Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Wigan Post

Wigan is a town I know quite well. I’m not mad on the place and, like most towns in England, I’ll try to avoid going into the centre if I can possibly help it. It has a slightly silly name – probably makes people think of wigs, which are intrinsically ridiculous. A far heavier millstone round its neck though is George Orwell’s well meaning survey of the utter poverty and degradation its inhabitants were enduring in the depression. Seventy years on and this remains Wigan’s calling card – unbudged by cultural colossi such as George Formby or The Verve. It’ll take a phenomenon of seismic proportions to shift the association.

“Pies & Prejudice” by Stuart Maconie probably lacks the necessary heft, but as a coffee slurping, pesto eating Northerner in exile I found it all quite amusing. I wouldn’t describe myself as a great pie aficionado but I was pleased to read that I had, with my unerring instinct, sussed out two of what Maconie deems the best pie shoppes in Wigan: The Old Pie Bakehouse in Orrell and Mr Muffin in Shevington. The former was my favourite and, typically, has now closed down. I remember going to fetch the papers one morning after about a foot of snow had fallen in the night. The Bakehouse was open and I returned to my hosts Wenceslas like, bearing pies for all. It did have a bit of a mouse problem though (possibly connected to its closure?).

In the days when I did still venture into the centre there was a very good record shop indeed by the name of Static, up a funny little street called the Wiend. Apart from the stock, which was excellent, the best thing about this shop was the guy who ran it. I’ve forgotten his name but he was dead friendly and I enjoyed talking to him about music. Something I never do in London record shops. Sadly the shop closed down a few years ago. I did my best, I always bought something when I went in. I think I bought the Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO’s “Absolutely Freak Out (Zap Your Mind!!)” there (how could I resist?) – we certainly had a chat about it (conclusion: it’s a bit much).

The purchase that stands out in my mind though is Norma Tanega’s “Walking My Cat Named Dog”. I don’t know why I picked it out but I’m glad I did. It’s nothing earth-shattering – just some pretty catchy folk pop. I like it very much though and it’s one of those albums that I’ll stick on when I get in late, drunk and sing along to. I googled Norma (all my posts are extensively researched) and it turns out she was Dusty Springfield’s girlfriend for quite a while back in the Sixties. How about that.

Norma Tanega: You're Dead

Norma Tanega: I'm The Sky


  1. I like this post very much. And I love the idea of a record shop called 'Static'.

  2. Gosh Davy, I hardly know what to say. I'm sure you'd have loved the shop's sign: Static in fifties sci fi lettering cut from very shiny metal. It was a ghost shop for some time (years even?) and I was tempted to have the sign, but was too timid to wrench it from the facade.

  3. Imagine it, just above your bed...