Review of ‘Billy the Kid’ (A Year in the Life of), by Reg Bennett

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 10th April 2006, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

BILLY THE KID
(A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF)

Depending on your age, and especially if you were once a lad, you are bound to find a soft spot for our hero, bright little Billy Nobstick. Fictional he may be, but with his boyhood adventures taking place in 1938, he could just as easily be your grandad, your dad, or someone even closer to home.

Author Reg Bennett has published almost thirty Western novels but this story has been ticking over in his mind for many years, just waiting its turn. This Billy the Kid and his sidekicks live not in the Wild West but in Burbage, which really does exist and which will have been plagued by lads just like these scruffy ruffians. Their pleasures are their loyal gang, dog-end Woodbines, the gloriously named Jerusalem Cuckoo, and making mischief. Their pains are short trousers and scabby knees, soap and water, insolvency, boils, and giggling girls.

There is no pocket money unless it is earned, in Billy's case running errands, shovelling coal, and his daily paper round. He also has to collect the Manchester evening papers which arrive at Buxton station by steam train, adding yet more nostalgia to escapades set against background detail of street gas lamps, orange-box furniture, peg rugs, outside toilets, cobbled gutters, marrowbone broth and hob-nailed boots.

This year in the life of Billy the Kid should stir many happy memories. The ten chapters are delightfully illustrated by Peter Revell who, like the author, comes from Buxton. Published by Ashridge Press/Country Books the title is on sale in most local bookshops, priced £7.95. (To order quote ISBN 1-90124-58-3).

Review by Julie Bunting


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