Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

HAS the world gone mad? Have I gone mad?

I ask because I believe I’ve just sunk to a low ebb. A very low ebb indeed.

What has brought on this serious and worrying decline?

I’ll tell you right here and now – I’ve taken to taking “selfies”.

Until recently, I hadn’t a clue just what a “selfie” was. And for quality Wigan World readers still “out of the loop” I can reveal it’s a photo you take of yourself with your digital camera or telephone.

Can you imagine 25 years ago telling folks you’d taken a photo of yourself with the telephone. Most likely they’d given an understanding and sympathetic, if slightly sad smile, and might have felt inclined to have a word with the doctor.

But many of us have been sucked into the world of new technology. Often a better world but sometimes very sad.

So ... is the “selfie” sad? It depends. Lots of folks take selfies of themselves at parties or at other times of celebration.

If you’re alone at the top of the Empire State Building or atop the Eiffel Tower (even Blackpool Tower) and you want a snap for the family photographic history, then the selfie is the answer. Totally in order.

A selfie for your new passport is fine. Or you with your favourite TV personality. No problems. But there is a bit of a down side. How long are those royal walkabouts going to take if thousands of happy snappers want selfies with the Queen or Charles and Camilla?

The last two have certainly agreed, and Harry looks as though he loves leaning over to have his likeness captured with fans.

But would you believe that some folk are even having selfies taken with recently deceased relatives at rest in their coffin.

I kid you not. In bad taste? You decide.

Wigan World’s researches on this subject reveals the selfie is nothing new and the first one was taken in the 1800s.

IMUST confess that since I lost Mrs S almost seven years ago, I’ve not ventured away from these shores.

In my dark days of grief, I actually renewed my passport, but it’s devoid of stamps from this, that and the other parts of the world.

The truth is I’ve found a diamond of a place which, since 2008, has drawn me back time and time again.

It’s Southwold in Suffolk – oddly enough the place George Orwell’s parents – Mr and Mrs Blair - lived. I am certain that they, unlike their son, never came to Wigan. Don’t think they would have appreciated the clatter of miners’ clogs at 4am, the tripe slopping about in that shop seller on Darlington Street and a dialect that would have foxed them.

Southwold is a tad posh. I once saw John Humpheries having a pint in the Swan.

The place has the superb atmosphere of an uncommercialised seaside world of a century ago.

It has a pier, a wonderfully fat lighthouse, a mile-long row of fascinating multi-coloured beach huts (costing around £100,000 each) and a quaint main street with tea shops and ladies in posh frocks.

At the top of that main street is the house where the Blairs lived – and there’s a plaque over the door saying “Eric Blair lived here”.

Research suggests the writer, although an intellectual, didn’t take to the posh Southwold folks. Not his type by a long chalk.

And mum and dad didn’t appreciate their son’s gritty descriptions of Wigan and Paris.

Criccieth in Wales used to be my favourite place in the world. But alone, I’ve never ventured back and don’t suppose I ever will.

Southwold is my new Criccieth and I’m more than thankful to have found this gentle gem on the Suffolk sea cost.

Orwell’s ghost is absent.