‘The child is father to the man’ is a familiar enough phrase. For Robert Wood it contains a psychological truth. Raised in the Forties and Fifties by an improvident father who never got over the war, and with a mother classified as paranoid schizophrenic, his temperament crystallized early on – impulsive, excitable, needy, impatient. Trawling back through his life to try to make sense of it certain events and episodes demanded to be captured. There is his father’s return from the war. Then, growing up in Sunderland, he has to negotiate, among others, a tough offal-eating grandfather who introduces him to football, a tricky Welsh chapel grandmother who his father cannot forgive for “palming off” her daughter on to him, and some thuggish grammar school masters. Later he attends two universities and takes his young family on an insane bunk to Jamaica. For this Mackem there was mayhem all right but amid all the hurt, the frustrations, the bewilderment, the embarrassment, the anger and shame, the sister who crumbled after their parents’ early deaths, there was love; given and received.