1962. Major James Prentis V.C., a war hero now living in Portugal, holds a party to celebrate the publication of his memoirs entitled "Shuttlecock". Major Prentis's son John, has travelled out specially from London for the occasion. Inexplicably Major James Prentis suffers a nervous breakdown. suddenly John finds himself forced to commit his father to an asylum, run by an old war comrade - Dr Quinn. John returns to London - to his wife and their two sons. He resumes his mundane job as a Scotland Yard archivist, obsessed by the need to find the key to his behavior, he begins to read "Shuttlecock"...