Wiganers miserable? Are you having a laugh?
Wigan today heartily laughed off outlandish claims in the national media that it's the most miserable place in Britain.
Battalions of residents were quick to leap to the defence of the town and its people.
And many insisting that the swell of self-depreciation and black humour fashionable today was being misinterpreted by those, such as one particular Wapping-based Red Top, with a “Grim up North” axe to grind.
The UK’s best selling tabloid claims that data from postings on social media propelled the area to the top of the pile in “unhappy” places to live in the United Kingdom.
A Facebook “measuring tool” monitored members in the area from June to August, proving, the paper claimed, that residents which used the service typed the most “sad-sounding or negative” posts in the country during this period.
The second most miserable, states the newspaper, was another former coal mining community, Rhondda Cynon Taff, the only Welsh town to make it onto the list.
Others in the misery top 10 included Chester in Cheshire, Aberdeen and, much to the collective chagrin of proud and ultra-loyal Geordies, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Rather than being perennially down in the mouth, Wigan has a proud history of helping to make the nation smile and feel better about itself.
Wigan-born George Formby - him of the toothy grin and double entendre-laden ukulele sing-a-longs - was once one of the biggest and best paid entertainers in the world.
His increasingly-subversive late comic contemporary Frank Randle would continue the music hall tradition.
With more recently, Ted Ray, Harry Pemberton and Roy Kinnear have been among Wigan’s comic standard bearers.
Wiganers took to social media to damn the claims.
One spluttered: “More statistics, damn statistics and lies. You can make this data thing say whatever you want ... as always Wigan is the number one target.”
Another fumed: “We all like a moan which is a way of life around here. But it is all tongue in cheek.
“Most Wiganers love the bones of the place, are happy here and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. That is why they are comfortable in slagging it off!”
Another said: “Well this has cheered me up. What a daft load of nonsense.”
All the towns on the list scored an average of between 55.5 per cent and 62.2 percent “happiness rating” based on the “nature” of their posts, compared to a global average of 71 per cent.
Alex Sass, who carried out the research, claimed it could also compare regional positivity to regional economic growth - and even reveal differences in “personality” across individual cities and countries.
He said: “It is not designed to tell you who you are but rather how you appear to others online. The result could comes as a huge surprise to many people.