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During my first year as a student, I had been chatting up Julie, a waitress in Woolworth’s café. She visited me in my room at the hall of residence on campus. 


She brought her cousin Karen. Karen said Julie’s ex, Selwyn, didn’t like the idea of an English student and he would be looking for me.


‘She was talking to a guy who came into the café one day,’ I said. ‘This was a couple of weeks ago, before I ever spoke to Julie. A well set-up guy with fair hair and a beer gut?’


‘That’s him,’ said Karen. 


This wasn’t so good. The chap had looked rather tasty. Plus the fact, Julie had already said she had arranged to witness a fight that night between a fellow called Selwyn and another yobbo down on the Docks. (Those same docks where her mother and aunt had used to wait around for ‘boatloads of Yanks’. Things had changed since then.)


Though she was no longer with Selwyn (he played around too much), he still felt as if he had shares in her, it seemed. 


Julie admitted that she admired Selwyn’s fighting prowess quite a bit. He would certainly crush his enemy, she was sure of that. The lad had done well in similar grudge matches.


What’s this, have I got a Welsh hard case dogging my trail now, I thought to myself. I would prefer not to meet up with this Selwyn bloke.


Better steer clear of Woolworth’s, I thought. That was quite an anxious period, in what were otherwise quite halcyon days. 


I was jumpy for a while. For all I knew, Selwyn could be calling at the hall of residence, room 606, any time.


On the other hand, the man was a vibrant character in life’s pantomime. Pungent. Rank, maybe. A life force. So when I needed a solid, clear-cut model for one of the main characters in a novel I’d planned, about the domain of King Leonard VIII of England, I used some of Selwyn’s traits. He certainly helped in the building-up of the character of Lester Biddiscombe in Prince Among the Dregs.

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