“An ordinary man living an ordinary life.
It feels right and good to be ordinary.”

Oh Billy Binns, you absolute legend, you.

There’s nothing so interesting for me than to read of an ordinary life that has been lived and yours has certainly been well and truly lived. How can I do justice to your wonderful story?

Well, Billy Binns, I could say that I have just read the story of your life, lived over the course of more than 100 years and it was 466 pages of pure joy. You moved me to tears, you made me smile, you made me gasp, you shocked me. I felt every emotion whilst reading your words and not one of those words was wasted.

You tapped away at the typewriter, Billy, capturing your life, perfectly staging it for the slow reveal leading to those ‘ohhhh’ moments of realisation. Sometimes I had to look away for a moment, blink away some tears, before I could carry on reading.

You were born at the turn of the 20th century. Your experiences in WWI were so moving, so raw. You lived through the depression, another war, the Swinging Sixties. You loved five times during your life, hoping for that one last elusive love. And what loves they were: Mary, Evie, Archie, Vera, Mrs Jackson. Your love for each of them was beautiful, intense and perfect, even if things didn’t always turn out for the best.

I feel like I know you, Billy. At one point, as you clambered into the back seat of a car, I could see you in my mind’s eye, how you looked, what you were wearing. You’re a flawed man, but a wonderful man and I was utterly mesmerised by your life story. I loved you even when you made mistakes.

Richard Lumsden, the curator of your story, has created something that delighted me, an uplifting, heart-warming social history full of love, loss, youth, old age, the passing of time, a story of making mistakes and living with them. Not only a definite for my top reads of the year, I think this has to be one of my top reads of all time. Billy, you’re a triumph.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 5/5

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden
Tinder Press 9781472256683 hbk Jan 2019