My first post!
I have been "watching" the CWDF for a couple of years or so as a guest, having bought Ar Lass just over two years ago and have found many, many, of the threads informative, entertaining and sometimes thought provoking.
Until this evening I have not felt the need, confidence or motivation to subscribe and given what seems to be happening it seems ironic somehow that today turns out to be the day.....
Being moored in the Blisworth area and having the luxury, being retired (early) of spending weeks at a time on my boat, in the Marina or in the area I find that one of my dog's favourite walks is along the Northampton Arm and the Rothersthorpe Flight. The towpath is mostly gravelled and even in the wettest weather I am normally able to return to the boat with a relatively clean and mud free dog.
Over the last couple of years I have bumped into "Leon" and chatted with him many times and feel the need to speak up.
He is, in IMHO, a nice guy and to coin a phrase - there but for the grace of....., who has been handed the dirty end of the stick.
He has acknowledged to me, many times, that he has an alcohol problem which often becomes exacerbated later in the day but he would love to be able to get it sorted. He can be a little eccentric at times and his dress code can be more than a little revealing on occasions.
Yes, he does offer to help Boats up and down the flight, ideally for a few quid in return but often gets nothing despite the Boat Owner agreeing initially to pay. Some offer food, some offer alcohol, tobacco, whatever. He has many regular clients from the Middle Levels etc who ring him and book his services a few days ahead.
He seems to me to be a guy who is at least trying to make his way in life and yes he has two homes - he was delighted to show me his new home a couple of weeks ago - a new tent he bought in the end of season sale from Tesco for £7.50 which would come in handy if No 1 Tent is damaged over the coming winter.
It has been reported elsewhere that the CRT have obtained an ASBO to keep him away from the flight but I have been assured that this is not the case despite the three attempts CRT made to get it through the courts.
I have heard via the proverbial "towpath telegraph" that he has allegedly intimidated some Owners into paying over the odds for his services - this may be true, but I echo the opinions of the majority of the earlier posters who have found him to be a real help in negotiating the flight.
To summarise - he's a nice guy trying to earn a crust rather than sitting on his backside begging and if he's pissed then tell him to bugger off - surely you wont want to risk having a drunken guy helping you up/down 17 locks?