CHARLES GRAHAM - Come out to cheer the Olympic torch!

THE Olympic torch passes through Wigan next week and I hope as many of you as possible (work and school notwithstanding) can turn out for it.

There is a school of thought that the tour of Britain is just a cynical exercise in giving folk hundreds of miles from London the false impression that the Games are just as much theirs as the capital’s.

But while there may be true that by far the biggest waves will be created 200 miles south of here, I see no reason why folk can’t get in the mood for the greatest sporting spectacle on earth, especially as it is unlikely to come anywhere near as close to Wigan in our lifetimes (and so much of our taxes have gone towards it already).

It should also be pointed out that if the torch relay, which is featuring an abundance of Wigan high-achievers, is a cynical ploy, then it’s been one for as long as most can remember. It drew big crowds when held for the 1948 games for instance.

It might be argued that we were a more patriotic breed in those post-war years but if anything Britons are more sport-obsessed than they’ve ever been - Wiganers more than most and we have several representatives at the games too.

And what with the European Football Championships coming up and the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee round the corner, and a recession to put out of our minds for a moment, there are plenty of other reasons to get in a collectively patriotic move and proudly show what our country has to offer.