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The International Writers Magazine

Love Games
Mark Cunliffe

Chapter One

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

It’s between Liverpool and Manchester, but its neither one nor the other. No it’s not Cheshire, it’s 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, that’s 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 it’d 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 girl’s 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 wasn’t 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 don’t then we’ve failed. We are satisfied just to see them with no clothes on. That’s the problem. That’s the divide between the sexes.

Expectation levels.

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 night’s (non) conquest at her window, flicking the V’s.

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, he’d 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 England’s once sleepy hamlets. It’s 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 and sociologists.

It took Wendy’s 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 she’d 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 she’d best try and be loose about things.
"My name’s Rain" said the girl; "from San Francisco…USA" 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 didn’t really, "Well I’m Wendy Lampkin, from Wigan…that’s-"
"Cool, well I’ll 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, you’re really cute, like you take up everyone else’s quota of good looks…did you really have to?" and with that she was gone.

Well this is it Wendy said to herself , the big world, I guess I’m bound to meet some odd and interesting people…Now where’s the kettle?

Those first few days at University, known as fresher’s 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 you’ve 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 m’dear, no relation’) pretty much rushed through her medical history and her examination, seeing it far more important, though why she didn’t 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 didn’t believe in sex before marriage.

What did he mean when he said that’ll soon change? Cheeky bugger…and why was he grinning at me like that? I’ve seen that grin before, on some of the young lads at the dances back home, even some older men too, like dad’s mates at the club, but only when dad isn’t around. A grin like they’ve seen a big meaty pie in the shop window and they haven’t eaten all day. Oh God, they’re 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 expert.

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 Aladdin’s 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 dad’s 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 didn’t 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-I’m here for my tutorial, 2 o’clock"

Good God, another tutorial with a dull unthinking student from the north, listen to that awful flat vocalisation, I really can’t face this…

"Ah right yeah, erm look can we postpone? I’ve 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 hadn’t even turned round to face her yet.
"You’re meant to teach me literature, you’re supposed to know everything about Lawrence" she said forcibly.

God! Will she not take no for an answer?

"Look, they’re showing Women In Love at The Roxy in town I suggest you go down there, Ken Russell would probably teach you more about ..."
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 is gorgeous…look at her standing there unsure, her beautiful shapely legs moving her weight from one foot to the other, the twitch of her nose…shit, hang on she’s waiting for me to say something…

"Ah…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 thing!

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 you’re meant to be teaching me, I mean I didn’t come here to be …to be…well ignored"
Wow where did that come from? I’m finding my voice at last.
"Just a second, Miss…Miss…ah here we are" Guy Block slapped a sheet of paper and tilted his head towards her, "Wendy Lampkin yes?"
"That’s right…" she offered coolly "…from Wigan." She added unnecessarily.
"Well Miss Lampkin, ah, from Wigan. I’m sorry, I mean really sorry, phew, I’m 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…have you seen Women In Love before?" he replied clicking his finger in a pointing gesture at her to speak
"No, no I haven’t"

At least he’s being nice now, she noted, talking to me like I’m 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 he’s 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, I’m 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 you’ll come, I’ve been meaning to catch a showing all week, and it really will help your work here"
"Ok then"
But no funny business mister
"Excellent!" said Block slapping his hands together and grinning widely.

Result! Things are looking up Block old buddy, a date on a wet afternoon with a very pretty, saucy looking bit of stuff.

Chapter Two

Hopemouth, 1974
Oliver Reed and Alan Bates were wrestling in the nude, their genitalia flapping around in full view there for all to see, fortunately, there wasn’t 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? There’s two hunky men up there with their, well, their ‘bits’ out? And she looks half dead, lifeless. I’ve never seen anything like this, well I’ve 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 isn’t his fault, he had a bad time of it in Ypres or somewhere. I expect she’s 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 Guy’s mind as highly erotic and provocatively suggestive. Such enthusiastic erotic relish in fact, that Guy’s 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 chairs.
"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 Guy’s duffle coat hood.

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 I’m fine. Just japes, student high jinks y’know " he replied before narrowing his eyes at the retreating backs of the kids. "Look there’s a café just across the road why don’t 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, can’t 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"
"How so?"
"Well all that sex and nudity" Wendy whispered fearing anyone would overhear
"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 isn’t afraid of that topic?"
"Well I wouldn’t say that" she replied with a slight reddening of the cheeks as she placed the mug to her lips.

My God, she’s a virgin

"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 mean?"
"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 wryly
" What? They were naked! I didn’t 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, I’m 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.

He’s flirting with me, but I don’t mind from him, is that wrong? I mean he is my tutor? And he’s older than me obviously. I am enjoying myself though and he is very clever and nice looking

"Well I suspect I’ll 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 you’ll 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 you’d had a chance to look at my essay?" replied Martin the bespectacled sheep
"Martin relax, it’s the beginning of term, most of your fellow students probably haven’t 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, I’m Martin Jessup, one of Dr Block’s students, second year"
"Pleased to meet you I’m-

Gorgeous…cool it Block, she’s just a girl an, ordinary girl, a beautiful exquisite…Oh

"-Wendy, Wendy Lampkin, I’m a student too, first year" she politely took Martin’s outstretched hand
"Ah new girl I see. Well I hope you’re settling in ok?" asked Martin
"I haven’t had much chance to see much of Hopemouth yet I’m afraid"
"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, she’s 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, I’m at Chadwick Hall"
"It’s 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 agreement
"Martin? Yes He’s a nice chap" Guy said through gritted teeth

Bastard…come 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 Jane’s’ annoyed with Wendy’s 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 ain’t got all day for this’ Wendy was different he could see that.

And she’s absolutely stunning too, the perfect student, I could teach her a thing or two that’s for sure, and not just in the lecture halls. God but she is beautiful, steady Block, don’t go falling for her.

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 it’ll 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"

He’s so intellectual, so clever, all those big words, it’s 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 I’ve only dreamed of before. He’s a bit clumsy though, all that daft stuff at the cinema, I shouldn’t be afraid of talking to him yet I’m 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 town’s 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 can’t 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.
"Don’t laugh it was really frightening! Anyway it slows down and I think ‘great, we’ve stopped’ and I start to look around to get out. Anyway next thing I hear is the lad who’s running it yell out, ‘Ok! Scream if you wanna go faster!’ It wasn’t 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 didn’t have to work on that part of themselves. This is clearly a girl, so young, so innocent that she hasn’t been tainted by that kind of rubbish and instead continues to be who she is, who she wants to be.
"Don’t 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, it’s the in thing isn’t it? And it looks good don’t 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.

A negative.

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 I’m doing stuff to please her, and all while she’s 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
Continues here - Read Chapter Three and Four here

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