Billy is a world famous poet, a celebrated thinker, a decorated soldier and a great lover. Unfortunately he is only any of these things in his imagination. He continually fantasizes his life away to avoid facing the more mundane truth of his existence.
Billy lives at home with his parents and grandmother, is engaged to Barbara and works as an undertaker's clerk.
Mr Fisher is Billy's father and is perpetually infuriated by his son's actions. He is a straightforward, old-fashioned man and longs for his son to stop lying and stealing and to live a respectable life.
Geoffrey is married to Alice, he works as a self-employed electrician and spends much of his spare time at the golf club.
Mrs Fisher is a housewife and is often mortified by the behaviour of both her son and her mother. Her aims in life consist of keeping a clean house and maintaining a sense of propriety. She gets on well with Barbara and the two of them spend much time planning the future life that Billy will lead.
Billy's grandmother has lived a colourful life and is only too happy to tell others about it. She embarrasses her daughter, and amuses Billy, with tales of her younger days and the men that she has known. Although now largely housebound, she still has plenty of spirit and grasps every opportunity to live life to its fullest.
Mr Shadrack has made it his life's aim to transform Billy into an obedient, efficient employee. This proves near impossible however, and instead he is forced to work with a clerk who frequently alienates customers and steals items from the office.
Mr Shadrack is largely devoted to his job and his chief interest lies in embalming.
Barbara is engaged to Billy and is thrilled at the prospect of marrying him. She plans the house that they will live in, the children that they will have and the lives that they will lead. Unfortunately however, Billy considers her to be a, 'soft, silly cow'. No matter how many times he offends her or she catches him with other women, Billy is unable to lose her affections.