Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

WIGAN’S oldest lady is now the 97th “oldest” in the land.

Mrs Margaret Ellen Sherwood is today 107 years and 249 days old. Give or take a day or two.

An official list of the oldest people in the country is kept when people are 107.

A few months ago, when Wigan World had a chat with Margaret, she was around the 130th oldest person in the land. Since then around 30 have passed away after lives well-lived.

Margaret recalled her childhood days and said she had no idea why she’d lived to such a great age.

“It’s amazing,” she said.

At Christmas, she and her family celebrated in a simple way, and recalled neighbours calling with good wishes on the morning of the 25th.

In not too many weeks, Margaret will be 108 – and Wigan World wants to be first to send advanced birthday wishes.

And just for the record, Margaret’s birthday is on October 25.

Looking back to the days a million years ago when I joined the Observer, a Wiganer celebrating his or her (it was mostly hers) 
century was rare.

We used to argue who would go to interview her about life in Wigan in 1860.

Some were amazingly active, others in gentle worlds of their own.

The oldest person in the country is 114 and 346 days. The first man to enter the list at No 40 is 108.

There are three people aged 111, two at 110 and 14 at 109.

SOMETIMES I feel I’m losing it. Losing what? Well I don’t quite know.

Lots of Wiganers will remember my journalistic colleague Allan Rimmer who took early retirement over 20 years ago.

Last week we met for lunch at the Brocket – what a great and varied menu - and there was an air of Shakespeare about it all, particularly A Comedy of Errors.

First of all, I got the time wrong and turned up half an hour early.

There’s a particular and exciting aspect to watching the cars whizz up and down Mesnes Road. I jest.

Mr R arrived and caused confusion by going into the pub through a different entrance.

“I’ll order,” I said.

We decided on cheese and ham toasties with a side order of chips.

The meal arrived – two cheese and tomato toasties and chips. My fault. Well it’s easy to get it wrong. Isn’t it?

Allan asked for a coke so I got him an orange.

The previous day I went to the funeral of an old neighbour friend from Standish, and succeeded in parting company with my camera and my car keys.

A friend asked me to get her a coffee, so I got her a cup of tea.

Where will it all end?

Well let’s be honest, it can only get worse.

They say that as mature years approach “names go first” and it’s true.

At the funeral wake I saw people I knew well years ago but their names had been wiped from my brain.

My answer to all this – laugh at it all. Don’t fight it. Just accept that it’s part of life.

Now which good colleague has put sugar in my Bovril? Or was it me?