Charlie is to hang in the morning. When the church bell strikes eight, Pierrepoint will pull the lever. Only the Home Secretary can save him.
At its heart is a hard-edged bitter litany of working class resentment and anger at the injustices and betrayals of the world coupled with an earnest longing to experience more of life than the daily grind. Charlie is a man who sees much further beyond his own bleak horizons than most of those around him.
Then National Service intervenes, and he is summoned to Kent to serve in the army. He joyously leaves behind the dirty, old, town, and sets off on what he thinks will be an adventure, which eventually leads him into the deserts of North Africa. It is here that his feelings and values change. The well-balanced youth pitched into the tribulations of war, is soon stripped of his feelings when faced with death and mutilation.
On the cold-sweat solitary nights, memories of the betrayal return, pushing him into the wilderness of psychosis and murder.