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The Badge – Ashley Topham

An autobiographical account of rising through the ranks.

I enjoy reading biographies of ‘ordinary’ folk rather than those of the so called celebs or wannabe celebs. You learn all sorts of odd little things about life and gain an insight into the human psyche. This book is no different, but the great thing here is that the author tells you of his failings as well as of his successes.

Ashley Topham joined up at 16, and left at 40 with the rank of RSM, which I’m sure you’ll agree is quite an achievement. Let’s be fair, not many can make this particular claim, and I think the author is entitled to ‘blow his own trumpet’ a little. Interestingly, his biggest claim to fame is for crossing illegally into Soviet administered East Germany and causing a bit of a diplomatic incident.

Unless I’m very much mistaken, this particular book is what I’d call ‘vanity published’. I mention this, not for reasons of snobbery or the like, but to point out that the author paid for it to be published. He believed, correctly so in my opinion, that he had a story worth telling. However, the book is littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and I really wonder just what he actually got for his money. I think he’d have been better off using the Amazon kindle format and their print-on-demand service for hard copies. – It wouldn’t have cost him, all he would have needed to pay for would be a proof-reader.

However, I digress. The book took me quite a long time to read for the simple reason it was so easy to read: you could put it down and pick it up again as easy as if the story teller was in the room speaking with you. The author does have a very easy going style, even if it is a bit repetitive at times.

This is a ‘warts and all’ account of the author’s military life and as such there are some funny parts and some tragic parts. All I will say is that in my opinion he handled things very well. Life can sometimes deal you a difficult hand to play, but it’s the only hand you get.

What I’d really like would be to see the next instalment of Ashley’s life now he’s in Civvy Street. I’d like to see him compare life on the outside, to life within the military: accepting though, that he’s now a lot older and wiser. From reading the last couple of pages, I might not have to wait too long for my wish.

3 anchors from me.