About the Author

Catherine MacPhail was born on 25 January 1946 inGreenock,Scotland.  She has an established reputation as a writer of gritty, urban stories that tackle emotional and contemporary issues that eventually work towards a positive solution.




It is story of a devoted grandson and loving grandfather. There is adventure and thrilling chase and escape which bring about many interesting moments for both Rory and grandfather. We feel as we read of a grandfather who is sent to the old people’s home and his grandson to the children’s home, a separation that is extremely difficult for both of them. Rory and his grandfather, Granda, have looked after each other since Rory’s dad walked out on them. Granda is given to lapses in memory (putting Rory’s homework down the rubbish chute and the rubbish in Rory’s school bag) and completely irresponsible behaviour (setting fire to his coat at a Parents’ Evening), but he has a generous heart. Rory acts as his carer until there is a fire in the flat and the authorities decide to separate them. Rory comes up with an escape plan. But their path of escape is not easy as their pictures are in the newspapers and on every television screen. Their journey is full of unexpected moments when it looks like they will be caught by the authorities.

His Granda however is very frail and needs a lot of medication. On the way they meet a lot of people who have recognised them from the news. These people have actually helped them in their venture. Rory and his Granda travelled by train, boat, caravan, cars and most of the time with their feet. In the end, sadly, Rory has to end the venture, but not by being caught, he actually had to go to the police to find help for his Granda, whose heart had stopped. Rory had been hoping that his father who had abandoned the family and whom he has no seen for the last ten years would reach out and help. The story ends on a happy note when Rory’s dad gets in touch with him due to the publicity.




Major characters




Rory’s grandfather. He is also known as Mister McIntosh. He is elderly and partially senile with a tendency to forget what he is doing (never puts off his pipe properly till it smoulders into flames). He loves his grandson dearly and cannot bear the thought of being separated from him.  Although he is hurt by his son’s departure from the family and after his daughter-in-law’s death, is dedicated to taking care of Rory. He is delightfully funny. He is often repeating phrases and is able to surprise the reader in some instances as for example the incidence when he hit the bully unconscious inPerthrailway station and stole a car.





He is a young boy, still in school who is dedicated to taking care of his aging grandfather. Shows determination and courage even in desperate situations (when the grandfather is admitted in Rachnadar). Mature, he understands why his grandfather refuses to meet his own father. He has a rich inner life and capable of growing and changing. He has managed by adapting to every new situation with hope and optimism.


Minor Characters


Val Jessup

She is a young and eager social worker who is responsible for Rory’s well being. She is also very responsible, she is anxious that Granda receives his full pension benefits and arranges for Rory to stay at the children’s home inCastle Street.


Mrs Foley

She is Rory’s teacher who is keenly aware of his inability to pass up his homework because of his duty to care for his grandfather. She is very concerned when Granda is admitted into the hospital and realises that Rory should not be in the children’s home.



Darren is Rory’s best friend in school who helps him to stay in the mother’s caravan when Granda is taken away from Rachnadar.


Jeff McIntosh – He is Rory’s father. He comes back home to be with his father and son when he sees them on television.





The novel is seen through the eyes of Rory. We as the readers get access to his young mind – how he thinks, feels and reacts and at the same time we can appreciate Rory’s growth and maturation because the first person narration has made it possible for an inside view of Rory’s mind.



The journey and the escape –It symbolises the desired freedom and that both need to be together.


The caravan                           – It gives the idea or feeling of safety, privacy and security; both feel very safe in the caravans until it is time to run again.


Movies and movie stars         – They refer to Granda’s constant memory of what he likes

and remembers best . Here they are always tending to verge on an element of fantasy.




Bridging the generation gap


There is a young boy’s love for his aging grandfather. The novel explores key issues that young boys of this age may confront as their characters are shaped by relationships around them. There are challenges of growing up and learning about responsibility shown in the life of Rory. Rory is eleven years old and he should be playing football and enjoying being a boy but he has the big responsibility of keeping Granda safe and away from Rachnadar. Granda looked after him in those days and now he knows it is his duty to look after him now. Rory accepts that responsibility with a great attitude and does not hesitate to do his duty. But from being just a student, Rory grows up within a short frame of time to make decisions and to act with great responsibility.



Family and relationships


There is a journey of love and protection between a grandfather and his grandson. Love, compression and family relationships are portrayed through their actions. Granda and Rory love each other and that guides all their actions. Granda loves his son, Jeff but feels let down by what happened years ago. He loves Rory’s mother dearly too. Granda looked after Rory before and now Rory wants to look after his Granda. That is family love.


p    Social and civic responsibilities


How society tries to intervene and help those who they think are unfairly treated or who they think deserve a better treatment. The novel emphasizes the importance of social responsibility. Doctor Nicol, the teacher, Mrs. Foley, Darren’s mum and Val Jessup feel that Rory need help at home and that he should be enjoying his boyhood and not be burdened with the responsibility of looking after an ageing and ailing grandfather. The police officials and the nurses are seen as kind and compassionate. The inmates at the children’s home too care about what is happening to Rory and want to help him. Members of the public believe strongly that the two should not be separated and voice their opinion on television. The great escape would not be possible without the support and help of the public. Thus society has a great role to play in molding people to be what they are.


Social bias


How society is quick to decide what the aged and ailing as well as the young should be treated.The social welfare service sees to the very young and the very old. The decision of the authorities is not always right and should be questioned. Ruby the traveler complain that social workers check on Tyrone to see if he is getting his education and is not being abused in any way . The authorities can be nasty to the gypsies and people on the fringes of society. The police bring fear and anxiety but they are also seen as being compassionate in their dealings with Rory. The authorities chase after Rory and Granda but the public is mainly on their side and people help them all the way.


Moral Values:


Family relationships and bonds must be appreciated and maintained. There must be compassion and kindness.

Communication is an important feature among friends and family members. It results in the loving and caring attitude generally.

Trust is a vital component in bridging generations. We must not be judgmental as appearances may not be what they seem.




The novel is a sort of love story, about the love between generations: it shows a young boy realising that someone he loves deeply may die. It also challenges assumptions and stereotypes: those we should trust sometimes let us down; those we might not trust sometimes prove to be our friends.