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John Healy, the son of poor Irish immigrants in London, grows up hardened by violence and soon finds himself overwhelmed by alcoholism. He ends up in the grass arena: the parks and streets of the inner city, where beggars, thieves, prostitutes and killers fight for survival and each day brings the question of where to find the next drink. In his searing autobiography Healy describes with unflinching honesty his experiences of addiction, his escape through learning to play chess in prison, and his ongoing search for peace of mind.