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


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It was a bitter blow to the family as Rose was left to bring up her sister and younger brother whilst her father was away fishing. Rose had to give up her job working in the bakery. She took in washing to help support the family. Tragedy struck the family again when both Cissie and Joe died. Now there was only Rose and her father who lived for another ten years before he died aged fifty eight.’ Rose was worried because three members of the same family had been wiped out by cancer.


Ralph Mason pulled two dustbins into the centre of the lane and a game of cricket got underway using a bat fashioned from a railing. It was sawed into shape and sanded down. A handle grip was made from electrician’s tape and the game got started using Jan’s ball.’

Because Jan had loaned them the ball she stood at the other bin as Tucker Young bowled. The other girls in the lane stood in their fielding positions as the ball was belted down the lane by Ralph Mason. Allie Walker chased after it then stopped it with her foot. She ran back and then threw it back to Tucker who stumped the bin but Ralphie was already in his crease after scoring two runs. Tucker bowled again this time a little faster than the last one and Ralphie just stuck out his bat and the ball bounced off it then rolled away. He and Jan ran for all they were worth as the ball was scooped up then thrown by Liz West but missed the bin as Jan got to it.

“Hit the bin you idiot shouted Tucker and Tony Santos took the wicket keeper’s position as Tucker bowled a third time Jan hit the ball high in the air and two of the girls ran to try and catch it and in their haste bumped heads they began to cry as Jan and Ralph clocked up four runs.’ The mother’s came out and looked at their daughters who both had the beginnings of a swelling coming up on their heads. Have you got any butter Olive said Catherine Rice?’

“I’ve got some margarine.’

That’ll do.’

Olive went into her back yard the returned shortly after with a slab of margarine.

“Here whack some of that on that will sort them out.’

Catherine took a knob of butter from the pack and speared it over both of girl’s heads.

“There all better now.’

“Can we get on wi the game now Mrs Rice?’

“Aye; but you be careful; I divent want to be havin’ to go to the Tynemouth infirmary again. I was already their wi wor Phil’ when he fell on that broken bottle last week.’ “We were there over two hours as they put four stitches in his hand.’

He got to gan back next Thursday to get them oot.’

Phil was standing by the far wall with a black woollen glove on as his mother shouted over to him. “Divent be gettin’ that bandage dorty mind or I will belt yor lug for yer.’

“Alreet mam shouted Phil as his mother went back inside and the game continued.

Ralph welted another ball down the lane and he and Jan ran like hell from bin to bin clocking up another six runs. They stood waiting puffing and panting as the ball was retrieved.

Tucker had two more balls in which to get one of them out, he was hoping that it would be Ralphie Mason because he could bat all day long no matter what you bowled him.


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