' 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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Margaret could read quite well and understood the pictures inside the booklet and she followed the instructions to the letter. She and her mother trained the puppy, which was all too willing to learn and please Margaret. He was a lovely looking dog and everyone who Margaret saw spoke to her and petted the puppy. The puppy slept in a basket next to her bed at night and they were inseparable. Margaret worked for REMPLOY, it was a rehabilitation centre for disabled and people with learning disabilities. They learned various skills and Margaret packed boxes most of the day.

She was picked up in a mini bus and taken to the centre In Forest hall at 9 a.m. and brought home at 4 p.m. She found the work boring and monotonous. The centre provided lunch and she was given a small wage which Rose put away for her to help buy clothes or to take her out on trips with. Today was no exception; they were going to Bury Market, one of the largest in Britain.

They had to leave Patch with Tim because they wouldn’t allow a dog on the coach.

They took a taxi to Newcastle where they met Elsie Higginbottom and her friend Iris Deyton who was nearly the same age as Margaret. The coach pulled in and both Rose and Elsie had asked for front row seats so they could stretch out their legs.

“Hello Rose, are you alright love?’

“Yes, I thought the taxi was going to be late this morning Elsie but we’re here.’

Margaret looked about the terminal and told her mother that she needed to use the toilet. “You will have to wait Margaret until we get on the bus because they don’t open the ticket office until 9 a.m.

“This is Iris Deyton Rose, she lives across the road from me.’

“Hi said Iris who was very tall and lean looking and looked almost like a boy with short blonde hair and was wearing Nike tracksuit bottoms and a tee shirt and tracksuit top with a hood and Nike training shoes.’ She looked more like an athlete than someone about to go on a trip out.

“I brought some sandwiches, crisps and some chocolate bars said Iris.’

“That’s good what kind have you brought?’

“Ham and Cheese.’

“Rose laughed then said I’ve brought ham and coleslaw.’

“I’ve got ham and pea’s pudding said Elsie.’

“With all the ham we are going to make right pigs of ourselves.’

How long is the trip going to take?’

“Three hours and fifty two minutes said Iris who had rang a help line and checked it.’

“Iris this is Margaret my daughter; would you mind sitting with her?’ Rose whispered that her daughter had Down’s syndrome.’

“She will be fine sitting next to me won’t you Margaret said Iris.’

“Am I sitting next to Iris?’

“Yes,’ if you want to said her mother.’

“I want to sit next to Iris mam.’

“Alright then, you can.’

The driver got off then strolled towards them. “Are you going to Bury?’

“Yes said Elsie we booked seats at the front; I’m a terrible traveller and get car sick.’

“That’s fine you can have the first two seats. “ My names Colin by the way said the driver with a Yorkshire accent.’

Colin looked in his early sixties tall and slim with combed over grey hair covering his bald pate and black framed spectacles. He puffed away on a rolled up cigarette.

“Is there a toilet on board as Margaret desperately needed to go by this time?’

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