The writer's life, from birth in the old workhouse in Chipping Sodbury, through wartime years as his family followed his RAF father to Shropshire, Ayrshire, South Africa, and back home to the war's end in Gloucestershire. How we were torpedoed in mid-Atlantic, fought pirates in Algoa Bay, shot the last Basin-arsed Bird in the Veld, and wept as Table Mountain slipped below the horizon. Back to wartime Britain ... doodlebugs ... girls ... cigarettes (courtesy of the Church of England). Public school ... fagging ... house rules, school rules ... sport ... beatings ... girls ... debate ... poetry ... prizes. Art school ... girls ... the free life on borrowed time. A major scholarship to the Slade postponed for military service. Bullshit ... no girls ... a potential officer cadet ... an officer cadet ... an officer ... with the least-employed platoon in the least-employed company in the RASC. The Suez crisis. A sweet revenge and 1st-class travel home. The Slade ... the free life ... the free love ... Denmark's most beautiful (and unreachable) girl ... literary circles, living with poet Jon Silkin and playwright David Mercer. Three years in arctic Sweden ... new girls ... a new language ... a new life? First novel - accepted at Jonathan Cape by accident. London again. The One And Only Girl - at last: Ingrid. Publishing. Meteoric rise / unceremonious fall. Freelance. Commercial work. Design work. Radio plays. Teaching at Hornsey. Animated film for HMGovt. Guidebooks. Two darling daughters. A best-selling novel. $480k advance. Escape from the taxman. Big house (or moneypit) in Ireland. Steady flow of decreasingly-best sellers. Steady rise in overdraft. Everything turning pear-shaped. Motto: "You shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke."