' 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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No what I mean is we can check the ads in the paper shop window; they are always advertising flats to rent there.’

The train came and they both got on then closed the door and took a seat.’

“How much will a flat cost us per week. I have an allowance that my dad sends me each month.’


My mother has been saving it up for me.’

“The rents down here are about fourteen pounds a week. Then there’s our food gas and electricity to pay. It will work out at about forty pounds per week. That’s twenty pounds each.’

“The job we are going for tomorrow is Forty two pounds per week that’s twelve pounds more than I earn at the home.’

I don’t know how much I get at Remploy but it isn’t a lot for what we do.’

Whatever money we have left we will put into a tin and if we want to go out or buy new clothes there will be money there.’

“Will you come to Spain with me and my mam in June?’

“If I can save up enough money by then yes Margaret.’

“You will only need your flight money as the apartment sleeps four people. You can bunk up with me if you like in the double bed.’ My mother can have the single bed.’

The train came to a stop at North Shields and two people got on then the train moved slowly away again.’

“I’ve never been abroad before said Iris.’

“You will have to buy a passport; they only cost a few pounds for a ten year one.’

“Okay,’ I will get one next week.’

“I will tell my mam tonight that you are coming with us, she will like that because she will be able to relax and just enjoy herself.’

“You will love it I’m sure Iris.’

“How many times have you been abroad?’

“Since I was two years old according to my mam.’

“I wondered how you were dark skinned.’ I’m as white as a milk bottle.’

“The sun is hot out there and if you are not used to it you can get badly burned.’ I will look after you and make sure your skin is covered in sun cream.’

“I’m a bit apprehensive about flying though.’

“You will love it.’ It’s safer than a train or a bus.’

The train reached Tynemouth with its cast iron arches painted blue and green the foot bridge spanning over both sides of the tracks. “We can come down here when we get our flat and buy things in the market fairly cheaply.’

“That’s a good idea Iris; I never thought of that.’

My mother used to bring me down here when I was very young and we would pick things up for the house.’ You wouldn’t believe the good stuff people throw out.’

The station master blew his whistle and the train took off again. The next stop was Cullercoats then Whitley bay shortly after. Looking out of the window the train passed Northumberland Park then they could see Tynemouth boating lake and the sea front and Tynemouth long sands. The small figures of men and women were seen walking along the promenade with children and family pets. They passed the house of Peter Mortimer the poet and playwright; his front door painted red and a great pair of black lips. His TV Ariel read: “keep your feet firmly in the clouds.’ Margaret laughed out loud as she read it. Peter was a hippy dressed in the weirdest clothes like a Kafka and he had beads around his neck his long blond hair was tied in a ponytail and he wore Jesus sandals. He frequented the bars around Whitley bay and Newcastle in 

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