' 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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like a turban then headed for her room upstairs with a pen and one of the magazines. Again Lucy followed her then lay down on the sheepskin rug on the floor. Elsie took out a doggy chew from her bag and gave it to the dog then set about doing the first large crossword.  







Just before closing time in the bookies Brian went to clean the toilet for the last time that day. In walked Mary Fletcher with her betting slip. Mary always carried a brown PVC shopping bag where ever she went. There was nothing in it she just liked to carry it around. Mary never wore her false teeth because they made her talk funny she said. Mary Fletcher was in her late sixties now and she looked older than her years. Poor diet and smoking had ravaged her body. She had lines all over her face which looked like crumpled up newspaper. The skin on her body showed her age too. She was painfully thin and looked as though a gust of wind would blow her over. Her hair was tied up with pipe cleaners and she wore a head scarf all the time. Looking at her made him think of Hilda Ogden from the soap opera Coronation Street. He wondered whether her character was actually based on Mary Fletcher.’

“Can you check this slip for me Norm,’ I think I’ve got a few bob coming back.’

The fact was Mary couldn’t add up at all. She was one of twelve children and her mother kept her off school so she could look after some of her other siblings.

She couldn’t even tell the time. Not that she had a watch, Mary would always ask what time it was so that she could get back home to cook her husband’s tea for him.

Norman checked the races at each meeting on her betting slip then calculated her winnings. “How are you today Mary he asked?

Oh I feel terrible Norm,’ I’ve got this terrible throbbing in my clitoris.’

“Norman nearly fell of his stool as he looked at the elderly woman.

“I think it’s the vibration of that new washing machine wor Joe bought me.’

“All day long it’s been throbbing away; do you want to feel it?’

“Not particularly, no Mary.’

“I feel as if I’m ganna explode.’

“The menopause can cause a lot of problems you know Mary.’

“Menopause; what the hells that got to do wi me banging headache.’

“I think you meant migraine Mary.’

“No, Doris Banks who lives over the back of me says it’s my clitoris.’

Norman didn’t have the heart to explain where her clitoris was. So he just paid her the £4.85p winnings from her bet and told her that he would see her tomorrow.’

She gave him a gummy smile then walked out of the shop. If he had a mind he could have robbed her blind she wouldn’t have known. Norman wondered how many people had taken advantage of her over the years.

“Right then Brian let’s go home I’m buggered.’ Norman put on his heavy coat because it had been raining and didn’t want to take the chance of coming down with a cold. He cashed up then placed the money into a carrier bag along with all of the slips so he could work out how to fiddle the tax man when he got home. He was taking a big risk walking home with over a thousand pounds in a carrier bag but it looked just like an ordinary bag of shopping with his bait box and thermos flask inside.

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