An interesting read...RED CAP RATING 26/35‘Top of the Sixties’ is an interestingly constructed book and an easy read, although I suspect this may be mainly true for readers of ‘a certain age’ – specifically, those old enough to have spent much of their formative years being brought up, I suspect like the author, in working to lower middle class Britain in the 1960s.By definition therefore, the book may struggle a little where ‘working’ and ‘middle’ class are unknown concepts. Fortunately, as a man in his early sixties from such stock, I had no such difficulty.The book consists of 14 very short narratives, mostly unconnected so far as characters are concerned. Some work better than others. These are very ordinary people, often not fully formed as characters as, given the brevity of the reader’s involvement with them, we often only share in one simple personal experience, a young boy with his first employer, a brief unrequited obsession with a distant girl, questions of after-life raised by a shocking brief work experience in a slaughter house etc.Mostly, we see these experiences through the eyes of young boys on the edge of manhood, although some of the young men seem to have a degree of sexual naivety that I don’t remember from my own childhood as Ayres uses techniques similar to those in the wonderful novel ‘Angela’s Ashes’, as we, as adults, understand what is happening (an illicit affair, adult male humour directed at the young boy about the concept of buying ‘something for the weekend’ in the local barber shop.) which are clearly not understood by the child/narrator.This is not quite a collection of ‘rights of passage’ stories as mostly they are not long enough, dealing as they do usually, with one, perhaps important, but not necessarily life-changing incident.Neither is it simply a collection of recollections of incidents that return us to an earlier era.Those that work in this context are good, I did chuckle remembering the whole-life experience of getting a ‘Short back and sides’ in a local men-only barber’s shop, I could almost smell the Brylcreem!Others, unfortunately were just dull. On balance though, I enjoyed ‘Top of the Sixties’ and would recommend it to, particularly men, of the previously hinted at, ‘certain age’.