Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: The digested read

26 April 10 words: James Walker
Impress folk down the local with your knowledge of the Sillitoe classic, courtesy of our simple guide...
‘For it was Saturday night, the best and bingiest glad-time of the week, one of the fifty-two holidays in the slow-turning Big Wheel of the year, a violent preamble to a prostate Sabbath. Piled-up passions were exploded on Saturday night, and the effect of a week’s monotonous graft in the factory was swilled out of your system in a burst of goodwill. You followed the motto of ‘be drunk and be happy’, kept your crafty arms around female waists, and felt the beer going beneficially down into the lesatic capacity of your guts’

We know that you probably haven't got time to read Saturday Night and Sunday Morning because you've got important status updates to do on Facebook so we thought we'd help out. Below are three versions of the Sillitoe classic - the digested read, a twitter type synopsis and a 'txt' version. We'd love to hear 'txt' versions of other Sillitoe classics if you have time...

The digested read

Twenty one year old Arthur Seaton works hard and plays hard. Monday to Friday is spent on the capstan lathe in the turnery department knocking out bits at a rate of four-and-six a hundred. The job may be repetitive but it is made bearable by humour and fanciful stories. He has to keep his wits about him so as not to arouse the suspicion of Robboe the foreman who will happily dock his wages if he senses he’s trying it on.

Arthur appreciates the lathe because it gives him the opportunity to contemplate the finer things in life, such as the prial of girls he has on the go, two of whom are sisters. If that’s not exciting enough one is the wife of Jack, his work colleague, the other is married to a soldier. Arthur enjoys the thrill of being caught by their husbands as much as he does by Robboe the foreman. He takes what he can get because there’s not much else in post-war Britain.

In between fishing, bike rides, work, and pub crawls, Arthur gets one of the sister’s pregnant. Under the watchful eye of Aunt Ada, Winnie consumes a bottle of gin in a hot bath to cure the pregnancy old style. A relieved Arthur then sleeps with the other sister, Brenda, and optimistically ponders ‘‘never had an evening begun so sadly and ended so well’.

Arthur gets his comeuppance, courtesy of two ‘sowjers’. Battered and bruised he takes a couple of days off work and reflects on his behaviour. Recognising that if you don’t eventually try something different you effectively have nothing to fight against, Arthur gets engaged to the less complicated Doreen. Now he has to outwit her watchful mother if he is to get his leg over. Life is a series of battles. The solution: don’t let the bastards grind you down.


The really, really digested read...

Bored factory worker Arthur Seaton has a few pints, gets a married woman pregnant, has a scrap, then settles down with a less complicated woman.

The text version…


Arfr Ctun wkd in a faktre in Nottm mkin musheen prts. It woz sh*t. Da bstrds tryd 2 grnd im dwn so E got hamerd @ d wkend. He cud drnk any1 unda d tble & oftun gt in2 trubL.   Wen e woznt hamerd e lkd 2 go fshin 2 fgt abt his borin jb. Wen he woznt ctchin fsh he lkd 2 pul brds. 1st e met Brendr thn e met wyNe.   E got Brndr preg but aftr a bttle ov gin & A hot baf he woz off da hook. He kpt havin sx wid bth ov dem bhnd thr bks. shamoa mf!!*** Arfr hAd 2b carefl az Brendrz hub jak hd hrd a roomr. Sum fat ass btch dwn da rd woz spredN gozip so e shota in da ass. Evry1 sed he woz selfsh bt Arfr sed wysiwyg. Venchle e gt cort out & 2 bg soldyuz gve im a gd kickn at da GF. Arfr nrsd is ed in bed 4a fw dayz   den dcded dat nuff woz nuff N it woz tme 2 setL dwn wid a les compkaytd brd clld Dooreen. He sed ru-up4it an she sed OK but I want a posh owse.      

1958 dictionary of useful terms and slang...

Clod –‘oppers - shoes
Young bogger - cheeky chappie
Pleece - police
One-and-eight pence - price of a pint
Dragged up - tough childhood
Black Friday - payday
Snap - food
Wicked mash - decent brew
Batchy - naïve 
Frenchie - condom
Monthlies - period
Gin in a hot bath - abortion technique
Shut ya rattle - be quiet
Black ‘n’ tan - mild and bitter
Pullin’ a megrim’ - miserable face
Foller - Follow 
Cowd - Cold
Black Maria - Cop van
Sowjers - Soldiers
Swaddies - Military police 

Books which feature the Seaton family....

1. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958)
2. Key to the Door (1961)
3. Raw Material (1972)
4. The Storyteller (1979)
5. Down from the Hill (1984)
6. The Open Door (1989)
7. Leonard's War (1991)
8. The Broken Chariot (1998)
9. Birthday (2001)
10. New and Collected Stories (2003)
11. A Man of His Time (2004)

James Walker's website

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now