' 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.


80. 80

“Aye tea,’ would be nice.

Jimmy switched on the kettle and popped some tea bags into a pot then took out two clean mugs from the cupboard below the large mirror on the wall. Jimmy had a pint of milk delivered each morning to the shop. There was a flat above the shop where he lived with his wife. They had no children now as their children had grown up and flew the nest. Jimmy had a daughter Susan and a son John James. Both had moved out of the area and he rarely saw them or his five grandchildren. He chatted away to all of his customers and when mother’s brought in their children for a haircut he gave them a lollipop from the big jar that he kept in the corner.



Jimmy Johnson loved children and missed seeing his own. It was only at Christmas when they would come and visit. He would bring down big bags of sweets, chocolates, and toys for each of his grandchildren. His daughter told him that he spoiled them but Jimmy and Kathy his wife loved them so much.’ He was sad when they left as he knew it would be another year before he would see them again.’

They drove from Oxford where Susan was teaching Maths. Her husband Harold Harris, was a stock broker in the city centre. The children all went to private schools and spoke in a lovely accent. His daughter had lost her Geordie accent and spoke in an Oxfordshire accent like her husband. She had been working down there almost fifteen years now. Carl her oldest boy was thirteen, Michael was eleven and young Harry nine. His son Thomas lived in London with his wife Chantelle who was a French student when they met and fell in love whilst he was studying medical science. He now worked in a laboratory trying to find cures for various cancers.

He and Chantelle had two children Jacques and Michelle. They visited Chantelle’s

Parents who lived in the village of St lo near Normandy in the summer and drove down to see him at Christmas. Jimmy handed George Higginbottom and Elsie a mug of tea each.

“A biscuit would be nice said George.’

Jimmy laughed then went into the cupboard and took out a tin with some biscuits inside and offered it to both Elsie and George.’

George took two biscuits when his daughter refused and bit into a Jacob’s fig roll which he liked because they were soft. His new false teeth had been giving his gums hell and were taking some getting used to. Elsie had been left to take him to the dentists for fitting then back again when they were ready. Jimmy finished the man’s hair he was cutting; he handed the man the brush after bushing down his coat at the back and then gave the man a piece of kitchen roll for his neck and ears.

The man thanked Jimmy and gave him four pounds and told him to keep the change.

Jimmy was able to cut George’s hair from his wheelchair so he just wheeled him towards the mirror and put the brakes on his chair.

“Just the usual George.’  

“Aye, that’ll do me.’

“The buzz from the clippers could be heard as Jimmy set about his subject like an artist sculpting a statue. He used the comb to lift the hair as the clippers took of layer after layer of hair as he moved up his head and then around to the sides. The hair fell to the floor of the barber shop along with the rest he’d cut that morning.

“Dad I’m going to slip to Hoult’s the butchers to get your steak pies then I’ll go and put your bet on alright.’

“Diven’t be long mind because’ the club opens at twelve.’

“Dad I know what time the club opens; it’s only twenty past eleven.’

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