He comes to spend the afternoon alone. A cycle ride around the lake, a quick lunch and then home. His life is at peace. Middle age looks good on him. Living in the quiet complacent countryside of Northamptonshire. A man for reflection and circumspection he is prone to let his mind wander and drift. Today seems one of those days.
The girl walks into his peace, sits beside him, and brings with her memories of his own past that throw him back into his youth. He tells her that she reminds him of someone. She is so like someone he knew but is too young to be her. Their meeting appears coincidental but was it?
At her request, he embarks upon a tale of his own past, of the love of possibly two women, of his youth in Salford as a management trainee fresh from University, amongst a factory of girls who outwitted and manipulated him. He begins to question his own student socialist ideals as he comes into conflict with real practising socialists in the work place. The story tells of his education as a young manager, causing a terrible accident, trying to fight with the unions and becoming involved and in love with one of his new recruits, Aldora. She is married. He is not. Yet his love for her is challenged by his fascination for Mary, the charismatic and aloof shift supervisor who acts as his managerial mentor and guide, and of whom Aldora was profoundly jealous.
Most of all the story is about Aldora, proud to be from Salford, a city which she says is populated by people who created wealth for those who never knew work. A poetess in her spare time she is looking for stimulation beyond the scope of her husband Bob. Her love affair with Eddie is gentle and tender and develops with quiet drama. She wants it to reach its ultimate and poetical fulfilment.