Geoffrey Shryhane's My World

Let's face it, it's not Christmas without being wooed by the everlasting songs of our own George Formby.

Wigan World Formby inpersonator Anthony Mason has a CD out in time for Christmas
Wigan World Formby inpersonator Anthony Mason has a CD out in time for Christmas

And My World is more than gratified to be the first with the festive news that there’s a new Formby CD out. Just in time for Christmas.

How thrilled are you at the news?

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But Our George has been dead since 1961 – and the new record is by one of the star’s greatest sound-alikes, none other than Anthony Mason, who, for the purposes of the CD styles himself as George Riding.

This is a gourmet gathering of a host of Formby classics plus others the great man might be singing now.

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    So in addition to Auntie Maggie’s Remedies , Leaning on a Lampost, Madam Moscovitch, Riding in the TT Races, and Grandad’s Flannelette Nightshirt, there are “new Formby songs” with such titles Digital Doo Doo, Mr Wu’s a member of UKIP, When I’m Cleaning UPVC Windows, Little Satnav and many more.

    Born in Appley Bridge, Anthony says he was fired by the sound of Formby’s voice when he was about three and was fiddling about with an old reel to reel tape recorder.

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    He said: “I was hooked – and George Formby has been the thread throughout my life. I do lots of impersonations of him all over the country .

    “And I even performed at some Remembrance Day services. George entertained the troops throughout the war.

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    “I’ve done many CDs over the years but this new one has my impersonating Formby favourites (with a full orchestra) and then singing new songs which I think George would have loved.”

    Anthony is often on radio, is greatly into jazz and is also known for his amazing acting abilities.

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    Further details about the new CD are available from hummerdruzmusic.co.uk

    Messages from “the other side” have always been part of life and death. And the My World article two weeks ago detailing incidents from beyond the grave have brought in intriguing responses. As you would expect, folks who have experienced “contact” with their loved ones who have died, want to remain anonymous.

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    Here is a selection:

    A pensioner from Ashton says while they were at her mother’s funeral, four pictures fell from the walls. One perhaps understandable but FOUR?

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    An old friend from Hindley says that he was with his dad, a patient at Wigan Infirmary, when he said: “Where’s the music coming from.”

    No-one could hear any music but the grand old chap of 93 said he could hear someone playing “The Old Rugged Cross.”

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    Two days later the gent died and unbeknown to my friend, the “Old Rugged Cross” was chosen as one of the funeral hymns. Had the old man had a premonition?

    “Frank” from Up Holland, tells how a faded photo of his later father regained its colour following his death.

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    A reader from Wigan believes that her late sister contacts her on her birthday every year. “For about five minutes, I have a beautiful warm sensation throughout my body,” she said. “I’m sure it’s my sister telling me she’s okay.”

    A young lady, also from Wigan, says that three weeks after her beloved grandma’s funeral, she received a letter from a charity in India telling her that her granny was fine and happy.

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    There will be more stories from the other side in next week’s My World.

    It’s a shame but true that many Wigan people who made their mark have been forgotten thanks or no thanks to the mists of time.

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    Today, a local man who was accustomed to life in the spotlights is resurrected. And it could be that some really “young” My World readers remember him.

    So take another bow Mr Carl Fischer who, after leaving school, became a butcher’s boy – and went on to be a lion tamer.

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    Yes, I thought it was a bit odd but it turns out to be absolutely true.

    Carl Fischer (his real name was Albert Lloyd) was brought up on Amberswood Common at Hindley and worked as a butcher’s boy for W Highton of Scholes.

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    However, he became a stage hand every time the circus came to Wigan Hippodrome.

    In 1937 at the age of 18 and left home and joined Parr’s Elephants and went on to be a skilful lion tamer and animal trainer. The first time he returned to Wigan Hippodrome was in November of 1950 as producer and supervisor of the Royal South American Circus. During the show he presented his lion taming act.

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    This amazing man travelled the world and eventually went to Hollywood where he continued his work as an animal trainer for the international film star Johnny Weissmuller, famed for playing Tarzan.

    I have to be honest…

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    It came as a big surprise to know that a bigger than life-sized statue of David Whelan has been created and is to be unveiled in two days’ time. (Thursday 2pm outside the DW Stadium).

    My World prides itself on knowing what’s going on in this town. But plans for the statue of Wigan’s most successful businessman seem to have slipped under the radar.

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    Amazingly, although the statue is ready for unveiling, the family has not seen it.

    Soon to be 80, Dave was the main financial contributor to the Billy Boston statue, recently unveiled off Millgate.

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    Few of the many hundreds of people who turned up could have imagined that the town was to be graced with another … of Dave who, in a long lifetime, has done so much for our town. And made millions in the process.

    Dave’s is a true rags to riches story. From a poor terraced house in Poolstock to the high life. He has taken everything in his stride and unlike other famous “Wiganers” who couldn’t wait to get out of town, Dave has stayed faithful to his roots. Good on you Dave.

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    People in Wigan were shocked when they heard that a local woman had died after being bitten by a relative.

    It happened in the late Victorian era.

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    The report was headed “Shocking death from the bite of a drunken man.”

    The inquest had been held after the death of Charlotte Davies, aged 77, wife of Thomas Davies, of School Street, Scholes, who had died the previous Saturday night from injuries sustained by being bitten by her son-in-law, Samuel Heyes.

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    The Coroner heard how there had been a disturbance and Charlotte had tried to persuade her son-in-law to go away quietly.

    She put her hand on his shoulder and he turned his head and bit her on the third finger of her right hand.

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    The wound was attended to by a surgeon who, at length, found it necessary to amputate three of her fingers and part of her right hand. But the wound got worse and she died three weeks later.

    Mary Smith, a widow, said Charlotte was her mother and on the night she was bitten, Samuel Heyes got in to the house by bursting the door open. He was tipsy and ran at the legs of a lodger. The drunk was put out but he forced his way in again and then she heard her mother scream: “He’s bitten my finger off.”

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    The Coroner heard that Heyes had told the police: “I didn’t bite her finger. We were all fighting together. She got down on the floor and my clog iron must have got on her.”

    Death resulted from exhaustion caused by the injury.