My World with Geoffrey Shryhane

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

Before Wigan Pier was transformed into a prize-winning tourist attraction, a Wigan councillor who shall remain nameless (in fact he’s passed on now) made a suggestion which seemed outrageous at the time.

He put forward the view that the old Pier buildings be demolished and the land given over to housing.

As you can imagine there was uproar – Wigan without its Pier was unthinkable.

Today that housing proposal doesn’t seem all that amazing.

For, like you, I’ve watched with feelings of great sadness as the Pier attractions have closed and have watched as the whole tourist attraction has tumbled into oblivion. The old coal tippler, unveiled years ago, looks sad a neglected.

Today there’s a deafening sound of silence where once the laughter of children and adult visitors roamed the mock-up of the mine, the school room and a host of authentic attractions including a pub.

It wouldn’t be true to say that as far as historic Wigan Pier is concerned, “all is lost.”

The whole area has been rebranded “The Wigan Pier Quarter.” But it’s clear that nothing’s going to happen overnight.

There’s a 10-year plan, now in the very early stages, and what interests me is just how the world-famous Pier will be celebrated in the new scheme.

Wigan Pier has put our town on the map. Some say for all the wrong reasons and that it has made the town a laughing stock.

Well laughing stock or not, Wigan and its Pier are joined at the hip, and it will be interesting to see just how the legend is perpetuated as the 10-year plan forges ahead…

Pensioners in Wigan were scrapping in those long-ago Edwardian days.

William Fairhurst, of Schofield Lane, Wigan, certainly had the appearance of having weathered storms of many years when he appeared in the dock at Wigan Court, charged with unlawfully wounding his wife, aged 70.

The Chief Constable said that the previous night, the couple had a glass of beer together and went to bed.

They had words and he took up an iron bolt and struck her in the face, causing injuries.

The wife was desirous of not pressing the case. It seemed a pity that two persons of their age should be in such a position.

The defendant said he was only “strange” when he had had a drop to drink.

Alderman Richards said he had known the couple all his life. It was a shame to see them in court.

The Chief Constable, answering the Chairman, said the man had a number of convictions for selling “slink” (prematurely born meat).

Fairhurst: “That is ore and past. (Laughter in court).

Asked by the Chairman, Mr O’ Rushton, what he had to say in his defence, the prisoner replied: “I getten drunk.” (Laughter in court).

The complainant asked to be allowed to withdraw the charge and this the court allowed but told the defendant to conduct himself better in the future.

If I could wave a magic wand and be granted just one BIG wish, what would it be?

Would it be to win the lottery? Would it be to own a Roller? Would it be to be 21 again? Being realistic it would be none of those things. So what would it be? Simple it would be to abolish the “dark nights.” They get me down big style.

All nights are dark, of course, but those between October and March which plunge us into what seems like permanent black hole drastically affect mine and millions of other peoples’ lives.

As I write, the nights are seriously drawing in despite the fact that the clocks don’t go back until later in October.

To tell you the truth (would I lie to you?) years ago I never used to notice when it went dark at tea time.

I reckon I was far too busy to give thought to such trifles.

The decades slip by. Once the house was full. Not now. Just me with only the telly for company. Sometimes time hangs heavy.

But the dark nights are one of the biggest enemies, especially for folks who live alone.

What’s the answer?

Alas there isn’t one.

I have to admit it – I was really looking forward to handling my first new-type five pound note.

The day they came out, I couldn’t lay my hands on one. Not for love nor money. And I tried both.

But come the day, come the hour I was presented with the new note in my change.

I needn’t have been excited because it’s absolutely dreadful. I’ve never seen anything as cheap and nasty looking in my life.

I might be getting my knickers in a twist over something unimportant here. But consider this – we are landed with this awful fiver for the rest of our lives.

To put it bluntly, the note looks akin to something in one of those toy post office sets from Christmases long ago.

It hasn’t an ounce of credibility. Plastic it might be, but it looks totally insubstantial and its turquoise colour sickeningly garish.

Of course I wouldn’t refuse if somebody offered me a sackful. But that’s unlikely.

Many decades ago, the five pound note was considered to be of high value. Today the fiver finances a couple of frothy coffees or parking in Manchester for five minutes.

That said, there’s no reason why the new fiver should have been made so small and insignificant.

That said, we can only wonder what the new £10 and £20 notes will be like.

By and large, we live in a wonderful world. And watching the news, each and every one of us should realise just how lucky we are.

But I wonder if I’m right in believing that there are too many moaners… too many folks who seem to have a completely negative attitude to life.

I’ve written before about some folks at Wigan bus station complaining about everything from the state of the transport to the state of the station.

I tried to tell one couple that Wigan is lucky to have such a marvellous array of bus services. But I might as well have been speaking in Hindu.

I told them: “If you don’t like the bus service, then get a car.” I just wish you could have seen the looks on their faces as they spluttered about being poor pensioners.

It seems to me that some people, once young and optimistic, somehow drift into later years and fall into negatives grooves. To put it bluntly, moaning becomes a way of life.

A couple of old biddies (sorry ladies) quaffing cups of tea in the Market Hall were not only complaining about this, that and the other, but they looked as if they had the troubles of the world on their shoulders.

One was moaning that the children next door were making too much noise, that the lady at No 6 didn’t clean her windows “proper” and that “him at the end house” was on the invalidity when there was nothing wrong with him.

The other lady moaned and groaned about the council not giving her a rent rebate, about next door’s cat doing its worst on her backdoor step and about not getting a doctor’s appointment until a week on Wednesday.

“It’s not right” she said. And her friend said: “No. It’s not right at all.”

The two went on their way mumbling and grumbling. And it was then that it struck me that for many moaning has become a way of life.

Cheer up folks.