A FISHING rod saleswoman formed an unlikely double act in Bolton with a chimpanzee.

But half a century later, her tales of Midge the chimp are met with looks of disbelief from her grandchildren.

Now she is appealing for help from Bolton people to prove she is not going bananas!

Rose Fox, aged 74, who now lives in Somerset, hit upon a winning sales formula after teaming up with Midge, the pet of a Derby Street-based family in the 1950s. Rose would travel around town selling fishing rods and maggots knowing that if she could not charm the buyers, Midge would.

She now wants people to send her their memories of the chimp or any photos they may have to convince her grandchildren that she really did used to work with a chimpanzee.

Rose struck up the partnership with Midge after taking a part-time job at the pet and fishing tackle shop in Derby Street, owned by Edgar and Phyllis Charlton, who used to treat Midge as part of the family.

The chimpanzee became a much-loved character around the town and was well-known for her love of a cigarette and a glass of wine.

One of her best-loved party pieces was to raise her little finger in an elegant manner when she was asked how ladies drank their wine.

She was also chosen to be the bridesmaid at the wedding of family friend Hazel Morgan.

Rose lost contact with the Charlton family after leaving for another job and believes Midge died of old age sometime afterwards.

She said: "I keep telling my grandchildren that I used to work with Midge but I think they believe I'm losing my marbles.

"Midge was our gimmick when we went travelling to sell the stock.

"Midge was great company. She would put her arm around me as we travelled to work in the van and I remember she would take my pasty off me, take a bite and hand it back.

"She was treated like one of the family by her owners. She used to wear frilly knickers and we would play tug of war with her. She was treated like a baby really."

Hazel, aged 72, who still lives in Deane, said: "Everyone treated Midge like a human. She was great and I wanted her to be part of my special day in 1953 when I got married to David.

"She used to smoke and even played the piano. She was very much like a person.

"I sent Rose the picture I had of Midge as bridesmaid, but I don't know if there are anymore out there."

Anyone who has any pictures of Midge should call Rose on 01458 443 326.