The Shieldsman

A story of four young boys growing up in the tower block of flats in Percy Main in North Shields. the story follows them through to adulthood through mischief and lost innocence, love, tragedy, and finally triumph. If you remember what it was like growing up as a child then this story is definitely one for you.

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It was late afternoon and the sun that had been shining all day was going down but the four boys continued to play their game of marbles together. Joe Kimber; Kevin Skipsey, Ralph Mason and Paul Kerrigan were friends and neighbours and went to Percy Main Junior School together. Where ever mischief was to be had you could bet that the four of them would be in the middle of it. They always did what they weren’t supposed to be doing.

Joe lined up his shot then flicked his marble towards the man made hole in the bare patch of ground next to the flats where they lived. It was 1965 and to them they never had a care in the world. There were some girls playing further over with a large lump of rope as two of the girls swung the rope two others jumped and turned inside as the girls sang along to a familiar tune. “Jelly on the plate, jelly on the plate wibbley, wobbley, wibbley, wobbley. Jelly on the plate rang out as the girls turned the rope ever faster.

There was a man sitting on a grass cutter at the bottom of the field; he went up the field then back down again as the boys finished off their game. Joe Kimber put his hand full of marbles into his brown corduroy short pants.

“Who’s going to the rookery tonight; I want a good branch so that I can make a new catapult?

“Ill go with you Joe; said Paul Kerrigan; Mr Trundle took mine off me in class so I have to make another.

“What about you two then are you coming or what?

“Aye alright; replied Ralphie Mason and Kevin Skipsey as they pulled on a long grass stalk then placed it between their thumbs licked the grass then blew between them to make a sound like an owl hooting..”

Right meet you’s at the Redburn pub after tea.”

“I’m not keeping toot mind; because the last time that copper caught me he belted me round the lugs with his gloves then told me Da’ and I got a right hiding.

“Stop being a woos “Skipper” Joe said as he wiped his nose on the sleeve of his coat.

The window opened on the top floor of the end block of flats and Joe’s mother shouted down.”

“Are ye ganna come in for ya tea laddie it’s getting cold.”

“Don’t be daft mother; bread and jam can’t get cold.”

“Divvent be showing me up lad get yer sell up here right noo or I’ll belt ye across the bloody lug hole an tell your fatha’ an al’ when he comes yem from the pub.”

“I better go lads or we won’t get out tonight.

The lads laughed as Joe waked towards the door that led up several fights of stairs.

“All that way up there to eat two jam sandwiches and a cup of tea they shouted.”

“At least I’m having bread tonight what are you’s lot having; “don’t tell me; it’s fillet steak again with chips and eggs?

“Aye and broon sauce as well mind.”

Joe laughed as he reached the door then opened it sticking two fingers up at the lads as he went inside. 

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