' 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.


77. 77

“Matty I stink of Windowlene.’

“Who cares, come here.’



Matty worked his last shift the following Thursday night before shaking hands with all his work mates on the Friday morning. Matty got all of his wages and his holiday pay before leaving plus a bonus from his bosses. All the lads had a collection in the factory and gave him fifty pounds.

Randy Garbutt walked down to the bus stop with him when they were finished.’

“Don’t forget to send me a post card mate he said as he strutted down Norham Road.

The bus was waiting when they arrived. “Have a safe journey and good luck in your new job.’ The two men embraced briefly and then Matty got on the bus. Randy stayed until the bus pulled away before giving his friend a two fingered salute.’

Matty had to laugh as the bus drove down Verne Road for the last time with him on board. He got off at Burt Avenue then walked down to his house where Jenifer would be waiting, hopefully with a cooked breakfast. Their flight was at 11 a.m. and Jenifer’s dad was driving them all to the airport. Matty’s mam and dad were already there when Matty opened the door and went inside. The house was now practically empty and his work boots reverberated off the floorboards as the neighbours had come in and taken everything. They had left the kettle some plate’s cups and utensils to use that morning but once they were gone the neighbours would come back for them. All the food apart from breakfast food, milk for teas and cereal had been given away. Matty’s tool shed cleared out and the shed its self would be dismantled and moved later that day. Many neighbours and friends called in to wish them well with good luck cards. Matty ate his breakfast with all the family. It was like the last supper; everyone was quiet apart from Tom who couldn’t wait to get on the plane.

Irene waited for her friend Carol Asiamah to arrive. As they all sat around the kitchen table and the chairs. The only furniture left in the house. They kept on checking their watches. At 9 a.m. Carol arrived with all of her family and Brian packed all the luggage into the boot.

“Ready then said Brian as Matty changed his clothes, had a quick wash and shave. He put on some clean clothes. They all took a clean tee shirt to change into later and placed it into the hand luggage because they would be on the plane over twenty four hours.

They all walked outside and the street was lined with neighbours and friends.

They all looked around the street for the last time waving to everyone before handing the keys over to a trusted friend and neighbour. Carol said goodbye to all of her family and told them that she would write once they were settled.

They all said goodbye to Jack and Ethel and Phyllis before getting into the car. Jenifer and her mother were crying. Brian started the engine of the Morris minor then slowly pulled away. They waved away until the car turned right down towards the Chirton Club, then the Robin Hood Inn and all of the shops along Front Street. They all took in every sight. The streets of the Ridges Estate, churches and schools, pubs and fish and chip shops. The last place they saw in North Shields was the Percy Main Club as the car headed into Howdon.

Their tickets were to be collected at the airport and Jenifer asked for the umpteenth time if Matty had all the documentation.

“It’s all here in the wallet my dad gave me love don’t worry.’

Tom chatted away to Carol and his sister all the way airport. He really was in high spirits as he jumped out and sprinted towards the trolleys. 

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