Dominic da Silva, in his late fifties, has terminal cancer. This diagnosis prompts him to return to the diaries he kept from his boarding school years into his early thirties.
These notebooks conjure lost tableaux of Britain in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s: with the emotional repression and genteel rural poverty of his youth, through to upbeat accounts of later joyful excess and profound friendship.
Dominic has the chameleon qualities of the true survivor: by the age of thirty, he has carved out a promising career and is married to a wealthy young lawyer, herself the very epitome of upward mobility. But he’s cursed, it seems, by wanting everything to which he’s supremely ill-suited.
A quarter of a century later, it all looks very different. His has, in many ways, been a thwarted existence, and Dominic’s diaries chart his lurching journey towards self-recognition – from grand house parties to a hostel for the homeless, from an apparently perfect life to arrest and ignominy.
Under the Table is a powerful homage to truth and friendship – and a recognition of the toughness upon which both depend.