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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“There you go love’, said Eve as she placed the buns into brown paper bags then handed him the mars bars.  “That’ll be nine and a tanner Rabbie.’ Eve and Maggie got to know all the lads who came to the café over time.

“There’s ten bob keep the change.’

“Thank you so much said Eve as Rob disappeared down the stairs and back onto the quayside. He ran back to the store waving at other lads that he knew as he went along. The stink from the Guano Works filled the air as Robbie got back to the store.

“Where the hell have you been I could have gone home and fried my own breakfast?’

“You gan yersel the next time.’ I hate standing’ in that bloody queue spat Rob as he handed every one their order. They all went into the back of the stall where Phil had made them all a fresh pot of tea. They only got fifteen minutes to eat their food then it was back to work. Fish had to be processed very quickly to preserve the freshness; even more so in the summer months when the weather was warmer. They would strip right down to waist showing off an array of tattoos done by Bob Hunter who was a cousin of Phil’s father. The lads all got tattoos cheaper by mentioning that they worked for Phil. Bob had his shop situated right outside of Whitley Bay train station.

Throughout the week the lads would go down to have a piece worked on. their backs or chest would have to be covered for a few days after. The Lads wore rigging boots and shorts in the summer months and their skins were darkened by the suns rays.

How they wished that it was sunny today as the bitterly cold wind blew inside the store. Rob’s fingers were like ice as he reached into the trough and pulled out another haddock. It was no good complaining he thought as the lads would only take the piss.

“He knew that they all would be feeling the same but would not let on. His grip on the knife held fast as he slashed away at the fish in front of him. Each box had approximately eight stone of fish in them by twelve that morning more than half were done. The polystyrene boxes were stacked and ready to be taken away. Phil had a supplier who took all his fish for his fish and chip shops in Seahouses. Winter or summer he did good business. He bought prawns, lobsters, and crabs which he then sold to another man who came to collect them at two o’clock each day.

As the afternoon wore on the Burgess Lorries would come to collect the fish then the cleaning process would start. Troughs were washed and cleaned out benches scrubbed and then the floors washed and brushed. Everything outside had to be stacked and then empty boxes returned to the gut. The lads would then either head to the Dolphin or one of the many pubs in the town before going home to sleep off the effects of several pints of Brown Ale. A pint of Brown Ale cost two shillings and tuppence. Ten bob could get you more than enough. Most of the lads were hardened drinkers and fights between fishermen and the locals was a regular occurrence.

The women in this town were as hard as the men. Born into a pitiful existence the vast majority of them ended up having to get married after finding themselves in the family way because that was the done thing in those days. If you got knocked up as they called it you were expected to get wed, but now since the 1960’s began, attitudes were changing and women found not only a voice but a new found freedom. No more was the little woman tied to the kitchen sink and made to be at her husband’s beck and call. It really started during the Second World War when women took the places of the men in the factories and other industries whilst the men went to fight for their king and country. This freedom that women enjoyed carried on long after the war as employers discovered that women could do the same jobs as men but at a cheaper rate. When men returned home after the war they found that nearly 60% of the jobs they had been doing were now being done by women. This created friction in many homes and the divorce rate went up. 

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