Desert Sons are back in business

The Sons of the Desert setting up a new tent at The Honeysuckle in Poolstock with Gary Winstanley and his son Jack
The Sons of the Desert setting up a new tent at The Honeysuckle in Poolstock with Gary Winstanley and his son Jack
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WIGAN’S Sons of the Desert are back from the wilderness!

Local fans of comedy legends Laurel and Hardy will be delighted to learn that the man whose resignation from the appreciation society’s borough branch caused its collapse has decided to return to office.

Taxi driver Gary Winstanley is already making plans to resume monthly meetings at Poolstock’s Honeysuckle pub.

And he is now looking further ahead to September next year and what will be Wigan’s 20th annual Laurel and HarDay.

The 19th was rescued at the 11th hour last month by a Widnes branch chairman and staged at Bryn Labour Club.

Only weeks earlier local Sons had been resigned to travelling further afield for their entertainment and get-togethers because Gary’s stepping down as Grand Sheik of Wigan’s Dirty Work tent (branch) had dominoed into complete closure.

But after family commitments became less troublesome and his enthusiasm was refired by visiting the Laurel and HarDay, he was bitten by the bug again.

He said: “I had been involved in the Sons for 20 years before resigning, it’s not something you give up easily.

“And so after a few months I realised I was missing it badly.

“I have had a talk with some of my friends and running events in future is going to be very much a team effort with no one person in charge.”

The first meeting back will be on the evening of Wednesday October 12 with future meetings thereafter taking place on the second Wednesday of each month.

However, as luck would have it, the Honeysuckle is closing for a month in November and so the second gathering will be in December.

The meetings feature expert talks, games and of course screenings of the popular duo’s films.

The Sons of the Desert was set up in the 1960s with the agreement of Stan Laurel and is named after one of his and Ollie’s best movies (they are members of some secret gents’ club with North African overtones – hence the fezzes sported by members).

Each tent is also named after Laurel and Hardy films, the Wigan one being Dirty Work: a short subject with the pair as bungling chimney sweeps and which ends with Ollie falling into a bath so overdosed with a nutty professor’s rejuvenation elixir that he regresses to a chimp.

Sons meetings generally begin at 8pm and all are welcome (so that includes Daughters too).