' 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.


19. 19

Both threaded line through the eyes of rods then tied on a thicker piece of line to act as a shock lead for when they casted out. Then they tied the new hook traces they had made. Taken from a plastic sleeve to stop them from tangling up in the tackle box they tied on a grinner knot. His grandfather had showed him how to do one. It was a simple but very strong knot.

The baits that they would be using would be Mackerel for the spinning rods and wragg and lug worm for the beach casters. Tom was so strong he could cast 250 yards quit easily and he was the first to get bait in the water as his grandfathers eyes weren’t as sharp as they were and it took him longer to tie his rig on.

Once both beach casting and spinning rods were out they sat down on the boxes and his father poured them both a hot cup of coffee. It was one hour and ten minutes to high water and the sea was lapping around the pier already. It wouldn’t be dark for at least another hour so there was no need to turn on his Tilly lamp. The cormorants and seagulls still flew around the quayside. Squealing an incessant song as they awaited the fishing boats returning from out in the North Sea. Tom and his grandfather left the lines out for twenty minutes then brought them in to find that there were crabs munching on the Mackerel bait. This prompted them to try a different spot when casting. They had fished this area for many years and they knew where the fish would be lying when the incoming tide was at its peak. The sky turned a dullish grey as the night closed in around them. Looking over the river towards South Shields they could make out the church and the roads as the traffic went past; then one by one the lights began to appear from the cars going past. The sound of a bell could be heard as the ferry left South Shields to return to the other side and the ships sailed silently past them out towards the bar at Tynemouth pier. The River Tyne forever changing by the hour the living breath of the North East. Jack told Tom how he remembered the steam ships came and went here and the coal barges as they carried coal to Newcastle. “The Tyne was a busy place in those days and the fishing boats tied up seven abreast right along the quayside.’ Your grandmother stood along there gutting herring all day long for six shillings a week.’

“A week granda that wasn’t a lot of money was it.’

“No Tom,’ it wasn’t and she had to pay her mother for her keep and buy clothes and shoes out of that. It took months just to buy a new dress or a pair of shoes. In those days shoes and boots were not thrown away as they are now. “You had to take them to the cobblers to get them re-sold and heeled.’ “You had a pair that you wore for work and a pair that you wore for Sunday best.’

“Why did they call it Sunday best granda?’

“Well in those days everyone went to church on a Sunday to thank the lord for their pitiful lives.’ They wore their best clothes to go to church in and they were taken off and hung up for the next week. My father only had two shirts that he owned and these collars that clipped on and a couple of ties. He had one decent suit and a hat like many others in the town. They were used for special occasions like weddings and funerals.

“No one would dream about going out looking the way that they do now. I laugh at how fashion and times have changed over the years Tom. It’s not for the better either people are changing Tom; It doesn’t seem as if the young generation care as much about the elderly as they did in my day.’ “Your mother and father were respected then.

Even though I had a rough up bringing Tom, I loved my father; yes he hit me with his leather belt on many an occasions; sometimes when I wasn’t in the wrong but I never disobeyed him. I loved and respected him all the same.’ 

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