The floodwaters of human mediocrity are rising up the Thames, and Julian is determined not to be inundated. But London has other plans...
Young Julian Pens arrives in London to find a job, but in the great whirl of city life he doesn’t quite know where to begin. He goes to parties with his old friend Crow and meets Ellie, a perfect creature who disappears into the confusion of one of those first London nights.
But the guilt of misdeeds starts to slide in, the guilt of drink and memory loss and waste; London is tiresome, a jumble of ruins-in-waiting.
An escape to the country reveals the great burden of secret guilt that Julian carries around with him: he caused a childhood tragedy. After this jolt he realises there is nowhere else to go, that London and Crow are calling him back.
Eventually Julian lands a job in the City, amongst the whirring mechanisms of London, but as a small cog he merely grinds against all the other cogs, unsure of his role in the great machine. Dissatisfaction is quick to sink in, and Julian's tendency towards self-destruction is revived.
But then Ellie returns to the picture, just in time perhaps, to save him from the tide-race, and the floodwaters of mediocrity that are rising up river, and falling upon the city streets.