Under the Table by David Hargreaves
Published 25th January 2018 by Unbound, priced at £16.99 in hardback
A heartwarming and humorous debut novel from a former teacher about absurd social climbing, the enduring ties of family and friendship, and the importance of being true to oneself.
Former teacher Dominic da Silva discovers in his late fifties that he has terminal cancer. The diagnosis prompts him to return to the diaries he kept from his boarding school years into his early thirties working as a teacher. 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 friendships.
After grappling with confusion about his sexuality and his rather grim schoolyears, by the age of thirty, he has carved out a promising career and is married to a wealthy young lawyer. But he will soon discover how supremely ill-suited he is to everything he wants most. Dominic’s diaries chart his lurching journey towards self-recognition – from an apparently perfect life, to arrest and ignominy, and eventually to a hostel for the homeless.
Poignant, clever, and often funny, Under the Table is a powerful account of a life in many ways thwarted, as well as a homage to friendships of all kinds – and a recognition of the toughness upon which they depend.
About David Hargreaves
David was born in 1959, the fourth child of a Catholic family. He was educated by the Jesuits at Stonyhurst from the age of nine, but ran away in his mid-teens and attended a comprehensive school in Northamptonshire. In 1977, he went up to Worcester College, Oxford to read law, but dropped out after a term, and spent the next two years working as an ice-cream salesman and a cub reporter. In 1979 he began his own version of settling down, returning to his college in Oxford to read history and, this time, lasting the course.
For the next thirty-one years he was a history teacher, first at Stamford School in Lincolnshire. In April 1986 he moved to Westminster School in London where he eventually became head of the sixth form and a boarding housemaster. He claims to have loved all of it (‘except absurd History A-Level examining’) and stayed at Westminster until 2014 – a total of twenty-eight years.
He now divides his time between running his education consultancy and writing, and is a governor of a London preparatory school. He publishes regular articles on history, including a weekly essay about the First World War published in Century Magazine. He lives in Islington and is available for interview and to write features.