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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The sun was shining brightly through the kitchen window as Jenifer peeled the vegetables. Irene was still poorly and decided that it would be best if she stayed in bed. Her mother made her some toast with some Lyles Golden Syrup on them that she liked and gave her another hot lemon and Beecham’s powder.

“I will run you a hot bath later love; it will help sweat the fever out of you.’

“Irene sat up trying to read a copy of a woman’s magazine.’

She pulled out another tissue from the box on her bedside cabinet and blew her nose then threw the offending hanky into the bin.

“Has gran and granda come yet?’

“No they won’t be long though; best that you keep away from them as they could come down with flu as well.’

“Now drink up that lemonade I made you.’

Jenifer went back to the kitchen and washed her hands before setting a light under the pans to cook the vegetables. She filled up a coffin tin with gravy and sat the beef joint into it and placed it back into the oven to heat up. The Yorkshire pudding batter mix was made and ready for the tray of fat that was now heating up in the oven. Dinner would only be about half an hour. Matty and Tom had been in the bath and were getting ready just as the front door bell was rung.

“Can you answer the door Tom; my hands are all flour. Jenifer had baked pies and tarts which she would give to both her parents and in laws later that day.

Jack walked into the house with his wife Ethel he had been to pick up Jenifer’s parents on the way from his house in Hunter’s Close. Brian and Phyllis Embleton lived at the bottom of Wallsend Road they had lived there over thirty years.

Jack knew Brian who was a prominent figure in the Percy Main Club. He was the club treasurer and had been since he was elected as a twenty eight year old. He was the youngest elected member on the committee at that time. Brian was a quiet and unassuming man. He had a full head of hair which had tight curls in it even though it was silver grey.’

Jack envied him because his was virtually non existent. He had to go to the barber every fortnight to have the sides cut to keep it looking tidy. He wouldn’t go to Ted Smith who had shell shock and chose to go to a German barber in North Shields called Rudi Schreiber.

Rudi had been a policeman, a dog handler during the war and he was also a gunsmith.

He held many records for shooting. He won a silver medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and his medal was presented by non other than Adolf Hitler.

However Rudi was no Nazi.  He left Germany and fled to England where he was held in a POW camp until after the war. His skills as a marksman were utilised by the British forces. He became a police officer working with Alsatian dogs until his retirement aged fifty and went into barbering which his father had taught him.

Hi Jenifer; we’re not too early are we.’

“No dad,’ sit down and I will make you a nice cup of tea.’

“Where’s wor Irene and Matty.’

Irene is in bed wi the flu dad and Matty is getting himself ready I think.’

“Ready; yer bugger, I’ve been up since six o’clock this morning.’

“Are you warm enough I can turn the new electric fire on if you like?’

“Electric fires stink of gas said Brian I prefer a nice coal fire don’t you Jack?’

“Aye they’ve got it easy these days with all these modern conveniences in the house; no black leading to do or owt.’

It’s only been installed two weeks, it’s taking some getting used to.

“Gas cookers an aal not yer ranges like what we had said Phyllis.’

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