My day out today (which was in Madchester – sorry Manchester) took me through a town I used to frequent frequently.
Wigan – what can I say about Wigan? Apparently, it is famous for pies. For years I have seen a dark blue van drive around with the phrase: “Ay Ay It’s Wigan Pie!” on the side of it. In this sweltering heat, the last thing I could face right now is a pie. However, normally, they are quite a favourite of mine. Although a rare treat nowadays due to the calories in the pastry. These days if I was going to tuck into a pie it would be on a bed of green leaves, not the pie, mash (or chippy chips) and mushy peas (with gravy) that I remember buying as a teenager from Wigan pie shops. It has been a very long time since I allowed myself that kind of indulgence – my hips will not allow me to even imagine it now.
But to cheer myself up over my lost svelte figure, I will allow myself the occasional treat as a reminder of the good old days when I could eat anything because I easily burnt off twice the calories during a hockey match or an eight mile run, or a basketball game, or several hours of thrashing up and down a swimming pool. My pies of choice nowadays are the scrumptious Higgidy range:
Good grief – they are yummy! My sister says they are posh pies. Perhaps they are, I don’t know. But they taste great, no matter where they went to school.
But getting back to Wigan. If you are genuinely interested in exploring the town, then I will take the liberty of recommending a visit to Wigan Pier to learn all about how this town was built up.
To be honest, I am no expert on the town. It is actually a place that has a lot of interesting history, if you are interested in the industrial and social history of England. I studied Modern World History (wars and politics and treaties) instead of Social and Economic History where I would have had the opportunity to learn more about the mills and factories and trade routes that shaped England, So I am afraid to venture my limited and foggy understanding of the role that Wigan played in the cotton industry.
Also, I remember Wigan being a very popular rugby town. Rugby League that is, which I have been told is significantly different from Rugby Union – don’t ask me to explain the differences. But I recall that Wigan were very successful all the way through my high school years. I went to a school that was near to Wigan. Our home town was sandwiched between Wigan and St Helens, which are two big rugby towns. Either side are the cities of Liverpool and Manchester, which have very popular football teams.
My main memory of Wigan is the old Olympic style Swimming Pool. It has to be an outstanding memory in my mind because I won so many races there during swimming galas. So it was a very special place to me.
This is how I remember the pool:
However, I am sad to say it no longer exists. Which is a strange feeling. Any location that used to be your beloved playground, your sacred ground, your moment of victory is dear to your heart. So to hear it has been demolished is saddening indeed.
That is one of the lessons you have to learn as you are growing up, growing older. Things will change. Especially man-made things! I mean there are so many things that are reliable, the sun rising each morning, the spring arriving at long last to bring back colour and life everywhere, the moon drawing the tides steadily in and letting them ebb out again.
But bricks and mortar…there is no point becoming overly sentimental about those losses. But the memories will last long long after the bulldozers have had their way. I have already done a little reminiscing about the golden days of school in another post. I am embarrassed to say, only one person (besides myself) “liked” this post. I guess I can understand it is hard to read about someone else’s first days at school when the only school days most people can bear to think about are there own! But here is a little passage from that post which will explain my love of the old Wigan Olypic-Sized Swimming Pool:
Life at school became a bit more interesting when I was asked to leave the rest of my class one morning each week and join the children in their last year of primary school who had weekly swimming lessons. My sisters and I were part of our town swimming club so the headmaster wanted to see whether I could keep up with the children three years older than me. Sure enough they entered me, in my first year of juniors (Year 3) into a couple of the races in the county swimming gala. I was swimming for the school competitively with the Year 6 kids. Our school won so many races in the county swimming gala and I remember winning mine. The headmaster was delighted with me. We had a number of awards on display in the school lobby after that swimming gala. Ours was a small school, so it seemed quite a victory that we had won so much.
During the six-week school holiday I had been allowed to borrow a book from the school library. It was Heidi. The headmaster had told me that I must be sure not to lose it, I must bring it back at the end of the holidays or else I would not be allowed to borrow a book again. Can you imagine how devastated I was when my Dad broke the news one morning….our school (which by now I had grown to love) had been burnt down by three boys? Two were fourteen years of age and the other had just finished year 6 – he must have been eleven.
So, it was actually at quite a young age, the age of seven that I learnt that places that are special to you can be destroyed. I must not allow myself to be overly weepie because the old Wigan Olympic Sized Swimming Pool is no more.
I need to cheer myself up though….maybe I could face a pie afterall!
Ooooooooh – look what I found at the supermarket on the way home! It even says on the box they are “Rather Cheerful” – how could I go wrong with these?