The story concerns Lorimer Black, a successful loss adjuster. His original name is Milomre Blocj and he comes from a family of Transnistrian gypsies who arrived in London in 1957 and set up an import-export business linked to Eastern Europe. They now run a taxi cab firm and are always borrowing money off Milo (as they still call him). Lorimer suffers from insomnia and spends many nights at the "Institute for Lucid Dreaming" in search for a cure. He collects antique helmets, listens to African music and is having an affair with Stella Bull, the owner of a scaffolding company.