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. i


103. 103

“Please Agnes take a seat.’

Both Norman and Agnes sat on a sofa nearby.

Your mother will be down presently Agnes; forgive me but you know what women are like for getting ready.’

Nicholas Ryder was still a handsome looking man even though he was forty eight years old. He was tall and slim with black wavy hair which had been recently cut.

 His blue coloured three piece suit had a thick gold chain which held his pocket watch that was 24 carat gold.



The door opened and in walked Norman’s mother. She was stylish and elegant looking in her long sequined blue dress.

She had long dark hair and had the high cheek bones of a model; the only thing that spoiled her looks was the slight imperfection of her nose which gave her an unmistakable Jewish look. She carried a lit cigarette in a holder and she walked with the grace of a royal princess. She had obviously been schooled on how to walk and talk as she introduced herself to Agnes.’

“Agnes retuned pleasantries and the doors opened into the main dining hall. The table would have been long enough to cater for forty guests but they sat down near Norman’s father at the top of it.’

Agnes got the distinct impression that Gertrude was watching her every move. She reminded her of a coiled snake waiting to strike at its prey.

Agnes drank the wine that was poured for her and made polite conversion.’

“Norman tells me that you are an acclaimed novelist Mrs Ryder.’

“Yes, I am struggling with the last chapter of my latest work; a bit of writer’s block.’

“I wouldn’t know about that; I’ve never written a story in my life.’

“They say there’s a story to be told in all of us.’

“Please tell us about yourself Agnes asked Nicholas.’

“Nothing to tell really; Agnes said nervously.’

“Oh come on there must be something you can share with us replied Gertrude inquisitively.’

“I come from a humble background if that is what you are referring to Mrs Ryder, I appreciate everything that life has given me, and I am certainly not a gold digger.

“Mother, please stop this interrogation; you are making Agnes feel uncomfortable.’

 Norman had been through this before with other girls that he had brought home.’

“This was different; he really liked Agnes and he didn’t want his mother to jeopardise his chances with her.

The soup was served and Agnes liked fresh home grown vegetables.

“How long have you been in the RAF then Agnes asked Nicholas.’

“I joined last year after leaving a clothing firm as a machinist.’

“I like your honesty Agnes, there’s nothing wrong with good hard work. I started out with virtually nothing. I worked as a type setter for The Times Newspaper before becoming a correspondent. I saved enough money to open my first print shop; from there I begged, borrowed from the bank to start up this newspaper so I know all about hard work Agnes.’

Out of all the girls Norman has brought here I can honestly say I like you the best.’

“Thank you Nicholas.’

“Do you mean to make a career in the Royal Air Force Agnes asked Gertrude?’

“Well I’m signed up for the next three years anyway.’ I don’t know if I will stay in the air force; I want to travel a bit over seas, you know see a bit of the world.’

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