A ramble through boyhood in the unspecified past (king on the throne, farthings in use, portrait of a ""rough man"" is revolutionary), in an unspecified locale (""Bramblewick""--near Leeds and Liverpool and a firth, the Yorkshire Post available). Told by a youngish boy (""Sonny"" to his mother. ""Worms"" to his schoolmates), this easy-going recall has a confessional tone which comes from a sense of guilt instilled by a Wesleyan mother and a revolutionary-artist father. Worms gets into innumerable fights because his clothes and apron-stringing set him apart; he's non-Bramblewick in origin and the natives disdain him. He, in turn, looks down on Chicken, his sole admirer. The boy's eye view sounds convincing: a temperance society man lectures against the ""poison""; a neighbor survives a fall from a cliff because of a straw hat; Chicken moves away when his father, a habitual drunkard, dies. Posh Charley is a temporary replacement until he and his sham-Major father run off with the goods. As unstructured as any growing up--looking for seagull eggs, smoking secret fags, setting off firecrackers--with some memorable episodes, even if looking for time and place is an adventure in itself.