Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane

Geoffrey Shryhane

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A LOT of let’s say “older folks” have discovered the delights and frustrations of using a computer. Good on them, I say.

Email means they can stay in touch with their friends ... and the world. People say the written letter has bitten the dust. It hasn’t. It’s been replaced by email. But trusty old inky Parker for personal letters and letters of sympathy.

But there’s a black side to this email wizardry.

This very morning, I’ve had an email to tell me that I need to make changes to my PayPal account. Really. That’s odd. I don’t have a PayPal account.

E-on which supplies my gas and electricity has sent an email to say I can now view my account on line. It’s a lie. I haven’t signed up and have insisted I’m sent three-monthy bills.

Amazon – from whom I bought a book – have emailed wanting me to confirm my account number. Why? I don’t have an account and don’t want one.

Similar emails come in from banks – even the one I deal with. Thing is, banks don’t email their customers so are we to presume these electronic communications are a way of getting our bank details fraudulently. Answer: Yes.

So computer users beware. There are a lot of bad people out there.

A STORY about Winston Churchill and Edward Heath and Wigan artist Gerald Rickards comes Wigan World’s way this week.

Through his life, the war-time Prime Minister was an enthusiastic and competent artist – and today his paintings are worth fortunes.

Mildred Rickards, widow of the late and still greatly respected artist Gerald tells a story about how her husband met Mr Heath – and they talked about art.

Gerald took up Edward Heath’s offer to view Arundells, his magnificent Georgian home in the shadow of Salisbury Cathedral. And it was there Gerald saw the watercolour painting – signed twice – which the great man had given to the young MP.

Said Mildred: “Mr Heath was very interested in Gerald’s work and said he would do his best to attend an exhibition which was then on in Salisbury. Alas, an entertaining engagement prevented him.

“Gerald said Mr Heath was a wonderfully charming man of impeccable taste and he said Winston had signed the painting on completion and again when he presented it to Mr Heath who was a great supporter of the war-time leader.”

IT’S true, the conditions of some of our roads defy belief. Pot holes as big as puddings countless badly scabbed sections.

It’s true, too, that the government has chucked in a few million to help local authorities deal with the problems.

But today, I’m able to tell you that the condition of Wigan Road has been terrible before ... way back in 1771.

In his book, A Smiths Months Tour through the North of England” author Arthur Young writes: “I know not, in the whole range of language, terms sufficiently impressive to describe this infernal road.

“To look over a map, and perceive that it is a principal road, not only to some towns but to whole counties, one would naturally conclude it to be at least decent; it is not.

“But let me most seriously caution all travellers. Avoid this road as they would the devil.

“For a thousand to one that they break their necks or their limbs by overthrows or breaking down.

“They will meet ruts which I actually measured four feet deep, and floating with mud from a wet summer. What therefore is it after a winter?

“The only mending it receives is the tumbling in some loose stones, which serve no other purpose but jolting a carriage in the most intolerable manner.”

So there we are – nothing changes.

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