The Summer of Love has gone and demonstrators are being killed in Red Lion Square. There’s a Squat in Piccadilly and students are occupying campuses in Hornsey. Michael Scott leaves Nuneaton and enrols at Upfields College of Education oblivious to much of this. Unfortunately, he also arrives in the capital with a lot of preconceptions and carrying a Stonehenge-sized block of granite (rather than a chip) on his shoulder. He is immediately swimming through soup.
Lecturers are bemused by the first Comprehensive pupil ever encountered. The few friends he makes are unreliable and dysfunctional. Trying to engage disaffected adolescents, he is frustrated to find he cannot stop them fighting by reading Keats or Milton to them. Student life is punctuated by catastrophes which will never get into letters home. (Principally because he never writes any)
A mature student commits suicide, setting fire to himself in the Art Block. It affects Michael deeply. He quits college on the verge of breakdown, drinks too heavily, is seduced, betrayed, injured in a fatal car accident and made homeless.
The McCaffery family intervene. They don’t read Chaucer or spend Sundays in The National Gallery, but Alf, his wife Patti and their elderly mum have an instinct for supporting a kid in trouble.
They take Michael in and nurse him back to a semblance of sanity. To pay board, he shifts furniture, becomes a postman, washes cars and sorts out the accounts of a Drapery Wholesalers in Whitechapel.
He falls for Patti who becomes pregnant. By Alf as it happens-but it is a near miss. As a diversion, Michael gets embroiled in histrionics at The Marigold Theatre, joins in a street battle with a Rugby Club and stars in a dodgy football match refereed by a gangster. He has an encounter with a mysterious Magyar sleeping in a park before a giant papier mache dinosaur is kidnapped and held to ransom.
Life is becoming surreal. Michael treads water but is determined to stay a survivor. He becomes eventually, none of the things he actually left school intending to be, finding closure in a way no-one could have predicted when he first arrived at Euston.