THE RAGMAN’S SERENADE

' 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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He felt the fish kicking on the end of his line as he reeled in using his new ambassador 7000 reel that his grandfather had bought him last Christmas.

It took some getting used to it having always used a fixed spool reel but this was the elite of fishing reels. The burgundy coloured reel sang like a bird as it was casted and had a retrieval rate of five to one. He could cast 250 yards easily with it. He looked after it like a baby and it was washed and oiled after every fishing trip just like his other reels and rods. Tom had done well he had two good sized plaice on the end of his line. There was quite a bend in the rod as he landed the fish on the pier and un- hooked and dispatched them. They too went into the bag as his grandfather got to his feet again; he was in again and began to reel the fish in. It was going to be another good night he thought as he changed the hook trace and casted out again. The lights from South Shields glistened upon the river now. It was not cold; in fact it was quite mild for April he thought. They sat eating a sandwich and a piece of fruit cake that his gran had made after casting out again. As the night wore on the tide went slack and the fish stopped biting. They had to wait until the tide turned. It was just under an hour when they came on again. Steadily they reeled in fish after fish until they had enough to take home. Jack sharpened his filleting knife and then showed Tom how to fillet a flat fish.

“Here it’s your turn; be careful, the knife is extremely sharp.’

Tom took the knife and sliced behind the gill then ran the knife along the bone to the end then cut the fillet from the fish and turned it over and repeated the process.

“You’re like a seasoned pro said his granda.’

The fish were halved then placed in newspaper to take home.

They packed their fishing tackle away into a cloth bag and the fishing reel was wrapped in an oily rag ready to be cleaned when they got home.

Driving back his grandfather told him about the different species of fish in Australia and how big they were. “You will have to be careful of the sharks there though Tom; there are some bigger than the biggest man you ever saw and they can bite your leg off with one bite.’

“I will ask at the library at school if they have any books on Australia and its wildlife.’

“Good idea Tom, also learn about survival in the desserts there and how to get water. The crocodiles and alligators are another danger in the outback. They are about fifteen feet long, right nasty buggers they are.’

“Did you see any over there granda?’

Yes, we saw them; there are crocodile hunter’s over there that shoot them for their skins. “They are used to make hand bags and crocodile shoes. They fetch big money in some parts of the world.’ “The locals take you out in just a small boat at night when the croc’s are active; they shine these powerful lights in their eyes then blast them with rifle shot.

The aborigine guy who was with us on the trip told me that the week before one jumped into the boat and attacked the guy holding the steering mechanism. It bit his leg so badly they had to take it off just below the knee. He nearly bled to death.

They shot it eventually and when they measured it. It was 22 feet long and its jaws were nearly three feet long.

“Don’t let that put you off though Tom; shark and Croc attacks are as rare as rocky horse shit.’

“Just remember to respect their territory; you wouldn’t want a croc to barge into your house would you?’

“Tom laughed; my mother would have kittens if one came into ours.’

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