' 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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Elsie opened the door then looked over the road before crossing over to the other side then disappeared around the corner. The smell from the bakers on the corner made her stop and go in and she bought a fresh brown loaf that she liked and some soft buns for her father. The rain had now eased but there were puddles of water on the pavement.

She paid the woman and placed the bread and buns into her shopping trolley that she took everywhere. Then she walked further down to Hoult’s she bought the pies and some boiled ham and peas pudding so that she could make herself a sandwich for her lunch. Then went further along to the store and bought some tinned marrow fat peas.

Once done she placed those into the trolley then hurried back to the barber shop.

She had made her father a lunch box to take in the club with some homemade cheese scones there were four buns with corned beef and onion that her father liked and there was a piece homemade fruit cake. She knew he liked to share his food with Les Hood and Hughie Graton who sat with him on a Tuesday and Thursday. Where they watched the horses on the television and played cards. Les was renowned for his James Cagney impression he would walk into the club as if he owned the place. He would stand in his sharp grey suit and highly polished shoes to his full height of five feet three inches until someone would say “Hi Les.’ Then he would sidle up to the bar and begin a conversation until that person offered him a pint then he would say “don’t mind if I do.’ I’ll have a pint of half and half.’ Barbara behind the bar had seen it time after time Les was famed for being able to get a free pint out of someone or other.’

The former RAF engineer was a bit of a turn alright. He was an expert on everything.

He plagued the lives out of people playing pool and snooker when he would come over and offer advice on how to play the game when clearly it wasn’t needed. Aidan the bar steward would tell him that they weren’t playing in the world snooker championships and that they were just having a knock about but Les couldn’t help himself. He would pitch in with comments whilst the players were taking a shot.’

Eventually the young lads would get sick and tell him to piss off. Then he would wait until some unsuspecting person had spent a lot of money on the bandits and whilst they were getting change at the bar would slip in and start playing on the machine they had left. They would be outraged but he would just say “Hey you left the machine so I thought that you were finished playing on it.’ He would often drop the jackpot or win enough money to pay for his card game and his horse bets. Les was a card shark and could deal himself a good hand; every now and again four aces would pop up and he always had them. He could deal bum hands so he won with just a flush or even a pair. Then there were games where he could deal Ace, King, Queen, Jack all the same suit. No one knew how he did it but they watched him like a hawk.

 Les would never tell you what he’d backed and would just sit and have a big grin on his face as his horses won. He would take the micky out of the horses Hughie and George backed.

“Come on then Les, tell us all what have you backed they would all say. But he would never let on.

Bob Marshal would walk in with Stan Dawson and order his dark rum from Barbara Stan was a Newcastle Brown ale drinker. He would meticulously take the bottle in his right hand and the half pint glass in his right and pour the beer slowly into the glass that had been inspected for blemishes. Stan was a black belt in karate, he could break wood and house bricks with his fists and feet. Stan never threw his weight around and would be the first to wade in to stop a fight if it arose. Bob Marshal was an ex Merchant navy man his beard now showing signs of grey hairs was neatly trimmed. He wore a nicely ironed shirt and a blue cardigan. Bob used to be a smoker but had recently packed in and when anyone lit up he could instantly smell it. 

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