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.


13. 13

“Hopefully, I will have enough; we are all sharing the cooking and cleaning so it will be cheaper.’

“It seems a lot of money to spend for just one holiday, don’t you think?’

“Not really because the clothes can be used again the next time I go.’

“So you’re going again?’

“Yes Jenny wants me to spend Christmas over there with her parents.’

“But what about us dear; you always spend Christmas with us.’

“It won’t matter for just one year; oh please mother, don’t be awkward.’

Agnes got up after the dinner was over and helped clear the table.’

“Can I go out mam asked Ralph.’

Where are you going now?’

“We have a game of cricket to finish mam.’

Ralph ran over the road and watched as Mrs One Eye began scrubbing her front step. Her real name was Emily Taws but everyone called her Mrs One Eye. Apparently she was hit in the eye with a stone when she was in school, the dirt got into it and caused an infection, they had to remove the infected eye, or she would have lost the sight in both eyes. She wore a black patch over it to cover the empty eye socket. Ralph had seen it once when she removed the patch to scare some kids in the lane. It was hideous to look at. She wore a black head scarf and a white pinnie as she took the scrubbing brush and the block of soap and began to clean the step. He said hello as he passed her then made his way to the lane where all of his friends played.’



There was a knock at the front door and Agnes went to answer it. She looked out onto a large woman who lived up the street. She had a big wart on the end of her nose a black shift and a white pinnie on and her hair was so thin you could see her scalp.

“Is Hannah in; tell yer mother it’s Florrie Grant.’

“Mother shouted Agnes there’s a Mrs Grant from up the street to see you.’

“Tell her to come in Agnes.’

“Come in Mrs Grant my mother is in the scullery.’

Florrie waltzed down the passage then into the living room. Jack was in the yard and there was no one around.’

“Hannah came out of the scullery whilst Agnes went to her room.’

“I was wonderin’ if you had a few slices of meat from yer Sunday roast Hannah; I’ve got nowt t’ give the kids and my man to eat. He’s not got work for five weeks yer na what it’s like t’ have nowt. I’m four weeks in arrears wi me rent an aal.’ They say they are ganna chuck me on the street if I diven’t pay up next week.’

Of course Florrie wait a minute there’s some vegetables and some Yorkshire puddings left you can have as well.’

“Eeh thanks very much.’

Hannah went back to the scullery and Florrie went towards the set of drawers on the cabinet and opened them and began to mooch inside.

“Hey what are you doing in there said John who had come out of his room.’

“Nowt sonna; the drawer was open and a was just closin’ it for yer mam.’

“John stood watching the woman until his mother returned with four plates with another plate on top of each so that she could carry them.

“Bring me my plates back when you’ve finished will you Florrie.’

“Diven’t worry Hannah; a will and thanks’ again.’

 “We help those in need in this street.’

The woman made her way out of the house and up the street.

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