' 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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over the phone. Then her brother in Yorkshire who promised to look after their parents whilst they were away. He wished her good fortune and she promised to ring him every Sunday.


The Whittingham house in Jesmond where Iris worked was a busy place she started at 7 a.m. every morning. There was three floors most of the sixty residents were women.

The rooms were small with a bed a small table and a chair and one armchair. There was a toilet where the residents who were able could use.

A lot of the residents were incontinent and Iris had to change not only the residents but the bedding as well. Each resident had to be washed or bathed if they had messed themselves. There was a walk in shower bathroom on every floor so each person had to be thoroughly cleaned. All clothes that were soiled had to be taken to the laundry and washed then each resident had to have clean clothes and then their hair and makeup done if they asked for it. She only had one hour in order to get the residents ready for breakfast. She worked with Paula Collins who was six years older than herself. They had little time for chat as they hurried to get all the residents ready. There was an efficient system which they adhered to each morning and it worked.

Whilst the residents were having their breakfast; taken care of by four members of staff. All the beds were stripped and changed. The rooms were then vacuumed and then the bathrooms cleaned out and the corridor’s hoovered. The residents had to stay down stairs for the rest of the day. They could sit in the garden if it was fine or else they sat indoors. Soft music was played most of the day. They had a television room where they could go into. Some of the younger residents who were just sixty years old were allowed to go out themselves and could return when they wished. They all knew what time the meals were served. It took most of the day to wash and dry clothes in the laundry then there was ironing to do. The lunch break was broken up on a rota so it could be two o’clock by the time you got something to eat or drink. Many of the older women smoked and would disappear into the changing rooms for a quick smoke. Iris had her lunch with five other’s in the staff room they were given a free meal and they had only half an hour before having to take older residents to the toilet and clean them. Being a care worker was not a pleasant job you had to be sympathetic as well as having a strong stomach. This was why she hoped that she and Margaret could get a start at the new Asda in Benton.

They had to see the manageress at ten o’clock tomorrow morning and she was keeping her fingers crossed that they would be successful. At 3p.m. they served afternoon tea and all the dishes from both the lunches and the tea that afternoon had to be washed rinsed then put away ready for the evening meal that night. They evening staff came on duty at five and worked through until the next morning.

Iris finished all the dishes; the trolleys were all loaded with clean cups and saucers.

The large tea pots were then washed and then filled with teabags ready for the evening meal. She then went to the changing room took off her uniform and hung it up on a hanger ready for the next week. She hoped that next week would be her last.

Mrs Anderson her boss came out of her office just as Iris was leaving.

“Are you away home now Iris?’

“Yes Mrs Anderson; I will see you next week.’

“Goodnight Iris; enjoy your weekend.’

Iris did not work weekends which she was glad of. The weekend was a busy shift with visitors coming in. Walking down warily to the bus stop through the Dene she sat on the wooden bench looking over the road the Corner House and the Peoples Theatre 

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