The Ridgalite

The Rigalite focuses on the People who lived in Marina Avenue in the Ridges Estate in North Shields. Eddie Saint owns the Roaring venture a trawler moored at the fish quay- his crew work hard and play hard - one of them is Ron Lee a young lad who has aspirations of becoming a rock star. He was in the Royal Navy on board the HMS Illustrious as a trained chef before joining the trawler boat. The lads all tell him that his songs are crap because they don't wan't to lose a good cook. The story also tells of two rival shop keepers- Ronnie Hancock and Billy Burston have been each others throats for years- read the comic antics of both men. "The Ridgalite is an insite of life in the early sixties on an an estate with high unemployment and little hope - where every day is a constant struggle. There are some though who prove that if you have hope then dreams can come true.

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The lads all set about checking and mending the trawl nets as the Roaring Venture headed towards the Shetlands then onto Iceland which could take up to three days to reach depending on the weather. Their whole livelihood was tied up in those nets and a break anywhere that was left unchecked could cost them a decent pay packet so every inch of the net was checked and repaired where need be ready to be shot once they reached the fishing grounds. Sainty and Des Baldwin his engineer charted the course. They headed north and would turn North Easterly once they reached the Shetlands. Many of the local boats fished for herring there but it was the highly prized cod and haddock that they were after. Cod in excess of twenty pounds each could fill a hold in no time at all and four hundred boxes of them would fetch a good price in the Market and North Shields upon their return. Sailing at five knots the skipper kept an eye on the weather because they didn’t want to be sailing into a storm.

Not only was it bad for fishing but it put every man jack on board in danger.

The lads had worked solidly for over four hours when Ron Lee who was the cook on board shouted for them to come and eat breakfast.

Most of the lads ate a good breakfast because they never knew how long it would be before they would eat again.’ They could work twelve hours without a break when the fishing was good. Vince Maccionocchi had a rolled up cigarette in his gob as he made his way to the galley after taking off his oilskins which the captain forbid any man to wear whilst they were eating or in the cabins. They were neatly hung up.

Many wore either a woollen hat or a baseball cap and a heavy Scandinavian sweater to keep them warm. Winter or summer out at sea wasn’t much different especially if you were wet. The cold penetrated every bone in your body and left you drained. Ron Lee wore his hair long he was in a rock band and would often have the radio listening to The Who and the Rolling Stones. The money that he made from fishing helped pay for his Gibson Les Paul Sunburst which was his pride and joy. When Lee wasn’t playing songs, he was writing them and he would hum tunes that he’d written himself over and over until he got them right. There would be a pencil and book on the table

when he prepared the meals. Sometimes in the middle of a verse he would stop then sing to try and get a feel for the song then he would ask the lads on board if they liked it.

“All the lads would joke and tell him that his songs were crap because they didn’t want to lose their cook. Ron had joined the Royal Navy at the age of sixteen joining the catering core. He was a good cook and his skilled were quickly recognised when he passed out from HMS Raleigh to join HMS Illustrious where he spent the next five years perfecting his skills. He travelled to Gibraltar and Malta on manoeuvres with the ship. He sailed around the Mediterranean for two years then got sick of being away for six months at a time.

“The opportunity came up for Ron after was on leave when a friend told him that there was a job going on board a trawler. The money would be less but at least he would be able to spend more time at home and fulfil his passion of being a rock musician. He formed a band called “Satan’s Claw and they were doing the clubs around the North East on a Friday and Saturday night.

If he was fishing from Monday to Friday he didn’t mind as it gave him time to play at least one gig and get some practice in before they sailed again.

Ron hoped that when the first shot of the net would bring in some big cod so the boxes could be filled quickly and they could return home. The lads sat down and ate their full English with all the trimmings.

“How far we off Skipper asked Dougie Cook as he made a bacon sandwich and filled it with brown HP sauce.’

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