EBB AND FLOW

"Ebb and flow" which is centred around the Charley Clays Clothing Factory during the early sixties. The story focuses on different kinds of life in North Shields at that time - There's Helen Smith the young woman who dreams of a better life for herself, she wants to live like the rich people. When she marries Thomas Lattimer who is a wealthy banker she discovers that the life that she wanted is not all it was made up to be. Jimmy Mulligan who works for Hoults the butchers, lives over the road with his parents he has been in love with Helen since they were at school together. He tells her of his love and that he will wait for her no matter how long it takes. Allan Forster has been in and out of Borstal for petty crimes he dreams of one big job that will net him enough money to live the high life - He gets involved with Paddy Leonard a notorious hardman. A power struggle takes place in North Shields for supremacy. Paddy Devlin another bouncer, come gangster is running a protection racket

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“I that was only cos’ it was a cushy number Rob.’

Rob threw down his shovel and was walking towards Norman with a fearful look in

his eye.

“Are you lot fightin’ again shouted Phil Hunter who owned the store. Phil was a fair-haired happy go lucky man and couldn’t stand arguing; look we’ve got sixty boxes of haddock to shift before the lorries come at 3 o’clock to take them away, so get a bloody move on.’ yer like a bunch of owld women squabbling’ over nothin.’

“Rob.’ bring that bloody shovel in or some bugger will pinch it.’ They would steal your granny’s knickers if she stood outside long enough.’

Rob put down his filleting knife then walked outside and picked up the shovel as Tom brought out four big mugs of tea.’

“I hope that you put some sugar in mine said Norman.’

“Put yer own sugar in you lazy sod yer just like yer fatha.’

“Hey lad’s diven’t start again.’ just shut yor gobs and crack on with filleting this fish eh.’

Norman took his mug then found the bag of sugar and spooned some into his mug then stirred it noisily. Norman set it down on the wooden bench that looked out onto the ice factory on the Fish Quay. He watched as the stream of workmen from other stores went to get fresh ice in which to keep the newly filleted fish fresh.

He was that adept at dispatching a fish he did it as though he’d done it from birth.

He skid the carcass along the board into the barrel that was now a quarter full. The whitewashed brickwork had a line of dirt where the filleter’s had used a pressure hose to clean the floors of the guts and blood from the fish that they had the job of filleting.

The three men worked steadily through the morning. They had been at it since 5am when they went to the gut and stood in the market whilst Phil Hunter bid for the fish being sold by Charley Steel the auctioneer. The Herring boats were unloading tons of fish. They were sucked up a long tube and then loaded onto wagons waiting to be either processed into kippers or made into fertiliser. The incessant squealing from the gulls rained down as they dived down to pick up any fish that happen to fall over the side. The ice had been broken to allow the boats to move in and out of the harbour. North Shields wasn’t governed by tide movement and the boats could come and go at high or low water. The Gut was always a hive of activity as lads with long wooden trolleys with iron wheels or men driving the popper Lorries drove away with the fish bought from the market. From there they were taken to the fish store and filleted, boxed, iced, and then dispatched all over the country to various fish mongers who then sold it to the general public. One of the lads took time out each morning to walk along to the Scotch café just before Irving’s where he would climb the steep stairs to the top of the bank where the café was situated. There was an endless stream of men and young boys as they waited in line to be served. It usually took a good half an hour to get served. Eve Shuttleworth and Maggie Stewart ran the café which sold an array of sausage and egg baps, Spam, cheese and onion toasties and bacon sandwiches. They were all laced with either red or brown sauce depending on your particular preference.

“What can I get you love said Eve as Rob stood at the counter.’

“Four Bacon with brown sauce, four sausage, and egg with tomato sauce, and four mars bars please.’

Eve turned then went to the oven and took out bacon and sausage; she sliced the sausages in half with a sharp knife whilst Maggie Stewart fried the eggs.

They opened bag after bag of bread buns which were buttered after being cut in half.

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