The novel, written in a stream of consciousness style using the Glasgow dialect, concerns one week in the life of 29-year-old schoolteacher Patrick Doyle. Patrick is increasingly bitter about his entire life, despite feeling quite al right with the children he is coaching. He is in love with fellow schoolteacher Alison Housten, who is already married (without kids), and who rejects his advances. Midway in the novel, Patrick discovers he is to be transferred out of his present school which (his headmaster assures him) is the result of Patrick asking for a transfer, although Patrick has no recollection of such an act. The rest of the novel concerns Patrick's visit to his parents one weekend and, on a separate day, to his married elder brother Gavin's home.