' 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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laminate which was considerably thicker. Both the ordinary and compacted laminate was used in boats and in shops. It was widely used in the furniture industry where kitchen tables and cabinets were made from it.

Randy and Matty lifted sheet after sheet during the night. They had to make sure that the resin tanks were kept filled throughout the shift. The machines never stopped and when one pair went for a break their machine was taken over and watched until they returned. Randy talked about the girl he’d met down in London at a concert in Hyde Park.

She was from Manhattan in America he told Matty; she was by all accounts a hippy and had bummed her way around Europe.

She loved the Romanticism of Paris and the food of Italy. She asked him to come to Switzerland with her after they had spent several nights together smoking weed and making love in a tent.

“What was she called asked Matty curiously?’

“Chandelle Edward’s.’

“How old was she?’  

 “Nineteen I guess.’

“What did her parents think of her travelling alone?’ weren’t they concerned.’

Randy opened the palms of his hands and shrugged his shoulders. “They could hardly stop her man, she would have only rebelled. She wasn’t strictly alone anyway there were twelve of them all sharing this bus and it was far out man. They converted a school bus and painted it with all of these flowers and slogans. They were busking during the day or putting out tourist leaflets for restaurants and café’s around the city. At night they frequented the local bars, drank cheap wine and went to parties.’ They were organised by wealthy people. They drank champagne and ate top quality food. “It was feast or famine said Chandelle but she loved it.’

“What was she planning to do when she returned?’

“I think she was part of some women’s liberation group.’

“Women of today eh said Matty sarcastically they want to wear the trousers don’t they.’ My wife is just a lazy cow; she’s never worked since we met you know.’

“Give her some encouragement man; you never know she might surprise you and get a job and with it some independence.’

“Do you believe women should have independence then Randy?’

“Don’t you?’

“Well to a certain degree yes of course, but not to the extent where they are telling me what to do.’

“You’re still full of that macho shit aren’t you said Randy with a laugh; Matty just chill out man; smoke some weed and just let the world take care of itself.’

“Wait until you get married. It all changes believe me. Romance is dead in our house and what is left is just bitterness and regret.’

“So you regret getting married?’

No,’ I mean not exactly.’ I mean I love my kids but she has become a pain in the arse.’

“Have you talked to her about it and told her how you feel. Have you asked her how she feels?’

“All she seems to do is piss and moan these days.’

“No disrespect Matty but this may be of your own doing.’

“My doing; I cannot even get her out of bed in the morning.’

“Give her a reason to get up each day.’

“I cannot get my head around all this philosophical bullshit Randy.’

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