' 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.


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Squeezing a drop of Fairy liquid from the bottle he waited until the soap suds frothed up before picking up the plates and placing them under the soapy suds. The scourer he was using was worn and he reminded himself to get some the next time he was in town.  He scrubbed the plates that had dried on gravy them, it stuck like glue as he scrubbed and scrubbed away. “Shit he cursed as the stubborn offending dried mixture clung to the plate. They’d eaten mince pie and chips with mushy peas. The green residue from the peas had set hard like cement. The cups were all stained brown inside having been used countless times by his wife who never bothered washing them out before making a fresh brew. Once he had finished washing and rinsing the plates he started on the cutlery. Matty could never understand why his wife used as many knives forks and spoons for just one meal. You would think that she had fed an army not just the four of them. Thomas Matthew Davis his son was fifteen years old and his daughter Irene had just turned fifteen. She was just like any other teenager. She was stubborn as a mule and moaned about everything. She stayed out late with her friends knowing that she had work the next morning. If it weren’t for her father waking her up every morning she would have slept in. Tommy was like his mother, he would sleep the clock round if you let him. He had to be practically dragged up to go to school. Getting him to school was one thing keeping him there was another. Whenever he got the chance he was off down to the Fish Quay. If he wasn’t on the Polish trawlers bumming money and cigarettes to sell to his mates he was pinching the fish out of the boxes along the quayside and selling those.

In Woolworths They had a hell of a job with him as he stole just about anything not nailed down. He would simply walk around the store after filing his pockets with sweets and toffee’s from the Pick “n” Mix then would help himself to things he could sell at school the next day. He bought himself a Webley Hawk Air rifle to go shooting with and would often take pot shots at the neighbours racing pigeons after his mother complained about Bob Hall and his “shite hawks” as she called them, they stained all of her windows; They seemed to instinctively wait until she had just washed them with Windowlene before swooping down to drop bird shit all over them. They proved to be a real bone of contention as whenever she hung out her husbands white shirts. The little buggers would descend upon them as well; leaving a trail in their wake. Jenifer went to see Bob Hall about them and told him if he didn’t shift his pigeon loft she was going to the council about him. Susan his wife came down stairs and the two of them were arguing then Isabel Miller came out and she joined in as well. Before Susan knew it the whole bloody street was up in arms about her husband’s birds. In the end she gave her husband an alternative either the pigeons went or she was leaving.’

The next morning at nine o’clock Susan Hall left with her daughter Kathy with her cases packed. Every time Bob let the birds out Tommy would shoot four or five of them until Bob had only two left. He had to concede in the end and moved his pigeon loft to the back of Heaton Terrace allotment gardens. He cycled there from his house in Chirton Green in the Ridges Estate which was just up the road.

Matty filled up the kettle and put it over the gas and lit it with a match. The fire was on in the sitting room. He’d already done that when he first got up. Placing bits of wood around rolled up pieces of newspaper. Matty lit the kindling before adding lumps of coal around it to get it started. Once it was burning he blazed it up with a shovel and another piece of paper. He emptied the teapot in the waste bin before setting out the cups and the sugar bowl. He went to the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk. He opened the flap on the red carton and poured some in each cup before replacing it back into the fridge.

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