Had one wandered up a remote London road one gloomy Tuesday in 1957 one might have observed Mr Feathercott making his way home, his impeccably trimmed whiskers drooping in the chill evening air.
On the other hand one might not have; for Mr Feathercott was a singularly unremarkable character, with his wilting whiskers and his crushed bowler hat. Mr Feathercott, alas, was the last of a race of rather ordinary Victorian gentlemen, now nearing his seventieth year, and with no notable achievements in his long life to single him out for fame and fortune.
Mr Feathercott's Business chronicles the lives of the Feathercott family - Mr Feathercott, his wife Esther, and his three daughters - over the course of the '50s and '60s.
Life in the Feathercott household follows a well-defined and inescapable order. Mr Feathercott, the aging academic, spends his life pondering Mr Dickens and snoozing in his favourite chair by the fire. His dissatisfied wife Esther, twenty years his junior, has long ago faded into the throes of middle age yet she cannot forget the encounter with a handsome ginger-whiskered man more than two decades ago.
But times are changing, and Mr Feathercott's carefully ordered world is being systematically eroded piece by piece. His daughter Maud, newly wed to the charming and devastatingly handsome Peter, cannot wait to escape to Chicago with her husband. Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, is busy raising a family and caring for her own husband, but she finds herself unconsciously drifting towards music stands and record stores when the soulful tunes of the King of Rock 'n' Roll are heard. And as for Gladys, the Feathercott's youngest daughter - well, nobody speaks of her, save in a lowered voice as if afraid that the gossip will spread on telepathic thought waves.
Useless, archaic and mildly irritating, Mr Feathercott's world will be turned upside down. And it all begins with an encounter in a deserted pantry...