marriage.
What did he mean when he said thatll soon change? Cheeky bugger
why was he grinning at me like that? Ive seen that grin before,
on some of the young lads at the dances back home, even some older men
too, like dads mates at the club, but only when dad isnt around.
A grin like theyve seen a big meaty pie in the shop window and they
havent eaten all day. Oh God, theyre not all going to be like
that down here are they? Are they?
The most important appointment for Wendy though was her first tutorial
with Doctor Guy Block who would be lecturing her in English. She was impressed,
from what she could gather Guy Block was a big figure in academia at that
moment, still only in his mid twenties or so and he knew everything there
was to know about DH Lawrence, he was supposedly the countries foremost
It was with some trepidation that she knocked on his door one afternoon,
to be greeted from behind it with the drawling words, "Come In"
Once inside, Wendy felt like she was in Aladdins Cave. A wondrous
room filled with clutter, books, LPs, a huge Bob Dylan poster and a heavy,
heady smell that put Wendy in mind of the day when as a child, she put
her dads old service gas mask on, little knowing there was still
gas trapped in there and the filter had worn away.
"Yes?" Said Guy Block without turning to face his guest.
His back was firmly placed to Wendy and he showed no signs of changing
the situation. He had his feet up on the desk and his head buried in a
book, whilst a slow jazz track was mournfully playing on the crackly record
player in the corner.
But Wendy didnt hear him she was wide eyed at all the clutter in
the room and her eyes scanned across the selection of books and magazines
on the coffee table; Oz Magazine, NME, Private Eye, High Windows by Philip
Larkin, The Rainbow by Lawrence and a dirty magazine clearly from abroad
that made Wendy blush and snap to attention as the still unturned Block
repeated the word yes.
"I-I-Im here for my tutorial, 2 oclock"
Good God, another tutorial with a dull unthinking student from the north,
listen to that awful flat vocalisation, I really cant face this
"Ah right yeah, erm look can we postpone? Ive got a joint on
the go here"
Wendy was about to meekly agree, apologise and hurry away but she had
second thoughts. This was her time and she wanted to get as much out of
it as she can. She was meant to have a tutorial with Dr Block at 2pm and
she will have one, he hadnt even turned round to face her yet.
"Youre meant to teach me literature, youre supposed to
know everything about Lawrence" she said forcibly.
God! Will she not take no for an answer?
"Look, theyre showing Women In Love at The Roxy in town
I suggest you go down there, Ken Russell would probably teach you more
And it was then that Guy Block turned round to face this annoying student,
and was instantly stopped dead.
Hello, my word, she is stunning. Like a film star but not with that
fake shine or glamour, no she has true beauty, real human beauty. She
look at her standing there unsure, her beautiful shapely
legs moving her weight from one foot to the other, the twitch of her nose
hang on shes waiting for me to say something
well no erm
" he spluttered as he drew in a sharp
intake of breath and jerked his head back.
Brilliant, for Christ sake Block you teach English, speak the bloody
He started to hurry through his notes and diary, he waved a finger at
Wendy which said give me a minute. Wendy could do nothing but feel uncomfortable,
uncertain and a little bit miffed at the treatment she had so far received.
She felt her nose begin to twitch; it often did when she was in situations
she was unsure of. She began to shift from foot to foot.
"Look youre meant to be teaching me, I mean I didnt come
here to be
Wow where did that come from? Im finding my voice at last.
"Just a second, Miss
ah here we are" Guy Block
slapped a sheet of paper and tilted his head towards her, "Wendy
" she offered coolly "
Wigan." She added unnecessarily.
"Well Miss Lampkin, ah, from Wigan. Im sorry, I mean really
sorry, phew, Im afraid you caught me at a bad moment, mountains
of paperwork you know? New term and all that" He snorted a little
laugh and hoped that he was winning her over. "Have you ah
you seen Women In Love before?" he replied clicking his finger
in a pointing gesture at her to speak
"No, no I havent"
At least hes being nice now, she noted, talking to me like Im
a human being. Dad did say some of these lecturer types were all arrogant
and looked down on us, still he seems nice enough really, not bad looking
either, even with that funny looking beard
but hes kinda doing
that face thing at me
and is that really cannabis?
"It really is the most wonderful adaptation you know. Erm look how
about we scrap all the dry tutorial waffling, Im never good at that
sort of thing and we both nip down to The Roxy and watch it together?"
"I dunno" Wendy answered hesitantly
"Oh please say youll come, Ive been meaning to catch
a showing all week, and it really will help your work here"
But no funny business mister
"Excellent!" said Block slapping his hands together and grinning
Result! Things are looking up Block old buddy, a date on a wet afternoon
with a very pretty, saucy looking bit of stuff.
Oliver Reed and Alan Bates were wrestling in the nude, their genitalia
flapping around in full view there for all to see, fortunately, there
wasnt many people in The Roxy cinema that afternoon to see, so it
may have been all for nothing. Nevertheless it had a profound affect on
Wendy Lampkin, who started to shift uncomfortably in her seat and raise
her eyes to the ceiling before stifling a laugh and then finally focusing
in once more and becoming completely intrigued.
For a virginal girl from Wigan, it was certainly an experience.
Guy Block on the other hand, could not take his eyes off Wendy. For, as
she focused on the two great actors sweatily fighting in front of a roaring
fire, he focused solely on her big bright ruby red lips, which she was
absent-mindedly chewing so cutely with her perfect white sharp teeth.
I have to have her; I so want to kiss her.
Slowly he began
to move his arm across the seat and to her shoulder, but she turned
very quickly to face him, causing him to withdraw rapidly in case she
noticed. He smiled and placed a hand to his chin as she asked sweetly
"Shall we get an ice-cream?"
"Why not?" he said blowing his cheeks out as she dashed down
the aisle to the bored looking girl at the front carrying her wares
of Top Deck, Choc Ices and various lollies. He scratched at his straggly
hair, and had to admit to himself that he was hooked by her sheer beauty.
Wendy was being served by the girl, who proved to be monosyllabic and
deathly slow to offer her the two ice-lollies.
How can she be so bored? Theres two hunky men up there with
their, well, their bits out? And she looks half dead, lifeless.
Ive never seen anything like this, well Ive never seen one
ever, except little cousins at bath time and the like, oh and old Mr
Parish that time when he walked out naked down our street, but Mum says
it isnt his fault, he had a bad time of it in Ypres or somewhere.
I expect shes probably seen the film, their bits, before, probably
sees it every showing. Will I ever get bored of seeing it? Would sex
ever be boring for me?
Finally she was served and returned to her seat with a smile to Guy,
who politely took the lolly from her, but was admittedly uncertain as
to what to do with it. Wendy on the other hand had no such reservations
and immediately ripped into the packaging, producing the long lemon
tube and sucking on it with great relish in what appeared to Guys
mind as highly erotic and provocatively suggestive. Such enthusiastic
erotic relish in fact, that Guys jaw dropped and so too did his
cowboy booted foot, which had been resting on the set in front.
"Jesus!" He exclaimed with shock and surprise and he attempted
to get his now wedged in foot out from the tight tiny gaps between the
"Mmm" said Wendy slurping back her lolly, "Are you ok?"
"Ah um, yes, yes fine, just me ah, my foot, phew, yeah, my ah foot
went to sleep" Guy stuttered and hoped it sounded convincing.
Unfortunately it was not convincing for the row behind, a group of second
years at Hopemouth who sniggered and giggled and called out Randy
Cock Block in whispery short of breath wails between their belly
laughs. Unbeknownst to Guy, and Wendy too for that matter, they had
spent the entire film so far throwing popcorn into Guys duffle
On leaving the cinema back into daylight and teeming rain, Guy put his
hood up to find himself showered on by popcorn, the riotous students
raced passed him jeering all the while.
"Ooh erm are you alright?" Wendy asked with just the right
hint of concern, sympathy and laughter in her voice
" Yeah yeah Im fine. Just japes, student high jinks yknow
" he replied before narrowing his eyes at the retreating backs
of the kids. "Look theres a café just across the road
why dont I buy you a coffee?" Guy asked hopefully
"Yeah that sounds nice"
"Cool" Guy said giving the OK gesture with his hand, before
they dashed across the puddle soaked street.
In the warmth of the condensation soaked café whilst a transistor
radio played Roxy Music asking people to Do The Strand
Guy asked Wendy over two coffees what she thought of the film.
"I quite enjoyed it, but I erm, cant say I understood it
all, like what the director was trying to say, or what Lawrence was
maybe trying to say. It was a bit flamboyant for me"
"Well all that sex and nudity" Wendy whispered fearing anyone
"Is that all? Wendy my dear, sex is something that has been written
about since the dawn of time and will continue to be written about I
guess, probably til the end of time. Surely a girl like you isnt
afraid of that topic?"
"Well I wouldnt say that" she replied with a slight
reddening of the cheeks as she placed the mug to her lips.
My God, shes
"Ah right, ok" Block said trying to assess the situation,
"Tell me what, ah, what bits did you not understand maybe I could
um help?" he said, with his hands wide open to her in offering.
"Why did he kill himself in the end, just walk off like that I
"Ah well you see, his death and its manner can be read in two ways,
um, one, the idea that the closest bond a man will ever have is not
with his wife or a female partner, but with another man, as best friends.
And the other, is that there are implied homosexual undertones to the
text and the film"
Wendy blushed again and lowered her voice to ask, "You mean poofy
like Mr Humphries off the tele?"
"Erm I suppose I do" said Guy blowing out a sigh.
"Is that why they wrestled in the altogether?" Wendy asked
with a cheeky smile
"It is implied yes
did you like that scene?" Guy asked
" What? They were naked! I didnt know where to look!"
Wendy gasped in slightly mock shock
"Oh I bet you did know where to look eh?" Guy grinned
"Ooh you cheeky beggar, Im not that kind of girl!" she
giggled and playfully slapped at his hand, causing them both to laugh.
Yes, definitely a virgin, but certainly a lot of fun.
Hes flirting with me, but I dont mind from him, is that
wrong? I mean he is my tutor? And hes older than me obviously.
I am enjoying myself though and he is very clever and nice looking
"Well I suspect Ill have to take your word for it Miss Lampkin"
Guy said with a toss of his hair.
She laughed, but felt a little self aware; "Yes, yes Dr Block youll
have to do just that" Sensing the overtones of the conversation
somehow, Wendy decided to do something to change its course slightly,
she put her hands up to her hair and started to form bunches just above
and behind her ears. Little did she realise however that this was a
tremendous turn on for Guy who had always had a thing for bunches and
pigtails, he quickly shifted in his seat and sucked in his breath forcibly.
She was about to ask if something was wrong when a tall sheepish looking
man wearing thick glasses crept towards the table politely.
"Ah Dr Block?" said the sheepish man
"Yes?" said Guy turning sharply, relieved to have something
else to concentrate on, "Ah Martin, what can I do for you?"
"I was wondering if youd had a chance to look at my essay?"
replied Martin the bespectacled sheep
"Martin relax, its the beginning of term, most of your fellow
students probably havent even thought about the assignment. Chill
yeah?" said Guy and nodded encouragingly
"Oh yes, of course, ok." Martin replied before turning his
attention to Wendy, "Hallo, Im Martin Jessup, one of Dr Blocks
students, second year"
"Pleased to meet you Im-
it Block, shes just a girl an, ordinary girl, a beautiful exquisite
Lampkin, Im a student too, first year" she politely took
Martins outstretched hand
"Ah new girl I see. Well I hope youre settling in ok?"
"I havent had much chance to see much of Hopemouth yet Im
"Well I-I would be delighted to take you out, show you the sights,
I mean if you wanted to, though of course you probably
Jesus Jessup, back off, shes my find. I outrank you as your tutor!
Bloody hell where did you get such courage you sheepish little prick?
"No, no, that would be lovely, thanks" said Wendy.
"Really? Excellent! Erm shall we meet tonight at 8 say? I could
come and collect you from your halls?" Martin clearly could not
believe his luck
"Yes that would be nice, Im at Chadwick Hall"
"Its a date then. Right, erm thank you, cheerio Dr Block,
til tonight Wendy"
Guy could not believe it. Here he was, having spent all afternoon in
the cinema with her and now in the café only to lose the whole
sodding game to one of his snivelling little second years, and not even
a confident, hip or handsome one at that, oh no he loses out to Martin
Jessup, possibly the only virgin on campus, well apart from Wendy now
obviously."He seems nice" Wendy enthused, looking to Guy for
"Martin? Yes Hes a nice chap" Guy said through gritted
on Block get firing on all cylinders if you want to impress her
So Block immediately
went into doing what he does best, a long descriptive lecture on sex
and eroticism in novels that was intended to be sexy and erotic to his
student/listener. He drawled out the words, leant in closer to Wendy
and even acted out touches made between characters when describing passages.
This often worked well for Guy, being a sure fire and safe way to touch
a ladies hand, cheek, hair and well after that, you name it. And with
Wendy he could see he had a very receptive audience; for Wendy had a
major talent, the amazing ability to listen to you and pay full attention
as if what you were saying, who you were, was the most important thing
on this sad planet that spins ever on. Her eyes widened and her mouth
opened in awe as she hung on his every word. Some girls back home would
in the past accuse Wendy of being a bit of a flirt, the town prick tease,
for her undivided attention to whatever a boy in front of her was saying,
but really that was not the case, the girls were just jealous, they
were Plain Janes annoyed with Wendys good looks
and good innocent nature and with the boys who would not look at them
twice. There was no ulterior motive to Wendy, she had a gift in life;
she was the perfect listener, and keen to learn, and it was a gift that
Guy fell for. It appealed instantly to the lecturer in him, here at
last was a student who cared about what was being taught. Here at last
was someone who appreciated his intellect as a chat up technique! Not
like fellow lecturers of the female persuasion who then argue the toss
about what you are trying to say, or dozy barmaids like the girl the
other day who just about stand five minutes of it before asking Look
dya wanna take me out or what? I aint got all day for this
Wendy was different he could see that.
And shes absolutely stunning too, the perfect student, I could
teach her a thing or two thats for sure, and not just in the lecture
halls. God but she is beautiful, steady Block, dont go falling
But he could not help it, as she listened intently, enraptured in his
world, he could feel himself falling for her, wanting her.
He felt so secure in her company, that he told her how he was planning
to write a book. Not just some dry tome on Lawrence or some other romantic
type, but his own novel to add to the ranks of literary masterpieces.
Something he had been working on for years now. Wendy was impressed
and it spurred Guy on further.
"You see, I know that man and women are so radically different,
but for some bizarre reason we cohabit, we need each other. I want to
write of love affairs and the perspectives from men and women. Of course
itll have a great deal of raunchiness but above all it will have
a lot to say about the human condition and of the madness we call love
games I think"
Hes so intellectual, so clever, all those big words, its
not often I get to meet a man so learned and attractive, well
despite the beard, who wants to tell me things, wants to share his mind
with me, teach me things that Ive only dreamed of before. Hes
a bit clumsy though, all that daft stuff at the cinema, I shouldnt
be afraid of talking to him yet Im worrying about what to say
to someone like him.
Wendy decided to tell him about her hometown and to make him laugh,
she told him of a time when her and a group of friends went to a neighbouring
towns annual fair, something which Wendy enjoyed but was never
really keen on the rides.
"Anyway, I get dared by me mates to go on this awful swirly ride,
I cant remember the name, but it went dead fast and it scared
the life out of me!"
Guy snorted a laugh as she told her tale.
"Dont laugh it was really frightening! Anyway it slows down
and I think great, weve stopped and I start to look
around to get out. Anyway next thing I hear is the lad whos running
it yell out, Ok! Scream if you wanna go faster! It wasnt
finishing at all!"
"What did you do?" Guy asked but deep inside just wanted to
lean over and kiss her lips mid sentence.
Wendy began to giggle and snort uncontrollably, "I shouted out
No! which of course does no good as all he can hear is a
scream so off we went faster and faster!"
Guy started to laugh along with her and found her tale so cute and funny,
she truly was a different girl to the type he usually met. Here was
someone so attractive, you would think she would be utterly confident
yet her she is opening up a little telling a story that paints her in
a silly almost childish light. Guy loved how she was untouched by the
stupid etiquettes of society, where most people with her looks and style
would have no humour and no personality simply because they didnt
have to work on that part of themselves. This is clearly a girl, so
young, so innocent that she hasnt been tainted by that kind of
rubbish and instead continues to be who she is, who she wants to be.
"Dont laugh it were rotten! I felt really sick for hours
after!" said Wendy mockingly and started to laugh even louder herself.
Eventually the time came for them to get the bill and leave, it had
been a nice afternoon and Wendy plucked up even more courage and asked
Guy a question. "Dr Block, one thing, why do you wear that beard?"
Guy was stunned into silence for a moment and instinctively his hand
went up to his facial hair. "Ah well, its the in thing isnt
it? And it looks good dont you think?"
Wendy screwed up her nose and tilted her head to the left before a little
hesitant dismissive shake gave him the answer he needed.
That night in the bathroom of his digs, Guy Block shaved off his beard.
I must be mad,
I know a hot bit of totty for one minute and already Im doing
stuff to please her, and all while shes out with that servile
little creep Jessup! Mad!
With grim determination he scraped at his chin and found he had cut
himself. As the blood dappled out of the scratch he looked wincingly
into the cracked and mottled mirror
"Bollocks" he said.
© Mark Cunliffe March 2007
here - Read Chapter Three and
about Guy Block
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