Everyone has a story to tell. Unfortunately, not everyone can tell a good story. And even rarer is someone who can make their own life interesting even if they were not a movie star, a politician, or a general. Tim Topps (born Alan John Broad in 1920s England) is one of those rare folks. And Yes, Lad, But Byways is most of that tale.
Tim Topps opens his tale with him in his pram in Wimbledon Park, then follows his parents to Africa since his father was in the Civil Service. So he spent several formative years in Kenya and other postings, acquiring a love of stamp collecting and starting to do a bit of writing. In 1937, the Broad family returned to England in time for the Coronation of George VI, and Alan to go to Bedford School while his parents returned to Africa. World War II intervened before they could meet again. Alan stayed busy in school avoiding sports, doing some writing which included getting a radio drama done on the BBC (it involved a pub and several pickpockets). After the war and his graduation (he got the Essay Prize handed to him by Field Marshall Montgomery), he spent a stint in the Army, and then off to college. There he got an idea for selling insurance to students that turned into a national business and kept giving him headaches for most of the rest of his life. Well, that, and his wandering eye. In the end, he has managed to be satisfied and reasonably happy at the age of 92.
The charm of Yes, Lad, But Byways is Tim Topps deft way of writing as though he was in conversation with you. He wanders about the topic, returning to his main story line, but as he mentions in the opening, this is a book about his wanderings in life, not a straightforward biography. And it is the strange twists, the rants, the asides that really bring the book to life for the reader
by NetGalley review