Our top columnist Geoffrey Shryhane’s memories and musings...
Life’s not been the same since the paper one pound note was slowly dragged out of circulation. I’m still trying to adjust.
Why is life not the same? Well, wasn’t it a lovely feeling to have a wad of 20 or 30 one pound notes in your pocket? The answer to that is… by heck it was.
Twenty jangling one pound coins are a heavy nuisance.
One old friend with winking-eyed humour said: “I once had so many pound coins, they dragged my pants down.” A laugh, yes. But you can see the reality.
Glancing back, history records that the first one pound note was issued in 1797, following a gold shortage caused by the French Revolutionary Wars.
Well, we already knew that I’m sure!
Fast tracking, an emergency £1 note came into circulation between 1940 and 1948 and was pale blue with a touch of orange.
Today, with inflation, that £1 note would be worth £32 and was the first to carry a metal security thread.
A redesigned note appeared in 1960 and, believe it or not, was the first to carry a portrait of the Queen.
Then in 1983, the paper pound was phased out and the metal pound coin became legal tender.
Paper money had a life of a few months, coins lasted decades.
So now we look forward to the new 12-sided pound coin which starts to appear next month.
Around 45 million old pound coins are in circulation and we should start spending them before October 15 when they cease to become legal tender.
The year – 1893 and the Borough Coroner held an inquest into the death of a man named Lindsay Smedley, a journeyman and watchmaker, lodging at No 7 Frog Lane, Wigan, who died in what were described as “strange circumstances.”
It appeared that the man had been out of work for sometime and had been drinking for some days. For sometime he had not partaken of food.
One night at eight o’clock it was noticed that Smedley was groaning. They undid his shirt collar and he then seemed to sleep easy. An hour or so later he died. At his side – a bottle of whiskey and ammonia. The man was removed to the public mortuary. Doctors found it difficult to say what had caused death so handed over the contents of the stomach to senior police officers for analysis.
When the inquest reopened the Coroner heard the stomach contained cyanide of potassium and ammonia and a small amount of whiskey.
Death would have taken around an hour.
The Coroner heard the deceased had worked for a Wigan clockmaker and had used cyanide of potassium in his job. The jury returned a verdict of suicide while in a state of unsound mind.
Lots of people enjoy criticising Wigan Council. According to them, our local authority just can’t do a thing right.
I wish I had a pound for everyone who said: “Wigan Council. Don’t talk to me about Wigan Council.”
Me? I fall back in total admiration at everything they do. It’s not easy when the government has snatched back tens of millions in grants.
Anyway, it seems that Wiganers were having a go at the local authority way back in 1900. Why? Read on...
I ask the question: Who is he? I mean the individual responsible for the watering our streets. He certainly is an abnormal specimen of man.
Yesterday (Monday) the atmosphere was perfectly calm – not a particle of dust stirring anywhere. Yet this man from the local authority was sent out with his water carrier making a greasy, muddy mess everywhere.
Today we have a southerly gale blowing, with clouds and blinding dust making locomotion almost intolerable. Yet not one water cart has been seen.
Meanwhile suffering humanity gropes its way as best it can, pouring curses on the man who could make matters much more tolerable had he the slightest common intelligence.
Some odd items have plopped onto the “My World” desk over the years.
I treasure and cherish every one, even if some items are a right load of old tat. Just joking there.
But the latest life-improving gift is a newspaper. What better for an old hack?
It’s an old newspaper. In fact, it was printed BEFORE I was born. It, is in fact, The Quetta ‘Quake produced in 1944 by airmen at the RAF base at Quetta in India. Amazingly, it’s in fantastic condition and is being framed to grace the wall of the “My World” office, along with the first edition of this newspaper and famous people who insisted on having their photo taken with me!
Back to the Quetta ‘Quake – edition No 2 - handed over by the son of a Wigan airman who served in mad-hot India.
He didn’t want to be named but said: “My dad had a good war. They never saw any action and most thought it was all a great adventure. They were the lucky ones.”
The magazine opens up a whole new world of just what life was like in India during the war. And there was always plenty to do in the spit and polish line. And when army duties were over, a host of clubs and societies were ever meeting to pass the time.
The drama group was a big hit in “It ain’t hot mum” fashion. There were sports, stamp clubs, debating societies and during off-duty hours, a glass or two of ale.
The staples on the eight-page Quetta ‘Quake have rusted with age, and the thick paper has turned ochre.
In 1962, three local churches amalgamated to form Trinity United Church and one of the first successes was the birth of the 9th Wigan Trinity Methodist Scout Group.
A whole host of activities made the group meetings a “must” in the lives of hundreds of young people.
But times changes and over a long period, numbers fell off and finally a decision was taken to close the group in 2004. But the good news is that a grand reunion is being held at Highfield Church Hall on the evening of Saturday, April 1, followed by a service the following morning at Trinity Methodist Church at 10.45. Two of the organisers, Arnold Kendrick and Brian Heatherington, said they hoped lots of former members would go along to talk about the old days and enjoy a hot pot supper.
Admission is £10. Pay at the door on the night or phone Arnold on 01257 431045.
More details on the reunion can be found on Facebook.