Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

I’VE always liked a dab of aftershave. Or do I mean half a bottle.

Ladies love a man who smells yummy. What non-cologne-wearing men think is perhaps another matter.

“Smells like a tart, ‘im.”

There we are.

Now we all know that folks who have never been to Wigan have a distinct view of us and our town. Downtrodden, a vocabulary of ten words, allowing our filthy, yapping whippets to sleep in the bath with the coal.

How wrong they are. My eye was caught by the headline “So where are the sweetest smelling places in Britain.”

And there at No 2 – Wigan.

We are the biggest fans of deodorant after the folks of north Lincolnshire.

A survey by internet shopping experts My Supermarket over six weeks revealed that people in Dorset bought less deodorant – 3.7 per cent – than anywhere else in the country.

The figure for Wigan was 29 per cent.

Hooray, positive national publicity at last.

It wasn’t always like that. Back in the 50s, no deodorant in our house. We didn’t know it existed.

Lots of folks hummed of stale sweat and the ladies often squirted lots of cheap scent. A case of one smell to cover another.

ARE you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Readers with good memories may recall I’ve been having a heck of a time with the gas company Eon.

It’s true, they put up my bill from £60 a month to £112 and then when I complained, they brought it down to £94 a month. Still a shocking amount for poor pensioner me.

So from the middle of March I’ve tried – oh how I’ve tried – to reduce my gas consumption. An extra jumper or four, some glamorous thick long johns. My feet lashed to hot water bottles.

It all became a project.

So not having heard from the gas people for six months, I rang them a week last Tuesday and it turned out that despite my efforts, I was just £4 in credit. After my “save gas” project, I was stunned.

To their credit, they reduced my bill to £96 a month.

As it turned out, the meter reader came two days later. I made a note of the reading.

A week Friday the bill came. And would you believe it – it was ESTIMATED.

Pause for a little fuming and words unprintable in a family newspaper.

The estimated reading was far higher than the actual figure supplied by the gasman.

It took me an age to get through to Eon but I wasn’t going to be defeated. Or thwarted for that matter.

After hours of canned music, I finally spoke to “Niall” and asked why I’d received an estimated bill when the meter had been read three days before. I told him of the huge discrepancy in the two readings and he asked me to hang on.

When he returned he said there had been a mix-up and that, in truth, I was £474 in credit and suggested that my standing order be suspended for a few months.

Instead of having a refund as suggested, I opted to leave the healthy credit in situ ready for winter. Had my call not have been made, I would have been paying almost £100 a month, instead of now ... when I’m paying nothing.

No folks all this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. It’s the unvarnished truth and I would never have believe that a gas company (in this case E-on) could get it so wrong. It’s been a painful experience. And I’m still fuming.

AS part of the events to mark the start of the “war to end all wars”, people have been invited to write a letter to the bronze statue of an unknown soldier at London’s Paddington Railway Station.

Around 14,000 letters will be homed in a First World War Archive at the British Library.

Some are being featured daily on BBC Radio 4 – and one which was chosen a few days ago was by Wigan’s Tom Walsh. A superb and emotional piece of writing.

Here it is:


The sniper’s bullet, the roadside bomb, the traitor’s kiss, a friend’s remiss.

What and how matters little now, a soldier lies dead. A mother weeps over a cold and empty bed.

A father ponders times of yore, of holidays, football games and those silly, silly childish names.

Those days can never be again, but who to blame? Not the politician, that’s not his game, nor the minister, O the shame.

Not the brigadier in braided splendour, not the sergeant major with a voice like thunder.

Or the soldier in coffin dark, waiting his long journey home, to a family that forever mourn.

Lessons will be learned, we’re told. Fighting a war will be no more.

I think we’ve heard that all before. But who to blame?