It is 1975 and an old man, Francis McNulty, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, is beset with sightings in his garden of his old nemesis, General Franco. The general is in fact in Spain, on his deathbed, but Francis is deeply troubled, as is his daughter Gillian, who lives with him in Cleaver Square. Francis’ account of his haunting is by turns witty, cantankerous and nostalgic. At times he drifts back to his days in Madrid, when he rescued a young girl from a burning building and brought her back to London with him. There are other, darker events from that time, involving an American surgeon called Doc Roscoe, and a brief, terrible act of betrayal. When Gillian announces her forthcoming marriage to a senior civil servant, Francis realises he has to adapt to new circumstances and confront his past once and for all.
If you believe your world is going to end, how should you live? And what if, while preparing for disaster, you unwittingly precipitate it? While Emma Abram prepares for Christmas, her husband Chris frets about starvation and societal collapse. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Chris has turned off the heating. He treks his sons across the Moss in the drubbing rain. And he has other plans that, if voiced, Emma would surely veto. But it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Emma longs to lower a rope and winch Chris from the pit of his worries. But he doesn’t want to be rescued or even reassured – he wants to pull her in after him.