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Three years after the shortest war in history has ended in nuclear holocaust, a handful of survivors grope their way among the rubble that was London. Penelope, 17 months pregnant, lives with her lover, Alan, and her parents in the underground. Other survivors are Capt. Bules Martin, who holds a "Defeat of England" medal for failing to save the royal palace from "the thing" during the war; Lord Fortnum, afraid that he will mutate into a bed sitting room; a fireguard, Mate; Shelter Man, a regional head of government; a male nurse, the National Health Service; and two policemen who hover over the survivors in a balloon and shout "keep moving" to prevent people from becoming easy targets in the event of another war. Fortnum goes to 29 Cul de Sac Place and eventually does become a bed sitting room. Penelope's mother is presented with her own death certificate and turns into a cupboard. Penelope, despite her love for Alan, is forced to marry Martin because of his bright future. Her father is selected to be prime mnister because of his 22-inch leg length, but he turns into a parrot and is cooked and eaten. Penelope finally gives birth to a monster that quickly dies. Martin, lacking sexual power, yields his nuptial honors to Alan. Penelope quickly gives birth to a second child, who is normal, and the country is saved: she and Alan walk off together with the child as a band pays homage to Mrs. Ethel Shroake, closest in succession to the throne.