' The Ragman's Serenade tells the story of four families- one from North Shields and the other three from Wallsend. It is a story of relationships- The Davis family are up to their eyes in debt - The Stewart family have a daughter who has downs syndrome– The hagarths who’s husband owns a bookmakers shop and his wife is a midwife at the RVI- and the Higginbottom's have a father with the on set of Alzheimer's. How do they cope - read this fascinating story i'm sure you will enjoy.


10. 10

“She should have been buying you all fish and chip then.’

“If I bring you some fish tomorrow from the quay will you pay me for it?’

“Will it be fresh?’

“Aye straight off the boats it will be.’

“How much can you bring me?’

“A couple of stone I reckon.’

“Make it four stone and I will give you tenner, how’s that.’

“Alright, I’ll drop off tomorrow lunch time.’

Mrs Ellis added a fish to each parcel but only charged him for the chips.’

She smiled at him as she sprinkled some salt and vinegar on them then placed them into a carrier bag.

“Thanks Mrs Ellis, see you tomorrow.’

Tom finished his crisps then ran back to the house. It was nearly eight thirty when he got back.

“Here Mrs Ellis gave us fish and chips each.’ I’m getting her some fish tomorrow.’

“You’re not stealing it I hope?’

“No, I’ll be washing out fish boxes when the herring boats come in. they give me fish for doing it.’ “Do want any bread?’

“No.’ there’s more than enough here for me.’

“Would you like some Carol, Tom asked the pretty black girl from Laburnham Avenue.’

“No thanks Tom smiled Carol.’

Tom went into the kitchen took out a knife from the drawer then went into the fridge.

He found the spreadable margarine on the top shelf then opened the loaf taking out four slices and buttered them. He stuck them on the inside of his fish and chip wrapper then added some piccalilli. When he returned he switched over the television to BBC 1 so he could watch the Two Ronnie’s. Tom liked Ronnie Barker who he thought was a comic genius just like Norman Wisdom. The girls didn’t mind as they thought that the two men were very funny too.

Tom made a huge chip butty and the margarine ran from the hot chips into the paper of his already greasy chips. It made no difference to Tom though as they went down wholesale. Tom was a big lad for his age he was already taller than both his mother and his sister. He was lucky enough to have a mop of curls on his head and hardly ever needed to put a comb through it. Because he was hardly ever at school he never picked up nits from the other kids in his class. Tomorrow was Saturday he would be going fishing with his granda Jack Davis. His grandfather had been taking him since he was about five years old. He went collecting crabs down at the fish quay sands and he watched as his granda as he dug for wragg worms so that they could fish the tide up. His grandfather believed that there were no excuses for not catching a fish and he showed his grandson the best marks and what baits were best for them. He would strategically cast out from right to left until he found a spot where the fish were feeding. He would always have another bait trace ready and as soon as he had taken a fish of the hook it was exchanged and casted out to the same place. He said that the best time for catching big cod was one hour before high water and one hour after the turn of the tide. High water was at seven o’clock that evening it would be a 5.0 tide which was good considering it was April. Soon it would be warmer and that would be when he and his grandfather would stay out all night catching Flatties on light tackle from the pier. They would cast into the Black Middens where there were rocky outcrops and a sandy beach where plaice and dabs, flounders, came to feed. Mackerel 

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