TO PLAY AMIDST THE COBBLES

Four young boys are accused with robbery. one of them with murder, Hanging in Britain was still prevalent at that time. Can one of them escape the hangman's noose?'
Ruby White the petite honey blonde who works in a chemist shop spends her lunch break reading poetry in the local library. it is there that she meets Richard Llewellyn Shaw a writer and poet from Wales who has come to the North East to write a book. A relationship develops even though he is eight years her senior.
Then there is Jessie Longworth who has been saddled with looking after her father who is in the early stages of dementia. She is unable to cope with looking after her father, and her family and asks her brother Edward if he will take her father for a while. Joe Corder is an ex-dock worker. He worked hard all his life and gives his son his savings to help him start his own business. He meets Elizabeth who comes from a well to do family who all look down on Jessie and her father. She will not have him in her home.

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“It seems as though you have your life all mapped out Richard.’

“Not quite yet, but I’m working at it.’

The sun was going down as they walked back to the cottage. “It is so peaceful here said Betty I understand why you like it here Richard.’ They cleaned their boots that they had borrowed then placed them back in the shoe rack. “If you give me your socks I will wash them later.’ They put on their own shoes and walked back to the house.’

“Right who’s for home made apple pie and custard.’

Richard sorted out the things he’d collected from the woods into two piles then placed them into two bags. He washed his hands before making the custard. Ruby put the kettle to make a pot of tea. She loved the fact that everything was so simplistic here. There was no fuss; no mess and perfect peace; unlike where she lived with the noise from cars and busses every five minutes; the stink from the tip as well as Alfie Balls piggery.’

Now that they were redeveloping the bottom of the street that would eventually be used as a road to the new tunnel that they planned to build. There seemed to be an increase in the noise levels. The new tunnel road that would run under the river and across to the other side It would be used for cars and Lorries so they could cross over in a fraction of the time that it took to drive right around. The children of East Howdon found a new place to play amongst the huge heaps of ballast. Ruby remembered riding down the lanes on her bike over the Cobbles between Chatton and Brinkburn Street. There weren’t many cars in those days just the odd horse and cart as it delivered coal or flour to the bakery. During the school holidays they could play out until late at night tying rope to the lampposts to make a swing; or playing rounder’s with the girls from Barrasford Street. Invariably they put out the windows out of Mrs Summerly’s house that lived close by. That hat would be passed around to pay the old lady for the breakages. They used the money from empty beer or pop bottles to pay for the damage caused. What money that was left was spent in Meggie’s sweet shop. Another favourite haunt was a place called “The Cundy” which was at the bottom of Howdon Lane near the railway bridge. It passed some allotments and the kids all loved it especially Joe Butler who thought that it was like being in the country with all the trees. In fact the girls called it “fairyland.” You had to crawl through these round concrete tunnels to get to it. There was a stream nearby with sticklebacks, frogs, and newts in it. They would take a jam jar and catch them using an old pair of their mother’s old stockings and a wire coat hanger which was then wrapped around a long stick. For hours and hours they played there unawares of the hidden dangers. Howdon dock was another place that Rob Black, Ben Ardle, Sammy Davison, Jack Watson, and Barry Smith played with the girls. Rose Chandler, Marjorie Taylor, Maude Atkinson, and her sister Marion would play on an old coal barge. “The Hedwin” a dredger was moored close by. The skipper on board used to scoop out giant wragg worms for them using a giant sized net so they could go fishing with hand lines tied with a heavy nut or bolt and a piece of catgut which were then tied onto the line via a boom and then a longer piece of catgut with a flattie hook tied on. The mud flats there could suck you under it was about four feet deep in parts but all the kids were aware of it and warned anyone that the mud slacks had to be kept well away from.

Richard put out the apple pie with custard and turned on the radio so they could hear the news service. It was getting dark now and Betty said that they had better be heading back after they had eaten and drank a cup of tea.’

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