Michael Burgess is in his last four weeks of undergraduate life in 1960s Brighton. His world is not one of drugs and left-wing politics, and sex for him has been a disjointed history, more of humiliation and frustration than ecstasy. He continuously questions what people mean by love. But he is passionate about rock ‘n’ roll and sees certain songs as turning points in his life. Then, just when he needs a calm period of uninterrupted reflection and study, he becomes mesmerised by a girl he sees one day in the library. His secret ardour for her is made all the more excruciating when he discovers her attachment to a lecturer. When not thinking about, or watching, the girl, he is pestered by a dubious agent who claims he is promoting Michael’s fledgling rock band.
Events of the last three years come and go in his head but only emphasise that he is rapidly running out of time before finals. Passions that he thought could lead to scientific and musical stardom are fast becoming desperate hopes. He feels he is struggling even “to find the straight edges in the great jigsaw of physics”. Will he be able to secure a bright future or just be left wondering what might have been?