The year is now 1933 and William Woodruff, sixteen years old and passionately idealistic, is leaving the Lancashire of his childhood so vividly portrayed in 'The Road to Nab End'. He's going to London, hoping to get a job in a steelworks, determined to make his way in the world. Set down in London's East End, William finds no streets paved with gold, but instead filthy tenements and a room with a beer-swilling landlady with a predatory daughter and tattooed madman of a son with whom he has to share his bed. Throughout this next chapter of his life, Woodruff witnesses the stoicism and courage of ordinary people in the face of impending war: a war in which he himself will soon be fighting... 
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