The Skin Shop

The story which is semi autobiographical tells the story of Ralph Mason Growing up in Collingwood Terrace in North Shields in 1948. it is a story of Hardship, poverty, love, and friendship just after the Second World War. Some names have been changed and I have used some poetic licence to bring the story to back to life as some of the places talked about in this story are no longer with us. "The Skin Shop is one boys journey into manhood.


102. 102

Florie’s mother Bessie Newton gave her a hug and told her that she was happy that she’s found a good man; someone who would look after her and the children for the rest of her life.

“You must come for a holiday next year dad there’s a flat above the fish and chip shop where you and mam can stay for a couple of weeks. It’s lovely in the summer

dad and you will love it.’

“Better than Blackpool eh, said her father as he puffed on his pipe.’

“George could come and pick you both up.’

“That would be nice wouldn’t it George.’

“Aye it would.’


Coming out of the church after the service was over Agnes ran across the parade ground then on towards the gate. She handed in her pass and the guard on duty let her through. Norman was waiting in the car park as she approached.

“Hello darling, have you missed me she said as she got in and then gave Norman a long loving kiss.’

Norman held her in his arms and he hadn’t realised how much he’d missed the touch of her lips on his. Then he started the car. They travelled through to Paddington until the turned off to Bayswater Road.

“This isn’t a house Norman it’s a mansion.’

The old Victorian building looked like a stately home; in fact it was once lived in by the Duke of Bedford. Norman drove up to the main entrance and got out of the car then let Agnes out. The House had lovely extended gardens which were well looked after by two gardeners. At the back of the house was a walled garden with an enormous greenhouse where all the plants were cultivated. There were peach bushes and grape vines inside and it was heated in the winter to grow crops that you couldn’t buy in the shops. Every vegetable and fruit that could be grown was present here. The two head gardeners Jeff Robinson and John Sturrock had worked for Nicholas Ryder for over thirty years now; they had two other junior gardeners who were in their employ to do all the manual work like double digging and muck spreading whist they took care of the fruit and the vegetables and protected them from pests and diseases.

They were met by Harry Sloan who was the butler.’

“Hello Sir welcome home,’

“Sloan this is Miss Agnes Mason she is a guest here today.’

Pleased to be making your acquaintance Miss Mason; please follow me into the drawing room. The hall and all of the other floors were covered in highly polished wood.

On the walls were paintings of family members dating way back to the early seventeenth century. She saw a picture of Norman looking very smart in a dinner suit.

She removed her cap when she entered the drawing room and sitting in a burgundy chesterfield chair was Norman’s father.

“Come in; dear don’t be shy. No one is going to bite you.’

Agnes came forward so that Nicholas Ryder could get a better look at her.

“Father this is Agnes Mason.’

“Hello Miss Mason’ I must say you are a pretty young thing.’ My son knows a pretty girl when he see’s one.’

“Thank you Mr Ryder.’

 “We can dispense with the formalities Miss Mason I think; please call me Nicholas.’

“Nice to meet you Nicholas, Norman has told me so much about you.’

“You must call me Agnes then.’

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