Set in the 1970s, mostly in Warrington, a declining industrial town on the banks of the River Mersey approximately equidistant from Liverpool and Manchester, the story concerns a rebellious teenager whose determined refusal to take high school O-level examinations ultimately lands him in the padded cell of a high-security mental hospital for the criminally insane.
This book is a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred description of life in the post-industrial wasteland of north-west England in the 1970s. As such, there are violent scenes throughout the book, as well as explicit language.
The book is also an illustration of the huge shift in social values that took place in the last decades of the 20th century. But more than anything, the book is about the folly of a father trying to force his son or sons to ‘follow in his footsteps’.