The film is a series of Flashback (narrative)s to various periods in the life of Blake Morrison as he remembers moments he shared with his father Arthur while he, his mother, and younger sister Gillian tend to him on his deathbed in his Yorkshire home. Despite Blake's success as a writer, poet, and critic, his father – a rural general practitioner – never accepted his decision to pursue a literary career nor was he willing to acknowledge his achievements in his field. Bullying, blustery, and boorish, Arthur blunders his way through fatherhood, regularly calling his son a fathead and intruding into the boy's private moments with a sense of entitlement. He has a penchant for exaggeration when he's not telling outright lies, and he publicly humiliates his long-suffering but passively complacent wife Kim with his shameless flirting with various women and an affair with Beaty, a friend of the family. At other times, he seems genuinely interested in bonding with his son, taking him camping so they can test supposedly waterproof sleeping bags he has made or allowing him to drive in the family's Alvis Cars convertible on a wide expanse of deserted beach with reckless abandon. As a result, Blake is left with mixed feelings for the man, ranging from deeply rooted anger to compassionate acceptance. Only after Arthur's death is he able to set aside his resentment and recognise him as a father whose flaws ultimately helped mould his son into the better man he is.