Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane
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I’VE been laughing my socks off ... quite literally.

The trouble is I can’t for the life of me find the socks I’ve laughed off. It’s true, as an old hack, I’m given to the odd exaggeration ... I’m dying with a cold (I have the sniffles). I’ve been in this traffic jam for a week (10 minutes). I’m always up at the crack of dawn (9.15).

But when it comes to socks, I assure you, hand on heart, that I’m telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have an odd-socks bag. Some of the socks are very odd – decorated with snakes or skulls or pies. Read into that what you like.

No matter about them. My actual odd socks now total 35. It could be 36 – you know how mixed up I get. The sock bag is akin to my waist – over the years it’s grown.

But how in the name of Jimmy Cricket can 35 socks lose their partners?

I can hear you saying they’re at the bottom of the washing bag, at the back of the dryer or in too many nooks and crannies to list.

No. I reserved time to undertake a thorough sock hunt here at No 5. I found just one.

I find it impossible to understand and I can only assume that come the dead of night, the Wigan Sock Snaffler arrives in a puff of pie dust and sock-steals on a regular basis.

HOW many status symbols do you have – or want?

Just read that the most desired status symbol in the 1980s was a car phone. Today it’s a fast car. Or a designer watch. Or a swimming pool.

There can be no doubt that many folks live in a totally material world.

I can only reflect that my days of want, want, want have melted away to be replaced by some of the simpler things in life.

Things like Cartier watches and a diamond brooch similar to Elton John’s ...

No I’m just kidding.

As I write these words in the back garden – well, yard really – of No 5, I am dazzled by about 100 yellow and orange tulips which cost me less than a tenner at Wilko’s in early December. These blooms are, in effect, a status symbol. Alas they’ll be gone next week. The more beautiful, the shorter the life.

For me, status symbols are the stuff of history.

My car – an old banger.

My watch – my brother-in-law’s cast off.

My suit- a £70 cheapie.

Friends in Manchester have a lovely little Lowry painting. I’m content to gaze at it.

Once I’d have given my right eye for it.

But not now.

My urge to travel is no more. My fantasy of Caribbean holidays will remain unfulfilled. What a relief.

As the years ago by, our wants and needs alter – and in mature years (old age) some of learn to be satisfied with the simple things in life.

IN a national survey of “things I like” it’s not all that surprising that fish and chips (with salt and vinegar) came top of the list.

Biscuits with cups of tea came second and third, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

If this sounds a bit gluttonous, I must add that some folk love their lawns, snow storms and holidays abroad.

It started me thinking about what I like about this great old historic town of ours. It’s true, fish and chips are top of my list, but other delights include:

The Francis Sharp Powell statue in Mesnes Park.

The magnificence of the new Town Hall (built in 1901). The looks on the faces of folk in the Pound Shop.

Haigh Hall on a summer day.

The cherry blossom in the Parish Churchyard.

The sadly long silent clock in the Galleries.

Ancient Mab’s Cross.

Mesnes Park Cafe – what a fanciful roof!

The quiet archives in the Museum of Life.

The red phone boxes outside Wigan Post Office.

The old Observer building in Rowbottom Square – what memories!

The proud Tyldesley monument on Wigan Lane.

The plant stall in the Market Hall.

Magnificent Wigan Parish Church.

The Observer coming through the letterbox.