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Finch-The Remorseful Day

The events recorded here relating to Anthony Ernest Finch are accurate ‘to the best of my knowledge and belief.’ I have not sought to add or embellish this strange story in any way, much of which is known to me at first or very close second-hand. I have used Finch’s correct name, but otherwise changed all other names of persons and where appropriate, place names as well.

I would like to thank the many people who have helped me in compiling and editing this story, particularly David Blagrove, Leo McNeir, Kay Williams and Rose Kentwell. However, the interpretation of events and the views expressed here are entirely my own.

I would also like to thank Anthony Richards, Chairman of The Inspector Morse Society for encouraging me to write this and my previous account of actual crime on the canals, The Case of the Stolen Narrowboat – both of which the Society has kindly published.

I would also like to thank Morse author Colin Dexter for his inspiration to me, which is obvious; and the pleasure he has given myself and so many others through his books and the associated television productions.

Finally I must thank our local policeman, who best remains anonymous, and to whom I am honoured to dedicate this account. He exemplifies all that is best in the British Bobby on the Beat. For well over ten years, we have been chasing Finch together, although we have never had the satisfaction of actually catching him. I am sure there will be many further opportunities…

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Evelyn’s War

The newly discovered canal diary of Evelyn Hunt, an ‘Idle Woman’, edited by Tim Coghlan and serialised exclusively in Canals Rivers + Boats.

During the summer of 1942 the 28-year-old Evelyn Hunt, who had trained as an artist at the Royal College of Art, was working at in the Camouflage Department of the War Ministry, which was based in the requisitioned Regent Hotel in Leamington Spa. She was personal assistant to the distinguished war artist, and later President of the Royal Academy, Tom Monnington who was one of many artists enrolled. He was away much of the time, busy working on the concealment of the large Midlands factories making munitions and aircraft components. Sometimes she went with him, which led to a romantic attachment to this older married man, and after the death of his wife in 1946, to marriage in 1947. Otherwise she was left behind with her duties somewhat light.

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Olga’s Boat Song – Part 1

Tim Coghlan looks at the truly remarkable life of the former ‘Idle Woman’ Olga Kevelos, who recently died. She began her working life as an astronomer, became a working boatwoman during the war, then went on to become an international motor cycle racing champion, a publican, and finally a Mastermind challenger, and serial TV quiz star. And despite all of this, she never lost her femininity, remaining glamorous to the end.

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Olga’s Boat Song – Part 2

Tim Coghlan looks at the truly remarkable life of the former ‘Idle Woman’ Olga Kevelos, who recently died. She began her working life as an astronomer, became a working boatwoman during the war, then went on to become an international motor cycle racing champion, a publican, and finally a Mastermind challenger, and serial TV quiz star. And despite all of this, she never lost her femininity, remaining glamorous to the end.

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Waters Under The Bridge

Alan Firth, Canal Artist – 1933 – 2012.

Alan Firth – the ‘odd lock’ artist. Tim Coghlan recalls the life and works, and his own personal memories, of canal artist Alan Firth who died recently after a long illness.

There is one signature painting by Alan Firth that really has most of the elements of his canal artist style, technique and licence – his well-known painting of Bearley Lock on the South Stratford Canal. The high-rising lock, lying alone and isolated in the middle the countryside, a half mile north of the Edstone Aqueduct, is the only one on that canal that is not linked to a lock flight, and with it a barrel-shaped lock-keeper’s cottage. Regardless of its correct name, it was just known to the working boatmen as ‘Odd Lock’. Alan Firth was also a loner, and the ‘Odd Lock’ name had its appeal. As Terry Stroud, the main distributor of his works commented to me following his death, ‘I probably sold more of his works than anyone else, and met up with him on a number of occasions, but I really knew very little about him as a person’.

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