' 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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whiskey. He did not drink beer. His first horse race of the day got underway and he watched the television set that was in the corner of the room.



Randy Garbutt sang along to “Hey Joe’ by Jimi Hendrix as he and Matty lifted the sheets of laminate off the press and stacked them up.

Matty had told his friend that he’d be leaving for Australia as soon as his immigration papers arrived.

There was a hint of sadness on the face of the black kid as he asked him why he was going?’

“Come on Randy; you’ve seen how bad it’s getting out there. Christ we came home on the train the other day and the bloody walls are all covered in graffiti.’  “There’s broken windows and burnt out cars, the streets are full of rubbish because no one can teach their kids to pick up litter and put it into a bloody bin.’ “Young lads are fighting in St James Park on a Saturday afternoon instead of watching the match.’

“You ask me why I’m going; I think I just answered your question.’ 

“Won’t you miss the place though?’

“No I won’t, to tell you the truth the sooner I get away from this shit hole the better.’

“Send me a postcard and let me know how you are getting on wont you.’

“Whey Aye, that goes without saying and once we are settled maybe you can come over and stay for a few weeks.’

“Aye that would be good. ‘How is your lass taking to the idea of moving sticks?’

“She was a bit sceptical at first but she’s come around just like our Irene because her friend Carol is coming out there with us. I mean what would you have done if your father offered you a free house down under with a car and a boat?’

“I would have snapped it up mate.’

“There you go then.’

Both men worked steadily throughout the night until it was 7 a.m. They clocked off and Matty walked home. He called in at Purvis the baker shop on Front Street and bought some fresh bread buns for his bait later that day. He had taken in some chicken and mushroom pie and some soup in a flask. There was enough food to last them all fortnight. He would pay off the rent arrears this Friday when he got his wages then he would have only five day’s to work. Jenifer was washing and packing clothes. His father said that they wouldn’t need anything as Jackie had left everything that they would ever need. Jenifer had told her neighbours to come and take anything that they wanted. Before next Friday when they would hopefully spend their last night together in the house. Yvonne McEwan said she would take the two single beds for her kids Moira King would take the double bed and bedding as her son needed a bigger bed. The washer and cooker was going to Mrs Jackson at number 5. All the plates, cutlery, pans and even the kettle was going to Maggie Hepple. Jenifer couldn’t believe that this was really happening but it was. Word soon got around and she was being stopped in the street to ask when they were all going. Tom had brought the books home showing them what the town looked like and the houses. They looked very modern in comparison to these. These houses were built in 1934 when the new estate was being formed. They were all built around the Ridges farm; her mother had worked on the farm for a while when she left school as a 13 year old. Long hours and little wages they paid. Back breaking work too she told her daughter.

It would be her parents who she would miss the most. The thought of never seeing them again would hurt. She swore she would find work and make enough money so that they could visit. There had been tears; lots of them as she spoke to her mother 

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