The International Writers Magazine:Friction

Memory Block
Mark Cunliffe

The raindrops splattered onto the pub window and began to run into each other, their dribbling pattern blurring the outside world making it difficult to see. It reminded Guy Block of a hangover he had in 1969.
That one really hurt.

Indeed, the rainy day itself reminded Guy of a day in 1969 also.
Why was the late 60s on his mind?
Because Guy was meeting Marcus Marley.
That’s why.
Guy and Miles had both been at Cambridge together in the fag, or rather joint end of the 60s, they went back a long way. Way back in the dim and distant.
Why didn’t Miles the bugger stay there?

To say Guy was not looking forward to this meeting would be an understatement.
Indeed, Guy would much rather detract his member from his body with a rusty bread knife if truth be told.
For Guy hated reunions, especially those with former student friends.
And why?
Because they were always doing better than him.
That’s why.
And Marcus was doing better than most. A don at Cambridge, teaching in their former college; several books to his credit, his first, "England, an Island!" Pub. 1976, his most recent "England Is Europe!" Pub. 2005; an alphabet after his name, and regular appearances on "Newsnight Review" and other malodorous tosh which saw men, and Germaine Greer, lounging around the room talking about the zeitgeist.

Marcus entered the pub and immediately grabbed Guy in a bear hug.
That one really really hurt.
"Guy how are you?!" he demanded genially
"Mustn’t grumble" came Guy’s response.
Cue annoying bellowing laugh from Mister MM
"How’s Cambridge?" Guy ventured
"Oh you know you know" Marley nodded
Err no, not since ’69 anyway.
"Full of spies eh?" Marley snorted
Guy joined in "Which side?"
"Oh both dear fella, both" MM guffawed.
Well you know what they say, most students get summer jobs in the civil service, the jobcentre and places like that. Oxbridge students do too, but usually in MI5 or MI6.
Except Guy
Wrong tie
And it usually had gravy down it.

Lunch came and Marley tuckered in, Guy hoped that they were going dutch at the very least for Marley had certainly gained weight, despite his assurances that he only eats lettuce this days. The entire lettuce crop of Southern England Guy would bet. Oh he hoped they would go Dutch.
"I say Guy, you’ve spilled gravy down your tie"
You see?
Why did that always and almost instantaneously happen?
It went down quicker than Jenna Jamieson goes down when the cameras start rolling.
"Reminds me of the old days at Cambridge…" Marley began. Oh well, thought Guy, its better to walk down memory lane than to indulge in the aimless chat they had been doing;
MM; "What about Easterlin’s Critique? I found it a bit banal, did you? Or did you really rather enjoy it?"
Guy; "Oh I found it a bit banal, I can’t disagree there, you found it a bit banal too then?"
MM; "Oh yes immensely banal, very facile and derogative"
Guy; "Facile yes, I found it facile and derogative yes, that too"
MM; "Mmm me too I found it so very facile, so banal. So derogative!"

Anymore of that pseudo speech and Guy would nip off to the kitchen and ask Chef for his rustiest of bread knives. Except talk of the old days fared no better, for Marcus was always the rising star even then, it was his happening baby, Guy remembered. Oh yes Marcus dug it. He would have hordes of girl followers hanging on his every word and any other bit of anatomy that his kaftan couldn’t cover.
Guy never got so much as a sniff of any of them.
Marcus turned on tuned in and dropped out.
Guy turned on, tuned in and realised he’d picked up the shipping forecast instead.
Guy was only at Marcus’ parties because Guy had all the Dylan LP’s.
He felt sure MM still had his original Blonde On Blonde
Back then Guy always seemed to miss out. Even at school he was rotten. Never got a girl, never got top marks, never got a girl, never really got the hang of Latin, never got house captain,
Never got a girl…
But nobody’s Prefect right?

For Guy sex didn’t start between Chatterley and the Beatles LP.
No for Guy it was between Hattersley and Wings.
Still, live and let die eh?
He certainly made up for it.
It was Cambridge that gave Guy his taste for academia. Surrounded by such knowledge and reverence he felt humble. Learned. Overawed.
And horny.

MM was still going on, "…Those days are gone eh? We’re not like that now, had to grow up, to mature. I mean just because we are academics doesn’t mean we have to live in a bubble does it?"
What’s wrong with living in a bubble? Guy liked living in a bubble, a comfort zone, even if it was the breezeblock and glass monstrosity of a bubble named Trenton University.
The only thing he hated was the occasional bumping into people like Marcus, who’d had ambition, who’d done so well. Christ, even his former students were getting better jobs than him. And there was nothing worse than seeing old flames rise and curl up the social ladder nicely, getting better homes, lives, jobs, lovers.
Sod them.
Guy liked being the boy in the bubble.
Even if he was an ageing, decrepit, lecturing lothario rather than boy. Trenton was his bubble, where Guy would happily see out his days. Well maybe happily is stretching it. He is British after all.
But for Guy this was his life, his academia, and he could pretty much legitimately say he was a bit of a big fish in a small pond. And Guy was prepared to tread water here ad infinitum.
Stuff MM, he had been published too, once.
He had another book in him.
With at least another twelve years at least to go on working on it.
Twelve’s a good number, Guy thought.
Well, it was good enough for Jesus.

He’d been on tele as well…take that MM, Guy thought, though looking back on that appearance Guy quickly concluded it was not a success. Wandering off half way through a live broadcast to find the lavatory, flicking the V’s at Malcolm Muggeridge as he tried to contest a point and having fellow guest Oliver Reed advise Guy to take it easy with the booze was not one for the memoirs. Oh, I don’t know though?

Finally the meal and the one-way street that was memory lane came to an end. Guy did pay the full whack, "My turn next time, let's do it soon, maybe Christmas" MM the overpaid and overfed oaf said as he took his leave.

Left alone Guy pondered it all, his life wasn’t so bad he concluded, especially when he saw a gorgeous dark and petite girl, the kind that used to advertise coffee, whom he felt sure was in one of his classes, step up to the bar.
Was she smiling?
Yes she was.
Guy decided to go over, Trenton was his home and damn it he was still horny there. He was part of those breezeblocks, part of the timetable you might say.
9:30 Lecture on Donne,
11:00 Tutorials,
12:30 Lunch,
2:00 Flirting and after that?
Would you believe it, Guy had a free afternoon…

© Mark Cunliffe Oct 2006

Until next time:
More adventures with Mr Block here
Block Head
Writer's Block

Chips off the Block
Guy has his turn with the twins

More new Fiction in Dreamscapes


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