Geoffrey Shryhane’s memories and musings...
I’d like to tell you that I’m sitting here listening to some
high-brow classical music. Tchaikovsky, perhaps. Or hiding away listening to Haydn.
Alas no. Just now I’m tapping my feet to a hit “You were made for me” by Freddie and the Dreamers.
Music and people’s tastes came to mind when reading some of Noel Coward’s best one-liners. One was that cheap music was very potent. It is.
Whether we like it not, music impacts on us all.
I think back to childhood days after the war when the record Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit, Run Run Run sung by the far from hip swinging Flanagan and Allen.
It had originally cocked a musical snook at Hitler.
I suspect that popular music becomes a reality when those teenage hormones kick in.
In the years leading up to the big 1950s musical tsunami, popular vocalists like Kay Star, Rosemary Clooney, Eddie Fisher, Patti Page and Tony Bennett became forgotten names on the old juke boxes.
Now old and decrepit, I am a child of the pre-Beatle era.
And remember with a tad of excitement the songs of the Everley Brothers, Perry Como, Max Bygraves, Michael Holliday, Connie Frances. We kids thought them awful.
Then there was a massive musical explosion with the arrival of Elvis Presley around 1956. Things changed but it took the Beatles in those first days of the 60s to alter everything. Yeah yeah yeah. And the young pop pickers were well and truly all shook up.
To some extent, the Beatles were a worry to Elvis. Would they knock him off that reassuring top spot?
Pop music has its place and I admit I’ve stayed faithful to those hypnotic Fab Four days, the days of Dusty, Dave Clark, Herman’s Hermits, the Searchers.
For me, pop music came to a grinding halt in the mid to late 60s when the head bangers arrived.
Coward was right. Cheap music can be potent.
Biut it can also be absolute rubbish.
Ethel and Doris could never have been described as political animals. In fact, the two admitted to last voting in a General Election lost in the mists of time. Clem Attlee sprung to mind
Doris, fiddling with a stray curling pin, pursed her lips and told her friend: “I trusts none ov ’um me. Ted ’Eath said he’d feight for’t poor folk. ’E did no such thing. I’m poor as a church mouse.”
Ethel: “Yer not that poor Ethel. What about that new 96-inch telly delivered last wick?”
Doris stayed tight lipped on the subject, and rapidly confessed to a liking for Hugh Gaitskell.
“Han hofficer hand a gentlemon” she estimated.
When the name of Margaret Thatcher was mentioned, the ladies went white and the air turned blue.
“Er...Maggie. ’Er ony cured fer’t rich folk. Um wi’ two cars and houses wi’ bay windos.”
“And a giant telly,” chirped in Doris, hiding a smirk.
The two chewed the political fat and casting party loyalty to one side agreed that the country need another Churchill.
“Nah ’e was proper. E’d do out fer us poor souls. E’d get country on it feet.”
Doris: “And ’e didn’t waste ’is money on a big telly. Not like you Ethel.”
Immediately silence was golden.
A new book has been released to help dementia sufferers, let author Ted Dakin speak for himself …
“I never thought it would happen to me. To us. But is has and we must make the best of it.”
Ted, of Gidlow Lane, is speaking of his wife Barbara who is now 82 and suffers from vascular dementia.
It crept over her slowly. Today, she has been in a care home for four years. Her memory is lost.
So with time on his hands, Ted has penned a little book which he hopes will help Alzheimer’s and dementia suffers to look back and hopefully recall things they remember long ago.
“Do You Remember” is a friendly little book for those “who care to remember.”
A good writer with a nip in his pen, Ted has recalled Wigan Wakes Week, Coping with illness, Family life, Life before the demolition men, A golden Age, “I’m cowder than that min (statue) in’t park”, Shop till you drop and “You’re nicked.”
These stories of life in the good old days are all thoroughly entertaining and crafted with great insight into yesteryear.
Money earned by the book – £3 each - goes to the Alzheimer’s Society.
“Do You Remember” is available from Ted at 112 Gidlow Lane, Wigan. WN6 7EA. 01942 498193. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheques should be made out to E Dakin. There isn’t a postal and packing charge,
Ted’s previous book raised £300 for the charity.
A photo of miners and a pit brow lass graced this page last week. Now more details have emerged – and what a story.
The lady in the snap was Charlotte Davies who had worked at Long Lane Colliery in Bryn for 51 years.
She was the great aunt of Keith Beckett who rang My World to say that this grand lady, who died in 1963, received the British Empire Medal for her services to mining as a pit brow lass.
Keith said that Charlotte had seven brothers – and between them they clocked up 400 years in the local mines. They lived in Willow Street.
He added: “In those days, the mine was also known as Crow Pit and employed many local men and women.
“Aunt Charlotte was a lovely lady and was more than delighted to receive the British Empire Medal.”
He added that her brother Billy was a dab hand with stocks and shares and when he died he left £19,000 – a fortune in those days.
I well remember the words of the Coroner’s concluding words on poor souls who had found life too much.
“Took her life while the balance of her mind was disturbed.” And: “Killed himself while of unsound mind.”
And then there were the kind coroners who rather than recording suicide verdicts, would give the sad victims the benefit of the doubt.
And so record open verdicts.
Here’s another tragic case from the early part of last century and it shows how times have changed.
At Wigan County Court before his honour Judge Bradbury, Abraham Hilton, a collier of Scot Lane, Newtown, claimed 20 shillings compensation from Rose Bridge and Douglas Bank Colliery Company, on behalf of his son, Joseph, at present of unsound mind.
From the statement of claim it appeared that the son, whilst working as a collier in South Pit, was struck on the head by a large piece of falling coal, causing him to become of unsound mind shortly afterwards. Mr Wilson, representing the company, said the applicant was a single man and when working was the chief supporter of his family.
The amount of compensation agreed upon was 15 shillings (75p) a week and he asked that His Honour should give compensation in that amount.
The son was an inmate of Rainhill Asylum and the father was responsible for his keep whilst there. Mr Wilson said it was a case of total incapacity and they wanted half the man’s earnings.
The Judge agreed on this settlement and was told that the victim would have to remain in an institution for life.