This is a semi-autobiographical account of Billy's childhood, growing up in 1960s and 70s Chatham. His father - alcoholic, authoritarian and ever-present though often absent - refers to him as 'Smell' and finds fault with all he does. He is picked on at school by both pupils and teachers. Aged 9, he is abused by a family friend on holiday. He leaves school and goes onto work in the Dockyard before gaining entry to St Martin's through sheer ability, where he meets Tracey Emin ('Dolli') and, subsequently gets kicked out because of his anti-establishment views. Under the brash, dysfunctional, rebellious exterior is a polite, gentle, sensitive kid who is ultimately saved by his imagination and creativity.