Memories of ‘wild child’ from Wigan Lane

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

Memories and musings with Geoffrey Shryhane...

It’s just over a decade since a famous daughter of this town died. She had known the good times and the bad.

Thankfully, Jennifer Moss found peace at the end of her life after a soul-searching journey to India to find herself. So let’s recall Jenny’s rollercoaster life.

Her first showbusiness experience was on Children’s Hour when she was 12 and it was here she met Tony Warren, who later would create The Street. She appeared in two TV plays and in 1960 won the part of Lucille in the soap, appearing in 756 episodes.

The first Coronation Street wild child, who played Lucille for 14 years truly lived life to the full in those early days.

It was during the Equity strike in 1961 that Jenny was able to spread her wings. She socialised with the Beatles and appeared in a film “Live it Up” with David Hemmings.

Then with famous Joe Meek producing, she made four records. Then the music faded away.

As we know, an alcohol problem resulted in her leaving the cobbles in 1974 and there were the wilderness years and sadly she got into trouble with the law.

It took a long time for the diminutive actress get her life together and for two years from 1986, she appeared in the role of Stephen McGann’s mother in a show titled “Help”. She also appeared in the Bread Christmas special and an episode of Hetty Wainthrop alongside Patricia Routledge.

Married five times, Jenny finally found happiness with Steve Ramsden and they ran an internet-based stamp business from their home in Scotland. She had three children, one died at three days old. In the last year of her life she made a spiritual journey to India where she came to terms with her father’s death.

Jenny always maintained: “I never wanted to be an actress but my mother pushed me into it. I wanted to be a lawyer.”

Jennifer is buried alongside her father in Gidlow Cemetery.

Words come and words go. And I’ve only just realised that there are words both in and out of fashion.

Words in common use a quarter of a century ago are used far less frequently today.

Thankfully our very own “Eh by gum” is still at the very pinnacle of verbal popularity.

Sadly “ta-ta” has gone by the board. Fewer people use “marvellous”. Ladies don’t refer to “perms” any more and “cassette” has faded away.

Two universities have spent several years researching words to identify how our language is changing.

Here’s a list of words from the 90s: Croquet, draught, crossword, playschool, whatsername, boxer, ta-ra, matey and cobbler.

Words common today: Twitter, internet, Facebook, awesome, YouTube,

massively, email, texted, iPad, Google, yoga, iPhone and laptop.

A question – have manners gone out of the window?

The answer: “I very much think so.”

Going down those ever-dingy stairs leading from the multi storey car park into that ghost town of shut shops, I held the door for those behind. Did they say thanks – no chance. Need I say that the non-acknowledgers were young people? Again.

In a restaurant, half the youngsters and adults at one party table were fiddling with their mobile phones.

It seems the art of conversation has not been lost – it just happens down millions of cell phones instead of face to face.

And what about folks who put their feet on the seats of buses and trains?

When the ticket collectors demand “feet down” they look perplexed.

They’ve never been taught manners, you see.

On the London underground last week, it was obvious that people offering their seats to old folks was a thing of the past. Wonky-legged pensioners swung this way and that, but not one was offered a seat.

I should be used to it by now. But people spitting in the street remains the limit.

A gobber missed me my by inches just last week.

Now those folks with humongous packs on their backs. They turn and almost floor half a dozen pedestrians. I tackled one but was told: “You wrinklies are always moaning. Get a life.”

And those trolleys with little wheels – and suitcases – dragged along by all and sundry are a total danger. Wouldn’t it be better to push them rather than pull?

And may I say that motorists’ manners aren’t what they were. Giving way to drivers in tight spaces often doesn’t give a “thanks” with a raised hand. Moaning over. All in all it’s a wonderful life with spring and the light nights round the corner.

What could be better?

A young Billinge-born actor is currently delighting audiences all over the country with his portrayal as the Cheshire Cat – in the new family musical Wonderland based on Alice in Wonderland.

Dominic Owen 23, plays in the show,which is already touring and is on its way to Manchester Palace from April 24 to 30.

He went through a series of tough auditions and was more than chuffed to win the part. But the biggest challenge – to decide on the Cheshire cat’s accent.

He laughed: “Coming from Wigan I decided to try speaking in my George Formby Wigan voice. Well that caused a lot of laughter. But it wasn’t right for the Cheshire Cat so we eventually settled on a Cockney accent. I think the first seeds of acting were planted when I was at school in Billinge all those years ago.”

Although still young, he has had his fair share of success – playing in various musicals, including Holly Dolly and Fame, and in television ads.

The family show also features Wendi Peters, who played Cilla in Coronation Street.

Terry and Doris Wynn’s golden wedding was a very smart affair. A swanky hotel, a slap-up meal and some dancing to 60s music and yummy cake.

I was more than privileged to be invited to their celebration – and all those present said they were honoured to know a couple as fine as Mr and Mrs Wynn.

Just before the meal, a superb slide show… but eh, wasn’t there something missing?

I expected there to be loads of photos of the former royal engineer, then snaps of his stint on Wigan Council and as a member of the European Parliament.

But I should have known better. The evening was totally devoted to family and family values. How smart was that?

The guests include people Terry had worked with in various parts of Europe and they’d flown in specially. All spoke highly of the man himself, and of the pleasure of meeting Doris. It must be said – and said with a sense of satisfaction – that Terry and Doris have never lost sight of their roots. Platt Bridge still has a big place in their hearts.

The invitation requested “no presents” but there were envelopes for a charity donation. Around £1,300 was raised.

Terry and Doris had the first dance – to their favourite Beatles song. Truly, a good night was had by all.