Fish Wife

"FISH WIFE" It tells of two women one from Scotland the other from North Shields.Margaret Rose Garbutt, has a violent abusive husband who beats her up whilst pregnant she runs away from from Sterling and when her baby is born is forced to give her up. years later she ends up working in the kipper factory on North Shields fish quay where she meets Irene Milsip who had such a bad home life that when she was set up on a blind date met Jimmy Johnson who she marries more out of desperation than love. Jimmy is a waster and is having an affair behind Irene's back with an Irish immigrants daughter until Irene's friend finds a letter in the street. Annabelle Crosby is faced with a dilemma- does she tell her friend or let the affair go on. This is the story of hardship and struggle of two women during the 1960's and their rise to success but one thing they will never forget is their roots. FISH WIFE is a tale of love, ambition, family values, and friendship.


16. 16

“No there’s not a problem at all; please wait here a moment when he came back with a large wad of twenty pound notes Georges eyes widened as he began to count the money out in front of him.

George stood there completely in shock as the total of £920 was handed to him. The manager came around and shook his hand. That it the largest amount of money this shop has ever paid out. Would you like me to order you a taxi?

“Yes please. The manager asked the assistant to call for a taxi then he asked George how he did it.

“I just had a feeling.”

 “If Sky Pilot had of not been beaten by a photo finish you would have walked out of here with £4. 600 we had to wait because of the photo finish and your last race was only a few minutes ago. Just then he saw the race repeated on the Television set and it said something about a Stewart’s Enquiry.

“Look said George there’s a Stewarts Enquiry with my horse.

The manager turned up the TV set as Richard O’Sullivan announced that Moonraker had been disqualified for impeding Sky Pilot.

“You did it shouted the manager; can I give you a cheque for the rest Sir because we haven’t got that kind of money here.”

“Can you give me a cheque for £4.000 and the rest in cash please?

“You certainly can; he took back the cash then made George sign a sheet for the money before it was handed over.

George got into the waiting taxi and told him where he was going.

He was smiling as the car sped down the coast road.


Rose had gone to work in the kipper factory as normal; Irene the new charge hand placed her in charge of the smoke house so when the kippers were brought in Rose would be responsible for stacking the racks which went right up to the roof. She would then place the oak or pine sawdust onto a heavy steel tray then set it alight. When it was smoking away, Rose closed the doors and left them to smoke.

The kipper comes from the Dutch word Kuppen meaning to spawn and was used mainly for out of season salmon to make it more palatable to eat. John Woodger is reported to have made the first kippers in Northumberland around 1840 using a brick kiln. They were heavily salted and left to smoke for 3-4 days. Today the kippers are soaked in brine and lightly smoked for 2-3 hours which gives them a milder Smokey flavour. Starved herring or herring that have spawned known as” Spents” have less fat content and are easily damaged during the processing procedure. The processing of these fish has to be carried out very quickly as they will spoil. Iced herrings have to be split or blocked and then dried by a heating process before they can be made into kippers. Kippers and herring are still regarded as a delicacy in Scandinavia where they are pickled.

Herrings in the North East are eaten much less these days because children do not eat as much fish as they used to. Traditional foods are being lost to Americanised fast food restaurants’.


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