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.


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Irene remained friends with Betty, Agnes, and Ivy but made another friend called Annabelle Crosby from the high school. They hung around in their teens and told each other everything about their first boyfriends. Irene worked in an office to begin with for Thomson and Clarke but it was boring and she longed to be with her friends so she left and went to work in the kipper house where she met Jimmy Johnson for the first time.

Then she went out with him after being set up by Betty and they were married then soon after got pregnant with Mollie. Now she was leaving her friends again; how would she cope without them around? They had been with her through the good and the many bad times. They had laughed and even cried together.

She curled up on the bed and drifted off to sleep.


When Thursday came around the whole street knew Irene was leaving the next day she had rang Tom Swans the TV rental shop to come for the Redifusion Slot Television on legs. Harry came around with Johnny his brother to help move the table, chairs, the wardrobe, and the chest of draws. Iris rolled up the only carpet from the kitchen then swept and washed the entire floor. Then when the washer, kitchen table and four chairs, and the cooker were taken she again scrubbed the floors.

The bathroom was cleaned from top to toe they took Mollies bed and all her bedding, her clothes apart from the ones she would be wearing to leave with. Mollie would sleep with her mother in the only thing that remained in the house until the morning when they would come and take the bed too. Betty told her to bring Mollie for breakfast where all her friends would be calling later that day so when that time came Irene knocked on Betty’s door.

At twelve o’clock the man from the rent office came to check the house over then took the keys from her. Thirty seven years of living in North Shields were coming to an end and she would take with her many memories of her life here. Ivy couldn’t stop sobbing which set off Agnes and Annabelle who had come over especially.

“Betty ever the strongest of them all told them to belt up because Irene was going to a better life and that they should rejoice because she had beaten the muck ridden streets, The dampness of the houses and the smoke from every coal fire in the little town to rise above it. She had bettered herself and every one of them would have gladly swapped places with her if they had been given the choice.

Mollie had said good bye to her friends last night and that she would invite them to her next birthday party.

It was three thirty when the Rolls Royce arrived and Bobby got out and knocked on

the door; The whole street gathered to say goodbye to their neighbour.

Irene hugged them all then said goodbye to her four friends.

“Take care of yourself lass and if he doesn’t look after you, come and tell me and I’ll come and bost his chops.”

Mollie and Irene got into the back and waved as the chauffeur drove slowly away. A

 single seagull flew over head as the last memory of the place where she was born.


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