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In Hard Luck, Richard relates the sentimental history of his and his brother Tom's childhood, a pair of scurrilous twins born in the late fifties on a new housing-estate called Prospect. Brought up in a world of pubs and allotments, where television is a novelty and the Welfare a frequent necessity, they live in a council-house called Timbuctoo with their devoted mother, Ellen, and Frank, the father who deserts them. After Ellen's divorce, they take up matchmaking, leaving notes for the milkman and holding the rent collector, Mr Bannister, in reserve. Their hilarious adventures continue in the Crab Apple Road Home, while their mother is in hospital. It is there that they learn the fateful results of the eleven-plus: Tom wins a place at St Saviour's Technical High School, and Richard, failing, at Broadfield Secondary. Richard's touching and comical attempts to reverse this inequality bring their childhood history to a close. James Maw writes with an unfailing sense of period and social detail. His comic gift, coupled with an extraordinary portrayal of two mischievous boys, creates a novel as colourful and unique as Dickens' Oliver Twist and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.