' 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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When they had finished their meal Margaret showed Iris where the toilets were. There was a few stairs to climb before they got there.

“Iris and Margaret seem to be getting on well said Elsie to Rose who was still sulking because the food she had was not to her liking.’

“Yes,’ I don’t know what’s got into her today she has been very confrontational.’

“She’s a young woman Rose; I know you can’t help being protective of her but you must give her space to be herself.’ I mean she isn’t going to have you forever and she needs to have a little bit of independence.’

“You are right of course; I just can’t help it Elsie; I keep forgetting that she is no longer a child.’

“Step back a bit Rose and give her time grow into her own person.’

“I’ll try Elsie but I’ve been mother and father to her for so long.’


When Margaret began to wash her hands in the sink Iris joined her and they playfully flicked water at each other. Margaret laughed out loud then passed a paper towel to Iris. When they had finished they came down stairs.

“Are you ready mam?’

“Yes,’ we’re all sorted Rose pushed aside the scampi she’d left on the plate. “Let’s go back to the market there’s some things I need to pick up from the butchers before we get back on the coach.’

They crossed the road and walked slowly towards the Mill Gate Shopping Precinct. Margaret showed her mother the cake shop and she went inside and bought four cakes. There was one with fresh fruit and cream; there was a cheesecake slice, a chocolate fudge cake, and a black forest gateau covered in dark chocolate. The fudge cake and gateau were the preferred choices of the girls and they sat in the café drinking expensive espresso coffee and eating the cakes they had bought. Each mouthful was savoured on the tongue and Margaret looked around and was scraping the last of the dark chocolate from the plate. She could have easily eaten another piece but chose not to. It was surprising at how quickly the afternoon had gone. It was now 4.45 p.m. they only had time to go to the butchers then back to the coach.

Inside the market a young lad was shouting for everyone to gather round as he cut seven sirloin steaks, then told everyone that for just ten pounds they could have all of those plus, six chicken breast fillets, a gammon joint, six pork chops, 2lbs of mince, A beef joint, six kebabs, and some black pudding. Rose and Elsie bought some each to take back with them and their trolleys were full to bursting. Margaret took the trolley from her mother and pulled it along and Iris took Elsie’s. Most of the stalls were now clearing up for the day and if the women had of had time they could have made a killing; the stalls tried to get rid of stock cheaply before the five o’clock deadline.

They passed the fruit shop where they had first come in then saw Colin the driver waiting out side of the coach. All four of them were exhausted with walking around and were glad to be getting back on the coach once Colin had stored the trolleys and bags away. It had been a lovely day out but everyone who came aboard sat in the coach relieved that they were now going home. Colin checked to make sure everyone was back on board before telling everyone that he would only be stopping for a quick toilet break on the way back as he wanted to get home.

He pulled out of the car park then headed out back through the town the way he had come in.

Nearly everyone was closing their eyes by this time and the coach became almost silent.

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