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Despite the advantages and luxuries that a successful writing career have brought him, Charlie Bubbles is bored with his life. At a plush London restaurant, he runs into an old friend, Smokey Pickles, and joins him for a drunken tour of London's haberdasheries, pool halls, and pubs. Charlie returns to his expensive townhouse with Smokey, slumps before the closed-circuit television monitors in his office, and disinterestedly watches the movements of his servants and secretary. An angry phone call from his ex-wife Lottie, who lives in a farmhouse in the country, reminds Charlie that he had promised to take their 9-year-old son, Jack, to a soccer match. Not particularly anxious to make the trip alone, he takes his American secretary Eliza along. They spend the early morning hours at a hotel in Manchester, and he passively permits her to make love to him. Upon arriving at Lottie's the next morning, Charlie is greeted with indifference almost equal to his own. In an attempt to communicate with his son, he takes the boy to the soccer match but loses him in the crowd. After searching for hours, he notifies the police and returns to the farmhouse, where he finds Jack contentedly watching television with his mother. Realizing that even his son has no real need of him, Charlie crawls into bed and falls asleep. The next morning he arises early and walks to a nearby meadow where a huge observation balloon is moored. He climbs into it, cuts the ropes, and rises slowly into the sky.