Once he watched the white ships sail past Rangitoto Island and dreamed of a future beyond New Zealand. Now he wants only to recapture the past.
An Auckland community: two not-so-faithful restaurant-running musicians, a gay artist and his lodger, the recently electrified Cecilia Skyways who is writing her memoirs in his garden hut, Patagonia Aorewa de Thierry Bennett, an enigma otherwise known as plain Pat Bennett, and Curl Skidmore, the narrator's alter ego, his brilliant young head full of novels waiting to be unravelled, his trousers full of something much more irrepressible. It is 1951 and the harbourfront strike is on, yet the passenger ships still sail: the wider world beckons.
One by one, or two by two, the characters leave the stage, until only the narrator is left, trying to capture his memories over a gap of thirty years.