' 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.


22. 22

“Your gran would have attacked it with her posser; she’s fearless.’

When Jack dropped Tom off; he got his tackle and the fish he’d caught. He said that he would see him tomorrow as he went into the house. It was now eleven o’clock; his mother and father were out as he rinsed his reel and then cleaned and oiled it. He turned the bale arm then placed it back into the original dark green box. Then set it down in the corner of his tackle box and closed the lid. He went out the back door into the garage and placed his rods on the rack then put his tackle box on the shelf and turned out the light.

Tom washed all of his fish in the sink then put them on a plate after dabbing each fillet with kitchen paper to dry them off. He placed another plate on the top of the one they were sitting on then put them in the fridge. They would be eating battered plaice and chips for dinner on Monday.




Norman Hagarth closed his betting shop it had been a busy day with the Grand National being run. Red Rum had beaten Crisp into second place after tiring in the final stages. Crisp was 33 lengths in front going into the second circuit, in what turned out to be a classic race. Red Rum ridden by Brian Fletcher 9/1 joint favourite with Crisp, was now closing the gap. By the last fence he had cut Richard Pitman’s lead to only fifteen lengths as they raced up the hill slowly Richard saw his lead diminish as the tired horse failed to respond and in the closing stages he was pipped at the post. The race was a national record; timed at 9 minutes and 41 seconds. L’Escargot 11/1 finished third; he would go on to finish second the year after then finally win the race in 1975. Red Rum would become the most famous race horse of all time winning the Grand National three times 1973- 1974- 1977.

The day had netted Norman a healthy profit as punters had bet on Crisp to win the race.

Norman had been a bookie for twenty five years but had never witnessed excitement like it since the Queens horse Devon Loch ridden by Dick Francis spread its legs in the closing stages when it could have won. Dick went on to write many crime novels when he retired about horse racing. Norman was a generous man he would often let his regulars borrow the odd fiver or in some cases a tenner knowing that he would get it back. Some tried it on with Norman pretending to work for some of the well known hard men in the town. Norman would just laugh; then asked them to leave. He was well known himself and if he had trouble he only had to pick up the telephone and dial a number. Norman was partial to a dark rum and coke and would often be seen in the Railway Hotel where he bought the one drink and then kept topping it up from a hip flask. Norman was propositioned by the wives’ of those who couldn’t pay their debts. They would come into the bookies all dolled up then walk up to the counter

And ask him if he would like to take them for a drink.

Norman would politely refuse, because he knew if he did go with them he would then be blackmailed by the husbands who would threaten to tell his wife not that he would ever play away. One young woman rang the house one evening saying: do you know where your man is?’ and what he’s been doing to me all night.’

Marina Hagarth would reply: yes he’s in here watching match of the day and I can’t even budge him out of his chair to make love to me pet, so you’ve got no chance but thanks for calling; goodbye.’

Marina Hogarth worked as a Midwife at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle She worked in the maternity ward and had been there seventeen years. 

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