A bleak illustration of late fifties working-class life in Northern Britain. Arthur Seaton works hard, plays hard, and fights hard. He fights against all authority, sleeps with married women, drinks till he falls down flights of stairs and defies anyone to tell him what to do or how to live. Life revolves around working at the bicycle factory, sex, fighting, and drinking. Until the inevitable happens. Contraception for women didn’t exist and neither did the morning-after pill let alone abortion clinics. A scalding bath and a bottle of gin was the only way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Not that this predicament stalls Arthur much in the grand scheme of things.
Off-setting the devil-may-care attitude of the main protagonist is the lyrical use of language, and it does elevate what would otherwise be a somewhat monotonous, depressing tale. But every Saturday night is followed by a Sunday morning, and Arthur is certainly more reflective in the final third. This quiet lead into the denouement is something of a lame, albeit satisfactory ending. However, brimful of character and the atmosphere of those times, and I loved the authentic dialogue.