Take Two with Colin Drury

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A Dickens of a tale

So, did Sheffield serial crook Charles Peace really inspire the famous Charles Dickens villain Bill Sykes? This is the claim made by a new(ish) digital audio trail which charts the history of the Sheffield to Tinsley Canal and its immediate surroundings. Local voices and musicians tell the stories of the rich industrial and social past of the waterway for walkers to then access via their mobile phone. And anyone who’s had a listen will know it’s an excellent idea excellently executed. Except for that theory about Sheffield’s most notorious villain, it seems. Ron Clayton, amateur historian, notes Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, in which Sykes appears, in 1838 – when killer and con man Peace would have been just six-years-old. “Unless he was especially young when he started his notorious crime spree or Dickens could see into the future, I don’t think there’s any link between the two,” notes our man.


And staying by the canal, a picture of the sun setting over Attercliffe is set to go on show in Moscow. Sheffield artist Panni Poh Yoke Loh painted the winter skyscape after being stunned by its harsh beauty. Now, audiences in Russia’s capital will get to share the thrill of a cold afternoon in the industrial area when the picture goes on display at the Moscow International Spring Festival.


Great sign in Sheffield’s continental market which ran in Fargate this week: “Free Beer Tomorrow”.


And here’s something you don’t hear too often – a Sheffielder who thinks the city council is doing a decent job. Richard Holmes emails to take this column to task for regularly criticising the authority. He’s particularly irked by a claim our elected representatives often prove difficult to get hold of. “Maybe they would be more willing to talk if your paper didn’t take such an obvious anti-council stance,” he notes. “Yes, the council gets things wrong sometimes. We all do. But they get a lot more things right which are not reported. My experience of councillors is that they work hard to try and do the best for the city. I realise it’s a Sheffielder’s hobby to slag off the council but a bit of balance would be welcome.” Done.