' 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.


6. 6

“Who would have thought you’d be paying 13 shillings and sixpence for fish and chips in 1973. Matty certainly didn’t as he put on his coat then went out to work.

He just got to the fish shop in time having run all the way.

“We’ve only got fish cake and pies left Matty: said Vera Dunn behind the counter.’

“That will do Vera, I’m starving; I’m on my way to work.’

“Does Jenifer not put you owt up for your bait?’

“Not today she hasn’t. It’s like old Mrs Hubbard today in our house.’

“I’ll put a battered sausage in that I kept; and there’s a pie that you can have as well.’

“Thanks Vera I will keep the pie for later.’

Vera gave him the last of the chips and added some batter then asked if he wanted salt and vinegar on them.

“Yes please Vera.’

“I’ll leave them open for you Matty so you can eat them up the road.’

How long have you been at Formica now?’

“Twelve years said Matty then placed a chip into his mouth and chewed. The taste was good as he bit into the fish cake. They were all home made by the shop and were bigger than the ones brought in by other fish shops.

“Well enjoy you dinner said Vera.’ Matty thanked her again and hurried up the street and onto Verne Road. He was still eating as he reached Norham Road. Feeling replenished now Matty had more pep about him. He quickened his pace as he ate the last of the chips. Matty scraped the batter that was left into the final mouthful then rolled up the newspaper and dumped it in the bin tied to a lamppost. Matty now felt able to carry out his shift. He passed the UBU factory then Commercial Plastics before crossing the flyover to Formica Ltd. Matty checked in at the gatehouse then made his way to the factory floor. He hung up his coat with the pie in it in the cloak room then went out onto the factory floor where his work mate Randy Garbutt was waiting for him. He put on his work gloves and brown coat meant to protect him from the resin.

Randy Garbutt the black kid from Briarwood Avenue. Better known as the Congo because of all the black immigrants who lived there, was younger than Matty. He was a Jimi Hendrix fan; he dressed in flares, brightly flowered shirts, and platform soled shoes. 

“Hey man how you doing?’

“Alreet I guess; how about you?’

“I’m cool man, cool.’

Randy fancied himself as a smooth talkin’ American. He’d actually got to meet his Idol Hendrix in London during a gig or so he said. He bought a guitar similar to that of Hendrix, although Randy was right handed and his hero played with his left.

He talked incessantly about music and wanted to form his own band. He was renowned for smoking weed and even at work during his break he would light up a splif and smoke it inside. You couldn’t smell it for the strong smell of resin that filled up the whole factory so for years he got away with it.

The process used to make laminate was quite a simple one. Sheets of plain or patterned paper were soaked in a melamine resin then put through a drier. The paper was then cut into sheets. It was very brittle at this stage and they had to be careful not to break it. The decorative layer was then added and it went through a similar process. There were various wood patterns and even granite and marble patterns all made the same way.

The layers were built up using what was called overlays. Then it was pressed to make a hard durable material. There was a different process used to make compacted 

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