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The image of the cover of Tales from the Cut by Carl Leckey, Published by Léonie Press

Tales of the Cut

Written by Carl Leckey MBE CF

ISBN: 978-1-901253-52-8
(Old ISBN: 1 901253 52 X)

232 pages, paperback, 146mm x 208mm.
4 black and white Photos
Published by Leonie Press, November 2005.
Reprinted December 2005, October 2006,
March 2010, October 2011, March 2013

Price: £ 9.99 Postage and Packing:

e-Book versions
Kindle format ISBN: 978-1-909727-12-0
Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN): B00LR78XW2
Click here to buy from Amazon

About the Book

Carl Leckey MBE has spent his life as a seaman and worker on and around the rivers and canals of North West England. He says: "During my career I came across many colourful characters on the waterways. I began collecting stories at the time and taking notes. I wasn't sure what to do with them but when I had to take early retirement I decided to write about them."

The author is a born story-teller and his hilarious 'Tales of the Cut' does for the tight-knit macho world of the Northern waterways what the writer James Herriot did for Yorkshire and the life of a country vet.

He describes with relish the almost surreal 'big debates' held each day at 'baggin time' when the often unlettered men argue over newspaper articles and vie with one another to tell the most preposterous yarns.

One of the chief characters is the toothless boatie 'Arry, who although unable to read or write, carries on numerous lucrative scams in addition to his legitimate work as a labourer for the company. His vast girth is apparently held together by an enormous belt fashioned from the remains of his last boat-horse's harness.

Readers also meet Big Al (a 5ft 1ins former Italian POW), Puddling Paul, Pontius Pilot (the 'hand-washing' foreman), Hissing Syd, Sam (caught dancing naked in his garden at midnight), the naive Nice Lady from HQ, the divers Snitch and Snatch and many other memorable personalities - not to mention the lock dogs, always ready to cadge tasty tit-bits from the crews of passing ships.

About the Author

Carl Leckey

Carl Leckey is the youngest of three children. He grew up in wartime Britain and loved the excitement of having Italian prisoners of war in the area. His time as a kid was spent collecting shrapnel and clambering around the shipwrecks on the shore of the Mersey.

One of his favourite places was his grandfather's allotment where old World War One comrades would meet in the garden shed to share a drink and a smoke. They would reminisce and talk through the horrors of what they had experienced. If a boy kept quiet, he could hear all sorts of things to fire the imagination.

Carl served on the Mersey tugs for 15 years with a break for two years' National Service from the age of 19 to 21. On returning to the tugs he rose to the rank of Mate, before being made redundant at the age of 30 in 1968 when the company was taken over.

He then worked as a Leading Lock Keeper for British Waterways in Cheshire for 28 years until ill-health brought premature retirement. He was a Union Steward Convenor, and Worker Representative on the Company Pension Fund Management Committee.

In 1985 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study Ports and Harbour Services on the Mississippi and Yangtze Rivers in the USA and China. In 1995 he was awarded an MBE for services to British Waterways.

Since he and Rose moved from the lock-keeper's cottage at Dutton Locks to an apartment overlooking the Mersey estuary at New Brighton. Carl has made such an impact on his new community that he has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), so he has more letters to add after his name to keep company with his MBE and CF (Churchill Fellow).

The Angels of Mons by Carl Leckey

His first book,"The Angels of Mons", was published in New Zealand (where his children now live) in 2004. It is an immensely moving novel about the horrors of the First World War, and the hero is a resourceful under-age soldier who, like Carl's grandfather, is put into the Labour Corps. He is initially given the ghastly task of burying the battlefield dead and the body parts left over from field surgery, then graduates to becoming an ambulance driver, working with brave "conchie" stretcher-bearers. One of them becomes his mentor. The detail in the book is so extraordinarily vivid that Carl feels the story was "channelled" through him by a dead stretcher-bearer as a means of bringing these terrible experiences out into the public domain. Most old soldiers have understandably avoided describing such painful and squalid circumstances in their memoirs about the Great War. Read more about "The Angels of Mons" by visiting the Carl's website, The Angels of Mons or the book's page in our "Other books" section..

Carl has let us have a small number of signed and annotated copies of "The Angels of Mons" to sell on his behalf in the UK. The book is 303 pages long and costs £ 9.99 + £ 1.82 postage and package.


The author has received a number of comments on the book by e-mail, click here to view them.

Carl Leckey on the Granada TV lunchtime news

Carl was interviewed on the Granada TV lunchtime news on Tuesday, 8th November 2005 and articles appeared in several of the local newspapers. The most detailed one was by Anthony Harvison in the Northwich Mail and can be seen by clicking the link.

Waterways World, ISSN 0309-1422, February 2006, P104

Click on the cover photo to see the original of this review.

Tales of the Cut by Carl Leckey Published by Leonie Press. 228 pages. £9.99. ISBN 190125352X

"Does for the tight-knit macho world of the Northern waterways what the writer James Herriot did for Yorkshire and the life of a country vet" - so runs the blurb. It's a fair description: but even All Creatures Great and Small never contained so many tall tales of "daft buggers" as Tales of the Cut.

Carl 'Scouse' Leckey was a lock-keeper on the River Weaver, awarded an MBE in 1995 for services to the waterways. These memoirs are light on waterway detail but heavy on characterisation, mercilessly caricaturing his colleagues and superiors.

The piece de resistance is an account of Carl's efforts as a rookie swing bridge operator, as he recounts hanging a dog, wrecking a vintage Mini, and putting a horse to flight in the course of one madcap swing - aided by his faithful mate 'Arry, who invariably disappears to the pub at the first sign of trouble. (Inevitably, the owner of the Mini and the horse-rider end up married.) Tales of the Cut is not for the squeamish, nor for anyone looking for an insight into the craft of a lock-keeper, but makes an enjoyable bedtime read.

Richard Fairhurst, Waterways World, February 2006, P 104
Waterways World is the best selling waterway magazine in the UK and in 2005 it had an audited average monthly circulation of 16,782 copies.

Canals and Rivers, April 2006, P??

A good many years ago, I was on a boat travelling down the Weaver from Northwich, and noticed something distinctly odd as we passed through Dutton Locks. Right alongside was a large open-topped container of some sort, with two pairs of be-trousered and booted legs sticking out of the top at crazy angles. I never did discover exactly what it was all about, beyond the fact that the lock-keeper was a lively man with a quirky sense of humour. This book finally gives me the full answer, and gives me, and others, an opportunity to meet the humorist.

Carl Leckey is the man, but he is far more than just a humorist. Indeed, his first book, published in 2004, could hardly have been further removed from the humorous side of life as it was a novel about the horrors of the First World War. A comparative newcomer to authorship, he spent his working life on and around the waterways of the North West as a tugman, lock-keeper and union representative. He came across many colourful characters during this time, and started making notes of the stories surrounding them. He is a born story-teller, and also has the knack of writing the stories down in an interesting way, a skill that he honed through attending a course for writers. He has become a prolific and versatile writer, much in demand also as a speaker. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1985 to study ports and harbour services in the USA and China, and received the MBE in 1995 for services to the waterways.

This book is a selection of the stories that he noted down during his working life, and an uproarious lot they are. A sly and villainous old scamp called 'Arry features strongly, but there is a strong supporting cast of unusual characters whose activities the author describes in a breezy and humorous way, not sparing the vernacular. Among others, we get to meet Hissing Sid, the divers Snitch and Snatch, Puddling Paul and the Nice but Naïve Lady from HQ. We have a final meeting with her in the last chapter, which tells the hilarious story of the retirement party in a posh restaurant that 'Arry and his Missus attended, tempted there by the prospect of free booze and grub. 'Arry behaved true to form, and chaos ensued. Carl Leckey's Tales of the Cut end on a high note, and leave you wanting more.

Stanley Holland, Canals and Rivers, April 2006
Sadly the magazine has subsequently ceased publication.

Weaver News, 19th January 2006 - The magazine of the River Weaver Navigation Society

"Tales of the Cut" by Carl Leckey MBE
Colin Edmondson tells you about this book written by one of our members

Carl Leckey's new book is superb! I went along to the launch evening at the Salt Museum in Northwich and it turned out to be a great evening. There were waterways people there from all over the country and extra chairs had to be brought in several times.

Carl is a hell of a speaker, after saying he is going to say a few words he keeps you in stitches for hours*, the tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was not the only one. The story about the first proper toilet he had seen after several weeks in China and what it did to him, well, you will have to ask him yourself!

The queue for signed copies of the book lasted for ages, some folks taking ten copies at a go. I bought a copy and took it home, intending to read a chapter or two before bedtime. I finished the book at about two in the morning, I could not put it down.

All the stories in the book are real, but they have been interwoven into the lives of an imaginary gang working on the Weaver and the surrounding canals, and the antics that this lot get up to are hilarious.

Finish one chapter and you just can't help wanting to see what is going to happen next. The things that happen to characters like Puddling Paul and 'Arry will keep you in stitches, so keep your hanky handy, I haven't laughed so much for ages. This book should be on your bookshelves, but not until it has been read a couple of times at least.

Colin Edmondson, Weaver News, P.13, 19th January 2006

* You can see from the photos of the launch that his wife, Rose, did manage to stop him talking in the end!

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