The Cast of Dear Bill

The World of Cap't Bob and Dear Bill.

"The events depicted in this series of letters are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. No person should without the prior permission of the author assume the identity of any character. These letters are a story that could be based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and timelines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters may be accidental composites, or entirely fictitious. I was helped in my creative endeavour by my friend's telepathic cat named Huxley. Huxley assumes all responsibility for any mistakes and errors."

The above disclaimer was provided by Huxley to spare the blushes and embarrassment of anyone who could be accidentally misconstrued as being a living breathing member of the human race. 

The full site disclaimer can be found Here

Based upon a spoof charity called the 'Cycling Angling Rambling Trust' which are viewed with a modicum of jaundice from the towpath, by a couple of old boaters known separately as 'Dear Bill and Cap't Bob' where the two old buffers correspond with each other by mail. You only ever see one side of the conversation. The letters from Cap't Bob and you sort of fill in the blanks for yourself.

When I first started the Dear Bill letters, many readers were mystified by the content. I know that my po faced humour has always been enjoyed by some the readers. Now the Dear Bill letters (which I shamelessly purloined the idea from Private Eye) seem to be amongst the top read content. It has been fun choosing suitable characters beyond the usual ones of old.

Regular Characters

Bill 'Willi' Gedit is the recipient of Captain Bob's letters, a good friend, bon viveur and raconteur. The reader of regular titbits of canal news. Owner of a full set of golf bats and a handicap that can only go down. Famous statement to the Charwoman of the bored "What! You can't believe it either? I thought I was the only one.

Cap't Bob A man of letters also known to occasionally go overboard at times. A 'typical IWA type' a liveaboard boat owner, who constantly cruises between the water point, the pump out and the 48 hour visitor moorings. We all know such people are fictitious and do not exist. Bob's famous statement to the Chair of the Canal and River Trust was "I never forget a face, but in your case I’d be glad to make an exception."

This is story of everyday boating folk based around well known locations such as the 'Bucket and Chuck it' which is just one of a chain of canal side pubs. Or the 'Cinque Marina' a struggling business that it trying hard to keep its head above water.

I would like to draw a comparison between my blog and Private Eye. But I can only give a nod in the direction of a team who bring to me, frequent gasps of incredulity and a fair few head shaking chuckles.  A magazine read by the people in Parliament and Government, if only to keep a weather eye on the excesses taking place under their remit.

Memsahib Nb Dulwich Dishwasher is home to Cap't Bob and his first mate the Memsahib. A smart vessel turned out in the standard IWA canal livery of two tone rust and roof logs! The Memsahib is the wife of Cap't Bob and the green goddess of the galley. Also known as the doyen of the cookery classes. Who can with a single glare ensure fear in a bread roll. Famous question to the Chair of the trust 'Is the water in the toilets salty or fresh?'

Mr Genghis Khan (owner of the canal street corner shop and empire emporium) Pictured with daughters Alia and Anja plus the delightful Bollywood dancer (now retired) Mrs Clever Sweetie Khan. 

Its said in the wider Asian community, where he is an acknowledged community bleeder. Mr Khan has both the knack to create or solve any problem. Its well known that Khan can, where others can't. 

Famous statement "I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that large supermarkets are a fad that won't last out the year." looking at the recent Tesco and ASDA happenings - Khan might know something we don't.

Occasional Characters

Mr Digby 'Diggers' Snopes 
(secret CaRT trustee) Digby was elected to office as a dare that went catastrophically wrong. The owner and archivist of a world record collection of empty boxes. Famous question "Are these life jackets allowed to get wet?"

CaRT Volunteers 
A volunteer contingent for the Cycling Angling Rambling Trust. These wonderful inspirational volunteers who are all doing valued community service as ordered by the courts. Famous question: "Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?"

Mr Roger 'snodders' Snodgrass 
Once a Cycling Angling Rambling Trust worker (made redundant) Unable to find any meaningful work he left CaRT to join others who continue to be unable to find meaningful work. Famous question "Our pumpout toilet is blocked, and we cannot even bathe the children. What can we do?"

Ms Marina 'nails' Clout 
(office cleaner and dumpster diver extraordinary) Provider of much 'in cider' knowledge. Famous question "Do these stairs only go up or do they also go down?"

Mr Angus McCoatup 
(street philosopher) advice and drool in equal measure.  A modest man, who has much to be modest about.

Famous question "Where are the tracks the wagon trains ran on?"

Ms Glenda 'gripper' Knuckles 
(diesel engine mechanic) The once slaughter woman and now a no nonsense mechanic who can change your oil filter, air filter and life expectancy. Famous question "How do you turn it on?" She loves nature in spite of what it did to her.”

Mr Dillip Patel 
(owner Taj Mahal) A soft spoken man of the people. Councillor and prospective conservative token. Famous question "Why did they build the ruins so close to the canal?" Most hurtful comment: 'Is that your real face or are you still celebrating Halloween.'

Mr Rodney 'rodders' Drain 
(CaRT worker retired) The man who knows where the bodies are buried as he attended to most of them. With an incisive knowledge of the inner workings of a sluice. Famous statement "There are too many managers, voles, frogs, bugs, leeches, spiders and spider webs. Please spray the towpath to rid the area of these pests."

Ms Doris Drain 
(Wife and brother lover) Gender reassignment and immac patron. Always knows the direction he or she is travelling in (which really annoys her husband). Famous question "I request your permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen."

Mr John 'creepy' Crawley 
(apprentice) The token apprentice, tea maker, tool carrier and guffer. Famous question "What do you do with the ice sculptures after they melt?"

Ms Jessie Coalhouse 
(marina manager) in charge of lost dogs and causes. A person who keeps on talking when others are no longer listening. Once described as A lady short on looks" Absolutely deprived of any dress sense, has a figure like a Jurassic monster, very greedy when it comes to money and comes complete with no tact.” Famous statement "I start every day off with a smile and get it over with."

Sir Asa Haggard-Luke 
(Minister for the inland waterways) went to Eton and a bit of a vocal critic of the trust, which he regards as being anti-democratic, economically unworkable and destructive of the historic inland waterways. Hagster it seems was destined for great things. It all started when he was a special adviser to Sir Rupert Forte-Poxxe the Secretary of State for paper clips. 

Famous Statement "If you are trying to insult me, you are going to have to use smaller words."

Sir Rupert Forte-Poxxe
(Secretary of State for paper clips) Top Tory Toff in the Envelope Agency. 

Famous Statement "Wine improves with age. I improve with wine."

The Inner Sanctum 
(getting it wrong Directorate) These are the gang who keep the inland waterways in tip top condition. 

Famous question: "why does the water go hard in winter?"

The Inner Sanctum 
(cock-up directorate) This team makes tasteful modifications to the style of leakage patterns on lock gates and poetry carving. Famous question "Who has the key for the locks"

The Inner Sanctum (back orifice staff) 
No business in the world can succeed without those smart unsung hero's. The boys and girls in the office. The kind of girls who think 'friends with benefits' means seeing someone who's claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. Famous question "Hello caller, where is the Grand Union Canal?"

The Inner Sanctum 
(enforcement dictatorship) The well known team of IWA boat licence checkers. With their self inflating braces and carrying a FaRT skeleton key.  A style of dress that lets them blend into the background. Dressed to resemble that homeless man who shouts at pigeons outside Aldi. Worst comment received: "What problems do you have, apart from being blind, unemployable and a moron?"

The Inner Sanctum
(money wasting directorate) In charge of bad investments for maintaining in a poor condition the future of the man made, mud filled, water leaking, ditch complex. Also responsible for answering all of the Cycling Angling Rambling Trust freedom of information requests. Famous question: "Does a backward poet writes inverse"

The Inner Sanctum 
(toilet directorate) A group who are all flushed with success. 

Famous statement: "The man who fell into an upholstery machine is now fully recovered. "

Lord and Lady Henley 'cocky' Cockmarsh 
(toff trustee) the trustee tasked with maintaining the flora and fauna along the towpath. Famous quote "Chopsticks are one of the reasons the Chinese never invented custard."

Mr Rick 'Paddy' O'Shey 
(redundant volunteer) barrack-room raconteur and jig dancer. A drinker of the Irish Black Lager. 

Famous statement  "I'm on a whiskey diet. I've lost three days already."


Alvin 'Buster' Spotte  
(Truss environmental scientist) World expert on treacle bending and water twisting technology. The man with an inferiority complex - that is fully justified. Famous quote: "He had a photographic memory that was never fully developed"

Peregrine 'Dicky' Bowe 
(FaRT Employee of the month past winner) The FaRT 'employee of the month award' is a unique event where the chosen employee can be both a winner and a loser at the same time. Famous quote: "It's literally just a curd to me that Tofu is overrated."

Mr Ranjit Singh

(turban shop and bicycle store owner) An emporium of bargain basement goods and services. Slogan: 'never beaten on a second hand price'.

Mr Ally Slash
(head of floaters) Famous quote: "I thought it was a Fart."

Mrs Antonia 'Tonker' Pailes
(Charwoman of the bored) Famous quote: "I've just taken a pregnancy test and the questions were hard"

Mr Art Sifartsi.
(CaRT poet) Famous Quote: "Sometimes I think I understand everything, and then I regain consciousness."

Mr Al Coholic, Mr Alvin D'Lottery, Mr Ames High Mr Angus Beef, Mr Harry Verderci, Mr Ariel Hassle, Mr Arlo Prices, Mr Armand Aleg and Mr Arthur Itus.
(Volunteer chuggers)

Ms Annie Daynow.

Ms Agusta Wind, Lady Ann Tenna, Ms Anne T. Social
(Volunteer Licence Checkers) 


Daily Bugle 
(newspaper) The Inland Waterways newspaper of choice for the discerning boater. Banner "If you want to know what god thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to"

Towpath Heliograph 
(Newspaper) The bush telegraph of the inland waterways. The place where news is news before its news.


Dulwich Dishwasher
(narrowboat) Home to cap't Bob and his first mate the Memsahib. A smart vessel turned out in the standard IWA canal livery of two tone rust and roof logs!

Kahn's Corner Shop 
(canal street) Kahn's proprietor works hard to provide a selection of the more interesting flavours of the far east. All served with rice or chips and a bottle of 'specialist list' wine. Famous Statement "Why is it called alcoholics anonymous when the first thing you do is stand up and say your name?"

Inner Sanctum 
(sanitary block Directorate) The place where the senior managers gather together to exchange idea's, jokes and lists of pop porn websites.  Famous question "I wonder, do they sterilize needles for lethal injections?"

The Shed 
(headquarters) A place of mystery and bewilderment for all who walk through the portal each day.  Famous Statement "What's a canal used for?"

Cinque Marina 
(canal towpath) A struggling 5000 berth marina with an interesting eclectic mixture of staff and clientèle. Famous statement "This is like deja vu all over again."

Finch and Boat 
(towpath pub) One of the more salubrious canal side hostelries with a clientèle that includes boaters and waterways employees. A constant source of embarrassing leaks to the towpath telegraph. Usually emanating from the marina managers office. Open seven days a week. Closed Sundays. Famous statement "Would you like ice in your Lager?"

Slug and Lettuce 
(towpath pub) The sort of pub where you wipe your feet on the way out. The evening meeting point for our care in the community patrons.  Famous Statement "If a man is walking in a forest and no women is there to hear him is he still wrong?"

Halitosis and Cirrhosis 
(towpath pub) Sky sports, two for one, happy hour and fizzy beer were all invented here. As was the steri strip replacement for cat gut stitches.  Famous Question "What colour would a smurf turn if you choked it?"

Pig and Bladder 
(towpath pub) Bouncers statement "The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it’s still on the list."

Tug and Buttie 
(towpath pub) old boaters pub that has been rebuilt and fitted out as a Yates wine lodge. 

Taj Mahal  
(high street restaurant) The location of the regular Friday evening free for all that masquerades as the pick-up point for the local police find you a room service. Complementary mints are served with all meals. "Burger for two" is a whole loaf of crunchy French bread running end to end with broiled hamburger topped with melted yellow cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Accompanied by a mound of French fried potatoes, red pepper relish, ketchup, and pickle wedges. Delivered to your table by two waitresses. Side orders are extra and not included.

Ragman and Trumpet 
(towpath pub) Watering hole of the scroats. Where free advice is given using the old boatman's colourful vernacular. As sky sports is unavailable, as someone has not recovered the TV. Regular entertaining handbag fights are available on demand. Famous statement "Psst! would you like to buy your watch?"

Creek and Paddle 
(towpath pub) With wall to wall sawdust that compliments the gallery of old canal pictures and brass spittoons.   

Leaky Lock 
(towpath pub) A place where the regular visiting cask ales have interesting names. Amongst the more memorable are 'double vision', 'glug and chug', 'droop', 'wife beater',  amber gambler' and 'wet fart'. 

Canal and Cadaver 
 (towpath pub) Home to the inland waterways ladies 'Arm Wrestling' team. Described as "Sultry, like drinking chocolate from the back of a moose."

Old Gullible 
(towpath pub) A regular watering hole for the forcibly retired legions of bankside staff.

Floral and Hardy (towpath pub) A select watering hole for the chintz curtain, shiny mushroom boat owner brigade.

Ferret and Finger 
(towpath pub) Favourite saying of the landlord "If you are trying to insult me, you are going to have to use your fists."

Gusset and Flies 
(towpath pub)  regular watering hole of the trust management. Famous Statement "Talking to yourself is good for getting expert advice!"

Junk and Disorderly 
(towpath pub) a canalside watering hole where you get thrown in at the same time as you get thrown out.

Whole and Truncheon 
(towpath pub) Canal Street Gay watering hole where anything can and usually does happen.

Giggle and Snigger  
(towpath pub) 

Rusty Dredger  
(towpath pub) 

Bar and Belle  
(towpath pub) Home of FaRT's Ladies weight Lifting Team.

Jolly Taxpayer 
(Towpath Pub)

Bucket and Chuck It  
(Towpath Pub)

Trout and Pout Under aged drinking den.
(Towpath Pub)

Knocker and Knob
(Towpath Pub)

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