Saturday Night and Sunday morning
1958 Arthur Seaton (22) has worked in a bicycle factory in Nottingham since he was 15, except for two years, when he was serving his military-duty.
At a Saturday-night at the White Horse Pub, Arthur is boozing again. He is so drunk, that he falls from the stairs, he vomits all over a couple and he spends the night in the bed of Brenda. She is the wife of one of his colleague’s. The next morning he leaves the house by front door, just when Brenda’s husband is coming through the front door, returning home from his nightshift.
On Monday, Arthur goes to his work, together with his father and brother. The whole family is a working class-family, and working in the same bicycle factory. Arthur’s job is quite dull, but he does not care, ‘cause it pays well at the end, and it offers him time enough to think about other things. He is paid on a piecework basis. But he makes sure he is working just that hard, earning enough without working too hard. You can say Arthur is a big spender, the money he earns, he spends it directly on clothes, drinks, cigarettes, and spending it with women. During the tea breaks at the factory he talks to Jack. Jack is the husband of Brenda, with who he is sleeping with. On the other hand, Jack is Arthur’s best friend.
One day, Brenda tells Arthur she is pregnant and that it is his fault. She doesn’t feel happy about this, because she didn’t want another child. But Arthur is not the type to worry about such things, so he doesn’t care about Brenda’s problems. But then she threatens him to make trouble for him, unless something is done.
Searching for a solution, he visits his Aunt Ada, who has eleven children. He is asking her for advice. Aunt Ada tells him a way of abortion: the girl has to sit in a hot bath, while drinking a pint of gin.
Arthur and a feeble-minded friend of Brenda’s help Brenda to carry out the instructions told by Aunt Ada, which will turn out successfully later on.
When Brenda has gone to bed, Arthur goes to the pub, the same evening. There he meets Winnie, Brenda’s sister. She is at home all alone, because her husband is away in the army. And so, Arthur goes home with Winnie, and sleeps with her.
A few days later, Jack warns Arthur that Winnie’s husband is home again. He tells him so, because he heard about Jack’s being at Winnie’s place, and that her husband is looking for him. That night Arthur and his brother Fred are going to the pub. They do not meet any soldiers, but the are quite violent that night, because the overturn a car. And the also tells a man to run away before the police comes, after breaking a shop-window.
When it is summer, Arthur shoots an old lady with an air rifle, because she has been gossiping about him.
In august he is returning to the army, because of an annual 15-day training. After his return he feels refused by Brenda and Winnie, so he deliberately makes an affair with Dorreen, who is just 18-years-old. But he is not fair with her, because when he has been to the movies every week with her, he still tries to sleep with Brenda and Winnie, as much as possible.
But when ‘Goose Fair’ approaches, Dorreen asked Arthur to take her on Saturday, the best night. But this is quite a problem, because he also arranged to go there with Brenda, and with Winnie.
But he decides to go with Doreen. The both are having a wonderful evening on roundabouts and trying their luck at games. Until Arthur suddenly meets the angry husbands, Jack and Bill, waiting to smash him up. He manages to escape through the crowd. A few days later Arthur talks to Jack at work and mentions that he is going to the White Horse pub that night. When he leaves the pub that night, he is attacked and badly beaten up by Bill and another soldier.
Arthur is in hospital several days. He is quite depressed, and doesn’t see the bright sides of live anymore. Until Dorreen visits him. After her visit, Arthur begins to see things differently and decides to become Dorreen’s ‘young man’. He even asks her to marry him too.
He still doesn’t like the idea of being emotionally involved, but he think it is the best way, if he wants to have a decent life in the future. But his attitude against authority has not changed.
At the end of the book, he is fishing at a riverbank, wondering how it would be, when he’s not single anymore, but being married.
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