At well over a hundred years old, Billy Binns believes he’s the oldest man in Europe and knows his days are numbered. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time.
As he looks back at the relationships that have coloured his life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a lifetime of hope and heartbreak.
This is the story of an ordinary man’s life, an enchanting novel which takes you on an epic yet intimate journey that will make you laugh, cry, and reflect on the universal turmoil of love.
I am delighted to be taking my turn today on the blog tour for The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden. My thanks to Anne Cater for offering me a place on the tour and to Tinder Press for allowing me to publish an extract from the book for you today.
I have to get this out.
I have to get it down before it’s gone for good.
While it’s still clear in my head.
While they’re all sat beside me, as alive now as they were then, these people I once loved.
Hello, Mary. Do you remember me?
You were my first, though there may have been others before you; slips of things, stolen moments behind a mar- ket stall or in the straw of a cattle barn, but nothing to match the time we shared together. That first eruption of love when the world shifts and everything glows orange.
You died much too young, of a broken heart if I remem- ber right. Not sure if it was me or someone else who broke your heart, but we were never meant to last, you and me. Too many complications along the way, what with one thing and another.
Still, I loved you, Mary old girl.
I loved you, Evelyn Ellis. For a lifetime, if I’m honest.
We were the right age for love when we started out. You were my forever girl.
A love that should have lasted to the end, but the world doesn’t work that way.
I loved you from the first moment I saw you. You might say that isn’t true, but you’d be wrong. I loved you then as I love you now.
These dry embers, buried deep, set alight once again at your memory. A fire that burned quiet for the rest of my life.
My little boy.
I loved you, son, as soon as I knew you’d sparked into life. Knew you were a boy. I felt you kicking, your tiny feet.
Knew it would be you, Archie Binns. With your scruffy knees poking out of your shorts. Your pockets full of mar- bles; the catseye and the oxblood, the jasper, the aggie and the ruby. Your little hands.
Do you remember how we climbed trees together?
You know how much I loved you.
I’m not sure if I ever said it to you, not out loud anyway.
Not in words so you could hear. But you knew it, didn’t you, son?
I was unhappy when I first met you, Vera. Forty-something, was I? Life was on a downward spiral, then you showed up out of the blue. You were so beautiful and you made me very happy.
You caused me trouble, too. I paid a price for loving you, that’s for sure. For a while I was lost in the wreckage, but isn’t that what we hope for when it comes to the end: to know we didn’t just pass by but lived through some- thing real along the way?
Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Vera once in their lives. Despite the trouble. Despite the price you end up paying.
To be taken to the edge and made to jump. To love until it hurts.
Didn’t think I’d ever get those feelings again, much later on in life. After Evie and Vera and the rest of them. But suddenly there you were. You brought me out of retire- ment, you might say.
We were old when we met. Not proper old like I am now, of course. I was still able to do something about it back when you showed up, and we made it good, the two of us, when there wasn’t much pickings around.
Some lovely years together, me and Mrs Jackson. Funny, still calling you Mrs Jackson after all this time.
Mary, Evie, Archie, Vera, Mrs Jackson.
Five of them in all.
Five loves? Is that it?
It doesn’t sound much after all this time.
I recall the names, but the faces come and go.
When you first meet someone, you don’t know howlong they’ll be in your life for. It could be minutes or it could be forever.
You don’t know when it starts.
And you don’t know when it stops.
Some endings are final, others take you by surprise. Their last goodbye.
The world drags them away and all that’s left is a fading memory, turning to dust like the flesh on these old bones.
I want to remember what love feels like, one last time. To remember each of the people I loved, to see them all clearly again.
I’ll start with Mary.
Get it down on paper, all the details, before it’s gone for good.
While it’s still clear in my head.
If you enjoyed this short extract from the book and would like to read it in full, you can buy a copy of The Six Loves of Billy Binns here.
If you would like to read some reviews and see more content relating to the book, please do follow the blog tour as set out on the tour poster below:
About the Author
Richard Lumsden has worked as an actor, writer and composer in television, film and theatre for 30 years. As an actor his films include Downhill, Sightseers, Sense & Sensibility and The Darkest Hour, as well as numerous television shows and theatre productions. THE SIX LOVES OF BILLY BINNS is his first novel.
Connect with Richard: